Archive for the ‘The United Nations’ Category

How Did Western Civilization Get A Monopoly On “Moral Conscience” When It Has No Morality? By Paul Craig Roberts

January 24, 2008

How Did Western Civilization Get A Monopoly On “Moral Conscience” When It Has No Morality? By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
January 22, 2008

“The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.”

Five Western military leaders.

I read the statement three times trying to figure out the typo. Then it hit me, the West has now out-Orwelled Orwell: The West must nuke other countries in order to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction! In Westernspeak, the West nuking other countries does not qualify as the use of weapons of mass destruction.

The astounding statement comes from a paper prepared for a Nato summit in April by five top military leaders–an American, a German, a Dutchman, a Frenchman, and a Brit. It can be found here: [Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told, By Ian Traynor, The Guardian, January 22, 2008 ]

The paper, prepared by men regarded as distinguished leaders and not as escapees from insane asylums, argues that “the West’s values and way of life are under threat, but the West is struggling to summon the will to defend them.” The leaders find that the UN is in the way of the West’s will, as is the European Union which is obstructing NATO and “NATO’s credibility is at stake in Afghanistan.”

And that’s a serious matter. If NATO loses its credibility in Afghanistan, Western civilization will collapse just like the Soviet Union. The West just doesn’t realize how weak it is. To strengthen itself, it needs to drop more and larger bombs.

The German military leader blames the Merkel government for contributing to the West’s inability to defend its values by standing in the way of a revival of German militarism. How can Germany be “a reliable partner” for America, he asks, if the German government insists on “special rules” limiting the combat use of its forces in Afghanistan?

Ron Asmus, head of the German Marshall Fund and a former US State Department official, welcomed the paper as “a wake-up call.” Asmus means a call to wake-up to the threats from the brutal world, not to the lunacy of Western leaders.

Who, what is threatening the West’s values and way of life? Political fanaticism, religious fundamentalism, and the imminent spread of nuclear weapons, answer the five asylum escapees.

By political fanaticism, do they mean the neoconservatives who believe that the future of humanity depends on the US establishing its hegemony over the world? By religious fundamentalism, do they mean “rapture evangelicals” agitating for Armageddon or Christian and Israeli Zionists demanding a nuclear attack on Iran? By spread of nuclear weapons, do they mean Israel’s undeclared and illegal possession of several hundred nuclear weapons?

No. The paranoid military leaders see all the fanaticism, religious and otherwise, and all the threats to humanity as residing outside Western civilization (Israel is inside). The “increasingly brutal world,” of which the leaders warn, is “over there.” Only Muslims are fanatics. All us white guys are rational and sane.

There is nothing brutal about the US/Nato bombing of Serbia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, or the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, or the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, or the genocide Israel hopes to commit against Palestinians in Gaza.

All of this, as well as America’s bombing of Somalia, America’s torture dungeons, show trials of “detainees,” and overthrow of elected governments and installation of puppet rulers, is the West’s necessary response to keep the brutal world at bay.

Brutal things happen in the “brutal world” and are entirely the fault of those in the brutal world. None of this would happen if the inhabitants of the brutal world would just do as they are told. How can the civilized world with its monopoly on morality allow people in the brutal world to behave independently? I mean, really! God forbid, they might attack some innocent country.

The “brutal world” consists of those immoral fanatics who object to being marginalized by the West and who reply to mass bombings from the air and to the death and destruction inflicted on them through myriad ways by strapping on a suicide bomb.

Unable to impose its will on countries it has invaded with conventional arms, the West’s military leaders are now prepared to force compliance with the moral world’s will by threatening to nuke those who resist. You see, since the West has the monopoly on morality, truth, and justice, those in the outside world are obviously evil, wicked and brutal. Therefore, as President Bush tells us, it is a simple choice between good and evil, and there’s no better candidate than evil for being nuked. The sooner we can get rid of the brutal world, the sooner we will have “freedom and democracy” everywhere that’s left.

Meanwhile, the United States, the great moral light unto the world, has just prevented the United Nations from censuring Israel, the world’s other great moral light, for cutting off food supplies, medical supplies, and electric power to Gaza. You see, Gaza is in the outside world and is a home of the bad guys. Moreover, the wicked Palestinians there tricked the US when the US allowed them to hold a free election. Instead of electing the US candidate, the wicked voters elected a government that would represent them. The US and Israel overturned the Palestinian election in the West Bank, but those in Gaza clung to the government that they had elected. Now they are going to suffer and die until they elect the government that the US and Israel wants. I mean, how can we expect people in the brutal world to know what’s best for them?

The fact that the UN tried to stop Israel’s just punishment of the Gazans shows how right the five leaders’ report is about the UN being a threat to Western values and way of life. The UN is really against us. This puts the UN in the outside world and makes it a candidate for being nuked if not an outright terrorist organization. As our president said, “you are with us or against us.”

The US and Israel need a puppet government in Palestine so that a ghettoized remnant of Palestine can be turned into a “two state solution.” The two states will be Israel incorporating the stolen West Bank and a Palestinian ghetto without an economy, water, or contiguous borders.

This is necessary in order to protect Israel from the brutal outside world.

Inhabitants of the brutal world are confused about the “self-determination” advocated by Western leaders. It doesn’t mean that those outside Western civilization and Israel should decide for themselves. “Self” means American. The term, so familiar to us, means “American-determination.” The US determines and others obey.

It is the brutal world that causes all the trouble by not obeying.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

Iran hands over uranium blueprint

November 16, 2007

EU diplomat Javier Solana, right, will give a parallel report on dialogue efforts with Tehran [AFP]
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In a separate development, Tehran on Wednesday accused Hossein Mousavian, a former nuclear negotiator, of passing classified information to foreigners including to the British embassy.

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“From the viewpoint of the intelligence ministry, he is a criminal… this is definite and provable. But the decision rests with the judge,” Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, Iran’s intelligence minister, said.

 

On Monday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, decried critics of his nuclear policies as “traitors” and accused them of spying for Iran’s enemies.

 

Iran has been under intense international scrutiny for its nuclear policy.

 

IAEA report

 

Some diplomats said the IAEA report due this week was likely to say Iran has improved co-operation with a long-running inquiry into its nuclear programme.

 

The timing and toughness of any further UN sanctions against Iran will hinge on world powers’ interpretation of the report and a parallel report by Javier Solana, the EU’s chief diplomat, on recent dialogue with Tehran.Solana is expected to confirm that Iran remains unwilling to suspend uranium enrichment, which it says is to generate electricity but Western leaders claim is to make atom bombs.

A senior diplomat close to the IAEA said a senior Iranian nuclear official turned over the uranium metals document at a meeting in the agency’s headquarters in Vienna last week.

‘Unsolicited’ blueprint

IAEA inspectors came upon the document accidentally in 2005 while examining Iranian nuclear facilities suspected to have military dimensions. Iran had allowed inspectors to look at but not make copies of the document for investigative purposes.

Tehran has said it did nothing with the document, which it said it received unsolicited from the former nuclear smuggling network of Pakistan’s AQ Khan, which helped lay the groundwork for Iran’s programme.

IAEA experts have said the document’s instructions could have uses other than developing nuclear weapons.

Iran’s concession of the blueprint, noted by some diplomats as a sign of Iranian transparency, could spur Russia and China to persist in delaying new UN sanctions.

They could argue for more time for the IAEA process to reach fruition and against steps to isolate Tehran, which they regard as a slippery slope towards war.

Iran said on November 3 that it had given the IAEA all information needed to remove ambiguities about the extent of its work to develop centrifuges which enrich uranium, and that there would be no more discussions about it.

 
 
Source: Agencies

New Cold War: Great Game for Supremacy in the New World Order? by Andrew G. Marshall

October 31, 2007

New Cold War: Great Game for Supremacy in the New World Order? by Andrew G. Marshall

Dandelion Salad

by Andrew G. Marshall
Global Research, October 31, 2007

Imperial Playground:

The Story of Iran in Recent History

PART 4:

There has been much talk in recent months of a return to the Cold War, as increasingly there is growing disparities and tensing relations between the West, namely the Anglo-Americans, and the Russian Federation, the former Soviet Union, as well as China. ‘Is the Cold War Back?’ as the headline of a Reuters article asked, stating, “Russia has revived its Soviet-era practice of continuous long-range bomber patrols, sending 14 aircraft on such missions in the latest in a series of moves apparently designed to show off Russia’s new-found assertiveness,” and that “Russia’s military is now receiving a major injection of cash to modernise ageing equipment — including new planes — after years of under-funding and neglect since the Soviet Union ceased to exist.”1 Recent plans made public that the United States is building missile shields in Eastern European countries has sparked equal controversy over a revival of a Cold War. As the Austrian Defense Minister Norbert Darabos stated in late August of 2007, “That the United States are installing a defense shield in eastern Europe is a provocation in my view,” and that, “The U.S. has chosen the wrong path in my opinion. There is no point in building up a missile defense shield in Europe. That only unnecessarily rekindles old Cold War debates.”2 The article continued in saying, “The United States plans to deploy elements of its shield — designed to intercept and destroy missiles from ‘rogue states’ like Iran and North Korea — in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia sees the initiative near its borders as a threat to its own security. On Tuesday Russia’s military chief told the Czech Republic that hosting the shield would be a ‘big mistake’. Darabos said he saw no danger from Iranian long range missiles and the United States should try for a different solution.”

NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is largely controlled by the Anglo-American establishment, has also been stepping up Cold War actions. NATO was created as a treaty during the early years of the Cold War as a method of forming an alliance against the Communist powers of the world, which had a parallel treaty organization, known as the Warsaw Pact. So if the near entire life span of this organization was in containing communist countries, namely the Soviet Union, it does not seem unlikely that it would return to what it does best. As the Sunday Telegraph reported in late August of 2007, “NATO vessels are closely monitoring the sea trials of Russia’s latest submarine, following Moscow’s increasingly provocative tests of Western airspace. In the latest twist to worsening East-West relations, Nato submarines and surface ships, which may include Royal Navy vessels, are trying to gather information on the new Amur class boat being tested in the Baltic,” and that, “The greater-than-normal scrutiny is, in part, a response to Russia’s decision to resume long-range bomber flights close to Nato airspace which has revived memories of Cold War confrontation between the two blocs,” and it further mentioned that, “Twice this summer, Russian Tu-95 nuclear bombers have been spotted heading towards British airspace off Scotland, prompting the RAF [Royal Air Force] to send intercepting aircraft to warn them off. On another occasion, Russian planes came within striking distance of the US Pacific airbase of Guam.”3

The article continues in explaining, “Apart from the threat it [the Russian submarine] poses as part of the Russian navy, Moscow is believed to have won contracts to export it to other states such as Venezuela, which is challenging the United States’ influence in Latin America. Russia also exports weapons to Iran and Sudan, although there is no sign yet that either country plans to buy an Amur class submarine. The fact that President Vladimir Putin’s regime is testing a powerful new addition to the Russian navy – after its fleet went through years of decline – shows a new military build-up is underway.” The article further stated, “Russia’s neighbour Georgia claimed yesterday that it, too, was being intimidated by Moscow. Russian jets, the government said, had twice entered its airspace this week. Earlier this month, a Russian warplane had fired a missile at a village on its territory. But Russia protested its innocence yesterday, accusing Georgia of inventing the charge to stir up tensions. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations said that the bomb fragments produced as evidence were of foreign origin.”

On this growing issue between Russia and Georgia, Press TV reported that, “Georgia’s aim to accelerate its joining the NATO by playing risky power games with Russia can stretch Moscow’s patience too far, observers say. ‘There is a threat’ that rising tensions between the two former Soviet republics could provoke a confrontation, said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent Russian defense analyst,” and that, “During the 2006 winter, Russian gas supplies to Georgia were cut off for prolonged repairs on a pipeline. A few months later, Russia banned the import of wine and mineral water from Georgia. Then, in September 2006, Georgia arrested four Russian officers charged for spying. This prompted Russia to suspend all direct transport and postal links, as well as to deport hundreds of Georgian immigrants from Russia. Russia has also given political and economic backing to two Georgian separatist regions.”4

It was also reported that, “The Russian ambassador to the Court of St James’s rejects US statements over the controversial Missile Defense project to be exclusively against Iran. ‘There is no convincing explanation for the installation of the US Missile Defense in eastern Asia,’ said Yuri Viktorovich Fedotov in an interview with BBC Radio. ‘Despite what US calls a missile defense shield against Iran, the project is a threat for Russia and other countries,’ Fedotov added,” and that “The statements are made as recent diplomatic conflict between Britain and Russia over the missile defense project and the verbal war for the extradition of a Russian agent accused of being involved in the murder of Alexander [Litvinenko] in London has escalated.”5

In early September of 2007, it was reported by the BBC that, “The UK’s Royal Air Force has launched fighter jets to intercept eight Russian military planes flying in airspace patrolled by Nato, UK officials say. Four RAF F3 Tornado aircraft were scrambled in response to the Russian action, the UK’s defence ministry said. The Russian planes – long-range bombers – had earlier been followed by Norwegian F16 jets.”6 Also in early September it was reported by the Financial Times that, “The Chinese military hacked into a Pentagon computer network in June in the most successful cyber attack on the US defence department, say American –officials. The Pentagon acknowledged shutting down part of a computer system serving the office of Robert Gates, defence secretary, but declined to say who it believed was behind the attack. Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the People’s Liberation Army [of China].”7

As well as this, it was reported that, “Taiwan’s cabinet agreed Wednesday to hike military spending by nearly 15 percent in next year’s budget in an apparent signal of its resolve against rival China. Under a draft budget, which has to be confirmed by parliament, the defence ministry is setting aside 345.9 billion Taiwan dollars (10.5 billion US), up 44.6 billion Taiwan dollars, the cabinet said in a statement,” and that, “The rise in spending is mainly aimed at financing procurement of military equipment, including US-made P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft. Washington, the island’s leading arms supplier despite not having formal diplomatic ties, has repeatedly asked Taipei to display its determination to defend itself by boosting military spending. The Chinese government had in May announced the biggest increase in its military budget in recent years, saying its spending in 2007 would rise 17.8 percent from last year to 350.9 billion yuan (about 45 billion dollars),” and the article continued in stating, “Reunification with Taiwan is one of China’s long-term strategic objectives, and analysts have said Beijing is beefing up its military partly to enable it to take the island back by force if necessary. China and Taiwan have been separated since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory. Taiwan has been led since the turn of the century by independence-leaning President Chen Shui-bian, exacerbating fears in Beijing that the island could break away for good.”8

The above mentioned issue is extremely important, as it was reported back in 2005 by the Financial Times that, “China is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the US if it is attacked by Washington during a confrontation over Taiwan, a Chinese general said on Thursday. ‘If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China’s territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,’ said General Zhu Chenghu. Gen Zhu was speaking at a function for foreign journalists organised, in part, by the Chinese government. He added that China’s definition of its territory included warships and aircraft,” and the General continued in saying, “If the Americans are determined to interfere [then] we will be determined to respond,” as well as stating, “We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destrucion of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”9 The article further mentioned, “Gen Zhu is a self-acknowledged ‘hawk’ who has warned that China could strike the US with long-range missiles. But his threat to use nuclear weapons in a conflict over Taiwan is the most specific by a senior Chinese official in nearly a decade.” So, essentially what this is suggesting is that in the case that China attempts to take back Taiwan, which it consistently threatens to do, even if it requires military force, and the US responds militarily in any way, which they have said they would in such an event, even if the act is firing on a Chinese ship, then the response of China would be to engage in nuclear war with the United States.

In early September of 2007, it was reported by the BBC that, “Britain has privately complained to Beijing that Chinese-made weapons are being used by the Taleban to attack British troops in Afghanistan. The BBC has been told that on several occasions Chinese arms have been recovered after attacks on British and American troops by Afghan insurgents.”10

Russia has extremely close ties with Iran, as it was reported back in 2005 that, “Russia has agreed to sell more than $1 billion worth of missiles and other defense systems to Iran,” and that, “The Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies cited unidentified sources in the Russian military-industrial complex as saying that Russian and Iranian officials had signed contracts in November that would send up to 30 Tor-M1 missile systems to Iran over the next two years.”11 In January of 2007, the Jerusalem Post reported that, “Voicing extreme concern over Russia’s recent sale of advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, senior diplomatic and defense officials warned Moscow Tuesday that the deal could have serious security implications that would even ‘get back to Russia.’ Senior officials in Jerusalem said they ‘were not pleased’ with the sale of the anti-aircraft missiles, but that Russia was a sovereign country and they could not intervene. They did, however, issue a warning: ‘We hope they understand that this is a threat that could come back to them as well.’ Earlier Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Moscow had sent air defense missiles to Teheran, the first high-level confirmation that their delivery took place despite US complaints. Ivanov did not specify how many missile systems had been delivered.”12

On top of military agreements, Russia and Iran also have close ties economically and politically, and Russia is even helping Iran build a nuclear power plant. It was reported in September of 2007 that, “The Bushehr nuclear power plant that Russia is building in Iran will be commissioned no earlier than the fall of 2008, a source in the Russian nuclear sector said. The date for commissioning the $1 billion project in the south of the country, the Islamic Republic’s first NPP built by Russia, was postponed due to delays in Iranian payments to the contractor.”13 So, clearly, Russia has vested interests inside Iran, and has even gone so far as to help in building a nuclear power plant inside Iran, in a sign of a growing relationship between the two countries, and a very apparent signal that Russia is supporting Iran’s efforts to nuclear power, thusly, taking a position in opposition to the Anglo-American Alliance, and even the Franco-German Entente.

This is evident in as much as Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, back in 2006 had advised “to act without delay to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, saying that Iran had ‘blatantly crossed the line’,” and that “The chancellor compared Iran’s nuclear policy to the Nazi party’s rise to power in Germany, warning that in the past the nations of the world refused to take a stance against concrete threats, enabling some of history’s greatest catastrophes.”14 The newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated in August of 2007, that, “a diplomatic push by the world’s powers to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program was the only alternative to ‘an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran’,” and that, “In his first major foreign policy speech, Sarkozy emphasized his existing foreign policy priorities, such as opposing Turkish membership of the European Union and pushing for a new Mediterranean Union that he hopes will include Ankara,” and the article went on to report that, “Sarkozy said a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable and that major powers should continue their policy of incrementally increasing sanctions against Tehran while being open to talks if Iran suspended nuclear activities.” The article then quoted Sarkozy as saying, “This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran,” and he continued, “Russia is imposing its return on the world scene by using its assets, notably oil and gas, with a certain brutality,” of which the article continued, “Energy disputes between Russia and neighbors such as Belarus and Ukraine have raised doubts in Europe about Moscow’s reliability as a gas exporter. It supplies Europe, via its neighbors, with around a quarter of its gas demands. Sarkozy had warm words for the United States, saying friendship between the two countries was important. But he said he felt free to disagree with American policies, highlighting what he called a lack of leadership on the environment.”15 I find it comical that Sarkozy talks of Russia saying that, “When one is a great power, one should not be brutal,” yet he had ‘warm words’ for the US, of which I know no other country that is so brutal as a great power.

The Washington Post reported in early September of 2007, that, “U.S. plans to site parts of a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic are ‘politically dangerous,’ former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Saturday. ‘From my point of view the missile defense system is politically dangerous. It is perceived as an attempt to isolate Russia, which is not in Europe’s political interests,’ said Schroeder, who is a personal friend of President Vladimir Putin,” and that, “The United States wants to base interceptor missiles and a radar system in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying it needs protection against missile attacks from what it terms ‘rogue states’ like Iran and North Korea. Russia has reacted furiously, saying the plan will upset a delicate strategic balance between major powers and poses a threat to its own security. Schroeder said the plan was not in the European Union’s interests either.” The article continued, “Although trade and investment are booming, diplomatic relations between Russia and the European Union have deteriorated sharply over the past year. This is partly because of Russia’s squabbles with the Union’s new members such as Poland, which were once part of the Soviet bloc and are now wary of Moscow’s rising influence.”16

Remember Zbigniew Brzezinski? The Trilateral Commission founder, architect of the Afghan-Soviet War and ‘Arc of Crisis’ Strategy, who wrote the geo-strategic blueprint for American global hegemony, The Grand Chessboard, in which he stated, “Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran, an ‘antihegemonic’ coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances. It would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc.”17 Well, within ten years of writing his book, Brzezinski’s predictions became quite true, as an alternative strategic bloc to the NATO countries has been set up, called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO]. It was officially founded in 2001 [after initial agreements in 1996] by Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In 2006, it was reported that, “Six member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Wednesday agreed to stage a joint anti-terror military exercise in 2007 in Russia, according to a joint communiqué,” and that, “Except Uzbekistan, other five countries of the SCO held their first-ever joint anti-terror exercise within the framework of the SCO in August 2003, with the first phase in Kazakhstan and the second in China. As new threats and challenges, such as terrorism, separatism, extremism and cross-border crimes, are becoming increasingly prominent, the regional and international cooperation are required.”18

In 2003, it was reported that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), “signed a multilateral economic cooperation Framework Agreement in Beijing on 23 September to ‘deepen’ their mutual economic connections and ‘improve the investment environment’. At the meeting, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made three proposals. He wanted members to set as a long-term objective the establishment of a free trade area within the SCO; elaborate a series of more immediate measures such as improving the flow of goods across the member-states and reducing non-tariff barriers such as customs, quarantine, standards and transport services; and create large projects on economic and technological cooperation, giving priority to those in transportation, energy, telecommunication, agriculture, home appliances, light industry and textiles.”19

Apart from the main members of the SCO, there are also countries which are permitted Observer Status, meaning they won’t take part in the war games, but will be official observers of them and still develop closer ties with the SCO. As the Guardian reported in 2006, “At the one day annual summit of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on June 15, more limelight fell on the leader of an observer country than on any of the main participants. That figure happened to be the controversial president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Despite the lowly observer status accorded to his country, Ahmadinejad went on to publicly invite the SCO members to a meeting in Tehran to discuss energy exploration and development in the region. And the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, proposed that the SCO should form an ‘energy club’. While making a plea that his country should be accorded full membership of the SCO, the Pakistani president, Parvez Musharraf, highlighted the geo-strategic position of his country as an energy and trade corridor for SCO members. ‘Pakistan provides a natural link between the SCO states to connect the Eurasian heartland with the Arabian Sea and South Asia,’ he said,” and the article continued, “Founded in 1996 primarily to settle frontier problems between China and its post-Soviet neighbors – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan – the SCO expanded three years later to include Uzbekistan, which does not share common borders with China or Russia, the two countries at the core of the SCO. Since then SCO has developed as an organization concerned with regional security, thus focusing on counter-terrorism, defense, and energy cooperation. Energy-hungry China has its eyes fixed on the large oil and gas reserves that Russia and Kazakhstan possess, and even the modest gas reserves of Uzbekistan.” The article further mentioned that, “Iran applied for full membership; as did India,” as well as the fact that, “Last year [2005] when the SCO accorded observer status to four countries, it rejected a similar request from the United States,” and it continued, “The rising importance and coherence of the SCO worries Washington – as well as its closest Asian ally, Japan. ‘The SCO is becoming a rival block to the US alliance,’ said a senior Japanese official recently. ‘It does not share our values. We are watching it very closely’.”20

Further, it was reported in April of 2006 by the Asia Times that, “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which maintained it had no plans for expansion, is now changing course. Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan, which previously had observer status, will become full members. SCO’s decision to welcome Iran into its fold constitutes a political statement. Conceivably, SCO would now proceed to adopt a common position on the Iran nuclear issue at its summit meeting June 15,” and that, “Visiting Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi told Itar-TASS in Moscow that the membership expansion ‘could make the world more fair’. And he spoke of building an Iran-Russia ‘gas-and-oil arc’ by coordinating their activities as energy producing countries. Mohammadi also touched on Iran’s intention to raise the issue of his country’s nuclear program and its expectations of securing SCO support.”21 Although, to this day, Iran’s membership has not been made official, making it a de-facto member of the SCO, much in the same sense that Israel is a de-facto member of NATO.22

In August of 2007, it was reported that, “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the proposed US missile defense shield in central Europe would pose a threat to Asia. At a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Ahmadinejad said such a plan goes beyond threatening one country and it is a source of concern for most of the continent. Washington is planning to station a radar station in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland. Ahmadinejad added the six SCO member states, including China, are among those countries who are threatened by the US plan. He also criticized the US military attack on Iraq, which has destabilized the entire region. Iran has observer status in the SCO, which groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.”23

As for the relationship between China and Iran, it was reported in 2006 that, “Chinese President Hu Jintao called Friday for closer ties with Iran as he met his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the first time, while the United States followed events in Shanghai warily,” and that, “China and Iran have long had close economic ties, especially in the oil and gas fields, and are in negotiations over an energy deal that was tentatively inked in 2004 and could be worth more than 100 billion dollars. As part of the initial memorandum of understanding, Sinopec, China’s largest refiner, would buy 250 million tons of liquefied natural gas over 25 years, which alone could be worth more than 100 billion dollars. However, despite a series of Chinese delegations going to Tehran, the deal has yet to be finalized. Ahmadinejad arrived in China on Wednesday to participate in the leaders’ summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional forum that is increasingly being seen as a counterweight to US influence in Central Asia.”24

As we can see, this is not simply a strategy of Anglo-American interests at play in the region, as it is always necessary to take a look at the broader geopolitical implications of this region, especially in relation to the European Union, dominated by the Franco-German Entente, and most notably Russia and China. A competition for control of the region is very much underway, as whomever, or whichever powers control Central Eurasia (the Middle East and Central Asia); those same powers will then have control over the world’s primary oil and gas reserves and transportation, and thusly, will exert hegemonic influence over the entire world. With Russia, increasingly gaining strength and influence like never before since the fall of the Soviet Union, China, a rising world power whose thirst and demand for oil is the fastest growing in the world and whose future as a great power depends upon getting its hands on such resources, and with the European Union, a close ally of the Anglo-American Alliance, yet still has its own interests at heart so it, too, is increasingly attempting a relationship with Russia, which has massive natural gas reserves itself. The EU hopes to balance its relationships, so as to always remain on the winning end, however, as time goes forward, it may have to choose sides. Relations between the West, especially the Anglo-Americans, and the former Soviet Union grow tense, the EU may be caught in the middle and China forced to make strategic alliances.

It is clear that future military operations in Central Asia and the Middle East will not be like the previous occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, whereas Afghanistan remains under NATO control (the Anglo-American Alliance in collaboration with the Franco-German entente), and Iraq under Anglo-American occupation, but with little more than rhetorical opposition from observing countries around the world. The world accepted the occupation of Afghanistan under the guise of retribution for the 9/11 attacks, and the world stood by as Iraq was put under imperial control. But now the pieces have been set, the world sees the strategy, even though the general public may not, and other great powers have their fates vested in the region, such as Russia, China, the EU and most of the world at large, so to stand idly by now and do nothing as Anglo-American imperial expansion envelopes the entire region would be suicidal. It is in the interest of survival for Russia, China and the EU to maintain influence and control in the region. To do this, each will have to make strategic alliances, as is currently being done.

These activities have caused recent exclamations of a return to the Cold War era, however, I see it as something much more sinister and dangerous. Remember, the Cold War was referred to as “Cold” because it involved no actual fighting between the two main enemies, the United States and the USSR, or the NATO countries against the Warsaw Pact countries. In actuality, I would argue that what we are seeing take place is in fact a return not to the Cold War, but to the Great Game, which was the competition between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia from the early 1800s arguably up until the end of World War 2, when the Cold War began. One of the major theaters of war between Britain and Russia during the Great Game was Afghanistan, where the first Anglo-Afghan War began in 1838, the Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1878, a brief alliance occurred between Russia and Britain in the early 20th Century, then the Third Anglo-Afghan War occurred in 1919, otherwise known as the second phase of the Great Game. During the Cold War, or the third phase of the Great Game, Afghanistan was the major theater of operations between the United States (Anglo-Americans) and Russia (Soviet Union) from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, ultimately leading to a collapse of the Soviet Union and an end to the ‘Cold War’. Now, after another brief alliance between the Anglo-American Alliance and Russia, just as occurred in the early years of the previous century starting in 1907, leading up to World War 1, it seems that now, in 2007, the fourth phase of this 200-year long Great Game for dominance over Central Asia has begun. Now made all the more dangerous with other great power interests such as the European Union and rising China, not to mention the existence and discussion of the use of nuclear weapons.

Rising Tensions and Quiet Mentions of War

Lately, there has been a significant increase in tensions between the West, predominantly the Anglo-Americans and Iran, and its respective allies, namely, Syria. These escalations in tension and conflict suggest a rapid strategy of progression to an all out war on the Islamic Republic of Iran, and possibly a wider array of countries in the region, leading to a full region-wide war.

In late August of 2007, the Sunday Telegraph reported that, “The White House’s plans to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organisation are intended to give the Bush administration cover if it launches military strikes on the Islamic republic, according to a prominent former CIA officer. Robert Baer, who was a high-ranking operative in the Middle East, said last week that senior government officials had told him the administration was preparing for air strikes on the guards’ bases and probably also on Iran’s nuclear facilities within the next six months,” and the article continues, “But among President George W Bush’s closest advisers, there is a fierce debate about whether to take unilateral military action independently of any UN security council moves. While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set on diplomacy, Vice-President Dick Cheney is understood to favour air strikes. The justification for any attack, according to Mr Baer, would be claims – denied by Iran – that the guards are responsible for the sophisticated armour-penetrating improvised explosive devices that are exacting a heavy toll on US forces in Iraq.”25

On September 2, 2007, the Sunday Times reported that, “The Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert. Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for ‘pinprick strikes’ against Iran’s nuclear facilities. ‘They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military’,” and it continued, “President George Bush intensified the rhetoric against Iran last week, accusing Tehran of putting the Middle East ‘under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust’. He warned that the US and its allies would confront Iran ‘before it is too late’.”26

A September 3 article in the Sunday Telegraph stated, “In a nondescript room, two blocks from the American Capitol building, a group of Bush administration staffers is gathered to consider the gravest threat their government has faced this century: the testing of a nuclear weapon by Iran. The United States, no longer prepared to tolerate the risk that Iranian nuclear weapons will be used against Israel, or passed to terrorists, has already launched a bombing campaign to destroy known Iranian nuclear sites, air bases and air defence sites. Iran has retaliated by cutting off oil to America and its allies, blockading the Straits of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf bottleneck, and sanctioned an uprising by Shia militias in southern Iraq that has shut down 60 per cent of Iraq’s oil exports. The job of the officials from the Pentagon, the State Department, and the Departments of Homeland Security and Energy, who have gathered in an office just off Massachusetts Avenue, behind the rail terminus, Union Station, is to prevent a spike in oil prices that will pitch the world’s economy into a catastrophic spin.” The article then said, “The good news is that this was a war game; for those who fear war with Iran, the less happy news is that the officials were real. The simulation, which took four months, was run by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank with close links to the White House. Its conclusions, drawn up last month and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, have been passed on to military and civilian planners charged with drawing up plans for confronting Iran. News that elements of the American government are working in earnest on how to deal with the fallout of an attack on Iran come at a tense moment.”27

A report in the Sunday Telegraph stated that, “Senior American intelligence and defence officials believe that President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran, amid growing fears among serving officers that diplomatic efforts to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons programme are doomed to fail. Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran,” and that, “Now it has emerged that Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution, is prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action. In a chilling scenario of how war might come, a senior intelligence officer warned that public denunciation of Iranian meddling in Iraq – arming and training militants – would lead to cross border raids on Iranian training camps and bomb factories. A prime target would be the Fajr base run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force in southern Iran, where Western intelligence agencies say armour-piercing projectiles used against British and US troops are manufactured.” The article continued, “US action would provoke a major Iranian response, perhaps in the form of moves to cut off Gulf oil supplies, providing a trigger for air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities and even its armed forces. Senior officials believe Mr Bush’s inner circle has decided he does not want to leave office without first ensuring that Iran is not capable of developing a nuclear weapon.”28

The New Yorker Magazine reported in late August of 2007 that, “If there were a threat level on the possibility of war with Iran, it might have just gone up to orange. Barnett Rubin, the highly respected Afghanistan expert at New York University, has written an account of a conversation with a friend who has connections to someone at a neoconservative institution in Washington,” which revealed that, “They [the source’s institution] have ‘instructions’ (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President [Dick Cheney] to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this—they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is ‘plenty’,” and it continued stating, “It follows the pattern of the P.R. campaign that started around this time in 2002 and led to the Iraq war. The President’s rhetoric on Iran has been nothing short of bellicose lately, warning of ‘the shadow of a nuclear holocaust’.”29

On September 10, Reuters reported that, “The Pentagon is preparing to build a military base near the Iraq-Iran border to try to curtail the flow of advanced Iranian weaponry to Shiite militants across Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday in its online edition. Quoting Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, the Journal said the Pentagon also plans to build fortified checkpoints on major highways leading from the Iranian border to Baghdad, and install X-ray machines and explosives-detecting sensors at the only formal border crossing between the two countries.”30 On the same day, the Sunday Telegraph reported that, “Iran has established a sophisticated spying operation at the head of the Arabian Gulf in a move which has significantly heightened tensions in its standoff with the United States. The operation, masterminded by the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard, includes the construction of a high-tech spying post close to the point where Iranian forces kidnapped 15 British naval personnel in March. The move has forced British and American commanders to divert resources away from protecting oil platforms in the Gulf from terrorist attack and into countering the new Iranian threat,” and it continued, “The US military says that the spying post, built on the foundations of a crane platform sunk during the Iran-Iraq war, is equipped with radar, cameras and forward facing infra-red devices to track the movement of coalition naval forces and commercial shipping in the northern Arabian Gulf. Commanders fear that one of the main purposes of the Iranian operation is to enable the Revolutionary Guard to intercept more coalition vessels moving through the disputed waters near the mouth of the Shatt al Arab waterway south of the Iraqi city of Basra.”31

Incidentally, two days later, Raw Story ran an article stating, “As tensions between the United States and Iran increases, military action along the Iran-Iraq border intensifies. The latest moves come from America’s primary ally in its invasion of Iraq: Britain. Ostensibly to guard against importation of Iranian weapons and fighters targeting Western troops in Iraq, the UK is sending up to 350 troops to the Iranian border instead of bringing them home, The Independent of London reports Wednesday.” This follows much discussion recently that the UK, under the new unelected Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, was preparing to withdraw from Iraq, leaving the US alone. In fact, the announcement had been made that British troops were to be returning home from Basra, the British-controlled Iraqi city, and as Raw Story pointed out, “The troop move was requested by US commanders, the paper says, and it will delay — perhaps indefinitely — the homecoming of 250 British troops who were told just days ago that they would be returning to the UK as part of a drawdown of forces in Iraq,” and that “Prime Minister Gordon Brown initiated the drawdown, and about 500 British troops completed their withdrawal from Basra Palace, their last remaining base in the city, to an airport on the city’s outskirts. The move was expected to be the final stage in Britain’s complete extraction from Iraq. Wednesday’s report follows on the heels of news that US troops would be establishing a base on the border to guard against Iranian-imported weapons.

Tensions between the US and Iran have gone from bad to dismal in recent years, with some fearing all-out war will erupt between the two countries, and the top US commander in Iraq has refused to rule out that possibility. US Army Gen. David Petraeus demurred Tuesday when he was asked by Sen. Joseph Lieberman whether the war should be expanded ‘in Iranian territory.’ And Petraeus ‘strongly implied’ that action against Iran would be necessary soon, The Independent reported.” On top of this, it was further pointed out that, “Along with British and US troops, Georgia recently sent about 1,200 extra troops to Iraq to patrol the border with Iran.”32

Further, Press TV reported that, “Britain is planning to increase its naval presence in the Persian Gulf by next year, a top British naval commander in the area has revealed. Deputy Combined Force Commander Royal Navy Commodore Keith Winstanley said Monday that Britain has a range of capabilities deployed at various times in the region ranging between submarines, frigates, and destroyers, and that it plans to increase its naval presence by 2008,” and that, “Winstanley, speaking onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, added that strategic and economic interests had brought about a policy of engagement by Britain in the region,” and the article said at the end, “The last time there were active mine counter-measures in the region was in March of 2003,”33 which, coincidentally, was the same month that the war in Iraq began.

Not only are the Anglo-Americans fully on board and preparing for a possible attack on Iran, but even the Franco-German Entente seems to be steadily leaning that direction. French President Nicholas Sarkozy made headlines recently when he “called Iran’s nuclear ambition the world’s most dangerous problem,” and further, “raised the possibility that the country could be bombed if it persisted in building an atomic weapon,” as reported by the Sunday Times. The article continued, “The biggest challenge to the world was the avoidance of conflict between Islam and the West, President Sarkozy told the annual gathering of French ambassadors. Iran was the crossroads of the Middle East’s troubles and its nuclear aims ‘are without doubt the most serious crisis that weighs today on the international scene,” and that, “A nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable and the world must continue to tighten sanctions while offering incentives to Tehran to halt weapons development, he said. ‘This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran,’ he said. He did not say who would carry out such an attack, which has been suggested by policy experts in Israel and the US.”34 Further, it was reported that, “French Defence Minister Herve Morin warned on Sunday that Iran’s nuclear programme posed a ‘major risk’ to the stability of the Gulf region. ‘It is necessary to make Iran understand that the nuclear risk creates a major risk of destabilising the region,’ Morin told journalists as he wrapped up a visit to the Gulf state of Qatar.”35

On September 14, it was reported that, “Germany denied on Friday that it wanted to hold off on sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. The government dismissed a report on the US TV channel Fox that it had broken ranks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and wanted to delay any sanctions to allow a deal struck between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on August 21 to take effect,” and it continued, quoting the German foreign ministry spokesman, “Germany is prepared to take the necessary steps against Iran, if necessary,” and that, “The five permanent Security Council members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany are due to meet to discuss a new draft UN resolution on sanctions against Iran on September 21 in Washington. Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity but the United States accuses Tehran of covertly developing atomic weapons.”36

Another conflict, which is directly related to the growing Iranian conflict, has been accumulating significance in the region, as it was reported that, “Syria accused Israel of bombing its territory on Thursday [September 6] and said it could respond to the Jewish state’s ‘aggression and treachery’,” and further, “Israel declined to comment on the charge by Syria, which said no casualties or damage were caused. The Syrian accusation was partly responsible for triggering a rise in world oil prices of more than $1.40 a barrel.”37 Another report stated that, “Syria is mulling a ‘series of responses’ after Israeli warplanes violated its airspace this week, Vice President Faruq al-Shara said in an interview with an Italian newspaper published Saturday. ‘I can say now that in Damascus a series of responses is being examined at the highest political and military levels. The results will not take long in coming’.”38

Press TV reported that, “Syria says Israel is planning to wage another war in the region after the Israeli army staged military exercises on the Golan Heights. The state-run Syrian daily al-Thawra said on Sunday that a recent war game by the Israeli military on the occupied Golan Heights has sent a clear message reflecting Israel’s intention for waging a new war in the region.”39 Another report states that, “Tehran has announced its readiness to assist Damascus by all means to counter the violation of Syrian airspace by Israeli warplanes. Iran’s ambassador to Syria, Mohammad-Hassan Akhtari said the Zionist Regime’s provocative moves had prompted Tehran to offer help to the Syrian government. Earlier Thursday, Syria’s official News Agency reported that several Israeli fighter jets had bombed Syrian territories. However, the Syrian army successfully forced the Israeli warplanes out of the Syrian airspace.”40

A September 12 report stated that, “Israel recently carried out reconnaissance flights over Syria, taking pictures of possible nuclear installations that Israeli officials believed might have been supplied with material from North Korea, The New York Times reported Thursday. A US administration official said Israeli officials believed that North Korea might be unloading some of its nuclear material on Syria, the Times reported,” and it quoted an unnamed official, stating, “The Israelis think North Korea is selling to Iran and Syria what little they have left,” and the article further said, “A US defense official confirmed Tuesday that Israel carried out an air strike well inside Syria last week, apparently to send Damascus a message not to rearm Hezbollah in Lebanon. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not know the target of the strike, which was conducted Thursday, but said the US military believed it was to send a message to the Syrians.”41

The Sunday Times later reported that, “It was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way,” and that, “Ten days after the jets reached home, their mission was the focus of intense speculation this weekend amid claims that Israel believed it had destroyed a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea,” and it continued, “The Syrians were also keeping mum. ‘I cannot reveal the details,’ said Farouk al-Sharaa, the vice-president. ‘All I can say is the military and political echelon is looking into a series of responses as we speak. Results are forthcoming.’ The official story that the target comprised weapons destined for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group, appeared to be crumbling in the face of widespread scepticism.

Andrew Semmel, a senior US State Department official, said Syria might have obtained nuclear equipment from ‘secret suppliers’, and added that there were a ‘number of foreign technicians’ in the country. Asked if they could be North Korean, he replied: ‘There are North Korean people there. There’s no question about that’,” and further, “According to Israeli sources, preparations for the attack had been going on since late spring, when Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, presented Olmert with evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea.”42
It was then reported that, “An official Syrian daily warned on Sunday that US ‘lies’ over nuclear cooperation with North Korea could serve as a pretext for an attack on Syria following an Israeli violation of its airspace,” and that, “Syria has said its air defences fired on Israeli warplanes which dropped munitions deep inside its territory in the early hours of September 6, triggering intense media speculation about the action. Israel has not confirmed the incident and kept up a policy of official silence, with the only details on the mysterious attack coming from foreign media reports citing anonymous officials.”43

Call It What You Want, It’s All Just a Game

As the prospect of a US-led war on Iran increases by the day, it is vital to understand the history of such actions. This was my intent in writing this essay, as to understand current crises and conflicts evolving in the region, it is important to examine the historical context of such crises over the past 200 years. Dating from the Great Game between the British and Russian empires for control of Central Eurasia, namely fighting for control in Afghanistan and Iran, the reasons behind the Great Game were simply stated as for maintaining hegemonic control. With brief alliances generating between Britain and Russia, formed for strategic conveniences, namely to counter rising German influence in the region in the lead up to World War 1 and during World War 2, the Great Game continued after the Second World War under a different name, the Cold War. For a new century, it was necessary to give a hundred year old strategy a new name, as especially after World War 2, the concepts of hegemony and expansion of control, imperialism in general, were not well received, considering the world just came out of Hitler’s attempt at such a strategy. In 1947, India gained independence from the British Empire, instigating the collapse of its imperial hegemony across the globe.

It was at this time, however, that the United States was now in the most pivotal position to exert its hegemony across the globe. With its extensive ties to Great Britain, the British latched onto the Americans in the Anglo-American Alliance, allowing not only for the US to protect US hegemony and interests abroad, but also British. To do this, however, there needed to be an excuse, as the world would not accept another global hegemon for the sake of hegemony. Thus, the Cold War came into being. Under the guise of deterring the spread of Communism under the auspices of the ‘Domino Theory’, the US managed to expand and protect Anglo-American hegemony around the globe. The Cold War was simply the third phase of the Great Game, as it applied the same strategies used for the previous hundred years, just under a new name and justified under a new threat.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, bringing an end to the Cold War, a New World Order began to form, the birth pangs of which were felt in the Middle East. This New World Order of creating a new global structure, of a more integrated global society, still has many conflicts arising out of it. After World War 1, the League of Nations was created in the hopes of securing a more integrated global community, which ultimately failed with the start of World War 2, after which the United Nations was created to serve the same purpose. Out of each world war, we see the move to create a more global society. Now, after the Cold War ended, we have a new conflict arising between the West and the East. This new conflict is about gaining supremacy in the New World Order, as many great powers seek to sway the balance away from a US-dominated New World Order, and towards a Russian or Chinese New World Order.

In the year 2000, then Chinese President, “Jiang Zemin called for joint efforts of the people of all countries to establish a fair and equitable new international political and economic order,” and he further stated, “With the collapse of the centuries-long colonialist system and the end of half-a-century Cold War, it has become increasingly difficult for hegemonism and power politics to go on and for the very few big powers or blocs of big powers to monopolize international affairs and control the fate of other countries.”44 In 2005, both China and Russia “issued a joint statement on a new world order in the 21st century, setting forth their common stand on major international issues, such as UN reforms, globalization, North-South cooperation, and world economy and trade. The statement was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao after their talks. During their talks, the two leaders discussed ways to further enhance the strategic and cooperative partnership between China and Russia, and exchanged views on major regional and international issues,” and that “The joint statement said the two countries are determined to strengthen their strategic coordination in international affairs.”45 More recently, in 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin called “for a radical overhaul of the world’s financial and trade institutions to reflect the growing economic power of emerging market countries – including Russia. Mr Putin said the world needed to create a new international financial architecture to replace an existing model,” and as the Financial Times further reported, Putin’s “apparent challenge to western dominance of the world economic order came at a forum in St Petersburg designed to showcase the country’s economic recovery. Among 6,000 delegates at the biggest business forum ever held in post-Soviet Russia were scores of international chief executives including heads of Deutsche Bank, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Nestlé, Chevron, Siemens and Coca-Cola. Business deals worth more than $4bn were signed at the conference – including an order by Aeroflot for Boeing jets – as executives said they were continuing to invest in Russia despite deteriorating relations with the west. Mr Putin’s hosting of the forum capped a week in which he dominated the international stage. He warned last Monday that Russia might target nuclear missiles at Europe if the US built a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic,” and Putin’s “speech on financial institutions suggested that, along with an aggressive recent campaign against US ‘unilateralism’ in foreign policy, he was also seeking to challenge western dominance of the world economic order.”46

So clearly, from this last statement especially, we can see that both China and Russia are not opposed to forming a New World Order, which would be largely based on international institutions and integration, both economically and politically, but they are opposed to the West’s dominance of such a world order, and instead, seek to challenge that dominance with their own. Ultimately, the goals are similar, but the methods of getting there is where the West and the East differ. As the above Financial Times article mentioned, large global corporations are still investing in Russia, despite recent setbacks in certain areas, which shows the support for the process of globalization, which has thusly shaped the current world order. International corporations have no allegiance to people or national identities, but rather seek to exert their control across the entire globe, and will support any nations with great influence, so that with the battle for control in shaping the New World Order, the corporations will always be on the winning side. As the multinational corporations seek a more integrated global society, they must first gain control of the world markets, integrating the economies first. With economic integration, political and cultural will follow. The challenge for the great powers of the world is which ones will be dominant in this process, and thusly, which ones will have dominant control over the New World Order.

Out of conflict, comes societal reorganization. We seem to rapidly be heading toward another World War, which would have its starting point with an attack on Iran. Talk of a ‘new Cold War’ is misleading, as if any conflict occurs with Iran, if the US attacks the Islamic Republic, there will be nothing Cold about it. This new conflict, the fourth phase of the Great Game, will give rise to competition between the great powers for control over the Middle East and Central Eurasia in order to achieve hegemony in the New World Order. It is likely that a New Great Game will lead to a New World War, out of which will rise the New World Order. Whichever great powers come out of the next war as the victors, if indeed there are any, it is likely that it will be that power which will lead the New World Order.

As I have mentioned Zbigniew Brzezinski much in this essay, as his relevance to American hegemonic strategy is almost unparalleled, apart from other figures like Henry Kissinger, I feel it is relevant to end with a discussion on testimony that Brzezinski recently gave to the US Senate. In February of 2007, Brzezinski, “the national security adviser in the Carter administration, delivered a scathing critique of the war in Iraq and warned that the Bush administration’s policy was leading inevitably to a war with Iran, with incalculable consequences for US imperialism in the Middle East and internationally,” and Brzezinski was quoted as saying about the Iraq war, “Undertaken under false assumptions, it is undermining America’s global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America’s moral credentials. Driven by Manichean principles and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability,” and he continued, describing what he termed a “plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran”, of which he said would involve, “Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks, followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure, then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran, culminating in a ‘defensive’ US military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” [Emphasis added].47

Brzezinski’s startling warning should not be taken for granted. Even though many factions of the ruling class are divided, for example someone like Brzezinski, who is very much opposed to the neo-conservatives, they are all still playing the same game. The game is hegemony and empire, the only difference is that some people and some countries have different methods of playing. In previous centuries, the battle for control of Central Eurasia was called what it was, the Great Game, a game for control, a game for power. The difference between two hundred years ago and today, is that we are in a much more globalized, integrated society, which has turned this Great game into, as Brzezinski aptly named his blueprint for American hegemony, the Grand Chessboard. It’s no longer simply just a great game, but is now simply a board game for the global ruling class. Sacrificing pawns, a simple act for them, can be seen in the eyes of the moral society as the destruction of entire nations and peoples.

There’s only so many players in this game, and they all have the same aim, just different methods of getting there. The unfortunate aspect of this, is that the people of the world are being tossed around like pawns in a chess game. The world is meant for all people, not just a select few, to inhabit and have a say in. So, if these people want to play games, let’s put them back in the playground, because their mentality has yet to surpass that of children during recess.

Mahatma Gandhi, the man who led India to independence from the British Empire, once said, “Remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall — think of it, ALWAYS.”

Notes

Andrew G. Marshall is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Andrew G. Marshall

see
Imperial Playground: Marching East of Iraq by Andrew G. Marshall

Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History by Andrew G. Marshall

The New World Order, Forged in the Gulf by Andrew G. Marshall

Attacking Iran for Israel? By Ray McGovern

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‘ Swimming up the Tigris’

October 4, 2007

‘ Swimming up the Tigris’

Book Review of Barbara Nimri Aziz’s most recent book

Global Research, October 3, 2007

 

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‘ Swimming up the Tigris’, by anthropologist, journalist and broadcaster, Barbara Nimri Aziz.This poignant book, by a woman who knows and loves Iraq, covers both the embargo years and the aftermath. Her astute insights cover both the political games and the resulting human cost. 

Writing in one chapter: ‘Imagine’, she writes of a family who had withstood the 1991 onslaught, the embargo’s unique deprivations, numerous bombings, but decided to flee the invasion, fearing for the lives of their children. ‘Imagine’, she writes of each step: leaving all that is precious, pictures, books, mementos; ‘imagine’ entrusting the keys to your neighbor’s gardener, who promises to guard their home as his own; ‘imagine’ delivering the children’s’ precious pet bird to their aunt, ordering the taxi, locking the gate, the children sobbing …. leaving all that is the centre of your lives. 

Florida University Press requested that I write the foreword for ‘Swimming …’ In the event it was deemed too radical, though a clip appears on the cover. So, in tribute to a remarkable book and labor of love of some years and witness to and experience of terrible grief, of humanity, laughter, in the ‘land between two rivers’, over many, here is the unpublished foreword. Salut, Barbara.

This is a book that had to be written, an insight in to a land and a people demonized and vilified for sixteen years, written by an author, academic and anthropologist, who walks in the shoes of so many, who have suffered so uniquely grievously, due to United Nations’ policies, driven almost entirely by the United States and Britain.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the United Nations imposed an embargo on both countries, seemingly to pressure for a resolution to the dispute. It was, ironically, implemented on Hiroshima Day (6th August) and heralded a silent holocaust and one of the U.N.’s most shameful eras, as it was lifted on Kuwait and ground on for thirteen years for Iraq. Then replaced by illegal invasion, occupation, slaughter and ongoing, unimaginable destruction, heartbreak and bloodshed.

As the western propaganda machine rampaged through the years, the Iraqi people – their warmth, ingenuity, generosity, their humbling welcome to those from countries who had brought them such suffering – were air brushed out of the picture, except by a small band of journalists, activists and aid workers, consumed by an historic injustice and love for those of this complex, haunting, ancient land. Barbara Nimri Aziz, usually traveling alone, was one such, who repeatedly returned, broadcasting and writing, speaking for people whose voices too, had become embargoed. For the outside majority, it seemed just Saddam Hussein, existed, not the twenty five million people (broadly, half of which are under sixteen) of ancient Mesopotamia, the ‘land between two rivers’: the biblical Tigris and Euphrates.

Space does not permit an adequate background to the reasons for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. However, during the eight year Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) losses on both sides which were compared to the first World War and in which the United States backed Iraq (but provided arms to both sides) Kuwaiti settlements encroached well in to Iraq. Iraq’s currency was subsequently devalued by Kuwait’s oil transactions and during the war, Kuwait engaged in slant drilling under the border and extracting oil from Iraq’s vast Rumaila oil field. When efforts to resolve these complexities failed, the Iraqi government approached the then U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, querying Washington’s views, should conflict become an option. Glaspie replied that the U.S. had: ‘.. no view on Arab-Arab conflicts.’ Whatever and about Saddam Hussein, imagine the U.S., response to Mexico’s residents settling three hundred kilometers in to the United States beyond the common border – and slant drilling in to Texan oil wells.

Iraq imported, broadly, seventy percent of everything (ironically, largely on the advice of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.) With the country bombed ‘back to a pre-industrial age’, as had been promised by James Baker, then Secretary of State under President George Bush, Senior., catastrophe loomed. The entire manufacturing and industrial base had been destroyed with infrastructure (water de-salination and purification) electricity, communications, medical and food warehouses, roads, the great bridges which joined a country, fractured by the two great rivers. All necessary to rebuild and repair was vetoed by the United Nations Sanctions Committee, in a country which had enjoyed, according to the U.N’s own assessment, over ninety percent access to clean water and high quality free medical care and education.

Normality too was vetoed. Professor Magne Raundalen, founder of the Center for Crisis Studies in Bergen, Norway, one of the world’s foremost experts on the psychological damage to children in war zones, in 1992, estimated that the children of Iraq were the ‘most traumatized child population on earth’. Subject to forty two days of carpet bombings ( 17th January 1991 – 28th February 1991 – an average of two thousand sorties daily)(1.) they had no way of recovering, of gradual return to normality. School books, paper, pencils, blackboards, pens, were vetoed, in a country, two years running, presented with an Award by UNESCO, in tribute to a free education, from Primary level, through university, in which children born to even illiterate parents, could graduate with a Ph.D. Toys, even a consignment of ping pong balls and children’s’ bicycles were denied – and inflation became stratospheric. In 1989, one Iraqi Dinar (ID) was worth three U.S. Dollars. By 1992, two hundred and fifty ID – formerly seven hundred and fifty U.S Dollars – would not buy a postage stamp in neighboring Jordan. For most, childhood died in Iraq, with birthday parties, Eid and Christmas celebrations increasingly cancelled – money for presents, for celebratory meals, dwindling or gone, in a country where family celebrations with friends, are the years’ highlights, planned in minute detail, anticipated, photographed and joyously embraced.

And the children were dying in their thousands from ’embargo related causes’ – ‘not with a bang, but with a whimper’. Prior to August 1990, wasting diseases resultant from malnourishment were rarely heard of. Cheap, plentiful food, had led to obesity becoming a medical problem. Kwashiokor and Marasmus, associated with the word’s poorest countries, rose respectively, from just 485 in 1990 to 13,744 in 1992 and 5,193 in 1990 to 111,477 in 1992. (2) The same year under five mortality rose from 43.2 per thousand to 128.5 per thousand.(3)

Water born diseases soared. Cholera, of which there had been no cases in 1989-1990, presented 2,100 in 1991-1992; typhoid rose by 1,060 percent and polio, with just ten cases in 1989, presented with one hundred and twenty by 1992. (4) Parts for repairing water vetoed, Iraq’s water became a biological weapon, with shattered sewage and water pipes mixing their contents. Yet potassium, vital for rehydration and purchasable over the counter in chemists in the West, was vetoed, as, largely, anti-biotics and diaharoreal treatments.

In strict contravention of the Geneva Convention, on 18th January 1991, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency circulated a detailed scientific Report on Iraq’s complex water system to all Allied Commands. Entitled: ‘Iraq Water Vulnerabilities’, it detailed the catastrophic health effect bombing the network would have, concluding, that after all the essential purification, distribution and networks were bombed: ‘it is estimated that it will take six months, for Iraq’s water (systems) to fully degrade.’ Professor Tom Nagy of the University of Washington discovered this document, ten years later. A member of the authoritative Association of Genocide Scholars, he presented it for their deliberations. Their verdict was that this shameful, shocking paper, fell within their remit. (5)

Early in the embargo, doctors made a new diagnosis. Mothers too malnourished to breast feed and too poor to buy milk powder, a tin of which exceeded the monthly salary of many, fed their baby sugared water, or sugared tea. All became bloated, chronically malnourished and almost all died. Doctors named them: ‘The sugar babies’. Cancers became epidemic, as did birth defects. Conditions linked with the radioactive and chemically toxic depleted uranium weapons used by the U.S. and Britain, waste from the nuclear industry, dust from which if inhaled or ingested, causes genetic mutations and is carcinogenic. Cancer medications were largely vetoed, so living in their irradiated land, Iraqis suffered only the detrimental effects of radiation and little of the therapeutic. ‘There is a hole where my heart should be’, a young doctor suddenly remarked on one visit, stroking the heads of her small, doomed patients. Another quoted Goethe: ‘Man can only stand so much pain, after that he either dies, or sinks in to apathy.’ Iraqis, between the embargo and the thirteen years of subsequent U.S., U.K., bombing and ultimate invasion, could not avoid dying, but apathy was not an option. British colonialist, writer and spy, Gertrude Bell who never the less was captivated by Iraq, encapsulated the spirit in an undated essay in the 1930’s. She wrote of the ‘romance’ of this ‘cradle of civilization’ – and of the people: ‘ The enterprise, the rigors, the courage…’ They remain undimmed.

Over the embargo years, death stalked Iraq’s children from the moment of birth – and the embargo’s mass graves will for ever be a monument to a U.S., U.K., driven wickedness which equals that of Pol Pot. In 1998 one man finally fixated the world’s attentions on this unique wickedness. Denis Halliday, distinguished U.N. career diplomat and a U.N. Assistant Secretary General, appointed as .U.N. Coordinator in Iraq, resigned, from the post and the U.N., calling the embargo: ‘genocide’, adding that: ‘history will slaughter those responsible.’ He traveled the globe, talking of the plight of the Iraqi people.

Fifteen months later, his successor, Count Hans von Sponeck also resigned in shame and disgust, joining Halliday in speaking out, world wide. ‘Anyone who has been there and seen for themselves, could do nothing else’, he told me. Between them, Halliday and von Sponeck had given sixty six years service to the U.N. The day after von Sponeck resigned, Jutta Burghardt, Chief of the (U.N.) World Food Programme in Iraq, also resigned: ‘The middle class is disappearing and the stunted children will never recover.’ Representative David Bonier talked of :’ Infanticide masquerading as policy’ and seventy Members of Congress signed a letter to President Clinton, demanding a change in policy. Baghdad airport had been rebuilt and reopened for sporadic flights and neighboring countries, shamed at Iraq’s plight took less notice of the embargo’s strictures -and though, for most, the poverty ground on, the soul, the hope, began to return to the nation. ‘For us the embargo is over’, was a repeated refrain. And the isolation, as debilitating as the deprivation, began to recede. ‘ Every time a ‘plane comes in, there are tears in our eyes’, remarked a friend.

Then came the Presidency of George W. Bush, the threats, the lies, culminating in the illegal invasion. Few could encapsulate, as Barbara Nimri Aziz, the spirit, the laughter, courage, tears of the people of this extraordinary, haunting, complex land, where Baghdad was described as : ‘the Paris of the ninth century’ , (6) where civilization flourished before Mohammed and Christ walked the earth. For believers, the land of the Garden of Eden, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, of Ur, where Abraham, father of Islam, Christianity and Judaism was suckled on two fingers, one which brought forth milk, the other honey, thus ‘land of milk and honey’. Land of humanity’s history – where the ‘liberated’ now write of the embargo’s horrors as : ‘golden years’.

Paul William Roberts writes of the invasion :

‘…. the old people with resignation stamped across their foreheads, who can’t go on yet will go on; the young married couples who still hope for a better life yet don’t hope too hard lest it break their hearts, the countless unremembered acts of kindness and of love that fill desolate days, and I realize I would far prefer to be here than in any house where this war is justified. For it cannot be justified.

‘But this region has always led to somewhere worth going. Baghdad is just as glorious in its ruin as it was in its glory. For something noble crawls from the rubble, to spread golden wings in the light of dawn. The gate of God opens wider.’

Barbara Nimri Aziz opens many gates, to unique, astute and eye misting, insights. Every American and British politician should read this book and sink to their knees in shame.

Notes

1.The Fire this Time: Ramsey Clark, Thunder mouth Press, 1992.

2.ibid.

3.The Children are Dying ; Report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, World View Forum, 1995.

4.The Fire this Time.

5.How the U.S. Deliberately Destroyed Iraq’s Water; http://www.commondreams.org 29th August 2001.Thanks to Professor Nagy, Iraq Water Vulnerabilities has numerous Google entries for interested researchers. The paper can be fully downloaded.

6.The Jew, the Gypsy and El Islam, Sir Richard Burton, 1898.

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

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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

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.

 

Cold War II by Noam Chomsky

August 30, 2007

Cold War II

by Noam Chomsky
August 27, 2007

 


These are exciting days in Washington, as the government directs its energies to the demanding task of “containing Iran” in what Washington Post correspondent Robin Wright, joining others, calls “Cold War II.”[1]

During Cold War I, the task was to contain two awesome forces.  The lesser and more moderate force was “an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost.” Hence “if the United States is to survive,” it will have to adopt a “repugnant philosophy” and reject “acceptable norms of human conduct” and the “long-standing American concepts of `fair play’” that had been exhibited with such searing clarity in the conquest of the national territory, the Philippines, Haiti and other beneficiaries of “the idealistic new world bent on ending inhumanity,” as the newspaper of record describes our noble mission.[2] The judgments about the nature of the super-Hitler and the necessary response are those of General Jimmy Doolittle, in a critical assessment of the CIA commissioned by President Eisenhower in 1954.  They are quite consistent with those of the Truman administration liberals, the “wise men” who were “present at the creation,” notoriously in NSC 68 but in fact quite consistently.

 

In the face of the Kremlin’s unbridled aggression in every corner of the world, it is perhaps understandable that the US resisted in defense of human values with a savage display of torture, terror, subversion and violence while doing “everything in its power to alter or abolish any regime not openly allied with America,” as Tim Weiner summarizes the doctrine of the Eisenhower administration in his recent history of the CIA.[3]  And just as the Truman liberals easily matched their successors in fevered rhetoric about the implacable enemy and its campaign to rule the world, so did John F. Kennedy, who bitterly condemned the “monolithic and ruthless conspiracy,” and dismissed the proposal of its leader (Khrushchev) for sharp mutual cuts in offensive weaponry, then reacted to his unilateral implementation of these proposals with a huge military build-up.  The Kennedy brothers also quickly surpassed Eisenhower in violence and terror, as they “unleashed covert action with an unprecedented intensity” (Wiener), doubling Eisenhower’s annual record of major CIA covert operations, with horrendous consequences worldwide, even a close brush with terminal nuclear war.[4]

 

But at least it was possible to deal with Russia, unlike the fiercer enemy, China.  The more thoughtful scholars recognized that Russia was poised uneasily between civilization and barbarism.  As Henry Kissinger later explained in his academic essays, only the West has undergone the Newtonian revolution and is therefore “deeply committed to the notion that the real world is external to the observer,” while the rest still believe “that the real world is almost completely internal to the observer,” the “basic division” that is “the deepest problem of the contemporary international order.” But Russia, unlike third word peasants who think that rain and sun are inside their heads, was perhaps coming to the realization that the world is not just a dream, Kissinger felt.

 

Not so the still more savage and bloodthirsty enemy, China, which for liberal Democrat intellectuals at various times rampaged as a “a Slavic Manchukuo,” a blind puppet of its Kremlin master, or a monster utterly unconstrained as it pursued its crazed campaign to crush the world in its tentacles, or whatever else circumstances demanded.  The remarkable tale of doctrinal fanaticism from the 1940s to the ‘70s, which makes contemporary rhetoric seem rather moderate, is reviewed by James Peck in his highly revealing study of the national security culture, Washington’s China.

 

In later years, there were attempts to mimic the valiant deeds of the defenders of virtue from the two villainous global conquerors and their loyal slaves – for example, when the Gipper strapped on his cowboy boots and declared a National Emergency because Nicaraguan hordes were only two days from Harlingen Texas, though as he courageously informed the press, despite the tremendous odds “I refuse to give up. I remember a man named Winston Churchill who said, `Never give in. Never, never, never.’ So we won’t.” With consequences that need not be reviewed.

 

Even with the best of efforts, however, the attempts never were able to recapture the glorious days of Cold War I.  But now, at last, those heights might be within reach, as another implacable enemy bent on world conquest has arisen, which we must contain before it destroys us all: Iran.

 

Perhaps it’s a lift to the spirits to be able to recover those heady Cold War days when at least there was a legitimate force to contain, however dubious the pretexts and disgraceful the means.  But it is instructive to take a closer look at the contours of Cold War II as they are being designed by “the former Kremlinologists now running U.S. foreign policy, such as Rice and Gates” (Wright).

 

The task of containment is to establish “a bulwark against Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East,” Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper explain in the New York Times (July 31).  To contain Iran’s influence we must surround Iran with US and NATO ground forces, along with massive naval deployments in the Persian Gulf and of course incomparable air power and weapons of mass destruction.  And we must provide a huge flow of arms to what Condoleezza Rice calls “the forces of moderation and reform” in the region, the brutal tyrannies of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and, with particular munificence, Israel, by now virtually an adjunct of the militarized high-tech US economy.  All to contain Iran’s influence.  A daunting challenge indeed.

 

And daunting it is.  In Iraq, Iranian support is welcomed by much of the majority Shi’ite population.  In an August visit to Teheran, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, President Ahmadinejad and other senior officials, and thanked Tehran for its “positive and constructive” role in improving security in Iraq, eliciting a sharp reprimand from President Bush, who “declares Teheran a regional peril and asserts the Iraqi leader must understand,” to quote the headline of the Los Angeles Times report on al-Maliki’s intellectual deficiencies.  A few days before, also greatly to Bush’s discomfiture, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Washington’s favorite, described Iran as “a helper and a solution” in his country.[5]  Similar problems abound beyond Iran’s immediate neighbors.  In Lebanon, according to polls, most Lebanese see Iranian-backed Hezbollah “as a legitimate force defending their country from Israel,” Wright reports.  And in Palestine, Iranian-backed Hamas won a free election, eliciting savage punishment of the Palestinian population by the US and Israel for the crime of voting “the wrong way,” another episode in “democracy promotion.”

 

But no matter.  The aim of US militancy and the arms flow to the moderates is to counter “what everyone in the region believes is a flexing of muscles by a more aggressive Iran,” according to an unnamed senior U.S. government official – “everyone” being the technical term used to refer to Washington and its more loyal clients.[6]  Iran’s aggression consists in its being welcomed by many within the region, and allegedly supporting resistance to the US occupation of neighboring Iraq.

 

It’s likely, though little discussed, that a prime concern about Iran’s influence is to the East, where in mid-August “Russia and China today host Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a summit of a Central Asian security club designed to counter U.S. influence in the region,” the business press reports.[7] The “security club” is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which has been slowly taking shape in recent years.  Its membership includes not only the two giants Russia and China, but also the energy-rich Central Asian states Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.  Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan was a guest of honor at the August meeting. “In another unwelcome development for the Americans, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov also accepted an invitation to attend the summit,” another step its improvement of relations with Russia, particularly in energy, reversing a long-standing policy of isolation from Russia.  “Russia in May secured a deal to build a new pipeline to import more gas from Turkmenistan, bolstering its dominant hold on supplies to Europe and heading off a competing U.S.-backed plan that would bypass Russian territory.”[8]

 

Along with Iran, there are three other official observer states: India, Pakistan and Mongolia. Washington’s request for similar status was denied.  In 2005 the SCO called for a timetable for termination of any US military presence in Central Asia.  The participants at the August meeting flew to the Urals to attend the first joint Russia-China military exercises on Russian soil.

 

Association of Iran with the SCO extends its inroads into the Middle East, where China has been increasing trade and other relations with the jewel in the crown, Saudi Arabia.  There is an oppressed Shi’ite population in Saudi Arabia that is also susceptible to Iran’s influence – and happens to sit on most of Saudi oil.  About 40% of Middle East oil is reported to be heading East, not West.[9] As the flow Eastward increases, US control declines over this lever of world domination, a “stupendous source of strategic power,” as the State Department described Saudi oil 60 years ago.

 

In Cold War I, the Kremlin had imposed an iron curtain and built the Berlin Wall to contain Western influence.  In Cold War II, Wright reports, the former Kremlinologists framing policy are imposing a “green curtain” to bar Iranian influence.   In short, government-media doctrine is that the Iranian threat is rather similar to the Western threat that the Kremlin sought to contain, and the US is eagerly taking on the Kremlin’s role in the thrilling “new Cold War.”

 

All of this is presented without noticeable concern.  Nevertheless, the recognition that the US government is modeling itself on Stalin and his successors in the new Cold War must be arousing at least some flickers of embarrassment.  Perhaps that is how we can explain the ferocious Washington Post editorial announcing that Iran has escalated its aggressiveness to a Hot War: “the Revolutionary Guard, a radical state within Iran’s Islamic state, is waging war against the United States and trying to kill as many American soldiers as possible.” The US must therefore “fight back,” the editors thunder, finding quite “puzzling…the murmurs of disapproval from European diplomats and others who say they favor using diplomacy and economic pressure, rather than military action, to rein in Iran,” even in the face of its outright aggression.  The evidence that Iran is waging war against the US is now conclusive.  After all, it comes from an administration that has never deceived the American people, even improving on the famous stellar honesty of its predecessors.

 

Suppose that for once Washington’s charges happen to be true, and Iran really is providing Shi’ite militias with roadside bombs that kill American forces, perhaps even making use of the some of the advanced weaponry lavishly provided to the Revolutionary Guard by Ronald Reagan in order to fund the illegal war against Nicaragua, under the pretext of arms for hostages (the number of hostages tripled during these endeavors).[10]  If the charges are true, then Iran could properly be charged with a minuscule fraction of the iniquity of the Reagan administration, which provided Stinger missiles and other high-tech military aid to the “insurgents” seeking to disrupt Soviet efforts to bring stability and justice to Afghanistan, as they saw it.  Perhaps Iran is even guilty of some of the crimes of the Roosevelt administration, which assisted terrorist partisans attacking peaceful and sovereign Vichy France in 1940-41, and had thus declared war on Germany even before Pearl Harbor.

 

One can pursue these questions further.  The CIA station chief in Pakistan in 1981, Howard Hart, reports that “I was the first chief of station ever sent abroad with this wonderful order: `Go kill Soviet soldiers’.  Imagine! I loved it.” Of course “the mission was not to liberate Afghanistan,” Tim Wiener writes in his history of the CIA, repeating the obvious.  But “it was a noble goal,” he writes.  Killing Russians with no concern for the fate of Afghans is a “noble goal.” But support for resistance to a US invasion and occupation would be a vile act and declaration of war.

 

Without irony, the Bush administration and the media charge that Iran is “meddling” in Iraq, otherwise presumably free from foreign interference. The evidence is partly technical. Do the serial numbers on the Improvised Explosive Devices really trace back to Iran? If so, does the leadership of Iran know about the IEDs, or only the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.  Settling the debate, the White House plans to brand the Revolutionary Guard as a “specially designated global terrorist” force, an unprecedented action against a national military branch, authorizing Washington to undertake a wide range of punitive actions. Watching in disbelief, much of the world asks whether the US military, invading and occupying Iran’s neighbors, might better merit this charge — or its Israeli client, now about to receive a huge increase in military aid to commemorate 40 years of harsh occupation and illegal settlement, and its fifth invasion of Lebanon a year ago.

 

It is instructive that Washington’s propaganda framework is reflexively accepted, apparently without notice, in US and other Western commentary and reporting, apart from the marginal fringe of what is called ‘the loony left.” What is considered “criticism” is skepticism as to whether all of Washington’s charges about Iranian aggression in Iraq are true.  It might be an interesting research project to see how closely the propaganda of Russia, Nazi Germany, and other aggressors and occupiers matched the standards of today’s liberal press and commentators..

 

The comparisons are of course unfair.  Unlike German and Russian occupiers, American forces are in Iraq by right, on the principle, too obvious even to enunciate, that the US owns the world.  Therefore, as a matter of elementary logic, the US cannot invade and occupy another country.  The US can only defend and liberate others.  No other category exists.  Predecessors, including the most monstrous, have commonly sworn by the same principle, but again there is an obvious difference: they were Wrong, and we are Right.  QED.

 

Another comparison comes to mind, which is studiously ignored when we are sternly admonished of the ominous consequences that might follow withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.  The preferred analogy is Indochina, highlighted in a shameful speech by the President on August 22.  That analogy can perhaps pass muster among those who have succeeded in effacing from their minds the record of US actions in Indochina, including the destruction of much of Vietnam and the murderous bombing of Laos and Cambodia as the US began its withdrawal from the wreckage of South Vietnam.  In Cambodia, the bombing was in accord with Kissinger’s genocidal orders: “anything that flies on anything that moves” – actions that drove “an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency [the Khmer Rouge] that had enjoyed relatively little support before the Kissinger-Nixon bombing was inaugurated,” as Cambodia specialists Owen Taylor and Ben Kiernan observe in a highly important study that passed virtually without notice, in which they reveal that the bombing was five times the incredible level reported earlier, greater than all allied bombing in World War II.  Completely suppressing all relevant facts, it is then possible for the President and many commentators to present Khmer Rouge crimes as a justification for continuing to devastate Iraq.

 

But although the grotesque Indochina analogy receives much attention, the obvious analogy is ignored: the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan, which, as Soviet analysts predicted, led to shocking violence and destruction as the country was taken over by Reagan’s favorites, who amused themselves by such acts as throwing acid in the faces of women in Kabul they regarded as too liberated, and then virtually destroyed the city and much else, creating such havoc and terror that the population actually welcomed the Taliban.  That analogy could indeed be invoked without utter absurdity by advocates of  “staying the course,” but evidently it is best forgotten.

 

Under the heading “Secretary Rice’s Mideast mission: contain Iran,” the press reports Rice’s warning that Iran is “the single most important single-country challenge to…US interests in the Middle East.” That is a reasonable judgment.  Given the long-standing principle that Washington must do “everything in its power to alter or abolish any regime not openly allied with America,” Iran does pose a unique challenge, and it is natural that the task of containing Iranian influence should be a high priority.

 

As elsewhere, Bush administration rhetoric is relatively mild in this case.  For the Kennedy administration, “Latin America was the most dangerous area in the world” when there was a threat that the progressive Cheddi Jagan might win a free election in British Guiana, overturned by CIA shenanigans that handed the country over to the thuggish racist Forbes Burnham.[11] A few years earlier, Iraq was “the most dangerous place in the world” (CIA director Allen Dulles) after General Abdel Karim Qassim broke the Anglo-American condominium over Middle East oil, overthrowing the pro-US monarchy, which had been heavily infiltrated by the CIA.[12]  A primary concern was that Qassim might join Nasser, then the supreme Middle East devil, in using the incomparable energy resources of the Middle East for the domestic.  The issue for Washington was not so much access as control.  At the time and for many years after, Washington was purposely exhausting domestic oil resources in the interests of “national security,” meaning security for the profits of Texas oil men, like the failed entrepreneur who now sits in the Oval Office.  But as high-level planner George Kennan had explained well before, we cannot relax our guard when there is any interference with “protection of our resources” (which accidentally happen to be somewhere else).

 

Unquestionably, Iran’s government merits harsh condemnation, though it has not engaged in worldwide terror, subversion, and aggression, following the US model – which extends to today’s Iran as well, if ABC news is correct in reporting that the US is supporting Pakistan-based Jundullah, which is carrying out terrorist acts inside Iran.[13]  The sole act of aggression attributed to Iran is the conquest of two small islands in the Gulf – under Washington’s close ally the Shah.  In addition to internal repression – heightened, as Iranian dissidents regularly protest, by US militancy — the prospect that Iran might develop nuclear weapons also is deeply troubling.  Though Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy, no one – including the majority of Iranians – wants it to have nuclear weapons.  That would add to the threat to survival posed much more seriously by its near neighbors Pakistan, India, and Israel, all nuclear armed with the blessing of the US, which most of the world regards as the leading threat to world peace, for evident reasons.

 

Iran rejects US control of the Middle East, challenging fundamental policy doctrine, but it hardly poses a military threat. On the contrary, it has been the victim of outside powers for years: in recent memory, when the US and Britain overthrew its parliamentary government and installed a brutal tyrant in 1953, and when the US supported Saddam Hussein’s murderous invasion, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Iranians, many with chemical weapons, without the “international community” lifting a finger – something that Iranians do not forget as easily as the perpetrators.  And then under severe sanctions as a punishment for disobedience.

 

Israel regards Iran as a threat. Israel seeks to dominate the region with no interference, and Iran might be some slight counterbalance, while also supporting domestic forces that do not bend to Israel’s will. It may, however, be useful to bear in mind that Hamas has accepted the international consensus on a two-state settlement on the international border, and Hezbollah, along with Iran, has made clear that it would accept any outcome approved by Palestinians, leaving the US and Israel isolated in their traditional rejectionism.[14]

 

But Iran is hardly a military threat to Israel. And whatever threat there might be could be overcome if the US would accept the view of the great majority of its own citizens and of Iranians and permit the Middle East to become a nuclear-weapons free zone, including Iran and Israel, and US forces deployed there.  One may also recall that UN Security Council Resolution 687 of 3 April 1991, to which Washington appeals when convenient, calls for “establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery.”

 

It is widely recognized that use of military force in Iran would risk blowing up the entire region, with untold consequences beyond. We know from polls that in the surrounding countries, where the Iranian government is hardly popular — Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan — nevertheless large majorities prefer even a nuclear-armed Iran to any form of military action against it.

 

The rhetoric about Iran has escalated to the point where both political parties and practically the whole US press accept it as legitimate and, in fact, honorable, that “all options are on the table,” to quote Hillary Clinton and everybody else, possibly even nuclear weapons. “All options on the table” means that Washington threatens war.

 

The UN Charter outlaws “the threat or use of force.” The United States, which has chosen to become an outlaw state, disregards international laws and norms. We’re allowed to threaten anybody we want — and to attack anyone we choose.

 

Washington‘s feverish new Cold War “containment” policy has spread to Europe. Washington intends to install a “missile defense system” in the Czech Republic and Poland, marketed to Europe as a shield against Iranian missiles. Even if Iran had nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, the chances of its using them to attack Europe are perhaps on a par with the chances of Europe’s being hit by an asteroid, so perhaps Europe would do as well to invest in an asteroid defense system. Furthermore, if Iran were to indicate the slightest intention of aiming a missile at Europe or Israel, the country would be vaporized.

 

Of course, Russian planners are gravely upset by the shield proposal.  We can imagine how the US would respond if a Russian anti-missile system were erected in Canada.  The Russians have good reason to regard an anti-missile system as part of a first-strike weapon against them.  It is generally understood that such a system could never block a first strike, but it could conceivably impede a retaliatory strike. On all sides, “missile defense” is therefore understood to be a first-strike weapon, eliminating a deterrent to attack.  And a small initial installation in Eastern Europe could easily be a base for later expansion.  Even more obviously, the only military function of such a system with regard to Iran, the declared aim, would be to bar an Iranian deterrent to US or Israel aggression.

 

Not surprisingly, in reaction to the “missile defense” plans, Russia has resorted to its own dangerous gestures, including the recent decision to renew long-range patrols by nuclear-capable bombers after a 15-year hiatus, in one recent case near the US military base on Guam.  These actions reflect Russia’s anger “over what it has called American and NATO aggressiveness, including plans for a missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, analysts said” (Andrew Kramer, NYT).[15]

 

The shield ratchets the threat of war a few notches higher, in the Middle East and elsewhere, with incalculable consequences, and the potential for a terminal nuclear war. The immediate fear is that by accident or design, Washington’s war planners or their Israeli surrogate might decide to escalate their Cold War II into a hot one – in this case a real hot war.

 

 

 




[1] Wright, WP, July 29 07

[2] Correspondent Michael Wines, NYT, June 13, 1999.  Doolittle report, Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: the History of the CIA, Doubleday 2007

[3] Ibid., 77.

[4] Ibid., 180.

[5] Paul Richter, LAT, Aug. 10, 2007.  Karzai, CNN, Aug. 5, 2007.

[6] Robin Wright, “U.S. Plans New Arms Sales to Gulf Allies,” WP, July 28, 2007.

[7] Henry Meyer, Bloomberg, Aug. 16, 2007.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Hiro

[10] Weiner

[11] Schmitz, Weiner.

[12] Weiner.  Failed States.

[13] Brian Ross and Christopher Isham, “ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran,” April 3, 2007; Ross and Richard Esposito, ABC, “Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran,” May 22, 2007.

[14] On Iran, see Gilbert Achcar, Noam Chomsky, and Stephen Shalom, Perilous Power (Paradigm, 2007), and Ervand Abrahamian, in David Barsamian, ed., Targeting Iran (City Lights, 2007).  On Hamas, among many similar statements see the article by Hamas’s most militant leader, Khalid Mish’al, “Our unity can now pave the way for peace and justice,” Guardian, February 13, 2007.  Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly taken the same position.  See among others Irene Gendzier, Assaf Kfoury, and Fawwaz Traboulsi, eds., Inside Lebanon (Monthly Review, 2007).

[15] Kramer, “Recalling Cold War, Russia Resumes Long-Range Sorties,” Aug. 18,  2007.

Ethnic cleansing

August 29, 2007

Growing Needs Amid Continuing Displacement

http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/iraq?page=intro
Incessant violence across much of Iraq’s central and southern regions has forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes every month, presenting the international community with a humanitarian crisis even larger than the upheaval aid agencies had planned for during the 2003 war.

UNHCR estimates that more than 4.2 million Iraqis have left their homes. Of these, some 2.2 million Iraqis are displaced internally, while more than 2 million have fled to neighbouring states, particularly Syria and Jordan. Many were displaced prior to 2003, but an increasing number are fleeing now. In 2006, Iraqis had become the leading nationality seeking asylum in Europe.

Much of UNHCR’s work in Iraq since the fall in 2003 of the Saddam Hussein regime was based on the assumption that the domestic situation would stabilize and hundreds of thousands of previously displaced Iraqis would soon be able to go home. In 2006, however, spiralling violence led to increasing displacement, necessitating a reassessment of UNHCR’s work and its priorities throughout the region – from assisting returns and aiding some 50,000 non-Iraqi refugees in Iraq, to providing more help to the thousands who are fleeing every month.

Between 2003 and 2005, some 300,000 Iraqis did return home, including from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and other countries. Now, however, the returns have stopped and many more people are fleeing, including large numbers of skilled professionals crucial to Iraq’s recovery.

In addition to those outside the country, more than 1 million Iraqis have fled their homes for other areas inside Iraq since early 2006, most of them following sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of an important Shia mosque in the central Iraqi city of Samarra in February of that year.

The displacement in Iraq is presenting an enormous humanitarian challenge and extreme hardship for both the displaced and the Iraqi families trying to help them in host communities. The enormous scale of the needs, the violence and the difficulties in reaching the displaced make it a problem that is practically beyond the capacity of humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR. And the longer it goes on, the more difficult it gets as both the internally displaced and their host communities in Iraq run out of resources.

Many uprooted Iraqis fleeing to surrounding countries do not initially seek UNHCR help, but rely instead on a social net of friends and relatives which UNHCR worries is rapidly wearing thin, bringing rising social problems among the exiles and occasional friction with host communities.

Since the beginning of 2007, UNHCR has expanded its operations in the region and now has some 300 staff working on the Iraq crisis from offices in the region and in Geneva. The UN refugee agency has registered more than 180,000 Iraqis in countries neighbouring Iraq, 15 percent of whom are in need of special assistance. These include victims of torture. In April 2007, the agency held a major international conference in Geneva to address the humanitarian needs of those displaced by the Iraq conflict and seek more international help for them.

UNHCR is providing support to host countries by rehabilitating and constructing schools, clinics and community centres and through the provision of counselling and special care for the most vulnerable. By mid-August 2007, UNHCR had referred some 12,000 cases of the most vulnerable Iraqis for resettlement in third countries.

The UN refugee agency, which has appealed for US$223 million for its Iraq operations in 2007, is also concerned about the welfare of an estimated 15,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq, including 1,500 stranded in two makeshift camps at the Iraq-Syria border. The Palestinians in Baghdad face threats on a daily basis but cannot leave Iraq. The country’s Christians and other minority communities are also under threat.

****************

Compare that [appeal for $223 million — which says nothing about how much they actually have had to work with so far] with this sentence from the NY Times:

“Israel and the United States signed a deal on Thursday to give Israel $30 billion in military aid over the next decade in what officials called a long-term investment in peace.”

*******

And here:

http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?tbl=SUBSITES&id=461f7cb92

You can find a graph with stats on Iraqi refugees in other countries.  The U.S. has 6,000 or so.  That’s of an estimated 4 million that are displaced.

********

Making the world safe for democracy, for sure.

I pray every day for a revolution. 

U.S. Use of Radiological Weapons

August 24, 2007

U.S. Use of Radiological Weapons 

Calls for an International Tribunal

 

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article18242.htm

By Mark H. Gaffney

08/23/07 “ICH” — – In 1991 the US military introduced a new weapon that the people of the world–––with hindsight–––will probably come to view as symbolic of America’s failed leadership after the Cold War. The introduced weapon was a new kind of munition: shells and bullets made from depleted uranium (DU). It turned out to be extremely effective in the first Gulf War against the forces of Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, the DU weapons also proved nearly as dangerous to our own troops and to Iraqi civilians. The military alliance cobbled together by George Bush Sr. won a decisive victory in that war. But since its conclusion at least 13,000 American veterans have died from DU-related causes, far more than the 148 who died in combat; and of the nearly 700,000 who served in the war at least 250,000 are now (in 2007) permanently disabled; a percentage far higher than in any previous war.[1] Despite this, Pentagon generals continue to insist that DU munitions pose no danger, and  remain committed to their use. Even as I write, the Department of Defense (DoD) moves ahead with research that could lead to the deployment of DU weapons in space.[2]

Yet, a UN Sub-Committee has declared DU weapons illegal, and last November the European Union (EU) issued its fourth call for a DU moratorium. More and more frequently, one hears the charge that America’s use of these weapons in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia was a war crime. In 2004, for example, a citizen’s tribunal in Japan convicted George W. Bush in absentia for crimes against humanity.[3] Is America headed for a showdown with the world over depleted uranium?  

Although hyperbole has muddied the issue, the bare facts are shocking and need no amplification. Depleted Uranium (DU) is primarily U-238, the isotope of uranium that remains after the fissionable isotope, U-235, has been extracted from natural uranium ore. When enriched to 3% the preferred isotope, U-235, is used to fuel nuclear reactors. When further enriched to 90% or more it becomes “weapons grade” and is suitable for use in nuclear weapons. Enrichment thus “depletes” the natural uranium of its isotopic fraction of U-235. Depleted uranium (99.8% pure U-238) is the by-product of this separation process and was long viewed as a waste. Over the years hundreds of thousands of tons of the stuff accumulated on US military reservations. In fact, because of its low-level radioactivity and 4.5 billion-year half-life, DU presents a long-term storage headache.

In the 1970s the US military got serious about utilizing this waste after the Soviets introduced a superior kind of armor. Quite suddenly, the Pentagon found itself in need of a new penetrating weapon. DU offered attractive possibilities because it is extremely dense–––uranium is 1.7 times as heavy as lead. For this reason, tank shells made of U-238 have formidable kinetic energy: they will slice through the heaviest steel armor like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Quite simply, nothing can withstand them.  Although uranium is very soft, when alloyed with titanium it becomes tough enough to retain its shape when fired out of a tank barrel. Today, several companies make DU shells for the US military. These include Starmet Corporation, based in Concord, Massachusetts, and Aerojet, with plants in California and Tennessee. In the 1990s Alliant Techsystems (formerly Honeywell), based in Minneapolis, also produced millions of DU rounds for the US Air Force. In 2006 Alliant also received new orders worth $77 million to produce 120mm tank shells.[4]

In addition to being an extremely effective penetrator, U-238 is pyrophoric, meaning that it ignites at high velocity. When a ten-pound uranium shell slices through a target vehicle it sheds a part of its mass, causing a firestorm of burning and non-burning uranium fragments. These, in turn, cause catastrophic secondary fires and explosions. In war footage of Desert Storm the flaming DU shells can be seen arcing like tracers across the night sky. The slender rounds are solid DU–––no explosive charge is needed. Each has a plastic outer casing known as a sabot, which centers the round in the bore and which falls away after the shell exits the gun tube. The war footage is graphic. It shows that targeted Iraqi vehicles stood no chance. Pity the poor Iraqi soldiers who came under DU attack. Very few lived to tell about it. Within seconds, most were charred beyond recognition in an incendiary fireball. US military jargon even coined a new term, “crispy critters,” to describe the grisly Iraqi corpses of war.

When DU burns it oxidizes, reaching extreme temperatures (i.e., 3,000-5,000 C). On impact, between 40-70% of the depleted uranium is transformed into an aerosol of extremely fine U-238 particles which contaminate the battlefield long after the war. Geiger counter measurements confirm that even years later, burned-out Iraqi tanks were still hot: 1,000-2,000 times as radioactive as background, with the surrounding desert contaminated to a lesser degree.[5] Continuous exposure to this level of irradiation would be like having a chest X-ray every few minutes.[6] U-238 produces high energy gamma and beta radiation (which are electrons). But most of the emission is in the form of alpha particles, which are charged helium nuclei (i.e., He++). The alpha particles cannot penetrate human skin and for this reason the Pentagon claims that DU is harmless. The claim is false, however. As we will see, the dangers have been understated. Artillery and tank crews who handled DU shells were exposed to continuous alpha, beta and gamma radiation over weeks and months. But they probably had less exposure than soldiers who inhaled DU-laden smoke and dust, whether in combat or during clean-up operations after the war. Most US troops were unaware–––no one bothered to inform them–––that the use of DU rounds had spread low-level radioactive waste across the battlefield. After the fighting, tens of thousands of American soldiers frolicked among the burned-out Iraqi tanks, gathering souvenirs and posing for photographs like curious tourists. Others scavenged spare parts from US vehicles contaminated by “friendly fire,” oblivious that they were endangering themselves with every breath. 

The fire at Doha 

The contaminated zones were not limited to Iraq. Large parts of Kuwait were also affected, including the infamous “highway of death” where the US destroyed Saddam’s army as it retreated north out of Kuwait City. Several areas in Saudi Arabia were contaminated before the war during training exercises. There was even a major accidental release after the fighting ended, which I’m going to recount in detail because it illustrates the problems. In July 1991 a fire broke out in a motor-pool at the US base at Doha, north of Kuwait City. The fire started during refueling, and was caused by static electricity. It spread first to parked vehicles and then to a nearby ammunition dump.[7] Witnesses later said that explosions rocked the compound for six hours, scattering unexploded ordnance and debris over much of the 500-acre base. The raging fires destroyed or damaged dozens of buildings and more than 100 vehicles, including several M-1 Abrams tanks fully loaded with DU shells. 

The fire consumed an estimated $14 million in munitions, including 660 120mm DU rounds, about half of which were completely oxidized. A thick fume of black and white smoke reportedly billowed hundreds of feet above the base and drifted east-southeast toward Kuwait City. No warning was ever issued about the toxic danger posed by the DU-laden smoke and ash.[8] After the fire, soldiers worked on the clean up without even face masks or the standard protective clothing required by military regulations.[9]

The scene must have been surreal. Witnesses later reported seeing hundreds of GIs sweeping up the compound with brooms. A team with the equipment used to test for alpha radiation was dispatched to the base, but for reasons that are still unclear no monitoring was ever done. During a December 26, 1999 broadcast of the CBS weekly news show 60 Minutes, Morley Safer reported that CBS had obtained copies of military communications and incident log books which proved that the military was aware of the hazards, yet, failed to follow its own safety protocols. The base remained open despite DU contamination. Many thousands of US soldiers who transited through Doha in the months and years after the fire suffered exposure, as Kuwait’s seasonal wind storms remobilized the DU ash and dust. In fact, the contaminated base remains in operation to this day.

Clean-up? Or Cover-up?

But even if the military had issued respirators at Doha, it’s doubtful they would have protected our soldiers, given the lessons learned during a limited clean-up operation after the war; whose purpose was to dispose of about three-dozen DU-contaminated tanks and vehicles destroyed during “friendly fire” incidents. This limited operation was led by a reservist, Maj. Doug Rokke, a physicist in private life, who says his orders were signed by the field commander, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.[10]

There were no field manuals. Rokke’s team had to develop the procedures on their own, through trial-and-error. Their first chore was the ticklish one of manually removing the unexploded DU ordnance still on-board the contaminated Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting vehicles. To accomplish this Rokke’s men had to enter and work inside the contaminated vehicles. There was no way to avoid stirring up the DU ash and dust that covered every surface. The men wore standard military-issue face masks, but according to Rokke they were useless. The problem was that the dust came right through the filters. The men lived with the constant metallic taste and smell of uranium oxide. The masks were of the cheapest design, and did not even meet the HEPA standard current in US industry. (HEPA, or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters, remove 99% of dust particles down to .3 microns in size.) Particles of 5 microns or less are breathable. But not even HEPA filters would have afforded full protection because the aerosols produced on impact by DU rounds are loaded with 0.1 micron-sized DU particles, as well as smaller nanoparticles ranging down to .01 microns. No known filter can prevent inhalation of particles of this size. Within 72 hours everyone on Rokke’s team developed skin rashes and began to complain of respiratory problems. 

Although sick, his men persisted. But it took them more than three months just to package 24 contaminated/destroyed vehicles for shipment back to the states. This included 15 Abrams tanks and 9 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The team left behind a number of more badly contaminated vehicles: buried in a large hole in the desert. The Army spent $4 million to expand a facility in South Carolina for the purpose of decontaminating the returned equipment, but what the Army ended up with was an expensive holding facility: all for a mere 24 vehicles.[11] The US military had no plans at the time, and has no plans today, to clean up the thousands of Iraqi tanks, armored personnel carriers, trucks and other vehicles destroyed in the 1991 war. Later, the Kuwaiti government hired a private contractor, the Halliburton Corporation, to move most of the burned-out hulks in the vicinity of Kuwait City to a dump in the western desert, according to a plan prepared by Rokke and his colleagues. The site became known as the “Bone yard.” Nothing was done for Iraq, however. Untold numbers of contaminated tanks and vehicles still litter the southern part of the country, to this day.

In 1994 Maj. Rokke was named director of the Army’s Depleted Uranium Project, and was tasked to develop a training program to prepare US soldiers to handle DU weapons. Rokke was also assigned to develop environmental clean up procedures. After extensive research, including field trials at the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) nuclear test site in Nevada, Rokke put together a comprehensive three-tier 40-hour educational program that employed videos and was based on the best available science, including work done by the DoD’s own scientists. Rokke and his team also prepared the reports and documents that became standard Army regulations about how to handle DU.[12] The Pentagon even saw fit to award Rokke two medals for this work. One citation commended him for “meritorious service while assigned as the depleted uranium project leader…Your outstanding achievements have prepared our soldiers for hazards and will have a vast payoff in the health, safety, and protection of all soldiers.”[13]

But the Pentagon never used Rokke’s training program and videos, not even during the run-up to the second Gulf War.[14] Instead, in 1996 Maj. Doug Rokke was fired. Why? Simple: His training program and validating research acknowledged a plain truth that the general staff found politically unacceptable: that once DU is released as an aerosol into the environment it is virtually impossible to clean up. The Pentagon feared and probably still fears that such an admission will fuel opposition to its continued use of DU weapons. As Rokke put it: “They’d wanted ‘proponency’ [sic] for DU weapons, and I was giving them the opposite.”[15]

A notorious 1991 memorandum by Lt. Col. M.V. Ziehmn of the Los Alamos Lab had cautioned the Department of Defense (DoD) that “if no one [i.e., at the Pentagon] makes the case for the effectiveness for DU on the battlefield, DU rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus, be deleted from the arsenal…I believe we should keep this sensitive issue in mind when after-action reports are being written.”[16] Rokke interpreted the memo as an instruction to be less than candid about DU’s health and environmental impact. When he refused, he was terminated.

Rokke and his men paid a heavy price for the service they rendered to the nation trying to clean up the DU mess created during Desert Storm. According to Rokke, almost every member of his 100-man team is now either sick or dead from various diseases, including lymphoma and other cancers.  It’s a charge the Pentagon has denied,[17] but which the affected veterans and their families can easily confirm. Rokke also claims the Veteran’s Administration (VA) refused medical care to his men, even while they were dying; and he further accuses the military of willfully destroying medical records and personnel files to avoid liability. Rokke’s own health was seriously impaired. When the VA finally tested him he learned that he has 5,000 times the permissible level of uranium in his body. Rokke, currently retired/disabled, has endured 18 kidney operations, as well as eye and gastrointestinal surgery, and he continues to have medical problems directly related to his exposure to DU.

The 1999 RAND Study

Even as tens of thousands of veterans became sick after the Gulf War, the Department of Defense stubbornly denied that DU was responsible. Many vets were told they were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon took the position that because DU is only 60% as radioactive as natural uranium, it is harmless. After 1999, military spokespersons also frequently cited a study completed that year by the RAND Corporation, which found no evidence of harmful DU exposure during Desert Storm. The RAND team conducted no research of its own. It merely reviewed the peer-reviewed scientific literature on uranium toxicity. As RAND conceded, there were few published DU studies, as most of the early research was driven by the need to establish standards for the uranium milling/mining industry; for which reason most of the literature deals with exposure to natural or enriched uranium. While all uranium is hazardous inside the human body, dust particles of natural unprocessed uranium tend to be less invasive because they are relatively large in size; hence, are not inhaled as easily.[18]  Moreover, the tiny cilia in the bronchial passages are efficient at removing particles of this size during breathing. When swallowed in food or water, natural uranium also tends to pass through the GI tract attached to organic matter without much absorption.[19]

Critics countered that the Pentagon itself funded and even partly staffed the RAND study, for which reason it cannot be regarded as an independent assessment. Critics also pointed out that the RAND report is far from comprehensive. A peace activist named Gretel Munroe identified 70 pertinent scientific papers that RAND failed to consider.[20]

 Some of these were DU studies conducted under contract to various branches of the US military, including a comprehensive DU investigation completed just six months before Desert Storm by none other than the Army itself.[21] This latter study accurately foresaw that the use of DU penetrators in combat would release large amounts of depleted uranium oxides. It noted that DU is a “low-level alpha radiation emitter which is linked to cancer when exposures are internal.” The Army study warned that aerosol exposures to both soldiers and civilians “could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects.” It also correctly predicted that exposed soldiers would suffer cancers and kidney problems. The Army’s prescient report acknowledged that “some form of remedial action in a post-combat environment” would be needed after the war, in other words, a clean up. It even warned that the long-term health risks could make the continued use of DU weapons socially and politically unacceptable. How did the Pentagon react to its own study? Simple. By ignoring it; and RAND did likewise. Both also ignored a 1993 study by the US Government Accounting Office (GAO), which concluded that “the health hazards [from DU] occur primarily due to internal exposures. Soluble forms present chemical hazards to the kidneys, while insoluble forms present hazards to the lungs from ionizing radiation, with particle size being an important factor.”[22] Importantly, these studies also acknowledged that exposure to DU particulates is very different from exposure to natural uranium dust, for which reason RAND’s reliance on studies of natural uranium was inappropriate, and its conclusions dubious.

According to the Pentagon, DU is so inert you can eat the stuff without harm. Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Cohen made a statement to this effect in 1996. And while it’s probably true that U-238, if ingested, will pass through the gut like natural uranium, without much absorption, nonetheless, Cohen’s statement ignored the fact that when high-velocity DU shells impact hard objects the DU is transformed into a much more invasive substance. Once aerosolized, DU is loose in the environment and it’s only a matter of time before it finds its way into water and food; in which case, DU particles, due to their small size, are easily absorbable through the intestinal lining. They are even more easily inhaled, and will even pass through the skin, making exposure unavoidable in contaminated areas. Submicron-sized DU particles behave like a gas. They are too small to be removed by the cilia in the bronchioles and have no trouble reaching the tiny alveolar sacs in the lungs. In fact, particles of this size can pass directly into the blood and will cross every blood-barrier in the body. Naomi Harley, one of the authors of the RAND study, demonstrated her ignorance of the serious implications of this size factor in her July 1999 testimony before the Presidential Special Oversight Board, where she stated that DU will not cross the blood-brain barrier.[23] Nonsense. Aerosolized DU particles move with ease into the brain, which, no doubt, explains the many neurological problems reported by Gulf War veterans.[24] DU particles also cross the placenta into the unborn child, which is extremely serious because the fetus is especially vulnerable to both radiological and chemical toxicity. No doubt, this explains the increased level of birth abnormalities reported in the children of Gulf War vets, and the even higher incidence in Iraq, where mothers no longer ask, “Is it a boy, or a girl?, but rather: “Is my baby normal?”[25]

Aerosolized DU is also different from unprocessed natural uranium in another important respect. Under the conditions of extreme temperature and high velocity impact, DU particles are rendered ceramic-like, which makes them insoluble. The body has trouble excreting them, for which reason they tend to persist. This explains why 8-10 years after the war veterans of Desert Storm were still excreting DU in their urine, semen, and even in their sweat.[26] This retention of DU poses serious health risks for a number of reasons: firstly, because radiation, even low-level radiation, is cumulative. In fact, the term “low-level radiation” is a misnomer. It is misleading because it wrongly suggests that low-level radiation is not dangerous. Recent studies show just the opposite: that a low-level alpha source inside the body is even more dangerous per unit of exposure than higher levels of radiation. While it is true that an alpha particle, due to its vastly greater size and mass, does not travel nearly as far as an X-ray, the new research indicates that a single alpha particle can cause 1,000 times as much damage.[27] 

Low-level alpha emission in the lung causes scar tissue and greatly increases the risk of lung cancer. Some of the insoluble DU is also scavenged from the lung into the thoracic lymph nodes, where it damages the immune system and also causes lymphoma and leukemia. Many DU nano-particles are also absorbed into the blood and transported via cholesterol and lipids throughout the body. Some DU is excreted by the kidneys, but not all. Much of it accumulates in organs, tissues and bones, and even in human semen. In fact, DU’s affinity for the sexual organs is an especially serious problem because DU is known to cause chromosomal damage, thus burdening future generations with birth abnormalities. The problem is a double whammy: DU is a mutagen due to its radiological properties, and also due to its chemical properties because it is a heavy metal. It turns out that uranium has a chemical affinity for phosphate. Diane Stearns, a biochemist at Northern Arizona University, recently showed that when living cells are exposed to uranium the uranium binds to the phosphate structure in the DNA and causes mutations from chemical effects, quite apart from the radioactive properties.[28]

Finally, new research indicates that DU’s radiological and chemical effects are not additive, but act in synergy. The combination of the two is much worse than the sum of both. A 2002 paper by Dr. Alexandra C. Miller, a chemist at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI), described an in vivo study that found DU to be much more damaging to DNA than would be expected solely on the basis of U-238’s radiolytic properties. Miller attributed this to a synergistic multiplier effect.[29]

 In a 2003 interview she told the Guardian: “you can get more than an eight-fold greater effect than you’d expect.”[30] Miller’s findings are potentially explosive because they flatly contradict the official position of the Department of Defense (her boss) that DU presents no serious dangers. This probably explains why the Pentagon subsequently muzzled one of their top scientists. In 2006 the DoD refused to allow the BBC to interview Dr. Miller.[31] The BBC reported that the Pentagon also turned down Miller’s repeated requests for funding to continue her DU research (in 2004, 2005 and 2006). Obviously, if you don’t look, you won’t discover unpleasant facts. 

Gulf War Sickness: a progressive wasting condition

All of the above helps to explain why Gulf War sickness is not a single malady, but a progressive wasting condition. One physician defined it as “a complex incapacitating multi-organ system disorder.”[32[ The many symptoms and associated conditions read like a litany of horrors: fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pain, bleeding gums and lesions, headaches and neurological problems, memory loss, kidney dysfunction, bloody stools, flu-like symptoms, pneumonia, gynecological infections in female soldiers, unsteady gait, rashes and, ultimately, cancer and premature death. Nor is this a comprehensive list. Put simply: DU trashes the body.

Although nearly 700,000 American soldiers served in the first Gulf War, we still don’t know how many were exposed to DU because the Pentagon refused to screen and test our veterans. Although Army regulations require the testing/treatment for GIs wounded by, or exposed to, radioactive materials, including DU, not even one of the hundreds of thousand of soldiers with known or suspected exposure to DU was tested or treated after the war. The Pentagon obviously shrank from a full accounting because it feared the fiscal liability of caring for so many sick vets. The Veteran’s Administration (VA) even dragged its feet caring for the most obviously affected, i.e., the unfortunate troops exposed to large amounts of DU in so-called “friendly fire” incidents. Seven years after the war the Pentagon was still grossly under-reporting the actual number of US soldiers who had come under DU attack by our own side. Why fudge the numbers? Well, probably because the many self-inflicted casualties were an embarrassment. 

But fiscal liability and public embarrassment were not the only, nor even the primary, reasons why the Pentagon sought to conceal the facts about DU weapons. The main reason is that the generals fully intended to use them again. Certainly the Pentagon was not keen on giving them up. Let us remember: During the 1990s Iraq was a free-fire zone. No doubt, the US military continued using DU weapons through this period, in which case the actual expenditure was much greater than the officially acknowledged 340 tons. During the 1994-95 Bosnian War the US used DU weapons again, some 10 tons, and another 3 tons in Kosovo in 1999. The US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt, nicknamed the “Warthog,” accounted for most of the DU expended in these wars, as in Desert Storm. The attack plane’s main weapon is an advanced Gatling gun, the GAU-8  Avenger, mounted in the nose of the plane. The gun is so enormous that the plane literally had to be designed around it. This accounts for its ungainly appearance, and the nickname. But the Warthog was never designed for good looks. Its rotating cannon is all business, and lays down a devastating barrage of thousands of 30mm DU rounds per minute. 

Horror in Basra

Beginning in 1993, Iraqi doctors reported a disturbing increase in the incidence of malignancies around Basra, in southern Iraq. Basra is Iraq’s second largest city and is located near the battlefields where most of the DU was expended in the first Gulf War. An epidemiological study conducted by Dr. Alim Yacoub, a British-educated trained doctor and dean of the medical school at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, and his colleague, Dr. Jenan Hassan from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Basra, found that between 1990-2001 all types of malignancies quadrupled. During this same period the number of birth defects increased six-fold. Moreover, the incidence of childhood leukemia jumped from just 2 cases in 1990 to 41 in 2001, a shocking twenty-fold increase. Even more disturbing was a further spike to 53 cases of leukemia in 2002, a 22% increase in a single year; which suggested that an acceleration was underway.[33]

The observed onset in 1993 jibes with the known latency period of leukemia, which can be as short as 2-3 years. The cancer epidemic was exacerbated by the UN embargo, which prevented urgently needed medicines from reaching the victims. Although the Iraqi doctors did not have access to western medical journals, Dr. Thomas Fasy of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine presented their research at a 2003 health conference in New York City. Dr. Fasy had traveled to Basra some months before. Although the Iraqi physicians lacked the necessary scientific equipment to establish a firm link to inhaled or ingested DU, Dr. Hari Sharma, a Canadian radio-chemist, later confirmed the link. When Dr. Sharma examined tissue samples of 38 dead Iraqis from Basra using a supersensitive instrument known as a mass spectrometer, he found DU in the lungs, thoracic lymph nodes and kidneys. Some of the cadavers also had DU in their livers.[34] In a 2003 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Dr. Yacoub complained that international sanctions prevented the Iraqi doctors from from importing the necessary medical technology.[35]  According to Yacoub, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) refused to approve the equipment on the excuse that Saddam Hussein might divert it for military use.  Once again, the children of Iraq were the principal victims of the US-led embargo.

Most disturbing of all were reports from Basra of extreme birth deformities, as well as a new phenomenon: multiple cancers. By now (in 2007), photos of the Iraqi birth defects have been widely posted around the internet, and the pictures must be seen to be believed.[36] As for the multiple cancers, they were first reported in 2003 at a medical conference in Japan by Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist at Basra’s largest hospital. Dr. Al-Ali told the conference: “Two strange phenomena have come about in Basra which I have never seen before. The first is double and triple cancers in one patient: for example, leukemia and cancer of the stomach. The second is the clustering of cancers in families. We have 58 families here with more than one person affected with cancer.”[37] The reports from Basra were alarming, but the Pentagon dismissed them as Iraqi propaganda. The Kuwaiti government did likewise, and even banned Dr. Al-Ali from crossing the border. Other skeptics cast doubt in a different way. They pointed out that southern Iraq suffered contamination by numerous toxic agents during the 1991 war. DU, after all, was only one among many possible causes. In the absence of compelling evidence linking DU to the leukemias and birth defects it was more likely that some other agent was responsible. The cynics even suggested that Saddam Hussein had poisoned his own people by his past use of chemical weapons. 

The skeptics had a point. It’s certainly true that the first Gulf War unleashed numerous toxic substances. The 1991 battlefield was probably the most polluted in history. In addition to DU, soldiers contended with experimental and/or impure vaccines. Soldiers and Iraqis alike breathed acrid black smoke from burning oil wells and were exposed to a wide array of chemical emissions due to the bombing of Iraqi infrastructure. Destroyed factories and industries can spew large amounts of toxic substances. Moreover, after the war US units destroyed at least 100 Iraqi munitions dumps, including an enormous complex at Khamisiyah which according to eyewitnesses included stores of chemical and biological agents (some supplied by the US and other western nations).[38]  It was even reported that the US command ordered the bombing of Iraqi nuclear research reactors.[39] This evidently occurred during the “Shock and Awe” phase of the war. The Pentagon has since released few details, but assuming the reports are correct the order to blow up these sites was incredibly stupid, arguably even insane, as it no doubt had the effect of dispersing dangerous chemicals and possibly radioactive materials across the Iraqi landscape. All of these factors surely increased the level of toxic exposure; and for some years this caveat allowed the US military to deflect some of the criticism regarding its use of DU weapons. 

Transuranic elements and fission by-products

The Pentagon’s case was not helped in 1999 when the Department of Energy (DoE) was forced to admit that America’s DU weapons were not pure U-238, but were laced with small amounts of U-236, plutonium, neptunium, americium, and nearly 200 other unstable transuranic elements and fission by-products, including strontium-90 and Cesium-137.[40] It seems that for many years Union Carbide, Martin Marietta, and Lockheed Martin, the companies that produced the enriched uranium for Uncle Sam, made a practice of recycling spent reactor fuel back into the enrichment process. They did so for purely economic reasons. When the price of U-235 rose enough, it became profitable to recover more of the preferred U-235 fraction in this way. As a result, the DU waste stream became a witches brew of unstable isotopes and daughter products, none of them naturally-occurring. All are created in reactors and every one is thousands of times more radioactive than U-238. 

The Pentagon took pains to emphasize that the presence of plutonium and the other transuranics presented no additional health risk, since the amounts were tiny. Only trace amounts were involved. What the Pentagon failed to mention is that there is no safe level of exposure. For instance, consider plutonium: the most toxic substance known to man. The element was discovered by the chemist Glenn Seaborg, who named it after “Pluto,” the Greek god of death (or hell). And for good reason: unlike uranium, plutonium is not found in Nature. It is produced only in the irradiated bowels of nuclear reactors by neutron bombardment of U-238; and it is 200,000 more radioactive than uranium. In fact, it is so nasty that the tiniest speck in the lung is a death sentence. A pound of plutonium, if uniformly distributed, could wipe out the entire human race. Plutonium is the preferred fissile material for nuclear weapons because so little of it is needed. A mere ten pounds, a lump the size of a grapefruit, is enough to make a hydrogen bomb. 

But the dangers are not limited to nuclear weapons. For many years both the US and Russian governments, as well as the former Soviet regime, utilized one of the isotopes of plutonium, Pu-238, in their space programs. Plutonium-238 is 280 times more radioactive than the more common isotope, plutonium-239, and is used in small reactors to generate electrical power for space probes. Though controversial, the practice has continued in recent years. NASA, for example, powered the 1997 Cassini Saturn probe with a U-238-fueled reactor. This use faced considerable scientific opposition at the time because the lengthy mission required 72 pounds of U-238 fuel, by far the largest amount NASA had ever sent into space. The launch involved a Titan-4 military rocket, an old and unreliable design with a less than reassuring history of 10% failed launches. Fortunately, the Cassini lift-off was successful; but the risks were not limited to the launch phase. After first circling Venus, Cassini returned and made a second dangerous pass around earth to gain the necessary momentum to “slingshot” the probe in the direction of Saturn. Again, we were lucky and there was no disastrous spillage of plutonium. The mission went according to plan; however, other space shots have amply demonstrated the principle that if something can go wrong, it will. Since 1964 several plutonium-powered satellites have crashed to earth, spreading a total of a few pounds of plutonium-238 around the planet. The amount seems trivial, but it was enough, according to Dr. John Gofman, to cause a small but measurable increase in the world-wide rate of lung cancer.[41] This sobering fact gives some idea of plutonium’s extreme toxicity. 

Gofman is a leading authority on radiation. While still a graduate student at UC Berkeley he codiscovered U-233, one of the isotopes of uranium. During World War II Gofman assisted the Manhattan Project at the behest of J. Robert Oppenheimer. He was the first to extract significant amounts of plutonium, then needed for the Bomb program. Many years later, as Biomedical Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Gofman ran afoul of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) when his research on low-level radiation became an inconvenience to the nuclear establishment. In 1969, building on the work of British radiation expert Alice Stewart, as well as the American scientist E.B. Lewis, Gofman, estimated that the cancer risk to the general population from America’s nuclear programs was much greater than most physicists believed at the time.[42]  Gofman charged that the AEC had underestimated the number of cancers by a factor of at least twenty times, which meant an excess of 32,000 cancers. Even though he had provided crucial assistance to the Manhattan Project and was regarded as a nuclear loyalist–––Gofman supported weapons development–––he was sacked because the government disapproved of his conclusions about low-level radiation. Gofman lost his research staff and funding and had to go back to teaching. 

The case is no exception. Other top scientists have endured similar treatment. The list is long, and includes Linus Pauling, the famous chemist whose 1957-58 petition, signed by thousands of scientists world-wide, helped to bring about a moratorium on atmospheric nuclear testing. In 1962 Pauling won a second Nobel Prize for his peace work; but, thereafter, was shunned by the US government, which repeatedly refused Pauling’s requests for federal grant money.[43] This went on for many years. Not even J. Robert Oppenheimer was above attack. Indeed, the former director of the Manhattan Project suffered an even worse fate when he opposed Edward Teller’s H-Bomb program in the 1950s. Oppenheimer became the target of a McCarthy-era witch-hunt, which ended his career, tarnished his reputation, and brought about his early death. It is of interest that Andrei Sakharov, the leading Soviet nuclear scientist, was similarly humiliated by Nikita Khrushchev for speaking out against the arms race. Even after Sakharov won the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize, he was placed under house arrest when he spoke out against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The lesson is clear: East or West, the War Machine brooks no deviation from its central aims. When great scientists speak out or cease to be useful, they are punished and discarded.

But time proved Gofman correct about low-level radiation. Over the years the accepted standards have become more stringent, not less. On three separate occasions the International Commission for Radiation Protection (ICRP), which draws up the rules for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has tightened up the standards. The ICRP did this in 1965, in 1986 (the year of the Chernobyl disaster), and again in 1990, when it cut the maximum safe dose by a factor of five. Incidentally, the US did not accept the latest revision and today, as a result, has a standard five times less stringent than in the rest of the world. But even the international trend toward an increasingly strict “permissible dose” misses the point. In 2005 Gofman was finally vindicated in full when the National Academy of Sciences, after a five-year comprehensive investigation, released a 700-page report that endorsed what he and a few other brave scientists have been saying for many years, namely, that all radiation exposure is cumulative and adds to the risk of cancer.[44] The notion of a safe dose is an oxymoron.

The Standard Risk Model

But what led AEC scientists to seriously underestimate the radiation dangers in the 1950s and 1960s? The question is important because it bears on the depleted uranium issue. At the time there were no studies of the internal effects of low-level radiation. The presumed risk was an extrapolation from studies of the incidence of cancer and leukemia in the atomic survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In both cases the primary source of exposure was assumed to be external: a brief but intense shower of neutrons and gamma radiation. The burst was extremely penetrating and distributed over the human body as a whole, for which reason physicists calculated cancer risk as an average whole-body dose. This approach led them to estimate zero-risk for low-level radiation, i.e., radioactive fallout. Why? Because when a low-level dose is averaged over the body, or even over an organ, the calculated risk is vanishingly small. This is why many scientists in government and industry insist, even today, that something other than leaked radiation must be causing the cancer clusters frequently reported downwind from nuclear plants. The same approach led Frank von Hippel, an authority on nuclear weapons, to conclude that the health risks from depleted uranium are “statistically undetectable,” except in cases of embedded DU shrapnel wounds.[45] 

This standard method of determining radiation risk is flawed, however. In the first place, because the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unmonitored, the calculated release of radiation was not based on firm numbers, but on estimates; and by 1981 it was clear that the estimates were in error. In fact, physicists had over-estimated the release of neutrons by as much as ten times.[46] This meant that the impact per unit of radiation was actually worse, since a much lower level of radiation had caused the cancers and leukemias. This was not good news for nuclear advocates. Furthermore, the follow-up studies of atomic survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts were not designed to capture information about low-level effects. The sampling was geared to screen for burst effects, hence, was much too limited. One 30-year study, for example, tracked only those survivors who happened to be within 2,000 yards of the epicenter. This guaranteed that many of the subsequent cancers and birth defects due to fallout would go undetected.[47]

The more fundamental problem is that the standard risk model was developed before the discovery of DNA. It’s interesting that in his memoirs Andrei Sakharov mentions the tremendous impact that Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double helix had on him. In the mid-1950s Sakharov began to worry that nuclear fallout was causing genetic damage and killing babies. In 1957 he warned that nuclear testing up to that point had already caused 500,000 deaths from “non-threshold,” i.e., low-level effects, and this was a conservative estimate.[48] Linus Pauling’s estimates were even higher. On this basis Sakharov, Pauling and others began to call for an end to atmospheric testing. This was finally realized in 1963 with the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty; after which, interestingly, the world infant mortality rate began to drop again, after leveling off from 1950-1963. Indeed, after studying the figures on infant mortality an American scientist, Dr. Ernest Sternglass, shocked the scientific community when he announced in 1968 that atmospheric testing had caused the deaths of 375,000 babies in the US alone, mainly from the effects of  radioactive iodine-131.[49] His estimate triggered a fierce debate that sunk to the level of personal attacks against Sternglass. However, in retrospect, his estimate may well have been correct.

It is a fact of biology, not physics, that living cells are variably sensitive to radiation. This is why continuous emission from a radioactive source within the body, even a low-level source, can have a comparable or even greater impact than a brief burst of high-level radiation. When cells are quiescent, the usual state in an adult, cells are much more resistant to radiation than when undergoing cell division or repair, both of which involve DNA replication. In fact, during DNA replication cells are 600 times more sensitive.[50] This explains why continuous internal low-level radiation caused by nuclear fallout or DU is so serious. It’s no wonder that infants and children are so vulnerable. Their rapidly growing bodies are adding many new cells, hence, are replicating DNA at a much faster rate. Photomicrographs of “hot particles” in lung tissue also illustrate why the standard approach of averaging a low-level dose over the whole body is wrong.[51] In the photos the particles assume a characteristic star pattern. The rays are the many tracks of alpha particles in process of irradiating nearby cells. Compared with x-rays and gamma rays, alpha particles are large and massive, hence, do not travel far in the body. Yet, for this very reason all of their energy is deposited near the point of emission. Over time, the local impact of low-level radiation is more than enough to account for the mutagenic effects of fallout–––and DU.

Leukemia in the Balkans

In 2001, news reports of cancer clusters in the Balkans were not so easily dismissed as nothing but Serbian propaganda; and when twenty-four NATO peacekeepers died from leukemia that same year a wave of concern swept across Europe. Portugal accused NATO of a DU cover-up and pulled its troops out of Kosovo. Italy called for a moratorium on the use of DU weapons; and this was echoed by France, Germany, Norway and Greece.[52]  Some nations began to screen their soldiers for DU exposure. In Kosovo a UN a team sent to investigate found low-level beta radiation at eight of eleven sites where DU weapons had been used. According to Pekka Havisto, the former Finnish minister of the environment who headed up the team, the sites included villages where children were seen playing.[53] In Bosnia-Herzegovina the UN team detected airborne DU particles at two sites, and confirmed DU contamination of a local water supply. They also discovered that spent DU rounds were corroding rapidly in the soil. Seven years after the Bosnian war, the fragments had already lost 25% of their mass. The team estimated that within 25-35 years the shells would disintegrate completely, and thus posed a serious threat to ground water.[54] The UN team prudently recommended that all the fragments be promptly collected and removed. They also urged precautionary measures, such as the monitoring of air and water supplies. In 2003 Britain’s most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society, repeated their advice when it called on the US and UK to clean up the DU fragments scattered across Iraq during the two Gulf wars.[55]  But Washington refused. During a BBC interview the Pentagon’s spokesperson, Lt. Col. David Lapan, reiterated the by-now familiar position that “there are no long-term effects from DU;” hence, no need for a clean-up.[56]

In August 2001, after many invitations by the Iraqi government, the World Health Organization (WHO) sent a delegation to Baghdad to investigate the reported increase in cancer rates and birth defects.[57] The initial WHO visit prompted discussions at the United Nations, and proposals for continued monitoring and research in order to confirm whether DU was responsible. The result was a UN resolution, which came before the General Assembly in November 2001.[58] However, in the emotionally charged aftermath of the September 11 attack, the US used its considerable influence to defeat the resolution. Soon after, the Bush administration launched a round-the-clock media blitz to persuade the American people that Saddam Hussein was linked to Al Qaeda, hence, to the events of 9/11. This media circus had the unfortunate effect of diverting attention from the growing concerns about the use of DU. Even though the Bush administration offered not a scrap of evidence, only rhetoric and innuendo, by the onset of the second Gulf War in March 2003, polls showed that a majority of Americans stood firmly behind the president. A shocked international community looked on in disbelief, and who can blame them, for the world knew better. The US mass media’s spectacular success in persuading a free society of this blatant lie was a propaganda triumph far beyond the dubious achievements of the Nazi Third Reich. Indeed, the episode is sufficiently horrifying that it should motivate all of us who care about our country to take sober stock of what America has become.

It’s likely that the Bush administration also had a hand in blocking the release of a 2001 World Health Organization (WHO) paper on the effects of DU. The monograph was the work of Dr. Keith Baverstock, the WHO’s top radiation expert for 11 years. In 2004, after his retirement, Baverstock charged that the WHO had suppressed his study. He told the London Sunday Herald that “…the widespread use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq could pose a unique health hazard to the civilian population. There is increasing scientific evidence that radioactivity and the chemical toxicity of DU causes more damage to human cells than is assumed.”[59] Later, in a BBC interview Baverstock described DU as “a potentially dangerous carcinogen.” He also hinted that political interference had prevented his paper from being released in 2001.[60] The doctor emphasized that his report, had it not been suppressed, would have increased pressure on the US and its UK ally to sharply limit their use of DU weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq.

DU health crisis in Afghanistan?

This begs the question: Just how much DU has the US expended since the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001? The estimates range from 100-200 tons[61] to 2,200 tons, or more.[62] Unfortunately, today the actual amount is unknown because the Pentagon has refused to release this information, no doubt, because of mounting criticism. Yet, there are indications that the upper DU estimates may be closer to the true figure. A medical team dispatched to Afghanistan in May 2002 found “astonishing levels” of uranium in the urine of everyone they tested. 

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, who organized this monitoring effort, is a former professor of medicine at Georgetown University. Years earlier, in 1999, he had reported DU in the urine of US Gulf War veterans. Eight years after Desert Storm the vets were still excreting copious amounts of uranium. However, the level in the samples from Afghanistan was many times higher, in fact, an astounding 100-400 times higher.[63] Durakovic concluded on this basis that the US military used even greater quantities of DU weapons in Afghanistan than during the first Gulf War, perhaps including a new class of DU penetrators. His team gathered the samples in Nangarhar province, a strategically important area that includes Kabul, Jalalabad and also Tora Bora, where the US probably used bunker-buster and seismic shock weapons. A second batch of samples taken in September 2002 confirmed the first survey, and also demonstrated contamination over a “potentially much broader area.” The team found sick Afghanis everywhere US bombing had occurred, and the sick displayed the by-now familiar symptoms of Gulf War illness. Durakovic told the BBC he was “stunned” by the results. He made it clear he believes DU is implicated, since “in Afghanistan there were no oil fires, no pesticides, and nobody had been vaccinated.” Then, he added, “if [the lab’s] Nangarhar findings are corroborated in other communities across Afghanistan, the country faces a severe public health disaster. Every subsequent generation is at risk.”

At the time of the first Gulf War Dr. Durakovic headed up a nuclear medicine program at a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in Wilmington, Delaware. Then an Army Colonel, Durakovic only learned after the war that DU weapons had been used. “I was horrified,” he said. “I was a soldier, but above all, I am a doctor.”[64] When sick veterans approached him in 1993 Durakovic attempted to care for them, but soon got into trouble with his superiors and lost his job. He says two other doctors, Dr. Burroughs and Dr. Slingerland at a VA facility in Boston, also ran into trouble when they tried to order the medical equipment needed to test for DU in the body.

Durakovic eventually had to leave the United States after warnings that his life was in danger because of his work on behalf of sick veterans. In September 2000 Durakovic told a conference of nuclear scientists in Paris that tens of thousands of American and British soldiers were dying from their exposure to depleted uranium.[65] He presented evidence obtained with a mass spectrometer, documenting the presence of DU in the lungs, bones and other organs of dead veterans.[66] The findings confirmed his suspicion that inhaled particles of DU move throughout the human body. Durakovic has not minced words about DU. He says these are radiological weapons that kill indiscriminately.[67] He also emphasizes that infants and children are the most affected because their developing bodies are especially sensitive to the effects of ionizing radiation. 

An Indiscriminate Weapon?

Recent evidence that aerosolized DU particles can travel long distances supports Durakovic’s assertion that DU has indiscriminate effects. In February 2006 the London Sunday Times reported that within days of the Shock and Awe phase of the second Gulf War radiation detectors in the UK recorded a four-fold spike in air-born uranium.[68]

 Since the 1980s Britain’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) has been required to monitor air samples at five nuclear plants (Aldermaston, Green Audit, Castle Cottage, Sea View Place, and Aberystwyth) following the discovery of a child-leukemia cluster near one of the facilities. The samples are regularly collected by special high-volume air filters. After the second Gulf War Dr. Chris Busby, a professor at Liverpool University, sought to obtain the sampling data for analysis, in order to scrutinize the government’s position that depleted uranium used in combat does not travel more than a few tens of meters before falling out of the air. Busby, a well-known government advisor on low-level radiation, eventually did obtain the samples, but only after a lengthy freedom-of-information battle. Although the Halliburton Corporation, which currently manages the UK’s nuclear plants for the British government, refused to release the data, in the end Busby obtained the recordings from a separate government agency. Laboratory analyses of the samples then showed that within nine days of the start of the March 2003 bombing of Iraq all five sites in the UK registered a sudden rise in the level of uranium. On two occasions the levels exceeded the threshold requiring notification of the UK’s Environmental Agency. In March 2006 Busby’s research was published in a European science journal.[69] In his paper Busby and co-author Saoirse Morgan also presented meteorological data supporting their contention that the prevailing winds had carried the DU-laden dust/ash first northward from Iraq, then westward across Europe. 

Their charge that the use of DU shells during the war exposed much of Europe to breathable uranium dust touched a raw political nerve in the UK. Negative reaction was swift. Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) summarily dismissed the charge. A number of experts agreed with the MoD, and insisted that the uranium had to be of local origin. However, no one was able to identify a source in the UK. One of the experts who took issue with Busby’s paper, Brian Spratt, offered a different hypothesis. Spratt, who had chaired a DU study for the Royal Society, conceded that the uranium might have come from Iraq on the wind. He argued, however, that the probable source was not DU but natural uranium from the Iraqi desert: stirred up by the US-UK invasion force.[70] Spratt’s hypothesis was absurd, since Iraq has no significant deposits of natural uranium. Yet, it was typical of the hasty responses occasioned by Busby’s controversial paper, as officials and experts scurried about frantically trying to explain why the highest levels of uranium ever detected in the atmosphere over Britain just happened to coincide with the March 2003 attack on Saddam Hussein. Busby was not the first, however, to present hard evidence that DU dust is highly mobile. Air monitors in Hungary and Greece detected a similar spike in airborne uranium in the 1990s after the NATO bombing of Kosovo and Bosnia; and, like Busby they too concluded it had arrived on the wind, an ill omen.[71] 

Genetic Mutilation?

It is well-known that smoke and dust can travel long distances. Dust from the Gobi desert frequently blows across the Pacific to the American West, and ice cores taken from glaciers and ice sheets provide a historical record of global volcanic activity. Certainly DU particles in the soil can be re-suspended by desert wind-storms, which are common in the Mideast. But re-suspension is not the only concern. According to Leuren Moret, a geologist and former employee of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, DU particles less than a micron in size can remain suspended in the atmosphere for long periods.[72] Moret has studied wind transport systems and she says Busby is quite correct. DU particles can circle the globe within a matter of weeks, hence, are likely to contaminate food and water supplies thousands of miles from the point of origin, just as nuclear fallout did in the era of atmospheric testing.[73]  Moret warns that the long-term consequences of DU dispersal are likely to be similar. The effects may also mimic the Chernobyl disaster, by now well-documented despite a Russian cover-up and continuing efforts by the IAEA to downplay the extent of the tragedy. In Belarus, even districts not in the direct path of the radioactive plume later suffered a disturbing increase in cancers, birth defects, infant mortality, and a drop in IQ scores and life expectancy. Diseases formerly seen only in the elderly are now commonplace in younger age groups. In fact, by every measure the health of the population has declined.[74] Moret calls this “genetic mutilation” and she warns that because of DU’s 4.5 billion year half-life, the impacts will only grow more serious over time. Five-hundred years from now, assuming the human race survives, no one will remember why the first and second Gulf Wars were fought, but depleted uranium will still be wreaking havoc with the human gene pool and in the wider biosphere. Moret points out that shortly after America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted a doubling of world cancer rates by 2020.[75] What prompted the dire prognostication? Did the US military’s expenditure of DU weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan have something to do with it? Moret thinks the timing was not just a coincidence. 

Obviously, the US general staff is blind to the simple truth that nothing, certainly not short-term military expedience, can justify the long-term consequences of using DU weapons. The Pentagon cannot plead ignorance, because, in addition to the sources already mentioned, a leaked official document proves that the general staff was informed about DU’s toxic effects as early as 1943, when three top US scientists sent a report to Brigadier Gen. Leslie R. Groves, director of the Manhattan Project.[76] Their report was titled the “Use of Radioactive Materials as a Military Weapon” and it was signed by Drs. James B. Conant, Arthur. H. Compton, and Harold C. Urey. Dr. Conant chaired the Chemistry department at Harvard and went on to become president of that prestigious university. During World War I he helped to develop mustard gas for the US Army. Compton, even more famous, discovered Compton scattering of electromagnetic radiation by electrons, also known as the Compton effect, for which he won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1927. Harold Urey discovered deuterium, one of the isotopes of hydrogen, and demonstrated the existence of “heavy” water, for which he won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1934. During the Manhattan Project, Urey also helped to develop the gaseous diffusion method of enriching uranium, the preferred method still in use today. In short, all three men were extremely capable scientists, and in their 1943 report to Groves they described how depleted uranium could be made into a gas warfare agent by grinding the substance into particles of microscopic size. Their report explained that DU weapons would be delivered using “ground-fired projectiles” and ”distributed in a dust or smoke form so finely powdered that it will permeate a standard gas mask filter in quantities large enough to be extremely damaging.” The report mentioned that such weapons could be used as a “terrain contaminant,” that is, to deny the enemy access to large areas of territory. It even predicted the kinds of respiratory problems experienced by Doug Rokke’s team. In short, the 1943 report described in chilling detail the very weapon later developed by the US Department of Defense. 

Conclusion

A number of disturbing conclusions follow from all of this. They are unpleasant but must be faced squarely. In recent years, White House spokespersons and national security advisers have repeatedly warned that Islamic terrorists could strike cities in the US with radiological weapons.[77] In recent days we’ve heard these same warnings repeated,  again, this time in especially shrill tones. Based on the above evidence, however, it’s clear that America’s leaders have already done what we’ve accused terrorists of only planning to do. Worse, our leaders have done it on a greater scale. America’s use of DU weapons has already caused the deaths of hundreds of times more Iraqi and Afghani civilians, including women and children, than died in the 9/11 attack. Moreover, it is likely that the DU particles already released into the environment, given their insidious effects and 4.5 billion year half-life, will go on killing innocent people for a very long time, indeed, perhaps for the rest of human history, essentially for all of time. In short, our leaders have permanently fouled our nest, surely the ultimate atrocity. They cannot plead ignorance. As I have shown, the toxic effects of DU were understood even at the time of the Manhattan Project. Our leaders knew the facts, but used the weapons anyway, probably because they just didn’t care–––a breach of trust with the American people so odious it can only be compared with an earlier US government policy of utilizing American GIs as guinea pigs during the period of atmospheric testing. We know that at least 300,000 American soldiers were willfully exposed to high levels of radiation during dozens of nuclear tests; not to mention the millions of American civilians who were also exposed to the fallout.[78]

In short, our leaders are guilty of not merely incompetence, nor even malfeasance, but of outright terrorism. Indeed, if the use of DU weapons is not terrorism, the word has no meaning. No doubt, for this reason, in June 2007, at a conference in Vancouver, BC, a gathering of 9/11 scholars and peace activists called for the creation of an international tribunal to hold America’s leaders accountable for crimes against humanity and the environment. Their brave initiative deserves our support, because it is absurd to think the US government will police itself. Thus far, the US Congress has shown no sign of providing the necessary leadership. What is clear is that if we fail to end the use of these weapons and bring the guilty to justice, the people of the world will hold all Americans collectively responsible; and rightly so. Our leaders’ reckless and immoral use of DU weapons in the name of freedom has seriously undermined not only America’s standing in the world, but also her security. Far from enhancing our security, DU weapons have made us much more vulnerable. When the peoples of the earth learn the terrible truth about what we’ve done, they will hate us more than ever; and if they insist on retribution we will be lucky to escape retaliatory strikes against American cities. 

With regard to 9/11, a further conclusion also appears inescapable. Given that our leaders knowingly used weapons certain to kill, injure and maim tens of thousands of our own soldiers, is it not likely they are also capable of murdering a smaller number of American civilians on 9/11 for similar reasons, i.e., out of political expedience? Given the naked facts, it would be hard to conclude anything else.

Mark H. Gaffney’s latest book, Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes, was a finalist for the 2004 Narcissus Book Award. Mark can be reached for comment at markhgaffney@earthlink.net. Visit his web site at http://www.GnosticSecrets.com

Notes

1 Beyond Treason, a film by William Lewis, American Gulf War Vets. http://www.beyondtreason.com/

2 The DoD program is known as “Rods from God,” and would involve the deployment in earth orbit of 20-foot long DU penetrator rods, which could be fired at targets on earth, reaching 7,000 mph before impact. Helen Caldicott and Craig Eisendrath, War in Heaven, The New Press, New York, 2007, p. 82.

3 Nao Shimoyachi, “Citizens find Bush guilty of Afghan war crimes,” Japan Times, March 14, 2004.  posted at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?nn20040314a5.htm

4 John Byrne, “US signs $38 million deal for depleted uranium tank shells,” The Raw Story, March 2, 3006. posted at http://rawstory.com/news/2006/U.S._signs_38_million_deal_for_0302.html

5 Scott Peterson, “The Monitor finds high levels of radiation left by US armor-piercing shells,” Christian Science Monitor, May 15, 2003.

6 Interview with physicist Michio Kaku, in Poison Dust, a 2005 film by Sara Flounders and Sue Harris, available from the Peoples Rights Fund Poison Dust Project, 212-633-6646, or at www.poisondust.com

7 email from Doug Rokke, July 14, 2007.

8 According to Maj. Doug Rokke, former director of the Army’s Depleted Uranium Project, at the time of the fire the 3rd U.S. Army Materiel Command’s (AMC) DU assessment recovery team was well aware of the hazards. So were the commanding officers on the scene who, unfortunately, failed to implement the safety procedures specified in US Army Technical Bulletin  9-1300-2378. Email from Doug Rokke, July 14, 2007.

9 The pertinent document is U.S. Army Technical Bulletin 9-1300-278, Guidelines for Safe Response to Handling, Storage and Transportation Accidents Involving Army Tank Munitions or Armor Which Contain Depleted Uranium, July 21, 1996.

10 email from Doug Rokke, July 14, 2007.

11 “Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the US Army,” US Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI), June, 1995, p. 87.

12 Roke’s team also prepared several reports and documents, including: US Army Regulation 700-48, US Army PAM 700-48, and the DU CTT: Task number: 031-503-1017 “RESPOND TO DEPLETED URANIUM/LOW LEVEL RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS (DULLRAM) HAZARDS”, STP 21-1-SMCT: Soldiers Manual of Common Tasks, Headquarters Department of the Army, Washington, D.C.

13 David Rose, “Weapons of Self-Destruction,” Vanity Fair, November, 2004.

14 David Edwards, “Army made video warning about dangers of depleted uranium but never showed it to troops, February 6, 2007. posted at http://www.rawstory.com/news/2007/CNN_Agent_Orange_tame_compared_to_0206.html

15 David Rose, “Weapons of Self-Destruction,”  Vanity Fair, November, 2004.

16 Lt. Col. M.V. Ziehmn, “The Effectiveness of Depleted Uranium Penetrators,” Los Alamos National Laboratory memorandum, March 1, 1991.

17 In April 2003 Assistant Secretary of Defense William Winkenwerder claimed that only two members of Rokke’s team had died. See his letter “Depleted uranium  poses no risks to troops,” Miami Herald, April 14, 2003.

18 Harley, N., Foulkes, E., Hilborne, L., Hudson, A., Anthony, C.R., “A Review of the Scientific Literature as it Pertains to Gulf War Illnesses: Vol. 7 Depleted Uranium,” National Defense Research Institute (RAND), 1999. Also see Berlin, M., and B. Rudell, “Uranium,” in L. Friberg, G. F. Nordberg, V. B. Vouk, eds., Handbook on the Toxicology of Metals, 2nd ed., New York: Elsevier, 1986, pp. 617-637.

19 Spencer, H. S., D. Osis, I. M. Fisenne, P. Perry, N. H. Harley, “Measured Intake and Excretion Patterns of Naturally Occurring 238U and Calcium in Humans,” Radiation Res, 24, 1990, pp. 90-95. The RAND team conceded, however, that in studies of rats GI absorption was greater in juvenile rats, compared with adults, which suggests that children are more vulnerable than adults. Foulkes, E. C., and D. Bergman, “Inorganic Mercury Absorption and Mature and Immature Rat Jejunum: Transcellular and Intercellular Pathways in Vivo and in Everted Sacs,” Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 120, 1993, pp. 89-95.

20 Gretel Munroe, “Health Effects of Depleted Uranium,” Grassroots Actions for Peace, Military Toxics Project, October 2004.

21 “US Army Kinetic Energy Penetrator Long Term Strategy Study,” AMCCOM, 1990: D(1); also see J.A. Glissmeyer et al., Characterization Of Airborne Uranium From Test Firings Of XM774 Ammunition. This study may be viewed on line at http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Airborne-Uranium-Glissmeyer1nov79.htm; also see J.A. Glissmeyer, J. Mishima, and J.A. Bamberger, “Prototype Firing Range Air Cleaning System,” 19th DOE Nuclear Airborne Waste Management and Air Cleaning Confer., Baltimore, Maryland 12-16 August, 1984, pp. 846-872.

22 “Army not Adequately Prepared to Deal with Depleted Uranium Contamination,” US General Accounting Office , GAO/NSIAD-93-90, January 1993.

23 Hearing of the Presidential Special Oversight Board, George Washington University, July 13, 1999, posted at http://www.oversight.ncr.gov/xcript_hearing_13jul99.html#rand

24 Pelmar, et al, “Distribution of uranium in rats implanted with depleted uranium fragments,” Toxicological Sciences,  Vol. 49, pp.2-39, 1999; McDiarmid, et al, “Health effects of depleted uranium on exposed Gulf War veterans,” Environmental Research, Vol. 82 (2) February, 2000, pp. 168-80.

25 Elizabeth Neuffer, “Iraqis Trace Surge in Cancer to US Bombings,” Boston Globe, January 26, 2003.

26 Larry Johnson, “Iraqi cancers, birth defects blamed on US depleted uranium,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 12, 2002.

27 This is the work of Dr, Eric Wright, professor of Experimental Haematology at the University of Dundee. For an overview of his work go to http://www.dundee.ac.uk/pathology/ew.htm

28 “When Cells are exposed to uranium they acquire mutations,” Medical News Today, April 9, 2006. Strearn’s research was published in the journals Mutagenesis and Molecular Carcinogenesis.

29 Alexandra C. Miller, et al, “Depleted uranium-catalyzed oxidative DNA damage: absence of significant alpha particle decay,” Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, Vol. 91 (2002), pp. 246-252.

30 Ian Sample and Nic Fleming, “When the dust settles,” The Guardian, April 17, 2003.

31 BBC Press Release: US and UK military continued to use depleted uranium weapons despite cancer warnings, October 10, 2006.

32 Asaf Durakovic, “Undiagnosed Illnesses and Radioactive Warfare,” Croatian Medical Journal, 2003, Vol. 44, pp. 526.

33 Dr Thomas Fasy presented the results of the Basra study on June 14, 2003 at the NPRI conference on “The Health Effects of DU” at the New York Academy of Medicine. Dr. Fasy is an Associate Professor of Pathology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and had traveled to Basra some months before where he met with the Iraqi doctors. The title of his talk was “The Recent Epidemic of Malignancies and Congenital Malformations in Southern Iraq: the biological plausibility of DU as a carcinogen and teratogen.” 

34 Dr. Hari Sharma, “Investigations of Environmental Impacts from the Deployment of Depleted Uranium-Based Munitions, December 2003. The paper is available through the Military Toxics Project at www.miltoxproj.org

35 Robert Collier, “Iraq Links Cancers to Uranium Weapons,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 13, 2003.

36 Some shocking photos are posted at http://www.xs4all.nl/~stgvisie/VISIE/extremedeformities.html

37 Doug Westerman, “Depleted Uranium – Far Worse Than 9/11,” Global Research, May 3, 2006.

38 Beyond Treason, a film by William Lewis, available from Gulf War Vets. http://www.beyondtreason.com/

39 Rick Atkinson and Ann Devroy, “US Claims Iraqi Nuclear Reactors Hit Hard,” Washington Post, January 21, 1991.

40 DoE press release: Past Recycled Uranium Programs Under Review as Energy Department Investigation Continues (provides updated information on Cold War era operations), September 29, 1999. NATO was forced to make a similar admission in 2001 after the UNEP team independently assayed DU fragments from Kosovo. NATO press release, January 18, 2001

41 Karl Grossman, “US Plans to Wage War in Space,” presentation in Toronto, Canada, October, 2000.

42 For an excellent discussion see Harvey Wasserman and Norman Solomon, Killing Our Own, The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation, New York, Delta, 1982, pp. 94-101.

43 Ibid. 

44 Press release: July 7, 2005: Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER). Cancer Risks for Women and Children Due to Radiation Exposure Far HIgher Than for Men. New National Academy of Sciences Report Raises Major Issues for Radiation Protection, Independent Institute Claims. The title of the report: The Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation.

45 Steve Fetter and Frank von Hippel, “After the dust settles,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November-December 1999, pp. 42-45.

46 Eliot Marshall, “New A-Bomb Studies Alter Radiation Estimates,” Science, Vol. 212, May 22, 1981; also see Eliot Marshall, New A-Bomb Data Shown to Experts,” Science, Vol. 212, June 19, 1981.

47 William J Schull et al, “Genetic Effects of the Atomic Bombs: A Reappraisal,” Science, Vol. 213, September, 1981, pp.1220-1227.

48 Andrei Sakharov, Memoirs, New York, Alfred Knopf, 1990, p. 202.

49 Ernest J. Sternglass, “Infant Mortality and Nuclear Tests,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 25, 1969, pp. 26-28.

50 For an excellent discussion see the paper that Dr. Chris  Busby presented to the Royal Society in 2000: Science on Trial, posted at http://www.llrc.org/du/subtopic/durs.htm

51 For an example go to http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Hot-Particle-Lung-Tissue1997.htm

52 Dr. Ali Ahmed Rind, “Clear and Present Danger: The Balkan Syndrome,” Baltimore Chronicle, December 5, 2001.

53 Helen Caldicott MD., The New Nuclear Danger, The New Press, New York, 2002, p. 159.

54 “Depleted Uranium Contaminates Bosnia-Herzegovina,” ens-newswire, March 25, 2003.

55 Paul Brown, “Scientists urge shell clean-up to protect civilians,” The Guardian, April 17, 2003.

56 Alex Kirby, “US rejects Iraq DU clean-up,” BBC News Online, April 14, 2003. In February 2002 the Pentagon formally appealed to Congress for relief from environmental regulations that it claimed was impeding crucial exercises and combat readiness. The military’s concerns were not limited to relief from protecting endangered habitat and threatened species. Although the request made no mention of DU, its list of complaints included a case on a gunnery range at the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod where a live-fire training exercises were terminated after munitions contaminated ground water. Vernon Loeb, “Rules on Environment Concern Pentagon: Military Says Laws Inhibit Training,” Washington Post, January 13, 2002.

57 WHO to probe Depleted Uranium in Iraq, WHO press release, September 5, 2001.

58 Irwin Arieff, “US Wins Defeat of Deleted Uranium Study,” Reuters, November 30, 2001.

59 Rob Edwards, “WHO suppressed scientific study into depleted uranium cancer fears in Iraq,” Sunday Herald, February 22, 2004.

60 BBC Press Release: US and UK military continued to use depleted uranium weapons despite cancer warnings, October 10, 2006.

61 Dan Fahey, “he Use of Depleted Uranium in the 2003 Iraq War: An Initial Assessment of Information and Policies,” June 24, 2003.

62 “The use of Depleted Uranium in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, August 4, 2003.

63 Alex Kirby, “Afghans’ uranium levels spark alert,” BBC News Online, May 22, 2003.

64 Felicity Arbuthnot, “Depleted Uranium – A Way Out? Compensation to those affected by this poisoned legacy,” Global Research, June 3, 2007.

65 Jonathan Carr-Brown and Martin Meissonnier, “Tests show Gulf war victims have uranium poisoning,” London Sunday Times, September 3, 2000.

66 Horan P., Dietz L., and Durakovic A., “The quantitative Analysis of depleted uranium isotopes in British, Canadian, and US Gulf War veterans,” Military Medicine, Vol. 167, 2002, pp. 620-627; also see Mil. Med. Vol. 168, 2003, p. 474.

67 Asaf Durakovic, “Undiagnosed Illnesses and Radioactive Warfare,” Croatian Medical Journal, Vl. 44 (5)2003, pp. 52-523.

68 Mark Gould and Jon Ungoed-Thomas, “UK radiation jump blamed on Iraq shells,” The Sunday Times (London), February 19, 2006.

69 Christopher Busby and Saoirse Morgan, “Did the use of Uranium weapons in Gulf War 2 result in contamination of Europe?”, European Biology and Bioelectromagnetics, March 2006.

70 Mark Gould and Jon Ungoed-Thomas, “UK radiation jump blamed on Iraq shells,” The Sunday Times (London), February 19, 2006.

71  A. Kerekes et. al, “Did NATO Attacks in Yugoslavia Cause a Detectable Environmental Effect in Hungary?”, Health Physics, Vol. 80 (2), February 2001, pp. 177-178.

72 talk by Leuren Moret, “Depleted Uranium: Nuclear Holocaust and The Politics of Radiation, Los Altos, California, sponsored by the Women’s Solidarity Movement, April 21, 2003, posted at http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/DU-Leuren-Moret21apr03.htm

73 conversation with Leuren Moret, January 12, 2007.

74 C.C.Busby and A.V. Yablokov, editors, Chernobyl 20 Years On: Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident, published on behalf of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) by Green Audit, Brussels, 2006. For a summary and free download go to http://www.llrc.org/index.html

75 Press release, “Concerted action is the only answer to rising cancer deaths: Two million lives could be saved by 2020 and 6.5 million lives by 2040 according to a new WHO/UICC cancer booklet,” June 3, 2003.

76 Memorandum to Brigadier General L. R. Groves, posted at http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Groves-Memo-Manhattan30oct43.htm

77 Bill Gertz, “Reports reveal Zarqawi nuclear threat,” The Washington Times, April 20, 2005.

78 Harvey Wasserman and Norman Solomon, Killing Our Own, Dell Publishing, New York, 1981, see especially chapter two, p. 31.

What Comes After The U.S. Empire?

July 21, 2007

What Comes After The U.S. Empire? 

Introductory Speech at the TRANSCEND International Meeting – 6-12 June 2007, Vienna, Austria

By Johan Galtung 

07/20/07 “ICH — – I first want to say a few words about the current G8 meeting, and then talk about major conflicts in the world. This will cover much of the world situation, a reflection on global capitalism, and the US Empire and its imminent demise and what will happen after that. 

            The G8 meeting is actually an act of sabotage, and in my view a deliberate one. It sabotages and undermines the UN. In 1975, the meeting was established as a small forum for intimate meetings between 3 leaders from each participating country. However, from a purely economic agenda it has become much more, incorporating a lot of UN agenda items (security issues and global warming etc.) and thereby actually hijacking the subjects of global importance to about 8 countries only. Russia, which was invited under Yeltsin, is the black sheep in the community. Also, not inviting Chindia is a guarantee for sabotage, as is talking about Africa without having even one African representative present. The good news is that there were 100’000 demonstrators, and the bad news is that there were some violent idiots. 

            If the nonviolent majority could practice the technique of 20 nonviolent encircling every violent one in a nonviolent way, incapacitating their capacity for violence, it would be an enormous feat. There is, however another piece of what I would call bad news; the 100’000 without constructive, positive ideas. I’ve gone through the whole rigmarole of the slogans. Personally, I don’t like the slogans against globalization; there is no way in the world to stop globalization because it is driven by things we all love: communication and transportation. We are not going to turn that backwards. A good slogan would be “another globalization is possible” and spelling out that better globalization as opposed to the economically exploitative process we know. 

            So, having said that, we have dark days in front of us. We have impending climate and economic disaster and on top of that a political military issue, the so-called Shield. There isn’t hardly a person in the world who believes it is against Iran. It is a part of a policy started in 1996, counter-posing against each other, on the one hand NATO and AMPO (the US-JAPAN arrangement), and on the other hand the SCO countries, the biggest alliance in human history: the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with 6 full members and 3 observers. The 6 members are China, Russia and four of the former Central Asian republics, excluding Turkmenistan. The three observers are India, Pakistan and Iran. Together, it’s about 50% of humanity, confronting a relatively small country called the United States of America, with only 300’000’000, not a very impressive size these days. 

            I have said this, knowing that of the 10 points of the Project for the New American Century–written by people who are still in power, although there is an erosion among them–point number 7 is to change regime in China. I am of the opinion that whatever be the method, that the Chinese will rather do the change of regime themselves, and are not enthusiastic about being encircled. It is the major conflict confrontation of the world today, between NATO/AMPO and SCO, and since it is the major one, it is also the one least talked about. The Shield has to neutralize missiles from Russia and China. I think Putin understood it correctly in Munich, and sees it in the light of the cancellation of the ABM treaty, which was a cornerstone of the peaceful development during the Cold War. It was canceled unilaterally by the United States, The anti-missile capacities in the Czech Republic and Poland come on top of the US and NATO breaking the promises made to Gorbachev at the end of the Cold War: that the Soviet Union would withdraw from Eastern Europe, including Eastern Germany, and the United States would not follow suit, whereupon the United States had filled almost every base opportunity, and enrolled practically speaking all the countries in NATO. That has heightened the tension immensely. Whether it will dominate the Heiligendamm [G8 meeting] meeting, I don’t know, but I would imagine that it could be quite important. The guess is that the US would do anything they can in order to bribe the citizens of the villages selected in Poland and the Czech Republic with high amounts of money in order not to demonstrate against. So, G8 spells only bad news, as introduction to the six conflicts: 

1.         Economic Contradiction: Global Capitalism 

            Let me just say a word about global capitalism. The two antidotes to the market mechanism that have been effective have been, on the one hand, a welfare state, and on the other hand, protectionism. Microcredit, you can forget about it, these are small drops in the bucket, giving relief to some small groups. The countries that practice it most, Bangladesh and Bolivia, are still at the bottom, economically speaking. The combination of selective protectionism and welfare state, that is the real stuff. The way Japan did it, the way Taiwan did it, the way South Korea did it, the way Hong Kong did it, the way Singapore did it, the way Malaysia did it, with considerable success. You find in the whole of the East Asia/South East Asia conglomerate countries that have been doing exactly this. That is important, and the neo-liberal free market syndrome is of course against that. They are doing everything they can to eliminate the two factors. That means that the global market place becomes a vertical assembly line for the transportation of capital from the bottom to the top. And this works with three mechanisms: monetization, privatization and globalization, border-free market, of which globalization is the least important. The most important is monetization, setting a monetary price on everything. It is the most important because it means that those who have no money have no chance, and they are about 1’000’000’000. Their option, that is very clear, is to join the ranks of the dying; 125’000 dying every day with 25’000 starving and 100’000 dying from preventable and curable diseases,  for which cures exist, but they are monetized. User’s fees in Africa are a disaster. All of this is known today! Adam Smith warned against unmitigated markets; David Ricardo warned against unmitigated labor markets in periods with high labor supply, saying that it would have lasting unemployment as a result, and extreme poverty among the labor. 

            From global capitalism as it is operating today, we can expect no solution to these problems. So let me then add the kind of approach that I, as one person, would advocate; taming capitalism, by introducing at the same time about 14 other types of economies. In other words, it is a little bit like the thinking about energy: we don’t say an unconditional no to hydrocarbons, but we introduce 6, 7, 8 other methods. The energy profile becomes complex. Time does not permit me to get into all 14, I’ll not do it, some of you have the manuscript and the book A Life-Sustaining Economy is close to completion. The point I am arguing is a pluralistic economy. There is no single formula that covers all the alternatives, and the pluralistic profile must be adjusted to the preconditions in space and time. 

2.         Military Contradiction: Terrorism and State Terrorism 

            Number two on this list is the military contradiction between terrorism and state terrorism. The USA state contradiction on terrorism has now entered military intervention number 73 since the Second World War; Number 73 being what they are doing in Lebanon right now: killing Palestinians. There are 470’000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, almost half a million, scattered in camps from the north to the south. We now know the number of the people who were driven out of the territory that became the Jewish state during the Naqba, the Catastrophe: the number of Palestinians driven out was 711’000, very far from ‘a couple of thousand’. It is a very major number for a small nation. Some of them, not necessarily in that period, found their way to Lebanon. This is number 73 and the number of people killed in overt Pentagon-driven military action after the Second World War is now between 13 and 17 million. The number of people killed in covert action is at least 6 million. The number of people killed by structural violence could be 125’000 people per day, but for that the USA is not alone responsible. What the USA is responsible for is giving the military cover for that economic system. You can go through the total amount of interventions, 243, since Thomas Jefferson started, and you will find that almost without exception the interventions are triggered by some political action that sounds like or might lead to redistribution of wealth and power somewhere in the world. So, you get this endless pairing: intervening when the Sandinistas are in power but not when Somoza is in power, intervening when Chavez is in power but not when, for instance, Jimenez is in power. Both of them were darlings of the International Monetary Fund, a solid pillar of exploitation. 

Iraq 

            Right now the major arena is Iraq, the coming arena may be Iran. One particularly gifted journalist, Andreas Zumach, has written an article saying that for the Iran war everything is prepared. It is totally wrong to assume that because the US has problems in Iraq it will not attack Iran. I will also say that it is totally wrong to assume that the US is losing in Iraq. You will only assume that if you assume that the major goal of the United States is a cohesive Iraq entity that has some semblance to parliamentary democracy. If you look at the real goals, oil and military bases, they may ever be winning. There could be an oil law, the chances that it could be passed are not that small. And it is the Paul Bremer concept they are working on that essentially presupposes that the oil resources are put on the global market, bought up by the 5 big companies, with 100% repatriation of profit. 

            It is sometimes pointed out that the US Empire is not colonial. That is correct. They had colonies in the past, after they in 1898 stepped into the Spanish empire and acquired some major indigenous problems. One interesting thing about colonialism, however, is that it gave colonizers some paternalistic sense of responsibility that you can forget about when it comes to what’s going on under imperialism. 

            Let me just add one point to that. I find the idea of pulling out of Iraq one of the most cowardly, dishonorable ideas I can imagine, so let me immediately formulate an alternative. Shed the uniform, and start helping the Iraqi people you have brutalized. Compensate, apologize, you have a lot of infrastructure at your disposal, you US army could still do a decent job. And one of the worst proposals in addition to that is to say “Just go to your bases and stay there”. Those bases are for the coming war with SCO, that’s why they are there. Have a look at the analysis of the length of the runways and you will see the purpose behind them. 

            Let me come back for a second to the idea of pulling out, which in my mind is such a bad idea that we could expect it from the US. What it means is that you pull out so that you don’t suffer any humiliating defeat. You make yourself unavailable for defeat. I can understand the reason, it is not difficult. The 30th April 1975, the humiliating defeat in Vietnam became a major trauma. To avoid that situation is the priority of course, pulling out better than to continue killing, but, I just think one should call a spade a spade, and no way I see cut and run as peaceful action. We shouldn’t, I would say, contaminate the concept of peace with cowardice, trying to “save face” after having killed 750’000 so far. Multiply that by 10 for the bereaved–the persons who feel the loss of a friend, a spouse, a brother, a sister, a child, a parent, a colleague, a neighbor–multiply 750’000 by 10 and you have an estimate of the hatred that has been created. Add to that the 4 million who are displaced, some of them among the 7,5 million I just mentioned; and add to that the psychosis induced in the high number of US military who have been to Iraq; and add to that the about 25’000 wounded who have come back to the US and you may probably add 10% of them dying. The definition of a person of the US army personnel killed in the war is that he dies in Iraq, that means “Put them on the plane get them to Walter Ried as quickly as possible, don’t let them die in Iraq”. I am not saying that to get somewhere closer to realism when discussing this enormity. 

            Why don’t the USA with some allies win? Because they are against an enemy that is unconquerable, and why is that? Because of “asymmetric warfare” is too sterile. Of course they are using “improvised explosive” devices against these sophisticated things that the US army used. But they have two more arms at their disposal: time and space. 

            An unlimited time perspective. There is no point called “capitulation” in their rules, that can just be forgotten, it belonged to the old days. We are dealing with a type of warfare where what used to be called the weaker party has any amount of time at its disposal. These people are trained in fighting a government empire for 400, 500 years, like the Serbs were fighting the Turks for 500 years. The Orthodox, among the three Christianities, have a time perspective very similar to the Islamic one. I don’t think you will find 500 years patience in Washington, maybe not even 5 months for that matter. 

            And, they have space, there are 57 members of the OIC, the Organization of the Islamic Conference. 56 of them are states, number 57 are the 160 million or so Muslims in India. Most of the borders of the 56 countries are drawn by the West; they are borders that make no sense to Islam at all. That doesn’t mean there are no fault lines inside Islam. More important than Shia-Sunni is probably Arab-non-Arab. The non-Arab countries are in the majority, of the 56 only 22 are Arab. Of the 1.350.000.000 Muslims, 300.000.000 are Arab. If the Arabs feel that the religion is essentially theirs, then they are in a minority position. That is becoming something interesting, and of course the US plays on those fault lines. It seemed to work as long as they were dealing with Khomeini, he is a Shia, the “bad” Islam. But, bin Laden, a Wahab, was a Sunni, and didn’t look much more attractive than Khomeini. So something went wrong somehow with that Harvard University distinction. 

            Harvard University, by the way, is the university that by far has contributed most economists to the neo-liberal attack on humanity. Like Jeffrey Sachs, a major person in the destruction of Bolivia and of Russia, and now proceeding to the whole world. He has changed his rhetoric, even humanized the rhetoric. But if we look at the measures, they look very much like what he did to Bolivia and Russia. 

            Having said that, if you have time and space on your side, then you are dealing with enormous resources. In principle, the whole Islamic world is on the other side. This constitutes the “Clash of Civilizations” that Samuel Huntington’s publisher stole from Bernard Lewis, a far more important intellectual, professor at Princeton University, and a major advisor to Cheney. One of those who, more than anybody else, has whispered in Cheney’s ears “Attack Iraq!”. Everybody is blaming Samuel Huntington, best read the book, you’ll find almost nothing about civilization. Read Bernard Lewis, and you will find quite a lot, particularly about Islam. 

            It is a complete mistake to talk about this as a civilizational-religious clash only. It’s economic, military, political, it’s the full house. The more one says the “clash of civilizations”, the more is one inclined to forget the economic, political, military interests hidden underneath. It must be wonderful for Washington to have all this clash-of-civilization-talk and establish 14 military bases, and then try to put your paw on all the oil. “Keep them discussing civilization”. And this of courseis why we need the concept of imperialism, because it is holistic, one reason why the concept does not have a very high standing in the USA. The war of state terrorism against terrorism is an elitist warfare against peoples warfare. The people’s war is close to unbeatable, but it may take time. That holds for Iraq and it holds for Afghanistan. Anybody who knows a little bit of the history of Afghanistan and the British attacks in 1838 and 1878 and the Soviet attack in 1978, also know how it ended; with humiliating defeats. The one in 1878 ended even with the massacre in the British embassy in Kabul in 1883. I think they would have wished for good life insurances for those people. 

            How is it possible to enter a thing when so much knowledge would indicate otherwise, with all these negative indicators? Is it permissible to be that ignorant of history? To deny entirely a whole lot of facts that nevertheless somehow play a role? I myself think we give much too much credit to facts, but some facts are quite useful. It tells a lot to have a President who has both ignorance and denial fitted into his mental framework, but I would warn strongly against associating the calamity with Bush alone. 

            The US empire is resting on a deep structure and a deep culture. Let me take the deep culture first. There is both Chosenness, the vision of past and present glory, and a strong sense of trauma. There is Dualism, Manichaeism, and the sense that Armageddon will solve it. But, this is no Republican monopoly. It is found in both corporate parties, with some fringes that feel some uneasiness. And, of course, of those, the Republicans have suffered the humiliation of losing the elections. But the two parties re-cohered, voted for the “surge”, voted for 100 billion more money, adding some clauses. In other words, we are faced with a Republican Democrat entity, a Repucrat, Repurat, whatever we want to call it; a single-party coalition with two wings. That was the bad news, the good news are the 50% who don’t vote. Somewhere in those 50% there is a solution, not as one person. In other words, there is good news and bad news. 

            How does a person like Andreas Zumach, very well informed, think that the war against Iran will be? It could be based on a provocation, constructed, fake and false. Like Racak in Kosovo. A Finnish forensic specialist has now released her report which was silenced by Joschka Fischer at a critical moment, and the report on Racak is very clear: there was a gun-powder slam, but, the slam was on their hands and not on the neck. In other words, it was on those who had been shooting, not on the executed victims. Killing had been done in an ordinary manner and they then assembled the corpses and lay them out. They need a US ambassador to make that, it bears the stamp of William Walker. The total number of killed in Kosovo was not 150’000, but 8’000 over the years, 5’000 Albanians and 3’000 Serbs. I am just saying that because we have been treated to lies, and if there is the war against Iran it will be initiated by lies. To propagate those lies we have the corporate press, meaning press owned by the corporation. Information is easily arranged. 

            From the plans that have emerged it looks as if the 100’000 targets have been identified in Iran. These targets include not only some nuclear arrangements, but the total military infrastructure of the country, that means any kind of center of command, naval points, air bases, anything that has to do with missiles. But that would only amount to one half of the 100’000 targets, the other targets would be anything that has to do with civilian infrastructure in the sense of railroads, airports, roads of course, sewerage, bridges, canals or watering, electric power plants, anything that keeps the civilian population going. Starting at 5 am some morning, 100’000 targets, in association with Israel. As far as I understand the Iranian counterattack will be considerable. I don’t know, but I could guess there could be dirty bombs inside the US, ignited by remote control. Only an idiot will use missiles. They will of course use totally different methods. So I mention it as an example of what we may be facing. 

Afghanistan 

            In March I was invited to give a talk for three ministries in the UK, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry or Department of Defense, and the Department for International Development (DFID). It was organized by the latter. I was a little surprised when I was asked to give the keynote address, and in the chair was the former Foreign Minister. The keynote was about Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. And since I have just been mentioning Afghanistan, let me say some words about what I saw as possible solutions. The basic point I have just made: you can forget any possibility of winning. You may have a lull, and God bless you when it comes to what happens after the lull: Osama bin Laden. You can also forget calling your enemy Taliban, Talib means “student”, it’s a highly anti-student type of word, you can forget about that too. We are essentially dealing with the Afghan people. I remember a discussion I had myself in that meeting, with an Afghan general. He gave a talk about how many small weapons he had confiscated, 90’000, and how his forces were fighting. And I said to him “General, tell me a little bit more about that fighting”, and he looked at me and said, “Of course it doesn’t work. I cannot ask my Afghan troops to kill Afghans, it makes no sense for them. The Russians, no problem.” He didn’t say, but he was thinking “Americans, no problem”, but that was not politically correct at such a conference in London. I will never forget how the twinkle in his eyes met with the twinkle in mine, twinkle meets twinkle, and we understood each other perfectly. 

            The 5 points that would give a solution to Afghanistan would be the following from the TRANSCEND mediation in Peshawar in February 2001. 

1.         Make a Coalition Government with the Taliban. 100% Taliban is intolerable. But the Taliban has a moral fiber, which most others don’t have. If you eliminate them you will get heroin and corruption and not much more. They are needed. 

2.         Afghanistan is the material from which a Federation is made, not a unitary state, even if the Northern Alliance based on Tadjiks and Pashtuns with Kabul in the middle, count for half. There are at least ten others. To call potential Prime Ministers “warlords” is an insult. You have to be very much removed from reality to believe that by insulting them you can eliminate them or make them your friends. 

3.         A Central Asian Community surrounding Afghanistan with the countries that contribute to the national mosaic that is Afghanistan, the Pashtuns from Pakistan, the Tadjiks from Tadjikistan and the Dari-speaking from Iran, and so on and so forth, would make a lot of sense. That will include Kashmir, and Pakistan, and Iran. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has almost realized it. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization does not publish much, but moves in very, very clever, slow, movements. It moves so slowly that the journalists do not discover it, because it would have to move from day to day in order for a jour-nal to record it. 

4.         Make Basic Needs the leading line of the Government policy. That means food, education, health, clothing, whatever is needed for the somatic human being, shared by all, and available to men and women alike. That last problem can only be solved on a Quranic basis, and is being solved in a number of Islamic countries. One of the most interesting solutions was by Saddam Hussein, number 3 of the 14 good things he did. He told the Iraqi women, “From tomorrow on you decide whether to wear the hijaab or not. Only you. And if anybody tries to change your view come to me.” Now, to come to Saddam Hussein was not a very appetizing invitation, so this was definitely under threat, but it worked. It created a very, very vibrant group of women in Iraqi society. That of courseis now all disappearing. 

5.         Security, provided by cooperation between the UN Security Council and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The UN Security Council has a veto nucleus of 4 Christian powers, and one Confucian. It has no legitimacy whatsoever in the Muslim world, that has to be understood. To believe that one can organize a UNSC-sponsored security operation in a country that hates the UN, not only because of the composition of the Security Council, but for having killed 1 million through the Iraq sanctions, is naive. And they gave a very clear expression for their hatred by killing the Secretary-General’s representative in the Iraq UN building. It doesn’t help much to call the people who did it “extremists”. In the war we had against the German occupation in Norway, the people who did violent acts were extremists, and most people were sitting on the fence, applauding. But, don’t be confused, don’t call the fence-sitters moderates. They were waiting for the wind to blow a little bit more clearly and then jumped down taking a clear stand. 

            With those 5 points, I think one could arrive at something. It is not for us to impose any solution on anybody, and TRANSCEND in this case was essentially the Canadians. I was an adjunct. One of them was an Afghan Canadian, Seddiq Veera, of considerable diplomatic acumen. When that report was read in front of the working groups, a former Cabinet Member said “This is the best I’ve ever seen, the only problem is it has no chance… Why, because,” he added, “the Americans will attack us in October 2001, because they want to control pipelines, and they want bases.” So I asked him, “How do you know that?”. And he said, “Would you mind coming to my room this evening?” The room was very dark, and had a considerable amount of electronics, and quite good assistants who were very discrete, and he presented quite a lot of very interesting pictures. “When the Americans attack in October, they will put their military bases exactly here”, he took a map and put his finger exactly where a major base is today. You will of course remember that this was to be exact seven months before 9/11. 

            But having said that, the question comes up: “How does one move a plan like those 5 points?” Well, the reports from the conference, with the keynote address, is there, circulated to all kinds of governmental circles, not only in England. I don’t know, but we need a better dissemination technique. The corporate press will do their best to deny us that access, because we are uncontrollable, unpredictable. And I think they want it to remain like that, and so do we. 

3.         Nations and States Contradiction: 200 States, 2000 Nations 

            Let me go on to number three, very briefly, 200 states, 2000 nations. In Kosova they are now practicing the principle of self-determination. They are not practicing it in Republica Srpska, they are not practicing it in Transdniestria, they are not practicing it for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. They are practicing it where they want to practice it. What TRANSCEND tries to do is to open the space between independence and unitary states. And we have a lot of research done and a lot of experience when it comes to the range of in between points. And the three best known points are of course federation, confederation and devolution. Those are in-between parts. We did not have any success so far in Sri Lanka. The parties are not convinced that they can win, but they are convinced that they can deprive the other side from winning. Not quite the same, but almost equally good. If both of them want to deprive the other side of winning it can go on for a considerable amount of time, because you won’t even have the mechanism of victory or capitulation which sets some full stop, for some period. They needed of course the cease-fire agreement brokered by the Norwegian government in order to arm and re-deploy, and both parties make use of it. During that period, there was not a single serious effort to solve the conflict; certainly not by the Norwegian government, nor by the others. A very sad picture. And I’m afraid that whatever beautiful peace-building efforts one can make, it has limited impact. There has to be a solution. The good news from my own experience: the moment you do have a solution, it is incredible how much bad sentiment and behavior can evaporate quickly because the solution is there. 

4.         Cultural Contradiction: Islam vs Christianity 

            Number four, the cultural one. Imagine that you take the TRANSCEND 5 point diagram and you simply say Islam hates Christianity, wants to kick it out, and Christianity hates Islam, wants to kick it out. That formula is called intolerance. We are against that. There is the neither/nor possibility they may both conclude that there is something crazy in both religions. Let us turn to Buddhism, or let’s become secular. Secularism, I think, can partly be traced back to the 30 years war in Europe (1618 – 48). I don’t have the historical evidence, but I have at least the hypothesis that a high number of people came to the conclusion that if these are two Christianities that both define themselves as the only correct one, and that’s the way they treat each other, there must be something basically wrong in the whole Christian message. At the time, they did not have alternative religion, so they turned to secularism. 

            Secularism supported itself as science, and they fell into a very deep dark hole. Science, as you know, is based on data as the ultimate arbiter between hypotheses. But, data come from the past. In opting for science you give the past practically speaking 100 percent of the power. I have been struggling almost all my life to develop epistemology that does not take that dramatic position, but maneuvering even-handedly between past and future. It means that you give the potential, the negatively non-existing, as much praise as the positively existing. The moment secularism allies itself with science, it allies itself with the past. It is very easy to understand why they do it: because they are Christians, maybe Jews, maybe Muslims, and God created the world, and if God is perfection then His work must also be perfection. To talk about an alternative future is to challenge the creation. Any alternative future from a science point of view is speculation. From that point of view Darwinism and intelligent design are very very similar. The driving forces are in the past. What could be a true global future of this relation? We should draw on the potential of future wishes, of the dreams and the wishes and the values as an equally important part of the intellectual enterprise, and here I am not with Noam Chomsky. Brilliant, he is a digger for facts, and I dig him too. But he is chemically free from any concrete, constructive and creative future. There isn’t one single idea except “writing a letter to your Congressman”. And he has proven again and again and again how futile that exercise is. He is called the major intellectual in the world. 

            So, having said that, I am very much attracted by a statement by an Iranian, and that statement by an Iranian is as follows. I will read it to you in English. It is the 14th Century Persian Sufi poet Hafiz and his ultimate words about the distinction and struggle between Christianity and Islam: 

            “I have learned so much from God that I can no longer call myself a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew. The truth has shed so much of itself in me that I can no longer call myself a man, a woman…”. 

            The latter is going a little bit too far, I’m not sure I can follow him into that! 

            “…An angel or even a pure soul, love has befriended Hafiz so completely, has turned to passion, freed me of every concept and image my mind has ever loved… man/woman, thing.” 

            And that is what I for reasons of time will say about number 5 on the list: 

5.         Sufism 

            It comes straight out of the Axis of Evil. Ahmadinejad wrote a letter of 18 pages to Bush, a little bit repetitive at times, but a fascinating letter. What an indictment of the Western civilization that they are not even able to answer that letter. Nobody is of course expecting any answer from George Bush, but he has a couple of people: couldn’t Condi try her hand at it for instance? I mean, she is a bright woman. Why not? 

            A quote from Daoism: 

            “Sharing the suffering of others, the life and joy of others. Use the good fortune of others as your own good fortune. View the losses of others as yours.” 

            This is “we-ness”, this is swinging in harmony, two persons, or, humanity swinging in harmony, sensing each other’s delight and suffering. Compare that with the profoundly egoistic lex talionis: “Do unto others as you want others to do unto you.” Why is it so profoundly egoistic? Because it ends up with my ego, somebody should do something good to me, but I’m so smart that I know that the best way to get that is to be nice to that person, you get much more from him with that method. If you treat him badly you might get nothing or worse. A light-year away from the Daoism of creating we’s. This is the kind of thing that I find fascinating in connection with religion: it is not neither/nor, it is not the compromise, it is not one dominating over the other. Better, try to take the both/and, pick up the gems from all of them, make them coalesce, cohere somehow! A fascinating challenge, a little bit ahead of its time, or then maybe not. Maybe a lot of people think that way, it only has to be released, perhaps, in public space. 

6.         The US Empire 

            Let me introduce number 6, with a quotation from the South African Nobel Prize winner in literature J.M. Coetzee. Absolutely brilliant. The essay he wrote and published in 1974, when he was 34 years old, was about South Africa and the Vietnam War. He wrote a statement about the USA, putting it in the working of a specialist in a U.S. think tank in California, southern part. The project he is working on is how to break the wild of the Vietcong, and substitute for Vietcong goals goals that are compatible with the sincere US love for the Vietnamese people. He writes: 

            “If the Vietnamese had come singing towards us through the hails of bullets, we would have knelt down and embraced them.”

            If they can come singing through the hails of bullets. A good way of putting it. Yes, if only it’s exactly what happens. The idea that we can bomb the people into submission, and make them love us, is insane. When the Germans were “bombed into submission”, it actually strengthened the Nazi party. What then happened to the Germans was something else. At a certain point they realized that their whole project was doomed, the whole Nazi project was wrong wrong wrong. They were not taught a lesson by being bombed. “If only they would come singing through the hail of bullets, we would go down on our knees and embrace them.” The perception of their own project came from the inside. What Coetzee leads up to is psychosis, diagnosis maybe a combination of narcissism, megalomania and paranoia, maybe with elements of a fantastic detachment from reality. But we are not dealing with psychopaths, we are dealing with socio-paths. Maybe lovely individuals, but with an image of the world totally devoid of any humanitarian reality when those attacked refuse to do what Reagan said when he was entering a helicopter, in connection with Nicaragua. “Mr. President, what do you want them to do?” “All I want them to do is to say ‘Uncle'”, meaning “I submit.” 

            It doesn’t work like that with a deep culture and a deep structure at work. US political science and US economics have no concept of history, and, it seems, only two concepts of structure, hierarchy and anarchy. If you come from a Nordic country, or from the European Union, you have no problem what equity is about, even if I had to make up the word “equiarchy”, to add to hierarchy, polyarchy and anarchy. Their only approach to equity was and is the signed agreement, contract, regardless of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th level consequences. Similarly, solution to them means settlement, a signed document, and I would argue it isn’t good enough, solution is deeper. 

            So how is the US Empire performing these days? There are 15 contradictions at the end in the hypothesis made in the year 2000. Let me say what the basic theory is about. An Empire is a transborder arrangement that combines economic, military, political and cultural power. It’s an enormous power display that obviously brings with it contradictions. Contradictions are problems you cannot solve unless you change the system, but you can coexist with a couple of contradictions. When the contradictions start multiplying, synchronizing and synergizing, they become serious. 

            For the Empire people hit by an Empire start understanding that they have a common cause: get rid of the Empire – like colonialism, like slavery. 

            I can now pick up some of them, such as the amount of Euros passing the Dollars in circulation last December, Toyota passing GM in January, and you have the number of patents in the world with the US proportion sinking in comparison with other countries passing the US in one domain after the other. There is all of this happening, and much much more. 

            Let me point to a key factor. It hasn’t happened yet. But, many Europeans have felt bothered, and the moment they meet people in the Iraqi resistance movement and they compare notes, a sense of a common cause may start arising. If I now take all of these 15 points, some of them also inside the US, and Americans also sense that they are better off without the US Empire, the moment that common cause factor comes about, the US Empire is doomed. That is what happened to the Soviet Union. My prediction made in 1980 was that the wall would fall before 1990 and that the Soviet Empire would follow and they performed on time. The prediction of the US Empire is by 24 October 2020, the UN day and also my 90th anniversary, and you are all invited to celebrate. And let us combine it with a TRANSCEND meeting, but we need to make a jump, because they are now in odd years. 

What comes after the U.S. Empire? 

A.        The European Union as Successor 

            And then what? Three possibilities. 1) A Successor Country or Countries, 2) A Regionalizing World, 3) Another Globalization. Let me say a couple of words on all three. And you will take note, of course, that the end of an Empire is the most natural thing in the world. Empires come and go, it’s been like that all the time. No empire lasts forever. However, this one happens to be so brutal, so killing, so intervening, doing so much damage that you would expect it to be more short-lived than many of the others. It didn’t have the decorum and the sense of responsibility sometimes exercised by the English and the French, to a large extent by the Spanish, to a minor extent also by the Dutch, much less by the Portuguese and the Belgians. You will of coursealso remember that the Portuguese in Brazil, with the US, were hanging onto slavery more than any other. So there is a tradition here. 

            But leaving that point aside, I think China is one of the least likely successor candidates. On my list, candidate number one is the European Union. You need a sense of universalism, China has nothing of that. They are still convinced that it is surrounded by barbarians. They are willing to buy quite a lot. The annual global income is 54 trillion dollars, and China’s reserves are more than one trillion. The US currency reserves right now amount to 47 billion, which is nothing. That means when you want 100 billion for more fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, you have to take more loans. That they get those loans is something still a little bit strange, but they do pay something in return, namely access to the US markets. So, having said that, a likely successor is the European Union, very universalist, with the 11 major colonial powers all members, and all concerned about their part of the world. And they are willing to say “I’ll not protest if you do something in your part if you’ll not protest when I do something in my part”. It is European political common market. There is much more to the European Union, but this is one important aspect. 

            We had a conference on peace studies in Hull in England one week ago, about democracy and peace. And I launched the idea of the European Union as a successor, after 19 reasons why the hypothesis of “democratic peace” is false, even a fraud, but I leave out all of that. The point I’m making is simply that the European Union has the deep culture and the deep structure it takes to become an empire. There were protests to the effect that there was no such plan also from Members of the European Parliament. Back then, a German from the European Commission raised his hand and said: “I’ll tell you one thing, I work in the European Commission, but occasionally I go over to the Council of Ministers and whenever I am in the building, so many of the people walking around are in uniform, they suddenly disappear into some room, and it is very clear that the doors are closed.” There is of course also the Tindemans plan, and the Tindemans plan is exactly what they need for that successor purpose. So let me proceed to what I think is most likely, regionalization. 

B.        Regionalization 

            We have 4 regions or maybe 5, EU, AU, SAARC and ASEAN. Number 5 is the G8, it’s not contiguous, but it doesn’t have to be contiguous to be a region. And we have 4 regions that are coming, and they have one thing in common: they are not going to ask Washington for permission. 

            The first one is the Estados Unidos de America Latina y el Caribe, the United States of Latin America and the Caribbean. The common currency will be a Bolivar. Nine of the countries met in La Paz in December and drew up the basic plans for the Charter. A basic pattern of thinking is what they call a “social economy” and about that one I will just say one or two lines. When sanctions came to Cuba in 1960, or 1961 rather, the only trading possibility was with the Soviet Union, meaning sugar in return for shoddily manufactured goods. The Soviet Union collapsed, so did the trade, and Washington was already looking forward to the collapse of Cuba. What did they do then? First of all they switched to organic agriculture to be self-sufficient. In industrial products, they have enormous shortages, but they have some trade possibilities. And then you would immediately say that it was obvious, but not everybody thought about it. “We have human material, let us process that human material to as high a level as possible.” That started university education to an extent unknown in most other countries, with a science and training center outside Havana for the training of doctors, dentists, engineers, social workers, educators, teachers of all trades. Thousands and thousands of them, ready to go to Latin America. But they didn’t have the money till Chavez. He had the money, and a messianic complex. He is the Messiah with a budget. Imagine Jesus Christ with an oil budget? You see the triangular theme? Chavez pays Cuba for providing the manpower for lifting the bottom level of those 9 countries, starting with the slums, and they pay Chavez a certain allegiance to the Estados Unidos, which is evolving everyday today. Venezuela then, a couple of weeks ago left the World Bank and the IMF. You cannot leave it unless you have paid all your debts and Venezuela paid them some time ago. The other countries cannot leave because they haven’t paid their debts, so Venezuela is going to pay their debts for them. The Messiah with a budget. The difficulty of it is, that Messianism might go to his head and make his populist democracy, as opposed to the usual Latin American elitist democracy, similar to people’s democracy in Eastern Europe, as opposed to any democracy. As it is obvious I like his policies, I would hate to see that happen. 

            The second one is an Islamic community from Morocco to Mindanao. 1’300’000’000 Muslims crossing almost 1’300’000’000 Hindus, from Nepal to Sri Lanka, like two highways, but at the same level. A major potential for a major conflict, making small riots in India look microscopic. I use that as an exercise for diplomats and say, “Please come up with 5 solutions for this one”. 

            Third, an East Asia Community, without Japan and with India, possibly combined with SCO. 

            And fourth, possibly, Putin could pull it off, but he may not be the man for it, is a Russian Union with a Chechnya having as much autonomy as the Netherlands in the European Union. Today widely off the mark. Tomorrow? Maybe. It would be widely in Russia’s interest. The problem is that Putin came to power by being anti-Chechen. So, let us see. Maybe somebody can come to power by being pro-Chechen. 

            In a regional world we do not have any guarantee for peace. As a matter of fact, the country that will benefit most from the decline and fall of the US Empire will be the US Republic. They may start sleeping well at night, and they might use their enormous natural and human resources for innovative projects and their capacity for cooperation, all of that, for better purposes, and make a decent country out of the USA. 

C.        Another Globalization 

            That means of course a stronger UN with globalization through the United Nations. I was advisor to the Commission for Global Governance. They had a lot of good ideas whose time had not come, so let me just say the three that for me are most important. 

            Abolish the veto power. They may meet, in the G8, but put their agenda on the UN agenda, and if they don’t like what they come up with, outvote them by expanding the Security Council to 54 members like the Economic and Social Council, and see to it that all parts of the world are there. That’s point one. 

            Point two, democratize the United Nations. They can mobilize an enormous amount of initiatives through a democratic United Nations. Maybe with one representative for each 1 million inhabitants, some say for each 10 million. 

            And, point three, take the United Nations out of the United States and put it somewhere else. Put it in a more friendly environment. This can all be done within a span from 5 to 20 years. If democracy is such a good idea, then why not practice it? 

            My own book on The Decline and Fall of the US Empire–And Then What? is scheduled for next Spring. The book on alternative economics is also for next year, and so is the book on deep culture. Books, books, books, what matters more is peace, peace. 

            So let me end by simply saying that I was asked to say something on the state of the world. I’ve done that. And, if anybody can come up with ideas on how to speed up constructive, creative, concrete development, please don’t hesitate! 

            Thank you.
Johan Galtung, Dr hc mult, Professor of Peace Studies; Founder, TRANSCEND, a peace and development network ( www.transcend.org )

15 contradictions of the US 

ECONOMIC 

1.         Between growth and distribution: overproduction, 1.4 billion below 1 dollar a day, 100’000 die a day from preventable and curable diseases and 25’000 from hunger; 

2.         Between productive and finance economy: currency, stocks, bonds, overvalued, crashes, unemployment, contract jobs, not positions; 

3.         Between production/distribution/consumption and nature: ecocrisis, depletion/pollution, global warming; 

MILITARY 

4.         Between US state terrorism and terrorism: blowback; 

5.         Between US and allies: except UK-Germany-Japan, allies will say “enough”; 

6.         Between US Eurasia hegemony and Rus-Chindia triangle with 40% of humanity; 

7.         Between US-led NATO and the EU army: a Tindemans follow-up; 

POLITICAL 

8.         Between USA and the UN: the UN ultimately hitting back; 

9.         Between USA and the EU: vying for Orthodox/Muslims support; 

CULTURAL 

10.       Between US Judeo-Christianity and Islam: the UNSC nucleus has four Christian, and none of 56 Muslim countries; 

11.       Between US and the oldest civilizations: Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Aztec, Inca, Maya; 

12.       Between US and EU elite cultures: France, Germany etc. 

SOCIAL 

13.       Between state-corporate elites and working classes of unemployed and contract workers; the middle classes? 

14.       Between older generation and youth: Seattle, Washington, Praha, Genova and ever younger youth. The middle generation? 

15.       Between myth and realities: the US dream and US reality.