Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Random News & Views Roundup

- The US house of representatives has been busy passing resolutions about other countries' behaviour this week. On Tuesday, it approved a resolution calling for Japan to apologize for its use of female sex slaves during WW2. And on Monday, it unanimously passed another resolution demanding that Canada end the seal hunt. Apparently this hectic agenda - wagging their collective fingers at other countries - is the reason Pelosi has determined that the Democrats are just too darn busy to take care of urgent American business like impeaching Gonzales, Cheney and Bush and ending the Iraq war.

- The UN security council has decided to send 26,000 African peacekeeping troops to Darfur.

The Bush administration welcomed the council's decision to adopt the resolution, but it declined to co-sponsor the resolution on the grounds that it was not tough enough, a U.S. official said. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called for an expedited transition from the African Union to the United Nations.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice phoned Ban in recent days to press him to take over the mission by October [instead of December]. Ban refused on the grounds that his military planners would not be ready.

And we all know what a fine military planner Condi is. If Bush wanted "tough", he could have addressed the crisis in Darfur years ago. All hat, no cowboy - as usual.

- Uri Avnery: A Warning to Tony Blair

As an expert on the global economy, with a worldwide perspective, Wolfensohn could also point out that the importance of the U.S. in the world economy is gradually declining, with new giants like China and India rising.

We, the Israelis, like to think that we are the center of the world. Wolfensohn, a person with a worldwide outreach, sticks a pin into this egocentric balloon. Already now, he says, only the West considers the Israeli-Palestinian issue so important. Most of the world is indifferent. "I have visited more than 140 countries: you are not such a big deal there."

Even this limited interest will also evaporate. Wolfensohn rubs salt into the wound: "A moment will come when the Israelis and the Palestinians will be compelled to understand that they are a secondary performance. … The Israelis and the Palestinians must get rid of the idea that they are a Broadway performance. They are only a play in the Village. Off-off-off-off-off Broadway." Knowing that this is the worst one can tell an Israeli, he adds: "I hope that I am not getting into trouble by saying this, but, what the hell, that's what I believe, and I am already 73 years old."

I do believe him – and I, what the hell, am already 83.

- Chris Floyd: Why the Bush Administration Buries Accounts of Extremist Recantations; Good News is No News.

Last week, the Guardian's Ian Black reported on "a remarkable recantation" by one of the founding figures of the modern jihadist movement, Sayid Imam al-Sharif. A former comrade-in-arms of Ayman al-Zawahiri -- al Qaeda's own Dick Cheney, the "deputy" who actually runs the gang -- Sharif was the mastermind behind the Islamists' first great "spectacular": the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Now Sharif, imprisoned in Egypt, is finishing a new book "that undermines the Muslim theological basis for violent jihad" and is already creating fissures throughout the Islamist movement, the Guardian reports.
The fact that some major figures in one of these factions are now renouncing the use of "killing operations" to advance their odious ideas is surely a welcome development. If it saves only one innocent life from destruction, that is cause enough for rejoicing.

Yet this process -- which began in some quarters years before 9/11, and now involves hundreds of jihadist leaders and activists -- is being ignored by the very people who, ostensibly, have the greatest reason to trumpet it. But of course, such a development is actually bad news for the fanatical militarists of the Bushist faction. They ignore, reject or twist anything that undercuts their cartoonish myth of a vast, monolithic "Islamofascism" bent on world conquest at any cost -- and capable of carrying it out, unless stopped by multitrillion-dollar American war machine ranging over every continent.

- Via Dahr Jamail's Dispatches: Ali al-Fadhily's A Little Easier to Occupy from the Air

BAGHDAD, Jul 31 (IPS) - Many Iraqis believe the dramatic escalation in U.S. military use of air power is a sign of defeat for the occupation forces on the ground.

U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft dropped five times as many bombs in Iraq during the first six months of this year as over the first half of 2006, according to official information.

They dropped 437 bombs and missiles in Iraq in the first half of 2007, compared to 86 in the first half of 2006. This is also three times more than in the second half of 2006, according to Air Force data.

The Air Force has also been expanding its air bases in Iraq and adding entire squadrons. It is now preparing to use a new robotic fighter known as the Reaper. The Reaper is a hunter-killer drone that can be operated by remote control from thousands of miles away.

"We find it strange that the big strategists of the U.S. military have actually failed in finding solutions on the ground and are now back to air raids that kill more civilians than militants," former Iraqi army brigadier-general Ahmed Issa told IPS.

That's the same strategy they're using in Afghanistan and look how well that's turned out.

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