Monday, November 27, 2006

Dancing With the Stars: Cheney Edition


Cheney zips into Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (above) to confer with his oil allies on what to do next in Iraq. Or something. Meanwhile, as Glenn Greenwald writes:

Seeking input from the neocons on how to solve the Iraq disaster would be like consulting the serial arsonist who started a deadly, raging fire on how to extinguish it. That actually might make sense if the arsonist were repentant and wanted to help reverse what he unleashed. But if the arsonist were proud of the fire he started and actually wanted to see it rage forever, even more strongly -- and, worse, if he were intent on starting whole new fires just like the one destroying everything and everyone in its path-- it would be the height of irrationality for those wanting to extinguish the fire to listen to what he has to say.

... Back in 2002, when the U.S. was debating whether to invade Iraq, those who opposed the invasion were, for that reason alone, dismissed as unserious morons and demonized as anti-American subversive hippies. Despite the fact that subsequent events have largely proven them to have been right, and that those who did the demonizing were the frivolous, unserious, know-nothing extremists, this narrative persists, so that -- even now, when most Americans have turned against this war -- the only way to avoid being an "extremist," and to be rewarded with the "centrist" mantle, is to support the continuation of this war in one form or another.

Who cares anyway? Seems most Americans are content to fixate on joining the mob scenes at mall sales and fuggedaboutit as far as Iraq goes. 'Tis the season. I just can't wait to see what the Iraq Study Group's "solution" to this civil war is all about and what George himself will recommend in that department to save his sterling "legacy." I think Repub Senator Chuck Hagel is more on target than most in his recent column in the Washington Post, although even he seems to be more hopeful than realities on the ground indicate.

A profound sense of unending tragedy emanates from the Middle East these days, and from the hearts of all who are open to seeing the handwriting on the wall about the horrors spawned by Bush, Cheney, Rummy and the rest of the neocon death squad.

November 27, 2006 at 11:58 AM in Iraq War, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Two Speakers to Address Current Middle East Crisis

From the website of Stop the War Machine:
Richard Becker
The Expanding U.S. War in the Middle East:
Are Iran and Syria Next?
Saturday, September 9, 2006, 7 PM
Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice
202 Harvard SE,  ABQ
David Barsamian
The Current Crisis in the Middle East
Saturday, September 16, 2006, 7 PM
Smith Brasher Hall
Corner University Blvd and Coal Ave. SE, ABQ

See below for more information on the speakers. Admission is Free. Sponsors: Stop the War Machine, UNM Student Socialist Coalition, Middle East Peace and Justice Alliance (formerly AJPA). For more information: 505-268-9557.

Richard Becker is the Western Regional Coordinator of the International A.N.S.W.E.R.-Act Now to Stop War and End Racism-Coalition. A.N.S.W.E.R. has organized numerous mass protests of hundreds of thousands of people against the war in Iraq, from mid-2002 to the present. Becker has been a central organizer of, and featured speaker at, many of the West Coast mass mobilizations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In December 2005, Becker traveled to Damascus, Syria to participate in a conference on Palestinian Refugees and the Right of Return. One of the few U.S. activists to visit Syria in recent years, Becker has spoken out in opposition to the U.S.-led campaign for regime change in that country at numerous public forums and media events. (email Becker at

David Barsamian is the host of the syndicated Alternative Radio, aired on KUNM on Saturdays at 6 PM. He is the recipient of the Upton Sinclair Award, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center Award and recently he was honored with a Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe. His latest books are with Noam Chomsky "Imperial Ambitions" and with Howard Zinn "Original Zinn." AR is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a series of public events beginning with Howard Zinn and the Kronos Quartet at Carnegie Hall. (email Barsamian at

Click for flyer.

September 7, 2006 at 11:54 AM in Events, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Warmongering: Quote of the Day

It is hard to overstate how extremist is the warmongering agenda of those who exert the most influence among Bush supporters. Isn't that what Democrats should be asking Americans most clearly and aggressively - do you really want to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and on top of that, have whole new wars with Iran and Syria, perhaps with North Korea? That is what Newt Gingrich says he wants, and he is hardly alone.

The President's supporters try to decorate their thirst for war by depicting it as some sort of compelled Churchillian defense in the face of unprecedented evil, but it is really nothing more noble than reckless warmongering of the most dangerous kind. Although Donald Rumsfeld's invocation of the "Neville Chamberlain appeasement" insult is being treated as some sort of serious historical argument, it is, in fact, the most tired, overused and manipulative cliche used for decades by the most extreme warmongers in Washington to attack those who seek alternatives to war.

From Glenn Greenwald on his blog, Unclaimed Territory. Go read the whole thing. The right-wing extremists are getting more crazy by the day it seems. They're feeling cornered.

August 31, 2006 at 01:11 PM in Iraq War, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Killin' Everything They Say They're Fightin' For

KrisGo watch Kris Kristofferson's new music video, "In the News." It's also one of the featured songs on Neil Young's Living With War Today website. Kristofferson, the writer of such gems as Me And Bobby McGee and Sunday Morning Coming Down and is now 69 years old and he's still capturing the essence of his time with his bare bones lyrics and melodies. The Rhodes Scholar and almost West Point professor, who wrote "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," still has some mighty things to say. Things that need saying at a time when our actions are ensuring that way too many people have nothing left to lose, in the worst possible sense this time.

August 16, 2006 at 02:05 PM in Iraq War, Middle East, Music, Visuals | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

From Blogger Anne Kass: The Fallacy of False Choice

Recent posts to the DFNM website concerning the Israel/Lebanon horror left me thinking that not enough people saw the Doonesbury cartoon last Sunday. See below the fold.

Trudeau is obviously picking on Mr. Bush, in particular, but it is important to understand how the logical fallacy of "false choice" works. When a human brain (not just Mr. Bush's) is asked a question, it quickly tries to answer it. When the question is posed as a choice between two possibilities, the brain tends to exclude other options and pick one from the two provided. It is an especially vicious rhetorical tactic because it immediately narrows the focus and over-simplifies whatever is at issue. Worse yet, when a brain selects one of the choices, the brain tends to want to defend the correctness of the choice it made. That is to say, the brain makes an ill-informed choice then locks it in. 

Recently a friend, who supports Israel, seemingly in all things, wrote to me claiming that it seems a short step from "opposition to Israel to accepting the killing of Jews." I was reminded of Trudeau's depiction of false choices.

The opposition I feel and hear others express is to Israel dropping bombs, especially on civilian targets and on civilian infrastructure, and to Israel undertaking a ground invasion of Lebanon. Our opposition is to actions taken at the direction of the current Israeli government, and not to Israel. It is a false choice that one must either approve of whatever Israel does or stand convicted of being opposed to Israel. Moreover, I've heard no sane person promote the killing of Jews or even the acceptance of killing Jews, and it is another false choice to suggest that either one must accept what Israel is doing or be convicted as having taken a step towards approving the killing of Jews.  The framing of this invasion in terms of Israel fighting for its life is yet another example of a false choice. The notion that one must choose between Israel destroying Lebanon or Israel being destroyed itself cannot withstand rational analysis, not today any more than in the 1980's when another such conflagration occurred and the same false choice was offered to us.

I am altogether weary of the rhetorical gimmicks that have infected virtually every aspect of what is called political discourse. If we're to have sensible conversations and if we're to engage in useful explorations for genuine solutions, the gimmicks and rhetorical excesses must be set aside. Let's start by becoming acutely aware of tricks disguised as questions posed in either/or terms. Be careful!  Know that your brain quickly accepts the task of choosing one, in which case you will almost certainly come to a bad decision. The tactic of either/or creates a simplistic picture of what is always a complex situation and once the simplistic decision is taken, it gets stuck, meaning learning, growth, considering new information, and critical thinking are diminished. We can and must do better.

Editor's Note: I'm pleased to announce that Anne Kass has agreed to be a regular contributor to the DFNM blog. Keep an eye out for future posts by Anne as they can pop up any time, whenever the writing spirit moves her.

(Click on image for larger version.)

August 9, 2006 at 11:09 AM in Blogging by Anne Kass, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (9)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Donate: Middle East Humanitarian Relief


There are many organizations to which you can donate to help the victims of the current humanitarian disaster in the Middle East caused by military operations. USAID provides links to recommended organizations working in Lebanon, Israel and the West Bank/Gaza at Other excellent organizations include Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International.

To learn more about the worsening shortages of food, water, sanitation, fuel, medical care and supplies, housing and other basic necessities in the region, check out this United Nations report. Excerpts on the situation in Lebanon:

The ongoing Israel Defence Forces (IDF) military operation has caused enormous damage to residential areas and key civilian infrastructure such as power plants, seaports, and fuel depots. Hundreds of bridges and virtually all road networks have been systematically destroyed leaving entire communities in the South inaccessible. This profound damage to traffic arteries will pose a key challenge to Government institutions and humanitarian agencies alike in the weeks to come, particularly in remote areas of the South.


As remaining fuel stocks are increasingly exhausted or targeted by the IDF, fuel shortages in many areas of essential public services could plunge the humanitarian situation to a new low. Skyrocketing prices for basic goods (e.g. the price of sugar has risen by 600%, and cooking gas by 400%) further deplete the coping mechanisms of the Lebanese population, particularly those of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), people under siege, the elderly, and families already living below the poverty line. Economic life has come to a complete standstill with the extreme level of destruction to the basic infrastructure posing a major obstacle to a quick recovery.

... The situation will be further compounded by the ongoing air, sea, and land blockade that is effectively preventing even basic relief supplies from entering the country.

... Approximately 800,000 people are affected by the conflict. Many of them have been internally displaced and are in need of assistance and protection or remain essentially trapped in the South. Others have become refugees and/or asylum seekers. Particularly vulnerable groups include the elderly and chronically ill – especially those confined to hospitals, women and children. Lack of access to water and sanitation, basic health care, and food are also affecting those communities under siege.

August 7, 2006 at 03:04 PM in Middle East | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 04, 2006

AJPA Friday Peace Vigils Continue in Albuquerque

From the Arab-Jewish Peace Alliance:
The Arab-Jewish Peace Alliance will hold its 5th weekly vigil to protest the war on Lebanon and Gaza and ask elected officials to be accountable for human rights violations.

Where: Friday, Central and Wellesley; When: 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Over 100 people are expected to attend the fifth weekly vigil on Friday, August 4 from 6:30 – 8:00 PM, on Central Avenue and Wellesley. The vigil is being sponsored by the Arab-Jewish Peace Alliance to demand that the US government support an immediate cease fire to the violence in the Middle East. The New Mexico congressional delegation or their representatives have been invited to the vigil to engage in a public dialogue and explain their positions. All four NM representatives voted to support Israel’s war against Lebanon.

The Arab-Jewish Peace Alliance supports an immediate and unconditional cease fire and urges negotiations now to resolve all disputes, including the release of prisoners on all sides, with the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region based on the implementation of international law.

Rev. Barbara Dua, a Presbyterian minister and AJPA member, stated: "Over 750 Lebanese have been killed by Israel using US supplied weapons, and one third of them are children; and over 800,000 people have been made refugees. This is a clear violation of international law, and will only serve the cause of more violence, not peace. Our elected representatives must stand firmly on the side of peace building, not war- making."

AJPA will also be sponsoring a Lebanon and Palestine video - discussion - potluck on Tuesday, August 8th, from 6-9 PM at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, 202 Harvard SE. Activities include a roundtable discussion about the Israeli invasion of Palestine and Lebanon with a short video of BBC correspondent in Lebanon, Robert Fisk. Potluck 6pm, roundtable and video 7-9. Free.

More info on these events: Joan Robins 341-2306 or Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh 323-1629; cell 480-9008

August 4, 2006 at 08:24 AM in Middle East | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Dogs of War

(Click on image for larger version.)

"The neocons' next war: By secretly providing NSA intelligence to Israel and undermining the hapless Condi Rice, hardliners in the Bush administration are trying to widen the Middle East conflict to Iran and Syria, not stop it."

... By using NSA intelligence to set an invisible tripwire, the Bush administration is laying the condition for regional conflagration with untold consequences -- from Pakistan to Afghanistan, from Iraq to Israel. Secretly devising a scheme that might thrust Israel into a ring of fire cannot be construed as a blunder. It is a deliberate, calculated and methodical plot.

So says a revealing article by Sidney Blumenthal on Salon. Go read it.

August 3, 2006 at 06:00 PM in Iraq War, Middle East, Visuals | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It Takes a Republican to Call Bush and the Neocons on the Carpet?

With almost every Democratic leader suddenly enamored of (or at least compliant with) the unilateral, reckless, militaristic neocon approach to foreign policy now that Israel has invaded Lebanon, it fell to a Republican to state the obvious. I think Sen. Chuck Hagel gave a courageous and necessary statement directed at the president on the floor of the Senate the other day. Click to read it in its entirety (highly recommended). Excerpts:

“Mr. President, The Middle East is a region in crisis. After three weeks of escalating and continuing violence, the potential for wider regional conflict becomes more real each day. The hatred in the Middle East is being driven deeper and deeper into the fabric of the region...which will make any lasting and sustained peace effort very difficult to achieve. How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend, the country and people of Lebanon, is going to enhance America’s image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East? The sickening slaughter on both sides must end now. President Bush must call for an immediate cease fire. This madness must stop.

... The United States will remain committed to defending Israel. Our relationship with Israel is a special and historic one. But, it need not and cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships. That is an irresponsible and dangerous false choice. Achieving a lasting resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is as much in Israel’s interest as any other country in the world.

Unending war will continually drain Israel of its human capital, resources, and energy as it fights for its survival. The United States and Israel must understand that it is not in their long-term interests to allow themselves to become isolated in the Middle East and the world. Neither can allow themselves to drift into an “us against the world” global optic or zero-sum game. That would marginalize America’s global leadership, trust and influence...further isolate Israel...and prove to be disastrous for both countries as well as the region.

It is in Israel’s interest, as much as ours, that the United States be seen by all states in the Middle East as fair. This is the currency of trust.

... military action alone will not destroy Hezbollah or Hamas. Extended military action is tearing Lebanon apart, killing innocent civilians, destroying its economy and infrastructure, creating a humanitarian disaster, further weakening Lebanon’s fragile democratic government, strengthening popular Muslim and Arab support for Hezbollah, and deepening hatred of Israel across the Middle East. The pursuit of tactical military victories at the expense of the core strategic objective of Arab-Israeli peace is a hollow victory. The war against Hezbollah and Hamas will not be won on the battlefield.

The core of all challenges in the Middle East remains the underlying Arab-Israeli conflict. The failure to address this root cause will allow Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorists to continue to sustain popular Muslim and Arab support – a dynamic that continues to undermine America’s standing in the region, and the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and others – whose support is critical for any Middle East resolution.

... Lasting peace in the Middle East, and stability and security for Israel will come only from a regionally-oriented political settlement ... Crisis diplomacy is no substitute for sustained, day-to-day engagement.

... As John McLaughlin, the former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence recently wrote in the Washington Post,

“Even superpowers have to talk to bad guys. The absence of a diplomatic relationship with Iran and the deterioration of the one with Syria -- two countries that bear enormous responsibility for the current crisis -- leave the United States with fewer options and levers than might otherwise have been the case. Distasteful as it might have been to have or to maintain open and normal relations with such states, the absence of such relations ensures that we will have more blind spots than we can afford and that we will have to deal through surrogates on issues of vital importance to the United States.

... The Middle East crisis represents a moment of great danger, but it is also an opportunity. Crisis focuses the minds of leaders and the attention of nations. The Middle East need not be a region forever captive to the fire of war and historical hatred. It can avoid this fate if the United States pursues sustained and engaged leadership worthy of our history, purpose, and power. America cannot fix every problem in the world – nor should it try. But we must get the big issues and important relationships right and concentrate on those. We know that without engaged and active American leadership the world is more dangerous. The United States must focus all of its leadership and resources on ending this madness in the Middle East— now!” 

August 2, 2006 at 09:52 AM in Middle East | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 31, 2006

Bush: Ain't Gonna Manage Calm No More

Here's Bush rambling on incoherently with immature, muddled and often straw-man arguments at his press conference this past Friday about his strategies for Iraq and the Middle East. Can you imagine what people with intelligence and common sense around the world think of the United States and our president? As I watched this video, all I could think was that it's come to this. Our ancestors must be rolling in their graves at the destruction of critical thought and nuanced communication that marks this era in the U.S. And remember, "THEY've always been violent."

July 31, 2006 at 10:31 AM in Iraq War, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (5)