Sucking Cheneys Dick Down Under

To say that this blew me away would be a total understatement:

UNITED States Vice-President Dick Cheney came to Sydney to thank John Howard for his support in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror generally.

Although the Vice-President has relatively low approval ratings in the US and is regarded as an ultra-hawk, he is an extremely effective political leader at all levels.

He is sometimes characterised as some kind of weird extremist.

In fact, no one has had more extensive and effective government experience. He was a White House chief of staff in his 30s, a six-term congressman from Wyoming, defence secretary under President George Bush Sr and for the past six years has been Vice-President.

At his Sydney press conference yesterday, Cheney lavished praise on John Howard, for whom he does indeed have the highest regard.

The fact that US presidents and vice-presidents want to come to Australia and spend time here is entirely a good thing.

Cheney may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But he’s a straight shooter and a loyal ally.

How easy to impress do you have to be, to have your heart so warmed by the sheer grace of one Dick Cheney? He’s only an  “effective politician” in the regard that he managed to trick the United States and much of their allies into a war built on lies, while shelving some of the most basic principles of human rights in the war on terror, which in and of itself is simply breeding more business. To say this man is anything short of pure unadulterated evil criminality would be to sell short everything he has worked so hard to pull over our eyes for the last six years.

And then from that same piece there was this:

Cheney was also sympathetic to Howard’s political problems over the Australian detainee, David Hicks, now in US custody in Guantanamo Bay.

Cheney once more reassured Howard that the US administration would do everything it could to make sure that Hicks was tried quickly and that, if found guilty, he would serve the rest of his sentence in Australia.

Are you fucking kidding me? What about the other 400-odd detainees in Guantanamo Bay? Wheres the sympathy for them? David Hicks is among the few who have concrete ties to terrorism to begin with. None of those detainees deserve to be there, or to be treated the way they’re being treated, but to somersault one of the few who is in fact guilty through the system to make some political gains is testament to the fact no one should be sucking Dicks Dick this hard unless you’re his wife.

Unbelievable.

Advertisements

Why They Fight

Prior to last weekend few, if any, members of the media were concerned about the status of the soldiers in Iraq or those who had returned from the fighting. There were scant reports about lack of equipment and the needless use of Humvees which only acted as magnets for RPG attacks, but overall these were afterthoughts. The main focus has always been to either strengthen the forces that are there, or to bring them all home.

Yet last weekend the Washington Post ran a now infamous story on the state of the Walter Reed US military medical facility which treats veterans of the Iraq war. If you haven’t read it I suggest you find the time.

Since their release much attention has been paid to Walter Reed specifically, but little more to the state of hearts and minds of those still involved in the fighting, or en route to yet another deployment.

Consider the mental anguish a soldier must endure given the nature of the conflict in Iraq, where danger literally hides behind every corner:

A gunman, clutching an AK-47, bobs his head around the corner of an alleyway close to a school.

Once. Twice. On the third occasion a child, a boy seven or eight years old, is thrust out in front of him. The gunman holds him firmly by the arm and steps out for instant into full view of the Bradley’s gunner to get a proper look, then yanks the boy back and disappears.

“That is really dirty,” says Specialist Chris Jankow, in the back of the Bradley, with a mixture of contempt, anger and frustration. “They know exactly what our rules of engagement are. They know we can’t fire back.”

A few minutes and a few hundred metres later the performance is repeated. A woman and three small children emerge uncertainly from behind a building, little more than a shack. They stare at the approaching armour. After a few seconds they retreat from view; then the process is repeated. The third time they emerge, a fighter is crouching behind them with a rocket-propelled grenade aimed at Jankow’s Bradley. The group disappears.

There is a long pause, a moment of excruciating moral conflict for the soldiers and for the gunner in particular.

Not to shoot would be to imperil their own lives or those of their colleagues, both American and Iraqi. To shoot would be to risk killing civilians who have been shoved in front of their guns to shield insurgent fighters.

Consider the impact fighting such as this has on soldiers, driving them to do the abhorrent:

Sgt Paul Cortez, one of five men facing criminal charges for the atrocity, described how he and his comrades discussed “having sex with an Iraqi female” and then selected their target in such a way as to minimise getting caught.

“She kept trying to keep her legs closed and saying stuff in Arabic,” Cortez said. “During the time me and Barker were raping Abeer, I heard gunshots that came from the bedroom. After Barker was done, Green came out and said that he had killed them all… Green then placed himself between Abeer’s legs to rape her.”

Green shot the girl dead too, at which point the soldiers set her on fire. The fire prompted neighbours to contact Abeer’s uncle, who discovered the bodies.

Not to excuse them of their actions, but such examples should resound loudly when we cry for these boys to come home. How will we treat these shattered individuals who gave so much sacrifice when they return, mere shadows of their former selves? Will we treat them with the levels of respect they deserve, or will they be relegated the meager, borderline abusive, treatment as evidenced by Walter Reed?

On Britney, One More Time

“Late Show” host Craig Ferguson, in a recent monologue (YouTube link here. ) :

People are falling apart. People are…People are dying. That Anna Nicole Smith woman—she died!

[Audience laughs.]

No, it’s not a joke. You know, it stops being funny, that. She’s got a six week old kid, or six month old kid. What the hell is that? You know, and I’m starting to feel uncomfortable about making fun of these people. For me, comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it. It should be about always attacking the powerful people—attacking the politicians, and the Trumps and the blowhards—go after them! We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable people.

Smart guy.

Courtesy of Truthdig.

Enough already with the Britney show. She just doesn’t want to be your sex object anymore.

oconner.jpg

Why in the world are we devoting 24 hour news coverage to the fact Britney Spears shaved her head and got a few tattoos? I realize that in this society thats a really dumb question to ask, but considering those same news networks are implying that both her intelligence and sanity have flown the coop, and that we should all worry for the safety of her children, I think it might just be the most grounded question any of us could ask right now.

Why must the only explanation be that she has gone totally batshit insane? Is it not a stretch that perhaps, just as she said herself, she “doesn’t want to be touched anymore”? Is it too much to think that she’s sick and tired of the attention, the blood sucking, the non-stop grind of being the lead actor in the Britney Spears show? That’s she’s had enough, and she doesn’t want to bark like a dog when she’s told to?

Is it too much to fathom that she just doesn’t want to be your sex object anymore? Is it really?

I say good for her, shave that head. While she’s at it, she should gain a few pounds, start smoking, and wear nothing but baggy sweatpants for an entire year. That will show the ungrateful bastards whose paychecks depend so much upon the actions of the walking sex show that is Britney Spears.

The very same people now questioning her intelligence and levels of psychosis are the ones who have made a living leaching off Britney, her peers, and those who came before her. That is an irony so cruel and petty it’s beyond sickening.

Apparently the hypocrisy we saw in the wake of Anna Nicoles death has taught us total squat. We shunned her and labeled her a dozen different defects at once, but the moment of her death we offered thanks for her newsworthy demise by serving up nothing but the kindest of words for her and her memory.

Were Britney to drop dead tomorrow the very same people vilifying her now would be the first in line to appear teary eyed on Larry King Live telling the world what a fantastic person she was, and how incredibly adept she was at handling the limelight and constant scrutiny of being a celebrity.

Get back to the actual News.

Watch the Right Hand While The Left One Slaps You in the Face

bushcheney1.jpg

There’s a lot to be said for honesty. Even when George W. Bush claims he doesn’t understand the tactics of a possible war with Iran, and that it would probably be political anyways.

There’s a very good chance that wasn’t quite what he meant at all. Remember, he tends to speak like a shotgun: all the words come out of his mouth, but rarely in the proper order or with the desired effect. Analogies could be made to when Dick Cheney shot a 78 year old man in the face, but they’re a tad too obvious.

However there’s also a very good chance that, given the history of this administration, what Bush said today is exactly how it sounded. It was asinine, painfully honest, and afforded no illusions of higher understanding. At this point, would anything less have felt right? Depending on how you measure half-full glasses of water, members of this administration have displayed such a devout commitment to cutting against the grain they should each be awarded honorary lumberjack status.

Chalking it all up to hypocrisy might be an oversimplification. But the dichotomy at play between what the White House says and does on various issues in various parts of the world is starting to get a little silly.

There’s a buildup of American military might [ here, here, and here. ] currently underway in the Middle East, in an effort to flex the muscles of Neo-Con diplomacy directly on Tehrans doorstep. Since the United States doesn’t “negotiate with evil” all of this potential firepower has been deployed to scare the living snot out of Iran, so that they succumb (hopefully) to the will of the United States.

Now, if this were an academic paper, and a friend wanted to pass it off as his own without infringing on the rules of plagiarism, he could rewrite that last paragraph another way:

The United States is bringing much more of their war apparatus to the Middle East, in an effort to terrorize Iran so much so, that Iran changes their national and foreign policies to points whereby those policies no longer interfere with American interests.

I’d copy and paste the definition of terrorism for you, but as a writer I have a healthy fear of sounding cliche, which in the world of online Bush-bashing is tricky enough to avoid. I’ll leave the parallel to you.

Another thing to keep in mind during all of this is that apparently none of the above applies to North Korea. The United States does not negotiate with evil, except in the case of Pyongyang, and their actual nuclear weapons program that is only a hop, skip and a jump away from operational functionality.

It could be possible that Washington is simply ignoring the runner on third (North Korea), because they’re just a pop-fly away from home anyways (long-range nuclear strike capability), in favor of outing the runner headed for first (Iran), because no one wants loaded bases in this kind of game (war). At least not with a pitcher like George W. Bush (weak fastball) and hecklers like the State of Israel (no comment).

Obviously matters such as this require more precision diplomacy than the broad generalizations I have painted above. But so far it appears as though the White House is trying to administer that precision diplomacy in regards to Iran with a rusty hatchet. North Korea, luckily, appears to be going much smoother, as a special US Envoy has reached a tentative deal with the devil, and it appears the North Koreans have agreed to at least halt the current progress of their nuclear program.

I’m not sure if that case, in which the White House told us one thing and ended up doing the exact opposite, is analogous to watching the right hand or getting slapped by the left, only because the march to madness in the Middle East could easily make a case for the latter as well.

At any rate, if the prelude to war is any indication of the conduct of war, we might be in for another bumpy ride.

“Peace”keepers

Sudan seems adamant to take over the reigns of the AU leadership:

“There was a decision made last year [to take over] and nobody has the right to change that,” said Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol.

Which is disconcerting, considering the following:

Darfur rebels said on Friday they would refuse peace talks and would fight African Union peacekeepers on the ground if Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir became chairman of the pan-African body.

“If Sudan becomes head of the African Union then the AU mission working in Darfur will become party to the conflict on the side of the government,” said Esam el-Din al-Hajj, from a faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).

“Definitely if the government of Sudan becomes president of the AU we will fight with the AU,” he said.

The 7,000 AU peacekeepers in Darfur are there in efforts to hold together a countryside ravaged by violence. That violence is directly sponsored by the very same government set to take over the Union leadership. That alone is enough cause for concern. The possibility of rebels taking up arms against AU troops as well as Government and Janjaweed forces further splinters the already complicated situation that exists now.

SaveDarfur.org has more info on this here.

US Military to Target Iranians

According to a Washington Post article today the Bush administration has given the green light for the US military to kill Iranian operatives inside Iraq.

To most, what would seem like escalation of the Iran-US conflict, is seen by the White House as a protection of American interests. According to them those interests, chiefly being the protection of American forces, are important enough to adopt this new “kill or capture” initiative, as opposed to the previous “catch and release” policy.

I’m not naive enough to think this doesn’t make some strategic sense. But I am at a loss when I try to see past the hypocrisy of the United States adopting a policy which so obviously suits them when they see fit, and not when Iran wishes to protect their interests by way of a similar policy, which is really all they have been doing thus far.

“Iran seems to be conducting a foreign policy with a sense of dangerous triumphalism,” Hayden said.

The United States war on Baghdad is no more justified than Iranian meddling in the warfare/politics of their largest neighbor, and no amount of bullshit from the White House will change that.

Nations will always create policy and carry out actions which best suit their needs, the world is self-centric, I’m aware of this. However there comes a point when a country such as the United States needs to begin looking in the mirror, and ponder whether or not the types of double-standard policy made so famous by this administration simply does more to enlist opponents of the American empire than it does to create stability.

I Say Tomato, You Say Terrorist

It’s going to be interesting to see how the international community responds to the hijacking of a Sudanese plane today. If you aren’t aware of what happened, a young man hijacked the plane demanding an end to the conflict in Darfur:

“I call on the international community to put pressure on Sudan to find a definitive solution to the crisis in Darfur,” Mahamat, handcuffed and wearing a light-coloured casual jacket, told reporters after his arrest in Chad’s capital N’Djamena.

“It was the only way to get out. … I asked the crew to take me to Rome so I could go on to Britain. But they told me the fuel wouldn’t get us there,” he said. “I asked them to divert to Bangui or N’Djamena and they said N’Djamena was closer.”

He’s already been labelled a terrorist who will “answer for his actions,” according to Chad’s Infrastructure Minister Adoum Younousmi.

Apparently, in the eyes of Chad and Sudan, violence towards innocent bystanders is not considered an acceptable means of protest or ways by which one can achieve their end-game. I’m looking forward to seeing if members of the UN, AU, US and EU share this point of view in the present situation. Because if they do, someone might want to send them all updated memos on this:

Since early 2003, Sudanese government forces and ethnic militia called ‘Janjaweed’ have engaged in an armed conflict with rebel groups called the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). As part of its operations against the rebels, government forces have waged a systematic campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ against the civilian population who are members of the same ethnic groups as the rebels.

Sudanese government forces and the Janjaweed militias burned and destroyed hundreds of villages, killed and caused the deaths of possibly 200,000 people, and raped and assaulted thousands of women and girls.

Courtesy Human Rights Watch.

Sudan Admits to Bombing Darfur

Huge.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has confirmed that government forces have been bombing northern areas of the troubled Darfur region.

“The Limits of Democracy” by Fareed Zakaria

The basic problem confronting the developing world today is not an absence of democracy but an absence of governance. From Iraq to the Palestinian territories to Nigeria to Haiti, this is the cancer that is eating away at the lives of people across the globe, plunging countries into chaos, putting citizens’ lives and livelihoods at risk. It is what American foreign policy should be focused on. But the president’s freedom agenda sees the entire complex process of political and economic development through one simple lens, which produces bad analysis and bad outcomes.

Full article.