The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Senator Clinton, does lying have no limits?

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Presidents lie, I guess: LBJ on the Gulf of Tonkin. Nixon on Watergate. Reagan denied involvement in Iran-Contra. Clinton “did not have sex with that woman” (lots of people pay good money to not have sex like that). GWB about … oh, forget it (some of my conservative friends still believe Bush’s statements were well-intentioned mistakes, to which I say, “Dear ones, you are not looking.”)

It comes hard to me to admit all this. I clung to hope that Bush was honest much longer than I should have. It still disappoints me (yes, I’m naive and stupid.)

But friends, Hillary did not mis-speak. In her prepared comments, starting in January, and even after being called on it, she repeated a fairy tale that cast herself as a hero, bravely landing under fire, running for cover. As the girl from the Tuzsla airport recently said, “It is an ugly thing for a politician to tell lies.” Hillary brushed it off as unimportant, just a blip, a result of lack of sleep. Since January. In prepared remarks.

Let me ask you, do you accidentally tell stories about yourself running from gunfire? Wouldn’t people doubt your competence if you did?

Check me out. Here are two reporters’ takes on it. See what you think.

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Written by Monte

April 1, 2008 at 12:19 am

Why the US and Russia care about Kosovo

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“Can they do that?” So I thought when I heard of Kosovo’s secession from Serbia. After all, in America, secession triggered a massive civil war. But when there were congratulations and quick recognition from the President, it all seemed good enough. So I figured this was how it works and I just didn’t understand.

Then the Russians got all exercised, even threatening invasion. Huh?

There had to be more to the story. Why were the US and Russia so aggressively pro and con? I found an answer in a post of Thomas Scahill in Counterpunch.

Turned out both nations have much at stake that isn’t in the headlines.

And hello, déjà-vu. Here’s the story:

In Kosovo, there is . . .

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a massive US military base, Camp Bondsteel, which conveniently is located in an area of tremendous geopolitical interest to Washington.
In November 2005, Alvaro Gil-Robles, the human rights envoy of the Council of Europe, described Bondsteel as a “smaller version of Guantanamo.” Oh, and Bondsteel was constructed by former Halliburton subsidiary KBR.
The Serbian government is largely oriented toward Europe, not the US. The country’s prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, is not enthusiastic about a US military base on Serbian soil. He charged that, in recognizing Kosovo, Washington was”ready to unscrupulously and violently jeopardize international order for the sake of its own military interests.” To the would-be independent Kosovo government, however, Bondsteel is no problem.
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According to Robert Hayden, Director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh: “We have in Serbia a situation in which the U.S. has forced an action –the proclamation of independence by the Kosovo Albanians — that is in clear violation of the most fundamental principles of international law after World War II. Borders cannot be changed by force and without consent — that principle was actually the main stated reason for the 1991 U.S. attack on Iraq.”

So here’s the dope: Washington has fallen all over itself to recognize Kosovo’s illegal secession, and Russia has threatened military intervention, partly because the secession keeps a US military base on Russia’s doorstep (and, guess what, it’s just over the hill from an Asia-to-Europe oil pipeline). To Russia, it must be what Americans would feel if Russians established a military command center a hundred miles on the other side of, say, El Paso.

And once again, Washington’s worldwide military aspirations are the back-story of global conflict.

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Written by Monte

February 25, 2008 at 11:59 am

The New History of the Iraq Invasion

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SaddamBushRobert Parry, in an article for (CBS Falsifies Iraq War History), shows how victors’ versions of things become commonly accepted “truth.” This particular illustration comes from watching Scott Pelley ponder the apparent lunacy of Saddam Hussein on the Jan. 27 episode of CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Pelley interviews an FBI agent who “debriefed” Saddam.

But first, consider the Iraq story we’ve grown to believe:

The officially sanctioned U.S. account, as embraced by Bush in speech after speech, is that Saddam Hussein “chose war” by defying the U.N. over the WMD issue and by misleading the world into believing that he still possessed these weapons. […]

On Jan. 27, 2004, for example, Bush said, “We went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution – 1441 – unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, you must disclose and destroy your weapons programs, which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance. It was his choice to make, and he did not let us in.” […]

Or, on May 24, 2007:

“As you might remember back then, we tried the diplomatic route: [U.N. Resolution] 1441 was a unanimous vote in the Security Council that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. So the choice was his [Hussein’s] to make. And he made a choice that has subsequently caused him to lose his life.”

On July 14, 2003, as the U.S.-led WMD search also was coming up empty, Bush began asserting that it was all Hussein’s fault because he had never let the U.N. inspectors in. Bush told reporters:

“We gave him [Saddam Hussein] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power.”

Fair enough, right? Think again. Here’s the record: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 28, 2008 at 9:24 pm

McCain: 100 years in Iraq “fine with me”

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Here’s what’s wrong with “experienced” candidates on national security:

photo credit samueljscott.files.wordpress.comTruthdig: When asked in a New Hampshire town hall meeting about the possibility of being in Iraq for 50 more years, John McCain says it could be 100 years and that would be “fine with me” so long as American troops aren’t getting killed. Comparing Iraq to South Korea and Japan, McCain suggests it would behoove America to maintain a long-term military presence there.

McCain, Romney, Giulani—maybe even Clinton— just don’t get it that Al Qaeda and its ilk attack Americans because American strike-forces are positioned on Arab lands. Arabs and Iranians and American scholars have labored to make this plain. But the President has put his fingers in his ears and cried “They hate us for our freedom.” That’s what experience gets you.

Americans will not be secure until US presidents stop threatening Arab and Iranian homelands. Americans themselves have moved beyond this cold-war view; American government lags behind.

It isn’t right to force ourselves on other nations, and we are less secure when we do. Let’s elect a president who knows it.

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Written by Monte

January 5, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Exonerated but helpless: 4 years at Guantanamo Bay

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I post dozens of newsbits at Clipmarks. This one brought a comment that I wanted you to see. First, the clip:

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Newly-revealed documents show the U.S. held a German prisoner at Guantanamo Bay despite privately acknowledging his innocence just months after his capture. Murat Kurnaz was kidnapped and handed over to U.S. forces in Pakistan in December 2001. Four weeks later he became one of the first prisoners to arrive at Guantanamo—where he would spend the next four years. Declassified documents show U.S. and German intelligence officials concluded he had no links to terrorism as early as September 2002. A newly-formed military tribunal finally took up his case in 2004. But the panel ignored the intelligence assessments and twice ordered his ongoing imprisonment. During this time Kurnaz says he suffered severe torture. He says he was beaten, given electric shocks, submerged in water, starved, and chained to a ceiling for days. Kurnaz says he saw several people die and often thought he would die himself. He was finally released in August 2006—nearly five years after his capture.

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Gitmoljsdesign just killed me with this comment:

What gets me is those people who are willing to turn a blind eye. It’s the only way, it’s for the greater good, we’re just protecting ourselves. The ends justify the means.

We will ALL have to account for this. One day our children will come to us and ask “why did this happen? How could we have done these things? How could you allow it to happen?”

What explanation could we ever give them that would justify it. How would we explain away our own responsibility for why we let it happen and let it continue?

Ah, that’s the awful truth about governments: They do it because we let them do it.

Raise your voice, won’t you?

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Written by Monte

December 6, 2007 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Iraq, News, Terrorism

Bush: “Shadow of a nuclear holocaust” unless action against Iran

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Yesterday I wrote this: Politicians who exaggerate to frighten us toward war—or who demonize enemies to make killing them seem unavoidable—should be relentlessly discredited for doing so. I didn’t expect to have to live up to it quite so soon; but today I came across these words in the Utne WebWatch from an article of Glen Greenwald in Salon:

Last Tuesday President Bush said that Americans would be caught “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust,” if the United States hesitates on Iran. (Recall then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice’s September 2002 warning: “We don’t what the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”).

To paraphrase: “Booga Booga.” Do what I tell you or the world gets it.

Problem is, we heard this talk in 2002. And it was dead wrong.

This time, as then, the IAEA sees no evidence suggesting development of a nuclear weapon. In fact, the IAEA is pleased with Iran’s cooperation. So we get the same argument we got last time: We must act before danger is imminent—before we find the smoking gun. In other words, when we have no evidence. They might want to do something to us someday; let’s whack ’em.

To frighten us into war, the President conjures mushroom clouds where none could rise (as did Secretary Rice in 2002). If he says it often enough, people will believe it (remember how many came to believe his oft-chanted mantra linking Iraq and 9/11?) and resistance to war will be shouted down, even though the threat is as contrived as the last one.

It is jingoism—war-mongering of the shabbiest sort.

Will Congress have the courage to stop him this time? Will AIPAC flex its muscles and keep them quiet? Or will Congress neglect its role again, letting him kill off a few thousand more Americans and another million foreign nationals, then whine about being misled? If I had known then what I know now … You should have known, Senator—it’s your job. Don’t fail us again.

If you’re reading this in the USA, I urge you to email your Senators and Representative, and ask them to take definite action to prohibit war on Iran. Links to the House and Senate are on my right sidebar. Go for it. Reject fear.

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September 6, 2007 at 6:26 pm

Know your Vietnam history: Did US withdrawal cause the “bloodbath”?

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Historian Gareth Porter, responding to President Bush’s speech likening Iraq withdrawal to Vietnam’s “bloodbath”:

GARETH PORTER: Well, you know, it reminds me very much of the way in which, of course, Richard Nixon used the threat of a bloodbath in Vietnam as the primary argument for continuing that war for four more years after he came to power in 1969. And really, it seems to me, the lesson of the Vietnam War that should be now debated and discussed is really the way in which Nixon could have ended that war when he came to power, negotiated a settlement and avoided the extension of that war into Cambodia, which happened because Nixon did not do that.

Had Nixon listened to the antiwar movement and the American people by 1969 and ended that war, there would not have been the overthrow of Norodom Sihanouk in 1970. There would not have been the extension of the war into Cambodia. There would not have been the rise of the Khmer Rouge. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

August 24, 2007 at 8:21 pm