Saturday, February 24, 2007

Chomsky - Iran, Iraq Surge, and Oil

I wanted to share with you something that I found to be quite interesting. It's an excerpt from a Counterpunch interview that Michael Shank conducted with Noam Chomsky. They're talking about the White House's Iraq escalation plans in relation to unspoken US foreign policy intentions regarding Iran.

Noam Chomsky: By accident of geography, the world's major oil resources are in Shi'ite-dominated areas. Iran's oil is concentrated right near the gulf, which happens to be an Arab area, not Persian. Khuzestan is Arab, has been loyal to Iran, fought with Iran not Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. This is a potential source of dissension. I would be amazed if there isn't an attempt going on to stir up secessionist elements in Khuzestan. U.S. forces right across the border in Iraq, including the surge, are available potentially to "defend" an independent Khuzestan against Iran, which is the way it would be put, if they can carry it off.

Shank: Do you think that's what the surge was for?

Chomsky: That's one possibility. There was a release of a Pentagon war-gaming report, in December 2004, with Gardiner leading it. It was released and published in the Atlantic Monthly. They couldn't come up with a proposal that didn't lead to disaster, but one of the things they considered was maintaining troop presence in Iraq beyond what's to be used in Iraq for troop replacement and so on, and use them for a potential land move in Iran -- presumably Khuzestan where the oil is. If you could carry that off, you could just bomb the rest of the country to dust.

Again, I would be amazed if there aren't efforts to sponsor secessionist movements elsewhere, among the Azeri population for example. It's a very complex ethnic mix in Iran; much of the population isn't Persian. There are secessionist tendencies anyway and almost certainly, without knowing any of the facts, the United States is trying to stir them up, to break the country internally if possible. The strategy appears to be: try to break the country up internally, try to impel the leadership to be as harsh and brutal as possible.

That's the immediate consequence of constant threats. Everyone knows that. That's one of the reasons the reformists, Shirin Ebadi and Akbar Ganji and others, are bitterly complaining about the U.S. threats, that it's undermining their efforts to reform and democratize Iran. But that's presumably its purpose. Since it's an obvious consequence you have to assume it's the purpose. Just like in law, anticipated consequences are taken as the evidence for intention. And here's it so obvious you can't seriously doubt it.

So it could be that one strain of the policy is to stir up secessionist movements, particularly in the oil rich regions, the Arab regions near the Gulf, also the Azeri regions and others. Second is to try to get the leadership to be as brutal and harsh and repressive as possible, to stir up internal disorder and maybe resistance. And a third is to try to pressure other countries, and Europe is the most amenable, to join efforts to strangle Iran economically. Europe is kind of dragging its feet but they usually go along with the United States.


Facts of War, editorial, Albany Times Union - Leading Senate Democrats, then the minority but now the majority, are ready to repeal that resolution of unrestricted support for the war. They would declare instead that the mission of the U.S. troops in Iraq does not include interceding in a civil war, which is precisely what now engulfs Iraq.

Juan Cole on Tony Blair, Basra - Blair is not leaving Basra because the British mission has been accomplished. He is leaving because he has concluded that it cannot be, and that if he tries any further it will completely sink the Labor Party, perhaps for decades to come.

Newsweek - The Petraeus plan will have U.S. forces deployed in Iraq for years to come. Does anybody running for president realize that? - The British are leaving, the Iraqis are failing and the Americans are staying—and we’re going to be there a lot longer than anyone in Washington is acknowledging right now. As Democrats and Republicans back home try to outdo each other with quick-fix plans for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and funds, what few people seem to have noticed is that Gen. David Petraeus’s new “surge” plan is committing U.S. troops, day by day, to a much deeper and longer-term role in policing Iraq than since the earliest days of the U.S. occupation.

James Fallows: The Prospect of War on Iran - "...there is a deeper strangeness that I worry about at 2 a.m. Am I guilty of projecting my own assumptions about rationality onto the Administration? [..] Am I the irrational one here, in assuming others’ rationality? I hope not — and I still think not. But just in case I’m wrong, the Congress should get moving and pass that “no funds for war with Iran” measure without delay."

Carter Says Majority in U.S. Support Views in Book / Reuters - Asked what he had learned from reaction to the book, [former President Jimmy Carter] said he was surprised at the ``intensity of feeling and genuine concern that some American Jewish citizens have when anyone questions the current policies of the ... Israeli government. [..] "I can understand the reasons ... that any shaking of almost unanimous support in America for Israel might weaken Israel's position ... as they struggle for their own safety and their own existence,'' he said. [..] The book's main points were that Israel should stop persecuting and abusing Palestinians, withdraw to internationally-recognized borders and conduct intense negotiations with its neighbors to bring peace, Carter said. [..] "Those premises, which are the major premises in my book, have a strong support of American citizens," including many Jews, he said. He added that he guessed the majority of Jews in Israel also agreed with the book's proposals.

The Reason For Reason
by Expatriated Texan
"Freedom is worth nothing if such limitations are placed upon it as to render it soul-less."
As far as I can tell, there is one, and only one, far reaching difference between basing your belief upon an Enlightened faith and basing it upon the secular writings of an Enlightened academic - faith reaches, or puports to reach, beyond this world. David Hume, for example, or JS Mill, will tell us what is good for this world. But they go no further than what they can see. [..] Liberals in America have hobbled themselves because they have half-understood and half-embraced the meaning of the Enlightenment. [..] Go to link to read the entire piece.

True forgiveness can bring about inner peace, author says - “The only anger I feel is toward my country — lies we have been told, the incidents that are hidden until years later … only to find that we were manipulated.” She said she felt anger toward herself because she let things take place without objecting. She said she felt betrayed and bitter as a speech teacher who has helped many students deliver idealistic speeches about an American democracy. Yet her own deep reading revealed a nation of power through manipulation. “I got to the point that I thought, ‘Don’t tell me about this free country, don’t tell me it is the greatest land in the world,’ ” adding that the same patterns can be found in other countries and throughout history. Eileen Borris-Dunchunstang [author of “Finding Forgiveness” - McGraw Hill, $21.95] said such distrust and bitterness leads to a separation of people, yet sharing such stories of anger leads to common ground and understanding.

Lincoln's Antiwar Record - Political Theory Daily Review asks: Looking for a model lawmaker who called a President to account for launching a war on fabricated grounds? Consider The Nation, Eric Foner on Lincoln's antiwar record.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Learning from Past Mistakes

When we look back at our past, knowing what we know now, we often find that it's nearly impossible to understand how we made the mistakes we've made. Once we learn new information, it's nearly impossible to reenter the 'place' we were in before we learned new information.

I think of the situation where 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards said, after examining his conscience, that he was wrong for having voted for the Iraq War Resolution. It was important for him to acknowledge his mistake so that we might fully understand that he'd learned a powerful lesson. He's offered an example of good character by saying - in essence - that once he admitted he knew better, our nation would stand a chance, through his leadership, to do better - and act more righteously - in the future.

Think about mistakes you've made. I think it's safe to say that our personal pasts are full of mistakes that we often can't believe we'd ever made. We likely did things then that we would never do now, and this is precisely because we have information now that we didn't have - or weren't able to access - back then.

How many of us can look back and honestly say that our personal past sometimes reads like a picture-perfect life-guidebook on what not to do? We learn from living. We come to understand how to live differently now in order that we do not repeat mistakes of the past.

Here we are in 2007. We can look back on 2002 and see that we've learned that a President should not be deferred to as if he or she was a King or a Queen. If there's one lesson that has been taught to us well by President George W. Bush, it is that Senators acting out of ingratiating regard toward a leader for the sake of civiity can be harmful to our freedoms at home and our nation's good standing in the world. Great harm came to the People because of this kind of deference.

In order to live more peacefully with the past, it helps to remember that once we know better, we tend to do better. The Bush administartion's Iraq War will leave a scar on the United States that an apology for a vote on a Resolution will not erase. We shouldn't expect an "I was wrong" to erase the things that have come to pass as a result of the Bush administration's incompetent decisions. An "I was wrong" won't bring back lives lost unjustly, but it may make us stronger by the lessons we trust have been learned. Trust is the key word here. We will only believe we can move on if we have trust that our leaders have learned something. Voters need to be convinced that hard lessons have actually been burned into the minds of those who admit that they were wrong. When John Edwards humbly said that he believed that he was wrong, most Americans were willing to offer their understanding and forgiveness. I can't help but to believe we, as a nation, will heal more quickly and take a more righteous path once we can believe that the leaders we choose have been refined by consciously-realized and publicly-admitted mistakes.

We've all made mistakes before we "knew better." We can forgive ourselves once we see that we did our best, and we can come out stronger for having had the experience. While it's true that from the perspective of the present, our best doesn't always seem good enough, we can at least give our past selves the benefit of the doubt. And we can forgive others who offer a part of their good conscience to us. People do the best with what knowledge they've had.

In the end, it's best not to become bogged down in the negativity created by error, whether it's about a personal mistake or the mistake of a nation. We all serve the greater good most effectively by not dwelling on the past. Sometimes it's hard not to dwell on grievous errors. This is why an apology is so very powerful. It can lead us to more effectively reigning our energy and knowledge into our present actions.

It is here, in this moment, that we create our reality and ourselves anew. I hope that we can soon be on the path to ending our too-long occupation in Iraq and bringing our troops home. It's the only way that Iraq can find its own path to peace with the support of many nations.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

On Remaining Centered

When we connect to our center, we access the fullness of who we are as an individual spirit. We also connect to the energy source of the universe, from which nothing can be lacking. It could be that we have been energetically starving ourselves but trying to feed the need physically, outwardly. Once we make the decision to reconnect, we have the ability to examine the behavior from a higher place within ourselves. We can look, without judgment, at the thoughts and feelings that occur before and after our indulgences to find a pattern. We may want to keep track of these observations in a journal so that we can go back if we lose our way. [Daily Om]

"All that I have mentioned is outward, but the outward acts upon the inward, and a man’s clothes and his home are the nearest of all things to his soul, and their influence on it is perpetual and therefore incalculably powerful." [Dr. Martin Lings]

As Krishnamurti often emphasized, only a still mind can be attentive. There is a quality of attention and seeing which can bring about an action in oneself so that a radical change can take place naturally, from the inside. I once asked Krishnamurti about the nature of this attention, what he himself called total attention. I said to him, "What I find in myself is the fluctuation of attention." He said with emphasis, "What fluctuates is not attention. Only inattention fluctuates." For him, there was never a compromise with half-measures; it was a matter of total commitment to truth, or nothing at all.

As long as one does not have a centered self, one is fragmented and agitated. Then one is inevitably self-centered because vastness, freedom and compassion cannot be available to a fragmented and disordered self. When one is centered, one naturally sees the limitation of the personal or selfish perspective. Then one naturally wishes to be free of the prison of selfishness. Until then, the notion or effort to be free of the self is merely an idea and a fantasy. When one has awakened senses, a clear heart and an alert mind, one can go beyond thought to an intelligence which is not so personal or self-bound. [Ravi Ravindra]

Bill O'Reilly Lies in Rush to Trash Edwards

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw Bill O'Reilly's op-ed in the Boston Herald. Why? Because, in his rush - his last opportunity to get in his faux-scream to trash Senator Edwards for the recent blogger non-scandal, he employed lies when talking about what actualy happened. To offer him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he didn't realize they were lies, but there they are - in black and white. Lies. Amanda Marcotte left the campaign because of frightening and vicious threats from some people I personally believe sound insane with and drunk on their own hatred. Ms. Marcotte would've been with the campaign still today had these threats upon her well-being and disruptions by lunatics not have occurred. If the Edwards campaign fails to correct these lies - magnify these lies - in public, the lies will stand in the mind of the public-at-large as conventional wisdom. This is the way that the strength of a perfectly good campaign is diminished, as we saw in 2004. When Bill O'Reilly has to resort to lying to make any political point, his loudmouthed pontifications about so-called-bigotry fall flat as Tom Friedman's earth.

Tough Love for Hillary Clinton on IWR

"An humble knowledge of thyself is a surer way to God than a deep search after learning."

- Thomas à Kempis, German monk, mystic

So Many Advisers -
I read the Patrick Healy article about Senator Hillary Clinton and her advisers on the front page of last Sunday’s New York Times and I’ll admit that I was a bit surprised that this article made the front page while a story about Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s visit to Baghdad, where she ludicrously compared the Iraq war to the American Revolution, was buried on page 14.

After reading the Healy article, I decided that it must be overwhelming for presidential candidates at times, realizing how many decisions faced by the candidates are made tougher by myriad campaign advisers, each with their own personal ideas about the position they believe the candidates should take on the respective issues. I believe that Senator Clinton may be getting into some trouble with her latest decisions, and I regret to see that these decisions are resulting in an appearance of her shunning the netroots, with her advisers wrongly dismissing their concerns as nothing more than anger.
That rhetoric sounds too “Joe Lieberman-ish” to me. I would not suspect that this is something she’d intend to do, as I know from my own personal experience that she and President Clinton have shown clear respect for and interest in the blogging community.

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done".

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)

The IWR Vote Issue - When Will It Go Away?
Some of Senator Clinton’s advisers, including former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke, believe that what she says now, in 2007, about her Iraq War vote in 2002 will be remembered as a ‘turning point’ in the 2008 presidential race. They obviously don’t think this issue is going away anytime soon. Mr. Holbrooke says that Senator Clinton believes that it should be a no-brainer for Americans – the IWR was based on false intelligence. It never should have come up for a vote at all. Mr. Holbrooke seems to think that it should logically follow that an‘I was wrong’ would not be anything the American people would expect or deserve. I have to say that, from a standpoint of moral leadership, I find that logic to be hard to follow or swallow, and I’d wager most any American you’d meet on the street in your own community would feel the way that I do.

The Niche -
It's Deliberate, Highly-emphasized and Strongly-publicized..But Is It Necessary? Helpful?

Other logic applied in the article defending Senator Clinton’s reason for denying concerned Americans an offering of a simple “I was wrong” has failed to convince me that this is any more than a deliberate, necessary, highly emphasized and strongly publicized route to create a political niche for Senator Clinton. The way I see it, her reasons for voting for the IWR were not drastically different than that of the only other top-tier candidate who also voted for authorization in 2002, Senator John Edwards. He said, in a November 2005 Washington Post op-ed, that he believed he was wrong about his vote. Her refusal to apologize seems to be divisive and alienating for Democratic primary voters and as far as the general election is concerned, I don’t see how it will win Independent voters who are extremely concerned about this war or Republicans who say they’ll never vote for her under any circumstances.

Not Sorry? My God, Why Not?
I believe that these are times when some earthy and plainspoken deference to the concerns of the people is twice as important for a candidate to offer than stressing the importance of deference to President Bush in 2002. If anything will count in 2008, it will surely be character. After six years of incompetence and misleading from the Bush administration leadership, voters will discriminate and will parse the field of candidates cautiously to find what they believe is a leader who does not need to appear strong by never admitting where they’ve been wrong, regardless of their gender. Gender should never be a reason to avoid moral honesty, and because I want to see the best for her, I wish Senator Clinton would listen to voices like mine. I would urge her to find a way to communicate to Americans that she is, indeed, sorry that her deference to President Bush in 2002 – which she felt was due at the time - contributed in any way, shape, or form, to a war that defied the will of millions of people in America and around the world, defied the moral leadership of many religious leaders, including the head of the Catholic church, and unjustly created a humanitarian crisis for the people of a nation we have now occupied longer than the duration of WWII.

Not sorry? My God, why not?

Self-Revelation as Great Power vs. Weakness
President Bush has shown us his stubborn ‘strong and wrong’ attitude for too long. If the people want ‘I was wrong,’ it seems it would show respect for a candidate to look them in the eye and level with them. The harder a candidate tries to avoid an apology, the more tangled a web can become. We all look toward a better future rather than clinging to mistakes long past. However, there is great power concealed in a leader’s self-revelation regarding regret - the kind of regret that any human being would understand and forgive. When that admission of human error in judgment is willfully denied to the people who need to hear it most, there will always be an important missing connection with the people who need – now more than ever – to trust their commander in chief.

For the Last Time, We're Not Angry. We Voted for Change. We Respect Strength When We Believe It Comes From the Heart
The advisers quoted in the article keep referring to American “anger” over the IWR vote, while the names to put on the feelings about the Democratic candidates who voted for the IWR in 2002 are much closer to worry, distrust, and skepticism. Senator Edwards offered an ‘I was wrong’ long ago when he said that his conscience directed him to do so. American voters have been impressed by what they’ve seen as his honesty, which one of the Clinton advisers have softly suggested was a gimmick. In the same article - a short few paragraphs away - Patrick Healy reports on a ‘new response’ from Senator Clinton [her advisers won’t call it a gimmick]. She’s willing to ‘lose support from voters rather than apologizing for something she did not believe in.’ That will only result in a loss of votes for her, and I have to be honest and tell you that I believe she’s making a grave error in judgment. It can’t work because it’s a combination of the RNC-style framing of Edwards as flip-flopper, the lame 2004 Kerry campaign unapologetic rhetoric, and a Joe Lieberman 2006 style of depending upon overwhelming Republican support in the general election. It won’t work if they don't believe it’s from the heart. Senator Clinton needs to show that she's not afraid to wear a bit more of that heart on her sleeve. As a woman, I can say that I wouldn't see Hillary Clinton as one bit weaker, but instead a thousand times stronger by opening up to millions of concerned and watchful Americans on this particular issue.