February 2007 Archives

February 18, 2007

Robert Scoble: 'What You Won’t See About Iraq On American TV'

I stopped by Scobleizer on February 17, 2007, as I do every day and night, sometimes several times in a 24-hour period. I was surprised to see that proprietor Robert Scoble, perhaps the world's best known blogger, had linked to a video posted at the blog Hardliner. Scoble linked to it to bring attention to an "Awesome Video about things on the ground in Iraq!"  See his February 17, 2007, post headlined "What you won’t see about Iraq on American TV.

I watched all 48 minutes and 40 seconds of the report, which was produced by Britain's Channel 4. I had seen reports  about many of the incidents highlighted in the documentary on CNN or NBC. But I, and millions of others, only saw the sanitized versions, the kind of footage that might make one think things aren't so bad in Iraq.

Iraqis and others in the Middle East, on the other hand, often saw the raw footage of events that showed dozens of bodies at the scene of car bombings and blood running in the streets. It's this kind of footage that made Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya targets of both the U.S. forces  and Iraqi insurgents

It's why the Bush Administration sometimes accused Al-Jazeera of being anti-American.

The video also highlights the fact that Iraqi journalists hired by western news agencies take the footage and western editors sanitize it. If it weren't for them, we really wouldn't see anything at all.  Most western journalists are too scared to go outside the protective American compound in Baghdad called the Green Zone. And I don't blame them. Not even the Channel 4 reporter narrating the video dared go outside the Green Zone for his report. He relied on Iraqis.

Yet, some of the questions American or western journalists would ask at events goes unasked because the Iraqi perspective is not the western perspective. If Western reporters want a different perspective they have to be brave or foolish enough to go get it themselves.

Finally, as Hardliner says: 'I think everyone, no matter where you sit on the political fence… should watch this…"

By the way, 74 commenters had weigh in at Hardliner and 33 at Scobleizer at TDTR post time.

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February 12, 2007

Asia Times Online: 'How The US Is Doing Iran's Killing In Iraq'

Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily report in an Inter Press Service dispatch published in the February 12, 2007, Asia Times Online that, "New evidence is emerging on the ground of an Iranian hand in growing violence within Iraq, but not necessarily as the US claims Tehran is involved, that is, by providing arms to Shi'ite Muslim militants."

To read more, please see "How the US is doing Iran's killing in Iraq."

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What Did Putin Really Say About U.S. Globalism?

I stopped by the Under The Holly Tree on February 12, 2007, and found where Robin, the proprietor, has posted what is purportedly Russian President Vladimir Putin's "Speech at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy,"  which took place February 10, 2007.

I don't speak Russian, so I have no way of knowing if this indeed the speech or whether the translation is accurate.


Putin Accuses The USA Of Hyper Aggression --- Elaine Meinel Supkis, Diplomacy

Where now for Vladimir Putin? --- Robin Shepherd, GMF Blog

Set The Wayback Machine For The Cold War--- Jeff Beck,  RWDB – J.F. Beck

White House takes Putin to task... but lets Obama fend for himself--- Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune

Gates rebuts Putin's criticism of U.S. global influence --- International Herald Tribune, Thom Shanker and Mark Landler

Many Americans share Putin’s views on US-led foreign policies --- Pravda

Defense Chief Rebukes Putin's Tough Talk --- The Associated Press

A Shot Across the Bow in Munich --- Nikolas K. Gvosdev, The Washington Realist

A Media Critique on the Recent Coverage of Russia --- Sean Guillory, Sean's Russia Blog

Vladimir Putin: Russia's role in the world --- Eamonn Fitzgerald,   Eamonn Fitzgerald's Rainy Day

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Recommended: Richard Silverstein's 'Cracks In The Wall'

On February 11, 2007, Richard Silverstein who "runs Tikun Olam, a peace blog dedicated to a negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict," published an important article in Guardian Unlimited's influential Comment is Free blog headlined "Cracks in the wall." Silverstein reveals:

Over the past six months, two notable developments have set Israel and diaspora Jewry adrift. The first was Israel's war in Lebanon, whose failure caused grave paralysis both in the military and within the government. The second was publication of the Walt-Mearsheimer essay about the Israel lobby's influence on US Mideast policy.

This has become a multi-front war now, with new fronts emerging in seemingly spontaneous fashion. One of the new fronts is Jimmy Carter's new book, which Old Guard Jewish organisations seem to have in their shorthairs. Another is an essay, sponsored by the American-Jewish Committee, purporting to analyse the phenomenon of the "new" anti-semitism professed by liberal Jews who criticise Israeli policies. On yet a third front, three American Jewish peace groups, Peace Now, Israel Policy Forum, and Brit Tzedek, fought an epic battle against an AIPAC-sponsored Congressional bill to criminalise contact with Hamas - the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Bill.

Perhaps realising the importance of this victory, George Soros and other wealthy liberal Jews have been meeting for months to plan for the establishment of an independent Jewish lobby that will counter AIPAC's strident nationalist advocacy.

Silverstein, creator of "Israel Palestine Blogs, an aggregator of 50 peace blogs written by Israelis, Palestinians, American Jews, Arab Americans and Lebanese," notes that, "AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee have enjoyed virtual hegemony as the voice of American Jewry on Israel. It is why presidents, senators and Congress members have voted AIPAC's way (until recently) on virtually all legislation of interest to the group."

I highly recommend "Cracks In The Wall." It's long but it's worth your time. Silverstein says what needs to be said in sharp contrast to Harvard Professor Allen Dershowitz who seems to have become a an intellectual hitman going after prominent Americans who dare to criticize Israel. The sad thing about the effort to muzzle Americans when it comes to Israel is that often those issues that make many American politicians and intellectuals into cowards is openly discussed in Israel.

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February 2, 2007

Is The Bush Administration Getting What It Wants In Wider Middle East?

Asia Times online columnist Pepe Escobar has a thought-provoking analysis in the February 2, 2007, edition of The Times on the Bush Administration's "imperial divide and rule" policy in the Middle East. Mr. Escobar argues:

The Bush administration, in a sense, is getting what it wants in the wider Middle East.  To battle a fictitious Shi'ite crescent (a construct by Jordan's King Abdullah), it has emboldened even more a reactionary Sunni crescent (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates), thus exacerbating to a paroxysm the "strategy" it has already applied in Iraq: sectarianism as the golden parameter of imperial divide and rule. Historically, Sunnis and Shi'ites have co-existed amid social tensions.
"But," Mr. Escobar added, "never have these tensions been so cynically exploited - by Washington - as in post-invasion Iraq and the wider Middle East."

To read more, please see "The 'axis of fear' is born.

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The Usual Suspects Have Started The Iran War Chant

(Nelson A. Brown, Jr. is a Chicago-based attorney and journalist. The commentary below appeared in the January 31, 2007, edition of The Opinion Gazette under the headline "BOMB, BOMBA IRAN; BOMB, BOMBA IRAN." Some links were added for the benefit of readers unfamiliar with the various personalities mentioned in the article.)

Guest Commentary

By Nelson A. Brown, Jr. Editor of The Opinion Gazette

The walls are closing in. President George W. Bush is facing increasing opposition to his Iraq surge. Some Democrats have found the nerve – or maybe the courage of cowardly politicians with a few hits of public opinion under their belts – to bravely support a non-binding resolution opposing Bush’s escalation. Even some Republicans – especially Senators John Warner (a Republican from Virginia.) and Chuck Hagel (a Republican from Nebraska.) –have opposed Bush’s escalation. As public opposition to escalation surges, what might a desperate president do? Why not bomb Iran? There are indications that President Bush is preparing the groundwork for some type of military assault on Iran. The critical question now facing the Congress and all of us is whether we can stop another rush to war.

A growing chorus of the usual national and international suspects has started the war chants. On the international front, the Israel Lobby in this country and the right wing in Israel are speaking the loudest for such a military assault. In the last two weeks, the seventh annual Herzliya Conference was held in Israel – bringing together an international rogues’ gallery of war hawks and wannabes. Over one thousand of Israel’s political and intellectual elite, and its American acolytes assembled to assess Israel’s international position after its widely perceived debacle in its Lebanon invasion. According to some reports, a leading topic of conversation was how close Iran was to “the bomb” and what can be done to stop it.

At one session, Senator John McCain (Republican of Arizona) via satellite asserted that “there is only one thing worse than a military solution, and that’s a nuclear armed Iran.” This bellicose rhetoric blended in harmoniously with the overall tenor of the conference. Other prominent American war hawks and presidential aspirants (hard to tell the difference) – including Richard Perle, Jim Woolsey (former CIA Director), Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards – did their best to whip up war hysteria.

A few days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government was reportedly considering a nuclear attack on Iranian nuclear facilities – a report quickly dismissed by many. [Anyone for a trial balloon?]. Other reports have described Israeli jets making practice runs towards Gibraltar – arguably in anticipation of the real McCoy.

President Bush is taking steps that could signal a coming attack on Iran. He has ordered another American aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf. He has ordered the American military to arrest or kill Iranian agents in Iraq. The government is now reporting that it has increased evidence of Iranian influence in Iraq – including the provision of military supplies and training. There are increasing reports of American military preparations for an attack.

Joining in, the same best-and-brightest gang centered around The Weekly Standard and the National Review that neoconned this country into the Iraq fiasco wants to redeem this bad bet by doubling down and taking on Iran. One of the first steps in gathering public support for their next folly is to demonize the enemy – and of course with Iran’s President Mahmoud Amadinejad, they seem to have a poster child for this effort.

And what can we expect from our courageous Democratic Congress? It is not clear. There are both soft and hard forces -- both foreign and domestic -- pushing for some level of military confrontation. But while opposition to President Bush's "surge" in Iraq grows and Congress tries to contain the damage arising from the Iraq War, the possibility of an attack on Iran represents an even greater danger to American security and world peace. The most critical question now facing Congress, the American public and the anti-war movement is how to head off what appears to be a rush to attack Iran. We failed to stop President Bush's rush to war in Iraq; we must not fail to stop what looks like another -- and even more foolish -- rush to war with Iran.

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