Anabasis for the 21st century

William Lind offers us an interesting scenario involving US and UK forces in Iraq:

If the above scenario [the events related in Anabasis] sounds familiar, it should. America now has an army, not of 10,000 but of more than 140,000, deep in Persia (which effectively includes Shiite Iraq, despite the ethnic difference). We are propping up a shaky local regime in a civil war. Our local allies are of dubious loyalty, and the surrounding population is not friendly. Our lines of communication, supply and retreat all run south, to Kuwait, through Shiite militia country. They then extend on through the Persian Gulf, which is called that for a reason. If those lines are cut, many of our troops have only one way out, the same way Xenophon took, up through Kurdish country and Asia Minor (now Turkey) to the coast.

What is the chance that could happen?

Perhaps not the most likely scenario, but one to keep in mind nonetheless. I also can't help but wonder if the Iranian leadership has taken into account these possibilities when deciding upon short- and long-term strategies.

Grand theft, and bloody murder

How is the new $125 billion supplmental bill linked to the proposed Iraq hydrocarbons law? Richard Behan lays out the case:

The supplemental appropriation package requires the Iraqi government to meet a series of “benchmarks” President Bush established in his speech to the nation on January 10 (in which he made his case for the “surge”). Most of Mr. Bush’s benchmarks are designed to blame the victim, forcing the Iraqis to solve the problems George Bush himself created.

One of the President’s benchmarks, however, stands apart. This is how the President described it: “To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis.” A seemingly decent, even noble concession. That’s all Mr. Bush said about that benchmark, but his brevity was gravely misleading, and it had to be intentional.

The Iraqi Parliament has before it today, in fact, a bill called the hydrocarbon law, and it does call for revenue sharing among Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. For President Bush, this is a must-have law, and it is the only “benchmark” that truly matters to his Administration.

Yes, revenue sharing is there-essentially in fine print, essentially trivial. The bill is long and complex, it has been years in the making, and its primary purpose is transformational in scope: a radical and wholesale reconstruction-virtual privatization-of the currently nationalized Iraqi oil industry.

If passed, the law will make available to Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, BP/Amoco, and Royal Dutch/Shell about 4/5’s of the stupendous petroleum reserves in Iraq. That is the wretched goal of the Bush Administration, and in his speech setting the revenue-sharing “benchmark” Mr. Bush consciously avoided any hint of it.

The legislation pending now in Washington requires the President to certify to Congress by next October that the benchmarks have been met-specifically that the Iraqi hydrocarbon law has been passed. That’s the land mine: he will certify the American and British oil companies have access to Iraqi oil. This is not likely what Congress intended, but it is precisely what Mr. Bush has sought for the better part of six years.

It is why we went to war.

If the hydrocarbons bill passes, the result will be one of the single largest cases of theft in the history of the human race. An injustice on this scale will virtually ensure major instability in the region for the rest of our lives.

And the Bush administration has already sacrificed the lives of tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of people to make this theft possible. If it succeeds, there will be many more added to that list.



Blast from the past

Norm Geras, Marxist supporter of the war on Iraq and one of the more mendacious and hypocritical commentators on The Left, back in the heady days of July 2003:

Tomorrow I’ll be posting, and posting long, on the predominant left and liberal response to the war in Iraq.

Meanwhile here is an example of the genre by Gary Younge. Money quote: ‘Neither [Bush nor Blair] has a clue how to rebuild the country they have just destroyed’.

That’s the country, note, not the regime.

Yeah... that stupid Gary Younge and his statement that Bush and Blair had no clue what they were doing and had completely fucked up Iraq - what the hell was he thinking? Not like the serious, True Leftist, humanist Norman Geras.

And Geras' link to James Lileks - priceless. What a fucking git.


Biofuels: Just say no

Sorry, hippies - biofuels are bad for the environment. George Monbiot:

Since the beginning of last year, the price of maize has doubled. The price of wheat has also reached a 10-year high, while global stockpiles of both grains have reached 25-year lows. Already there have been food riots in Mexico and reports that the poor are feeling the strain all over the world. The US department of agriculture warns that "if we have a drought or a very poor harvest, we could see the sort of volatility we saw in the 1970s, and if it does not happen this year, we are also forecasting lower stockpiles next year". According to the UN food and agriculture organisation, the main reason is the demand for ethanol: the alcohol used for motor fuel, which can be made from maize and wheat.

Already we know that biofuel is worse for the planet than petroleum. The UN has just published a report suggesting that 98% of the natural rainforest in Indonesia will be degraded or gone by 2022. Just five years ago, the same agencies predicted that this wouldn't happen until 2032. But they reckoned without the planting of palm oil to turn into biodiesel for the European market. This is now the main cause of deforestation there and it is likely soon to become responsible for the extinction of the orang-utan in the wild.

But it gets worse... A report by the Dutch consultancy Delft Hydraulics shows that every tonne of palm oil results in 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or 10 times as much as petroleum produces. I feel I need to say that again. Biodiesel from palm oil causes 10 times as much climate change as ordinary diesel.

Monbiot's excellent point that ethanol is currently made from wheat and maize - i.e., food - does not seem to trouble many "eco-friendly" types. It is rather disturbing that burning food to power the personal vehicles of wealthy Westerners, while at the same time many poorer, browner people around the world starve, is somehow seen as a "progressive" or "enlightened" thing to do.

The problem of alternative fuels - or, more accurately, our future energy sources - is a very real one. But biofuels are not the answer. At the risk of sounding like I have my head too far into the clouds, or up my ass, as the case may be, I would point out that we already have a clean and plentiful source of energy, one that will last for the next 2 billion or so years: the sun. All of this money that is going in to support research down the dead-end of biofuels would be much better spent finding ways to harness all this energy that is being beamed directly to us 24 hours a day. This entails a) improving collection methods and b) improving storage capacity. These are substantial problems, to be sure, but certainly not insurmountable ones - provided that we allocate resources to overcoming them.

Instead, we get billions spent on invading and destroying countries in the Middle East and on the "fraud" (to use Monbiot's terminology) of biofuels (which are strongly backed by big oil - something that should immediately raise suspicion).


Dems to vote to fund war

The Democrats in the House will foolishly vote tomorrow to continue funding the war in Iraq, to the tune of $125 billion.

You can read all of the impassioned pleas and convoluted explanations from "anti-war liberals" on how voting to fund the war is really, magically and cunningly, an anti-war move. All the big-hitters have lined up on the side of funding the war: for example, Atrios, Kos (who thinks that the "particulars of the bill matter little") and the patronizing David Sirota, who would like to lecture us about how it's "radical" and "progressive" to fund wars of aggression, cave in to pressure, and ignore the voices from the "Professional Protest Industry".

The whole rationale behind supporting this monstrous bullshit is that Bush, the boy emperor, is sure to veto the bill because it supposedly places restraints on him (the whole provision for troop readiness) and it includes a deadline for beginning the redeployment of US soliders from Iraq. A veto would look good politically for the Dems (a huge concern for Kos - as if the Dems "looking good" will help the Iraqis and US soldiers who will be dying over the next year-and-a-half, thanks to this money). And even if he doesn't veto it, we are further informed, then we have a deadline for the first time that is "The Law".

But what if Bush doesn't? What if he takes the money and runs? In view of Bush's record with signing statements, the Democrats' reasoning is incredibly foolish and their strategy is flawed. If the bill, giving the president $125 billion to spend any way he sees fit, arrives at the Oval Office desk even with provisions attached, what is to prevent Bush from signing it, with statements attached to the effect that the guidelines and deadlines are merely "advisory" - as he has done before?

Dec. 23, 2004: Forbids US troops in Colombia from participating in any combat against rebels, except in cases of self-defense. Caps the number of US troops allowed in Colombia at 800.

Bush's signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can place restrictions on the use of US armed forces, so the executive branch will construe the law ''as advisory in nature."

How smart will the Democrats look then, having just decided to continue funding a war they supposedly oppose?

In fact, constitutionally, Bush - as the commander-in-chief, will have a leg to stand on if he ignores Congressional attempts to dictate the deployment or redeployment of military forces or assess their "readiness". No, Congress' power is the purse - they could have chosen not to fund the war, but cravenly they decided against this option. Congress also could have retained war-making powers to itself - but, as we all know, it felt like giving these to the executive was the best thing to do. Once you give away power - and money, I might add - there's no telling when you'll see them again.

Congress will continue funding the war - thanks entirely to "anti-war" Democrats, and Bush will sign their bill and simply ignore the parts he doesn't like - kind of like how Democrats seem to ignore history.


The madness of Sparta

A famous historian reviews 300.


Warmongering Democrats

Here you go, antiwar voters - your options for the next presidential election. Unprovoked nuclear war, anyone?

- Hillary Clinton, speaking at an AIPAC conference in January:

“U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal,” Clinton told the crowd. “We cannot, we should not, we must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons, and in dealing with this threat, as I have said for a very long time, no option can be taken off the table.”

- John Edwards, offering his wisdom via satellite at the Herzliya conference in January:

"Iran must know that the world won’t back down. The recent UN resolution ordering Iran to halt the enrichment of uranium was not enough. We need meaningful political and economic sanctions. We have muddled along for far too long. To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table, Let me reiterate – ALL options must remain on the table."

Never mind the "update" at the top of the article - Edwards qualification was a mealy-mouthed equivocation delivered to a timid interviewer. But pay attention to the praise Edwards heaped upon war criminal Ariel Sharon - someone this craven should not be allowed to clean the levers of power, much less operate them.

- And finally, we come to the Democrats' great hope, Barack Obama - also, funnily enough, speaking to an AIPAC conference earlier this month:

"The world must work to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is far too dangerous to have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy. And while we should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons."

Obama, as Raimondo points out, also sermonizes about how the US "should never seek to dictate what is best for the Israelis and their security interests". That's great. And what happens if the case should somehow, strangely, oddly, arise that America's 
security interests are at odds with Israel's "security interests"?

There are two things connecting all of these statements. The first is the recurrent use 
of the phraseology involving "options" being on "tables". Are these clowns handed the same talking points by the same people before speeches? The second thing in common is that they were all delivered before right-wing, pro-Israel audiences. What is it about delivering addresses before this kind of crowd that requires threats of unprovoked nuclear attack to be made?

And just to show that it's not just about Iran, here's Senator Carl Levin, looking for any reason to attack Syria:

“These weapons (in Iraq) are coming from a state which doesn’t recognize Israel either, just like Iran doesn’t, we’ve got to try to stop weapons coming into Iraq from any source, they’re killing our troops. I agree with the comments about trying to stop them coming in from Iran. I think we have to stop them going to the Sunni insurgents, as well as to the Shia, and I was just wondering, does the military have a plan, if necessary, to go into Syria, to go the source of any weapons coming from Syria.”

New US Intel Chief J. Michael McConnell answered that there is already an attempt to stop the flow of weapons, and also that most of the weapons being used are already in Iraq.

Levin appeared annoyed, and said that we need to take action “on all fronts.”

The Democrats were voted in to get America out of a war - and now these schemers are looking already to the next one. 
Syria, Iran, it doesn't matter. No wonder they've been utterly ineffective at doing anything substantive to stop the war in Iraq - they really don't give a damn.


Follow the Yellowcake Road

Who knows what's at the end of it?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?