Sept 11 Journal



~ Wednesday, September 11, 2002
 
September 11th Journal


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The following is a journal of relevant writing I’ve done since the U.S. military campaign action against Afghanistan which began on October 7, 2001. A common thread so far is the question over whether the Bush administration's war fighting policy advances or detracts from our national and international security. As an editorial in the Nation put it in connection with the Bush administration's determined pursuit of national missile defense, “This is no way to build a more secure world.” (11.26.01)

To subscribe to my Sept 11th mailing list, simply send a request to rbleier@igc.org.



Invading Iraq: The Road to Perpetual War --exerpts: Who is George W. Bush and
The Israeli Connection, October 2002
Unpublished letter re Kristof op ed on Israeli preemption 11.15.02
Unpublished letter re Bush-Hitler remark, 9.20.02
Unpublished letter re Dowd's: "W's Conflict of Interest" , 9.15.02
Unpublished letter re Cheney's drumbeat for war, 8.28.02
Unpublished letter re Bill Keller op ed on Iraq 8.24.02
Unpublished letter re Chinese impact on Amazon Jungle, 8.23.02 To the New York Times
Unpublished letter re Bush's policy on Iran, 8.17.02 The New York Times Letters
Unpublished letters to the New York Times Re: "A Time for Candor", 8.03.02
Unpublished letter re US attack on Iraq, 7.8.02
Unpublished letter to the New York Times on Palestinian suicide bombers, 6.20.02
Unpublished letter to NYT re Bush adminstration responsibility for 9/11, 6.6.02
Unpublished letter to The Nation re covering up government responsibility for 9/11, 6.2.02
Unpublished letter to NYT calling for independent investigation, 5.20.02
Letter to Times re Editorial: "Israel's Unwise Offensive" -- 3.14.02
Sharon's Graduated Escalation 2.20.02
A Signal on Iraq. Letter to the New York Times 2.12.12
Government of Israel Warns of retaliation against Palestinian Civilian Community 2.12.02
The Real George Bush Is Standing U 2.7.02
Letter to the New York Times (unpublished) January 11, 2002
Collateral damage in Afghanistan: civilian deaths top 3700
December 2, 2001 letter to the New York Times
Its Not About Oil, response to felicity a 11.25.01
November 17, 2001 letter to the New York Times
Hitler’s Revenge? And the real threat? 11.08.01
November 6, 2001 Unpublished letter to the New York Times
November 4, 2001
Letter to the New York Times (unpublished) October 24, 2001
Letter to the New York Times (Unpublished) October 12, 2001
October 8, 2001
New strikes on Afghanistan/Taliban



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The following is an excerpt from an article by Ronald Bleier, “Invading Iraq: The Road to Perpetual War,” which will be published in a forthcoming issue of Middle East Policy (2002-2003). For more information see: The Demographic, Environmental and Security Issues Project (DESIP) http://desip.igc.org.


October 2002

Who is George W. Bush?

As a candidate and as president, George W. Bush has been consistently underestimated, and even today, more than a year after the 9/11 attacks that significantly added to his self-confidence, he is still viewed as an intellectual lightweight, even stupid. But such characterizations misread him and tend to minimize the danger he represents. It’s true that he’s inarticulate, anti-intellectual and remarkably parochial. But he’s far from stupid. On the contrary, he’s shrewd, ruthless, vindictive and cruel. In public appearances he uses his folksy, down home persona to advantage, sometimes even exaggerating his Texas drawl. Who could suspect him of malign or reprehensible motives? President Bush combines the focus of the true believer and the conscience of a war pilot who sleeps easy after bombing from 50,000 feet. An ugly side of his character was demonstrated as Governor of Texas where he didn’t see fit to pardon any of the 152 prisoners over whose executions he presided. As governor he "steadfastly opposed changing the clemency procedures in the face of stinging criticism by the courts." [14] A window into his cynicism was provided on July 30, 2002: After signing the corporate anti-fraud bill and remarking that from now on, those who commit securities frauds and shred documents are going to jail, he was caught off camera joking, "I can't believe I just said that."

A sign of his administrative skills, leadership qualities and sense of direction, is that he chose Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Karl Rove, et. al., to join him in his work. He and his team have used their considerable abilities and their focused determination to successfully hijack the agenda of the United States in the service of unprovoked aggression against a helpless country in the midst of one of the world’s most sensitive flashpoints. And in doing so, the Bush team has compelled his political opposition to race to do his bidding. Under the president’s crafty leadership, he bends the world to his parochial will.


The following is an excerpt from an article by Ronald Bleier, “Invading Iraq: The Road to Perpetual War,” which will be published in a forthcoming issue of Middle East Policy (2002-2003). For more information see: The Demographic, Environmental and Security Issues Project (DESIP) http://desip.igc.org.


October 2002

The Israeli connection

Support for the Bush administration plan to invade Iraq has been immeasurably strengthened because effecting regime change in Iraq seems to serve Israeli political goals. Activist Ali Abunimah lists three ways in which Israel could hope to gain by a war against Iraq. First, it would eliminate Iraq as a potential rival. Second, by increasing "the already deep alienation between Arab and American societies, such a war [would be] good for Israel." Third, the U.S. war against Iraq might give the government of Ariel Sharon the cover it needs to implement mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories, into neighboring countries. [11]

Abunimah writes that the dream of achieving "regime change by any means necessary in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority" have made their way "from the cold of Washington’s neoconservative think tanks into the heart of the Bush administration and are now directly informing U.S. policy." Abunimah quotes from an article in The Nation "The Men from JINSA and CSP" detailing the "dozens of members" of pro-Israeli think tanks who "have ascended to powerful government posts in the present U.S. Administration ‘where they’ve managed to weave a number of issues- –support for national missile defense, opposition to arms control treaties, championing of wasteful weapons systems, arms aid to Turkey and American unilateralism in general--into a hard line, with support for the Israeli right at its core.’" [12]

Thus sustaining Israel has merged with the goal of projecting American power in the service of perpetual war. This merger paves the way towards the eventual goal of fighting what Israeli supporter Norman Podhoretz calls in Commentary, "World War IV, the war against militant Islam." Podhoretz can’t understand why the "axis of evil" is limited only to three countries. He argues that it "should extend to Syria and Lebanon and Libya, as well as ‘friends’ of America like the Saudi royal family and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian Authority whether headed by Arafat or one of his henchmen." [13]

This is an example of an extreme Zionist wish list. But Podhoretz is joined by many mainstream Zionists (those who believe in a Jewish state in the former Palestine) who disdain the view that "militant Islam" arose out of the historical reality of an Israel implanted by force into the Arab world. Israel’s remarkable military victories, especially in 1948 and 1967, and their aftermath which resulted in more than a million Palestinian and Syrian refugees, made it increasingly clear to the Arab and Muslim world that traditional, secular means of struggling for political rights would not fulfill their legitimate aspirations. Nor could they look to the West for practical assistance because the United States has always, in effect, supported Israeli expansionism and oppression of Arab peoples. Israel, widely cited as "the only democracy in the Middle East," has played a decisive role in subverting democracy in the Arab Middle East by uniting the peoples of the various countries behind a strong leader, required to struggle against U.S. backed Israeli political and military pressure. Arab leaders have been forced to block democracy and normal secular political and social options in their countries in order to stay in power and to maintain the best possible relations with Israel and the United States. Evidence that secular alternatives were blocked could be seen as early as the 1970s when college educated women in Egypt and elsewhere began taking the veil. Only in the mosque could many find hope for progress.

Many supporters of Israel like Podhoretz understand that continued American assistance for Israel faces ever more popular opposition in the Arab and Moslem worlds and so they seek regime change both in confrontational countries like Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Iran and Libya and also in insufficiently strict friendly countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. While even the Bush administration cannot openly embrace such a war on the Muslim world, their agenda of perpetual war meshes seamlessly with suppressing Israel’s "enemies." U.S. support for total Israeli hegemony in the Middle East has come back to haunt Americans as pro-Zionist cheerleading eases the way for the belligerency of the Bush administration.

Fealty to Israel and/or fear of the powerful Israeli lobby rather than due considerations of national and international security could explain why such high profile Democrat senators like Tom Daschle, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry, Robert Torecelli and others felt that they could not oppose the Congressional resolution for war sought by President Bush. Thus we have an example of how the division of loyalties between what’s best for America and what’s best for Israel plays such a malevolent role in the determination of U.S. policy. The drawbacks of supporting unprovoked aggression against Iraq and of supporting President Bush were subsumed in many cases to the perceived requirement to be on the correct side of this crucial issue pitting possible gains for Israel against the larger American interest.

Notes

Ali Abunimah, "Yearning for World War IV: The Israeli-Iraq connection," October 3, 2000, The Electronic Intifada.
Ibid, quoting The Nation, September 2, 2002.
Quoted in Abunimah, ibid.
***
Note: I emailed the following letter to the New York Times in response to Kristof's op ed where he defends the Israeli attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. . They did not see fit to to publish it. A link to the op ed follows.

November 15, 2002
To the Editor:


Re: "The Osirak Option," Nicholas Kristof, (Op-ed, 11/15/02)

Kristof's argument that Menachem Begin’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981 was justified despite universal condemnation makes sense only if we support Israel’s occupation and oppression of the Palestinians for the last 35 years. In that case, supporting Israel’s introduction of nuclear weapons to the Middle East is justified on the grounds that Israel requires such weapons in order maintain its dominance over those who might seek redress for the Palestinians. While Kristof’s implied argument for Israeli exceptionalism serves Zionism, the ideology of a Jewish state in the former Palestine, it flies in the face of justice, and as we continue to see, peace.

Sincerely,

Ronald Bleier

This article from NYTimes.com
has been sent to you by rbleier@igc.org.

The Osirak Option

November 15, 2002
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

If it's appropriate to launch pre-emptive strikes on
countries that sponsor terrorism and develop nuclear
weapons, then we could invade Pakistan today.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/15/opinion/15KRIS.html?ex=1038380632&ei=1&en=69635644a5194b46

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
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Note: I emailed the following letter to the NYT but they have decided not to print it. A link to the Times article follows. -RB

The New York Times
Letter to the Editor

letters@nytimes.com

September 20, 2002

To the Editor:

Hitler’s signature was much more unique than the one suggested by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder’s justice minister, Herta Daubler-Gmelin. Virtually every leader seeks for ways to divert attention from domestic problems. Hitler was distinguished by the power of his armed forces, his willingness to embark on unprovoked aggression and the consequent threat he posed to world peace. President Bush’s determination to preemptively attack Iraq absent any legitimate causus belli and the signals his administration has given of maintaining a state of endless war suggest that world civilization is facing a threat similar in significant ways to the one it faced 60 years ago.

Sincerely,
Ronald Bleier

NEW YORK TIMES
September 20, 2002
By REUTERS
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/politics/politics-germany-election.html?ex=1033568343&ei=1&en=efcfd3c5a7fe1cc7

Hitler Comparison Causes Storm Before German Poll

BERLIN/DORTMUND (Reuters) - Allegations that a German
cabinet minister had likened the U.S. president's methods
to Hitler's whipped up a last-minute storm on Friday, two
days before an election that pollsters said was
too close to call.
__________________
Note: I emailed the following letters to the Times regarding its 8.3.02 Editorial on the Bush administration's plans to attack Iraq. The Times has apparently chosen not to print my letters. A link to the Times editorial follows. --RB

Attack on Iraq a matter of ideology

The New York Times
Letter to the Editor
letters@nytimes.com

August 3, 2002

To the Editor:

Re: A Time for Candor, editorial, 8.3.02

The Times is correct in finding a resemblance between 2002 and 1939 in Bush administration threats against Iraq. Another way in which our era resembles the Hitler era is that our proposed war to effect regime change in Iraq is ideologically driven, and not a measured response to real threats to our security. It is an example of war fighting for its own sake, undertaken to create as much international instability and chaos as possible.

A attack on Iraq will serve to further inflame Middle East tensions and will signal a wider U.S. war against the Arab and Moslem world. It will put our enemies and allies on notice that we have no intention of respecting even the most fundamental notions of comity and civility, thus paving the way for deeper international friction.

On the domestic front, an attack on Iraq is also bound to magnify the already heady powers of our police, army and intelligence services, and further threaten our remaining civil liberties and our democratic way of life.

Sincerely,

Ronald Bleier

Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction

August 5, 2002

To the Editor:

Re “A Time for Candor,” editorial, 8. 3.02

The New York Times repeats the unsupported Bush administration claim that the disarming of all of Iraq’s unconventional weapons has still not been achieved. Former UN inspector Scott Ritter in a speech at Suffolk Law School in Boston on July 23rd presented convincing testimony that Iraq possesses no such capability. Scott Ritter spent seven years with UNSCOM in Iraq and he declared that his team was 90-95% successful in finding and destroying Iraq’s nuclear and chemical weapons facilities. As to the other 5-10%, Ritter explained that they could be accounted for by a variety of technical factors such as the ravages of the Gulf War and the governmental chaos caused by the sanctions regime.

Ritter is also certain that Iraq currently possesses no usable chemical or biological agents. For example, he explained that two of the three nerve agents that Iraq produced, Sarin and Tabou have a shelf life of only five years. And Iraq’s VX facility was totally destroyed by a Gulf War bomb on January 23, 1991. Ritter also explained that the Iraqis could not have reproduced these facilities in the period since inspectors were pulled out in December 1998 because the vented gasses involved in such production could have been detected via satellite and other means. Likewise for the telltale gamma ray emissions involved in the production of nuclear weapons.

Sincerely,

Ronald Bleier

Iraq didn't expel weapons inspectors in 1998
August 4, 2002

To the Editor:

Re “A Time for Candor,” editorial, 8. 3.02

Why does the New York Times editorial incorrectly repeat the assertion that Iraq expelled the UN weapons inspectors four years ago? In December 1998 Richard Butler, then executive director of UNSCOM, in coordination with the U.S. and Great Britain, removed the UN weapons inspectors. Butler acted in order to clear the way for Operation Desert Fox, a coordinated air attack by the U.S. and UK on Iraq which began 24 hours after the inspectors were removed. In a news column on August 3rd, The New York Times acknowledged that the UN “stopped weapons inspections of Iraq in 1998.” ("Senators Want to Know the Unknowable on Iraq, and Time is Running Out,” by James Dao)

Sincerely,

Ronald Bleier


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New York Times editorial

A Time for Candor on Iraq

August 3, 2002

It is time for President Bush to level with the nation about his intentions and to talk candidly about why he feels military action against Iraq may soon be necessary.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/03/opinion/03SAT1.html?ex=1029422198&ei=1&en=a05defb3222bc088



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Unpublished letter re US attack on Iraq, 7.8.02

Note: I emailed a similar letter to the NYT on July 8, 2002. The editors have apparently decided not to publish my letter.

The New York Times

Letter to the Editor
letters@nytimes.com

July 8, 2002

To the Editor:

Re: The Warpath: Pressures Build on Iraq, by Patrick E. Tyler, 7.5.02 and U.S. Plan For Iraq Is Said to Include Attack on 3 Sides, Eric Schmitt, 7.5.02

The Times is if anything understating matters when it suggested that only "murky" evidence has thus far been provided that Saddam Hussein still possesses weapons of mass destruction. Whatever evidence is available suggests that he no longer possesses such weapons. Scott Ritter, the former head of the Concealment Investigations Unit for the United Nations Special Commission Unit (UNSCOM) that operated in Iraq, testified that by the time UNSCOM pulled out of Iraq in 1998, Iraq’s weapons program had been disarmed. So it’s not clear why Mr. Tyler repeats the administration’s line that our government is pressing for Iraq to admit a new round of weapons inspectors since our government seems determined to attack Iraq in any event. Secretary of State Colin Powell announced in May that “regardless of what the inspectors do, the people of Iraq and the people of the region would be better off with a different regime in Baghdad (Brian Whitaker and agencies, "US wants to oust Saddam even if he makes concessions,""The Guardian, May 6, 2002). And as The Forward reported, “Baghdad believes that Washington intends to manufacture a crisis in any case even with inspectors on the ground.” (Marc Perelman, "U.S. Stance on Iraq Inspectors Gains Allies," July 5, 2002)

Shouldn’t we have more than a pretext before we embark on an adventure that will certainly kill many thousands in Iraq, that could set the region aflame, disrupt vital oil supplies, and might also have serious security repercussions for us as well.

Sincerely,
Ronald Bleier


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Unpublished letter to the New York Times on Palestinian suicide bombers, 6.20.02

June 20, 2002
To the Editor:

Re: “The Palestinian Death Knell,” Editorial, 6.20.02

The Times suggests that Palestinian suicide bombers are “delusional” if they think they are advancing the peace process. But it’s very difficult at this stage to say exactly what the peace process is about, if it’s not simply more empty words from President George W. Bush. From the Palestinian perspective, the peace process merely assists Sharon’s consolidation of Israeli rule over the Occupied Territories, together with the ongoing destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure. From their point of view speeches by President Bush and similar initiatives are the vehicles whereby Israel continues to make Palestinian day to day life impossible: they can’t work, they can’t travel, their land is confiscated, their homes are destroyed, their leaders are assassinated or imprisoned. They are left with no hope or opportunity for the future. Who is being deluded?

Sincerely,
Ronald Bleier


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Unpublished letter to NYT re Bush adminstration responsibility for 9/11 6.6.02

Re: “New Tone, Old Goal,” by Elisabeth Bumiller 6.6.02 (page 1)

When President George W. Bush carefully limits his denial to saying that he has seen no information “today” which could have prevented the WTC and Pentagon attacks he seems also to be arrogantly daring Americans to consider the real possibility that our government may be guilty of criminal activity in connection with the 9/11 strikes. Information that has already come to light raises the question of whether our system of government is prepared to face squarely such a possibility.

Even at this stage, the choices seem to be narrowing. If our government could not have prevented the attacks, then were they simply asleep at the wheel due to their interests in promoting their unrelated right wing agenda. The current line that the success of the 9/11 attacks was due to bureaucratic infighting, and negligence on the part of our intelligence agencies is becoming more difficult to credit as recent revelations highlight how much critical information was available.

One key to the puzzle is already out in the open. David Frasca head of the Radical Fundamentalists Unit at FBI headquarters in Washington has been identified as playing a key role in suppressing requests from the Minneapolis field office to carry out relevant inquiries. Is it true that he was subsequently promoted? Wouldn’t a promotion suggest reward for a job well done?


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Unpublished letter to The Nation re covering up government responsibility for 9/11, 6.2.02

To the Editor:

While David Corn’s “Capital Games” article is useful for shooting down some of the high profile conspiracy theories both his article and your editorial on “September 11 Questions” (6.1.02) effectively buy into the Bush administration’s cover story that the attacks took place as a result of bureaucratic bungling. But it’s quite possible that the Bush administration played a key role in suppressing investigations that could have prevented the attacks, and thus preventing our intelligence agencies from doing the job they were capable of doing. Despite the well publicized memo by Colleen Rowley, general counsel with the FBI’s Minneapolis field office who pointed to David Frasca, the FBI agent at Washington HQ who repeatedly blocked the investigation called for by the Minneapolis field office into Zacarias Moussaoui, there seems to be little interest in following up on this major lead. Her memo begs answers to such questions as: to which superior did Frasca take the Minnesota F.B.I. field office request? Is it possible to make public documentation which would shed light on the process? What were the reasons for Agent Frasca’s denial of authorization? Was Mr. Frasca a rogue agent or was this investigation suppressed at higher levels? Was Mr. Frasca involved in suppressing other relevant warnings? Which ones?

And how did it happen that the perpetrators were discovered so quickly? Because of the many misrepresentations by administration spokespeople on these issues and the secrecy maintained by our government, many Americans will remain confused until we can see the documentation that led to the instant identification of the suicide bombers. We need to be assured that the White House and other relevant agencies had opened no files on them before the 9/11 attacks and were not tracking them. Only when we get the answers to such questions will Americans feel that that we are on the path to protecting our security.


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Unpublished letter to NYT calling for independent investigation, 5.20.02

Note: I emailed the following letter calling for an independent investigation into 9/11 to the NYT on 5.20.02 but they decided not to print my letter. --RB

letters@nytimes.com
The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re: "The Williams Memo," by William Safire, op-ed, 5.20.02

Bravo to William Safire for calling for an independent 9/11 commission despite Vice President Cheney’s clear indication that such a probe would be most unwelcome. The key questions that such an investigation would address is whether the White House had sufficient information to prevent the 9/11 attacks as well as the allied question of whether or not the Clinton White House and the George W. Bush White House took deliberate action to prevent our intelligence agencies, especially the CIA and FBI, from following up on possible terror threats associated with the Saudis and the Bin Laden- Al-Quaeda terror network. It seems premature for analysts to accept the authorized version that the fault lay with our intelligence agencies before an independent investigation can determine to what extent politics may have played a role in the 9/11 disaster.

Sincerely,

Ronald Bleier


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Letter to Times re Editorial: "Israel's Unwise Offensive" -- 3.14.02


I emailed the following letter to the NYT regarding their 3.14.02 editorial which follows after a very good political summary by the Jewish Peace News.

I generally prefer not to write to the Times regarding Middle East issues because our views are so divergent. However, I was moved by the tone and some of the substance of their editorial and I even allowed myself a bit of hope that they would consider my letter for publication.

As it turned out they still have a ways to go before they will allow views like mine to be printed. However, the good news is that a day or so later they published one of Ali Abunimah’s letters, and they did so not so long after publishing his good op ed about two months ago. This indicates that they are looking for stuff from our side that they can publish. So much for good news. --RB




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March 16, 2002

To the editor of the New York Times letters@nytimes.com

Re NYT editorial 3.14.02; “Israel’s Unwise Offensive”

As brutal and unacceptable as Sharon’s tactics are, it’s far from clear that they are also “utterly counterproductive,” at least from the point of view of advocates of a Greater Israel largely free of Palestinians. It may be that Sharon is maneuvering to arrange another bout of mass expulsion and ethnic cleansing similar in scope to the major expulsions of 1948 and 1967 when 750,000 and 200,000 to 400,000 Palestinians were forced out respectively.

A key part of such a campaign would be the graduated escalation of Israeli attacks against the Palestinians which Sharon has thus far conducted with such devilish brilliance that the horrors that the Palestinians are undergoing today are experienced in a political context that many can accept. Once the Israelis make the political decision to expel, it would be a relatively simple military matter to force large numbers of Palestinian civilians out of a particular locality into Jordan or other neighboring Arab countries.

In one terrible but increasingly less far-fetched scenario, it’s quite possible that Sharon’s plan is to maintain a high level of pressure on the Palestinians until a suitable screen or pretext for expulsion materializes, such as a future U.S. attack against Iraq or a particularly successful or horrific Palestinian attack against Israelis.

Sincerely,

Ronald Bleier, Editor
DESIP
The Demographic, Environmental and
Security Issues Project (DESIP)
http://www.igc.org/desip


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From: Jewish Peace News shlensky@socrates.Berkeley.EDU
Subject: [JPN] NY Times Editorial: Israel's Unwise Offensive

In today's top editorial, the New York Times strongly condemns the Sharon government's destructive actions in the Occupied Territories. Going beyond Bush's restrained criticism of Israel's recent invasions of Palestinian cities and refugee camps, the Times accuses the Israeli government of engaging in actions that are "utterly counterproductive, undermining Israel's own interests and immensely complicating American diplomacy" in the conflict (and, the editors leave unstated, interfering with the Bush administration's new resolve to forcibly install a sympathetic regime in Iraq). The editors insist that Israel's policies are wrongly targeting the Palestinian civilian population as a whole, thereby "causing great civilian suffering and unnecessary humiliation." By rounding up civilians en masse, Israel's aims "appear to be aimed specifically at using humiliation [of civilians] as a tactic." The Times calls Israel's methods doubly wrongheaded at a time when the US is trying to reduce the conflict, and the editors agree that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was correct to abandon diplomatic politesse on Tuesday and to criticize Israeli actions in unusually sharp terms. As critical voices have long argued, Sharon's government seems bent on imposing a military solution that is bound to fail; the Times editors concur that recent Israeli policies merely defer and make more difficult "an eventual fair and lasting peace." The Times merely restates today what has been obvious since Sharon took office: that his policies are not aimed at bringing about a peaceful, negotiated solution to the conflict. But when these ideas emanate from the American newspaper of record, one recognizes the blowing of new winds in the corridors of power. Let us hope that these new winds and words are more than the seductively false harbingers of a policy sea change.
--LS

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/14/opinion/_14THU1.html?pagewanted=print&position=top


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Sharon's Graduated Escalation

by Ronald Bleier

New York, 2.20.02

Yesterday, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired missiles on a Hamas office in heavily populated Jabalya refugee camp, resulting in two deaths and injuries to several schoolchildren (see “Mideast Death Toll Rapidly Rises As Violent Recriminations Spiral,” NYT 2.20.02). This represents an example of Prime Minister Sharon's graduated escalation of attacks on civilians. He well understands that if these attacks on civilians are allowed to continue and grow, they must eventually lead to a mass exodus of the Palestinians. Thus it’s clearer that the only thing standing in the way of another bout of mass expulsion is the outcry of the rest of the world. The most important voice is that of the United States, followed by the European Union and the international and U.S. media. The problem is that if the U.S. doesn’t step up soon, Sharon will be able to continue his graduated escalation in such a way as he will be poised to take advantage if not create the opportunity to strike at the Palestinian civilian population in a massive way.

Sharon conducts the attacks in such a way as to force Hamas to react with violence, thus increasing the “pressure” from the right on Sharon to escalate. The resulting intensification of demands especially from the right to “act decisively” leads in turn to local and international acceptance of more and more massive attacks on the Palestinian civilian population.


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2.12.02

Letter NYT 2.12.02 A Signal on Iraq

To the Editor:

President Bush apparently believes that now is the time to show that he fully supports the policies of the most radical right-wing elements both inside and outside his administration. The signal was Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's testimony before the House International Relations Committee that Mr. Bush was set on a "regime change" in Iraq and that this was something that the United States "might have to do alone" (news article, Feb. 7).

The timing of the signal may be due in part to Mr. Bush's growing self-confidence as a result of the successful military action in Afghanistan, the fall of the Taliban and the dismembering of Al Qaeda. The signal also seems to indicate that the administration has decided that an attack against Iraq and an attempt to displace Saddam Hussein must come sooner rather than later.

Such a policy runs the risk of antagonizing our allies even in the event of military success and hurtling us into a more dangerous and unpredictable world.

RONALD BLEIER
New York, Feb. 7, 2002


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Government of Israel Warns of retaliation against Palestinian Civilian Community

See NYT: “Israel Hits Police Site After Palestinian Rocket Attack,” (2.12.02) James Bennet, Jerusalem.

1. On NYC radio (2.11.02), a Palestinian spokesperson claimed that there was no independent verification of the rocket attack which reportedly landed harmlessly in a field.

2. The same radio report mentioned an Israeli warning that any more such attacks could bring Israeli retaliation against the Palestinian civilian community!!!

Such a warning, if accurate, is alarming. It is reminiscent of Israeli peace camp leader Uri Avnery’s warning in May 2001 of how the Israeli army might trigger a large scale expulsion of the Palestinians. He wrote that the

“massive employment of [Israeli] fighter planes, tanks and infantry against the civilian population, [will be employed with the purpose of inducing] hundreds of thousands to flee. It will be explained as a `reaction’ to Palestinian attacks. The settlers will cooperate enthusiastically, helping to cleanse the villages and to eradicate them from the face of the earth.” (Uri Avnery, “A Second Nakbah,” May 19, 2001)

It’s not clear that the White House recognizes the danger in allowing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to continue to coordinate the deteriorating spiral of attack and reprisal. If the situation continues to worsen and Sharon does indeed follow through in the next few months with military attacks against the civilian Palestinian population, it’s very likely that the Israeli army already has plans in place to direct the refugees to designated areas.


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2.7.02

The Real George Bush Is Standing Up



Note: The highlighted material was published as a Letter to the New York Times, 2.12.02.

Every day it’s becoming clearer that a major consequence of 9/11 has been to unleash on a more and more terrified world the real George W. Bush. President Bush apparently believes that now is the time to reveal that he fully supports the policies of the most radical right wing elements both inside and outside his administration. The signal was Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s testimony before the House International Relations Committee that Mr. Bush was set on a “regime change” in Iraq and that this is was something that United States “might have to do alone.” (news article, Feb 7). [U.S. Weighs Tackling Iraq On Its Own, Powell Says,” Todd S. Purdum, NYT, 2.7.02]

The timing of the signal may be due in part to Bush’s growing self-confidence as a result of the successful military action in Afghanistan, the fall of the Taliban and the dismembering of Al Qaeda. The signal also seems to indicate that the administration has decided that an attack against Iraq and the attempt to displace Saddam Hussein must come sooner rather than later.

Such a policy runs the risk of antagonizing our allies even in the event of military success and hurtling us into a more dangerous and unpredictable world.

Side to side with its report (on A14) of Secretary Powell’s testimony, the NYT printed a report about European discomfort with Bush’s “approach to terrorism”: “French Minister Calls U.S. Policy ‘Simplistic’” (2.7.02). As of now, the NYT seems to be the only member of the major media alarmed by President Bush’s apparent intentions. As the title of the Times article suggests, the editors made a point of including in the article some decidedly frank European assessments. For example, the Times noted that the French Foreign Minister “lashed out at the way the White house was pressuring” Arafat.”He said that “European countries…think it is a mistake to support Ariel Sharon’s purely repressive policies.” The Times is apparently uncomfortable with President Bush’s dramatic reversal of the official U.S. posture as “honest broker” in the Israeli – Arab conflict.


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January 11, 2002

Note: The following is the text of a letter I emailed to the NY Times in January regarding the Karine A arms shipment that the Israelis claimed was destined for the Palestinian Authority. The Times did not print my letter. An update and comment follows my letter. -RB


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The New York Times
Letter to the Editor

January 11, 2002

To the Editor:

It’s not clear why the U.S. government has accepted the Israeli version of the origin of the arms shipment that purportedly was destined for the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli version, 50 tons of weapons were concealed “in waterproof pouches inside steel tubes that were to be dropped off at sea for fishermen to drag ashore.” Israeli authorities contend that these containers were to be dropped overboard in the sea off the Gaza Strip and several were to be “tethered together and anchored at a predetermined spot” (“U.S. Says It Accepts Statement From Captain on Seized Arms,”, 1.9.02).

But this version doesn’t account for some of the most obvious logistical difficulties. Recovering a substantial portion of 50 tons of arms hidden in waterproof pouches is a major operation, and would require a minimum of tens of volunteers over a period of time. It is well known that Israel maintains an embargo over the Palestinian sea coast, including tight controls over fishing. It seems unlikely that the Palestinian leadership could hope to successfully complete such an operation under the watchful eye of the Israelis.

Sincerely,

Ronald Bleier

***

Afterwards I found out some more information about the Karine A which was intercepted on January 3, 2002. The ship was not owned by the Palestinian Authority as claimed by Israel but by an Iraqi individual. (MEI, 11 January 02). Also, in addition to close observation by Israel, the U.S. was also monitoring the ship.

Despite the likelihood that this whole affair was a setup by Israeli intelligence, the event has for all practical purposes gone down as advertised: as a plot by Arafat with the aid of the Iranians to destabilize the security situation in Israel and the occupied territories. The decision finally taken by the U.S. government to endorse the Israeli position is likely to have been a political one rather than based on the facts of the case.

Notwithstanding the argument that the Palestinians under occupation morally speaking should have access to such heavy weaponry in order to defend themselves, if the arms shipment had indeed gone to the Palestinians, that in itself would have been an invitation to Israel to retaliate with all available means; i.e, suicide for Arafat (and for untold numbers of Palestinians). And Arafat is the ultimate survivor.

Ronald Bleier, Editor
DESIP
The Demographic, Environmental and
Security Issues Project (DESIP)
http://www.igc.org/desip



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Collateral damage in Afghanistan: civilian deaths top 3700

As of 12.10.01, more than 3,700 Afghan civilians have been killed in the course of the war, an average of more than 60 per day, since the U.S. led military campaign against Afghanistan began on October 7th. This unofficial count was made by Marc Herold, a University of New Hampshire professor, and reported in an exclusive interview given to Democracy Now in Exile, (broadcast nationally on 12.10.01 on some radio and cable tv stations and also on the internet). Amy Goodman, producer of Democracy Now, noted that the number of deaths in Afghanistan was higher than the official death toll from the attacks on 9/11.

Professor Herold stated that he has spent about 14 hours a day collating reports from more than 20 foreign and domestic media sources, including Le Monde, the Times of India, Frontier News (India) and others. He emphasized that he was NOT saying that civilians were deliberately targeted by the Pentagon, but that they were victims of a policy of striking at military targets and “targets of opportunity.” He discussed the wide range of targets in Afghanistan (and also some in Pakistan) including civilian areas, fuel trucks, mosques, tractor trailers carrying refugees, power stations, clinics, taxis, etc.

In the interview, Professor Herold expressed concern that there seemed to be a concerted effort by the State Department and the Pentagon to suppress information about civilian casualties; an effort which he felt was supported by the “corporate media.” As evidence of U.S. government attempts to suppress such information, he pointed to the refusal of the government to release satellite imagery of the war zone, the U.S. government hiring of an expensive PR firm to spin news of the war and a special trip made by Secretary Powell to Qatar to scold Al-Jazeera.

The end.

And on the same subject, an article by David Corn DENYING THE DEAD In Pentagon Reports of Afghan Dead, Truth is the First Casualty by David Corn

"It is not, as Rumsfeld asserted, 'impossible to get factual information about civilian casualties.' His military just hasn't bothered."

http://www.tompaine.com/features/2001/12/07/2.html


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Friends:
I’m enclosing my letter to the New York Times in response to Maureen Dowd’s pretty good op ed on the struggle in the Bush administration about Iraq next. As you’ll see, my point is that Dowd and virtually all other mainstream analysts take it for granted that George W. Bush is a normal person who evaluates risk and reward the way normal people do, and that he has peace and security as a high priority. But of course he’s not normal: he’s an ideological extremist. I suspect that the NYT will choose not to print my letter.

The good news (cited in Dowd’s article) about the Iraq next issue is that Rumsfeld on CNN 12/1 has explicitly disassociated himself from Richard Perle’s gung ho comments. “He does not speak for me”, Rumsfeld said.

For another scary article on this subject, see NYT: 12/3: “Calls for New Push Into Iraq Gain Power in Washington,” by Elaine Sciolino and Alison Mitchell. ) --RB

Letter to the Editor of the New York Times:
December 2, 2001

To the Editor:

Maureen Dowd analyzes President George W. Bush as if he were a conventional politician, much like his father (Op-Ed, 12.2.01). In fact, our current president is far more ideologically driven than his father, perhaps even more than President Reagan was. A drawback to the ideological rather than the pragmatic approach is that the stakes are far higher because such policy makers tend to discount risks in the belief that they are historically or divinely ordained to prevail.

Thus the debate within the Bush administration that Maureen Dowd observes between those who wish to “Get Saddam” and those who are more cautious, may already be over in the mind of the key decision maker, George W. Bush. It’s possible that the President’s recent Rose Garden remarks demanding that Iraq permit a renewal of weapons inspections serve as a guide to his thinking in the same way that his bellicose remarks about “smoking out” Al-Qaeda in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 predicted the military campaign against Afghanistan some weeks later.

Sincerely,

Ronald Bleier


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Friends:
While I agree with Felicity comment (see her email below) that the Bush administration is bent on an Iraq next policy, I'm one of those on the left who don't think that it's about "oil, gas and access to the Caspian."

For one thing if it were about oil, the US wouldn't be trying to oust the Taliban with whom they were previously cooperating in order to ensure access to the Caspian's oil without involving Iran (notice how Zionist interest comes into play here). Under the present situation with possible resumption of the Afghan civil war, the instability will continue to place at risk American oil interests in the Caspian. (See the very good NYT article 11.25.01: Pakistan’s Anxiety Grows as Taliban Collapse,” by John F. Burns)

Once again, if US policy had oil as its highest priority, we wouldn't be thinking of attacking Iraq, further weakening their oil output and infrastructure. Under the status quo, we get as much oil as we want from Iraq. Oil flow to the US can only be jeopardized by resuming war against Iraq. Notice once again, how US policy is pushed toward the Zionist agenda of neutralizing Iraq, despite America's own national interests.

In my view, the thoughtless, reckless Bush administration war against Afghanistan is motivated by their hard right wing agenda of maximum international confrontation and endless war fighting when possible (as now); and their interest in furthering their domestic agenda, which is dramatically enabled by their war fighting agenda.

Ronald Bleier

Ronald Bleier, Editor
DESIP
The Demographic, Environmental and Security Issues Project (DESIP)


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----- Original Message -----
From: farbuthnot
To:
Sent: Saturday, November 24, 2001 10:34 AM
Subject: [al-awda-unity] FW: Troop build up


Greetings,
There is no doubt in my mind that Iraq - denied not only normality but even, recently access to the UN's Report and recommendations (sp?) (what an irony) on Human Rights, is next in line in this appalling, illegal 'war on terrorism'. What is this about: 'hunting down the perpetrators ...' for the tragedy of 9/11? They are dead, for heavens sake. This is about oil, gas, minerals and access to the Caspian.

And looking at the terrified faces of Afghani children on tv, as a plane went over - a mirror image of those I see in Iraq, those in Palestine, it is impossible not to reflect that terrorising creates terrorists. Another tragedy which I hear over and over now when giving talks (in four countries over the last weeks, so a bit of a yardstick perhaps) is people carefully, cautiously, frightened of 'spitting in church', commenting that this action against one of the poorest countries on earth, with a life expectancy of 45 years, is degrading the dead - the tragedy of those people who did nothing more than go to work on a sunny morning in September. The other comment, from those of all colours, creeds and backgrounds, is that this IS a war on Islam. Not one Afghani was on that plane it would seem - and it would seem that Florida, New Jersey, Madrid, the UK., Hamburg may have - hosted those involved , so, goes the question: 'why are we only threatening to bomb predominantly Muslim countries?' Indeed.

Can this mad roller coaster of destruction be halted? If not I fear 9/ll is the start of another kind of 'new world order.'

Despairingly, felicity a.

November 21, 2001
U.S. Troops Arrive in Kuwait for 'Desert Spring'
By REUTERSFiled at 6:47 a.m. ET [snip]


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Friends: Here is a letter I emailed to the NYTimes in connection with a theoretical article by Edward Rothstein arguing that searching for the root causes of terror is a "distraction." I gather that the Times has decided not to print my letter.

A link to the text of the article:

Exploring the Flaws in the Notion of the 'Root Causes' of Terror
November 17, 2001
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/17/arts/17CONN.html?ex=1007063948&ei=1&en=36285528c14dcf34


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November 17, 2001

The New York Times
Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Edward Rothstein”s “Exploring the Flaws in the Notion of the ‘Root Causes’ of Terror” (11.17.01) provides a theoretical framework to ignore current issues of poverty and oppression, and controversial American foreign policy. Conveniently it makes superfluous any reevaluation or self-examination.

One conclusion that may be drawn from Rothstein’s argument is that acts of terror somehow spring full blown out of the dark hearts of malignant beings, unrelated to events in the real world. This is close to President George W. Bush’s rhetoric blaming “evildoers” for the events of September 11th. Not coincidently, Rothstein’s conclusion that a search for the “root causes” of terror “are distractions from the real work at hand” provides a handy justification for our military campaign in Afghanistan as well as the military campaigns that some in the Bush administration have publicly stated they are eager to see implemented.

Sincerely,

Ronald Bleier


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Hitler’s Revenge 11.8.01

Hitler’s Revenge?
And the real threat?
by Ronald Bleier

One way to explain Hitler’s psychology and motivation is to see him as a suicidal psychopath. We can conjecture that he was in such emotional pain that he could not look forward to a normal future. Thus, in order to cope with his demons, he had to live on the edge, taking political and military risks that most people with a normal concern for self-preservation, would not dare to undertake. (Military historians may find this approach helpful as they analyze the war's campaigns, especially the planning and the conduct of the Russian campaign, the declaration of war against the U.S., and some of the subsequent campaigns against the West.)

If we grant Hitler’s suicidal nature, his goal then becomes not so much conquering the world but rather the destruction of the world. He was perhaps the first political leader in world history who approached such capability.

Although he was unsuccessful in taking down the rest of the world with him, the birth of nuclear weapons may be viewed as his revenge, the fulfillment of his goal beyond the grave. The current crisis has accelerated the danger to the point where now, a mere 50 years after the end of WWII, we are confronted with a world where terrorist entities rather than states can make credible nuclear weapons threats against their enemies. (See below for a summary of a Wall Street Journal op ed [11.8.01] “Do the Terrorists Have Nukes?” by Pavel Felgenhauer.)

One question we may ask is whether the Bush administration’s current military attack on Afghanistan is calculated to reduce or to enlarge the danger of an attempted nuclear weapons attack against the American homeland or that of our friends and allies, or anywhere else. Also, if the current American led military campaign scores a major success in Afghanistan relatively soon, will that make more likely an attack against Iraq?

Finally, do such concerns raise questions about whether or not the fundamental priority of the Bush administration is the safety and security of the American people, its friends and allies, and international stability?

Summary of “Do the Terrorists Have Nukes?” by Pavel Felgenhauer, Wall Street Journal, 11.8.01.

Suitcase sized weapons more likely to come from Pakistan, not Russia

Felgenhauer explains that if terrorists ever managed to obtain “a genuine suitcase sized Russian nuclear weapon (and not some fake traded on the black market), it is virtually impossible that they would be able to make it explode. Outsiders cannot directly use modern Russian and American nuclear weapons because they have security codes that fully deactivate them when there is an attempt at unauthorized penetration or activation.”

It’s much more likely, speculates Felgenhauer, that if bin Laden were to get a “usable nuke,” it would come from Pakistan, not Russia. “Such weapons tend to be bulky and their explosive yield is relatively easy to reassemble.”

The real threat is from radioactive bombs

But Felgenhauer cites experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency as suggesting that the more realistic terrorist threat are radioactive bombs. Such a device could “spread deadly radioactive contamination over a large area without a nuclear explosion. It may rely on a mix of conventional explosives with some highly radioactive substance like spent nuclear fuel, cesium that is used in medicine or in industry, plutonium from a nuclear weapon, or plutonium from a conventional nuclear power station that is not suitable for weapons production.”

“The explosion of such a bomb would create a radioactive cloud and cause severe and long-lasting contamination. [Such contamination could last] for hundreds if not thousands of years, as [it has in] the town of Pripyat in Ukraine, near the Chernobyl disaster area.”

“It’s much easier to obtain radioactive materials in the republics of the former Soviet Union than true nuclear bombs. Radioactive materials are plentiful and they are poorly guarded.”

(For more details, see the Wall St Journal op ed. Mr. Felgenhauer is an independent defense analyst in Moscow.)


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November 6, 2001 Unpublished letter to the New York Times

To the editor:

Re: “On the Home Front, A Winnable War,” Bruce Ackerman, , Op-ed, 11.6.01 and “Guns Won’t Win the Afghan War.” Op-ed, 11.4.01

Recent op-eds have raised profound questions regarding President George W. Bush’s war-fighting program. Hopefully, more of the American public is beginning to see that a more nuanced diplomatic and legal approach is required if we are to succeed in isolating the prime suspect and drain him of current and potential followers. In addition, it may be becoming clearer to many that the non-military approach would be more, rather than less, effective in minimizing future terrorist threats to this country. Similarly, by all accounts, a speedy end to our military campaign would do much to alleviate the burgeoning humanitarian tragedy in Afghanistan, where hundreds of thousands or more are at risk of exposure and starvation.


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November 4, 2001

An important article in the New York Times (Hijackers' Meticulous Strategy of Brains, Muscle and Practice, By Don Van Natta Jr. and Kate Zernike, 11.4.01) on the “meticulous strategy” of the hijackers divides them into leaders/ pilots (with Mohamed Atta as the mastermind), logistics people, and soldiers/musclemen. The article reports that the FBI has reason to believe that the soldier hijackers, like the passengers and crew, may not have been aware that they were on a suicide mission.

One might naturally draw the conclusion that it will be far more difficult to recruit such people in the future. Unfortunately, the U.S. military campaign may be overcoming such obstacles.

Among other things, the article also reports that the FBI believes that it has confirmed the identity of all the hijackers and that 15 were Saudis. The FBI believes that initial reports that fake Ids were used by the hijackers came from disinformation provided by embarrassed Saudi officials.


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Letter to the New York Times (unpublished)

October 24, 2001

To the editor:

Is the Bush administration’s war-fighting policy adding or detracting from our national security and international stability and peace? Together with hints that Iraq is the next battlefield, current American policy may be using the opportunity presented by September 11th to advance the far-right ideology of exercising U.S. military power, destabilizing the international political and military balance, ratcheting up military spending, controlling the domestic agenda and suppressing domestic opposition.

Many have noted that current U.S. policy seems designed to inflame many Islamic and other moderates as well as extremists, and to encourage the planning of more such attacks. A cycle of violence may have begun where future successful attacks on U.S. and Western interests might work to advance the right wing agenda.


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Letter to the New York Times (Unpublished)

October 12, 2001

To the editor:

Re “To Reassure World, Bush Flies Confidently and Forcefully Without a Net,” 10.12.01,

What are we to make of the fact that that President Bush’s October 11th press conference at 8 PM EST was the very first prime time presidential press conference since the Iran-Contra scandal towards the end of the second Reagan administration? That event turned out to be such a public relations disaster for President Reagan, that every president until now has avoided prime time press conferences.


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October 8, 2001

Friends:

I’m writing to inform you about a new email list that I am starting which I’m calling: September 11th , which will focus on issues surrounding the attack. I expect the frequency to be about 25 messages a week or so.

If you would like to subscribe, simply reply to this email; you may write: Subscribe September 11 in the subject or in the body of the message.

I’m planning to keep this new list distinct from my Middle East list which will continue to concentrate more narrowly on Israeli-Arab and especially Israeli-Palestinian issues.


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New strikes on Afghanistan/Taliban

by Ronald Bleier

I’ll take this opportunity to state my opposition to the Bush administration's attacks on Afghanistan which I believe represent the greatest danger for our country and the world. We are singularly unlucky to have such an irresponsible and reckless president and administration in office at this pivotal moment in history.

The solution to the current problem was to isolate bin Laden and drain him and his followers of their support which could have been maximized by roughly the policy of restraint Bush and his team were following for the first 25 days after the attack (minus Bush’s thoughtless and irresponsible rhetoric). Now, with each passing day of military action, we are adding to the extremists’ support and turning the despicable Taliban and bin Laden into heroes in the eyes of many, instead of outcasts.

Note also that for all their horrors, the Taliban brought a measure of stability to the country as opposed to the Northern warlords who did nothing but rape and pillage when they were in control. According to one observer, many of the Afghan refugees are fleeing from the possibility that the Northern Alliance will soon regain power.

Attack on Iraq planned

The recklessness (and arrogance) of the Bush team is evidenced by their broad hints that they are indeed planning to attack Iraq in due course. [see the WSJ article today (10.8.01) on “Bush Demanded Sweeping Retaliation for Terror Attacks,” citing Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz’s call for “ a broader military response that might also include strikes against Iraq.” ]

In his speech to the nation yesterday, Bush seemed to echo his support for an attack on Iraq next when he said: “Today we focus on Afghanistan. But the battle is broader…”(Note also William Safire’s column 10.8.01 with the pull quote: “Afghans now, Iraqis soon. ” Before September 11th such views were reflections of an Israeli wish list; now they appear to be U.S. policy.)

A measure of the recklessness of the Bush team is their evident disregard for the safety and security of Americans (not to mention the rest of the world). For them, another attack on our country would further their ideological/political goals. Note that if our government were seriously interested in preventing another such attack, it would mount a serious investigation into the intelligence failure which allowed the attack to occur despite the warnings.


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