Friday, October 20, 2006


From the London Times :

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the outspoken Iranian President, has accused Europe of stirring up hatred in the Middle East by supporting Israel, warning that it "may get hurt" if anger in the region reached a tipping point.

While the President has frequently been vocal in his criticism of the US and Israel, he has rarely directed a specific attack on Europe. In recent weeks however, European nations - previously open to the prospect of negotiations - have been hardening their stance towards Tehran.

Last night it emerged that France, Germany and Britain were close to agreeing the finishing touches of a draft UN Security Council resolution on sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt its programme of uranium enrichment. Mr Ahmadinejad’s comments came as diplomats said they expected the resolution to be introduced next week.

"You should believe that this regime (Israel) cannot last and has no more benefit to you. What benefit have you got in supporting this regime, except the hatred of the nations?" said Mr Ahmadinejad, addressing European countries in a speech on state radio.

"We have advised the Europeans that the Americans are far away, but you are the neighbours of the nations in this region. We inform you that the nations are like an ocean that is welling up, and if a storm begins, the dimensions will not stay limited to Palestine, and you may get hurt."

With its influence in the Middle East, Iran could stir unrest in areas in which European forces are located, including southern Lebanon, where militant group Hezbollah have a large presence and where French peacekeeping troops are stationed. Iranian-backed militias in southern Iraq, where British troops are based, are also a source of concern.

Later today, Mr Ahmadinejad returned to familiar rhetoric denouncing Israel and threatening any country which supported the Jewish state.

"You imposed a group of terrorists ... on the region," he told a crowd of thousands at a pro-Palestinian rally in Tehran. "It is in your own interest to distance yourself from these criminals... This is an ultimatum. Don’t complain tomorrow. Nations will take revenge."

Mr Ahmadinejad said that Israel no longer had any reason to exist and would soon be no more. "This regime, thanks to God, has lost the reason for its existence," he said. "Efforts to stabilize this fake regime, by the grace of God, have completely failed... You should believe that this regime is disappearing."

He reaffirmed Iran’s refusal to back down over its nuclear ambitions despite the threat of sanctions, which he referred to as "illegitimate".

"Iran is ready to negotiate but will not tolerate the slightest pressure, he said, adding that on his recent visit to UN headquarters in New York he had dared Western nations to close their own nuclear fuel programmes and let Iran supply the material.

"I told them ’You shut down (your nuclear programmes) and we will produce fuel from the fuel cycle in five years time and sell it to you at a 50 per cent discount," he said.

While there is agreement amongst the five permanent members of the UN Security Council on the need for sanctions against Tehran, a key difficulty in passing any resolution will be in finding consensus from China and Russia on the exact measures imposed. Both have important economic ties to Iran and have traditionally been reluctant to use sanctions as a diplomatic tool.

Today, Li Zhaoxing, the Chinese Foreign Minister, insisted that Beijing would play a constructive role on the issue, but did not reveal the extent to which it would support measures imposed.

Officials in Washington said a first set of punitive sanctions was likely to focus on banning the supply of material and funding for Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Other steps could include the freezing of assets and travel bans on nuclear and weapons scientists.


The above weapon is being touted as capable of launching six high explosive grenades per second, and able to accurately take-out targets some 1.5 miles away, in daylight or night-time.

Considering this grenade 'machine gun' is being touted in the UK Daily Mail, you can rest assured it has already had full field tests in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From the Daily Mail :

Unveiling the new Automatic Lightweight Grenade Launcher ministers promised a 'significant enhancement in firepower' following mounting concerns over the size and strength of the force which Britain has committed to operations in the volatile southern Helmand Province.

Sources described the system as a 'small artillery piece in all but name', which can be mounted on a Land Rover for rapid movement.

Commanders are hoping it will prove ideal for tackling groups of heavily-armed Taliban fighters who mount lighting strikes against British camps and patrols before melting back into the rugged landscape.

It can be mounted on a tripod to defend airstrips or camps or fitted to a Land Rover for mobile patrols. Some infantry troops already carry grenade launchers fitted to their assault rifles, but the larger weapon has a far greater range and rate of fire.
Will it make that much of a difference in Iraq or Aghanistan? Perhaps, if the enemy was lined up in formation on the far side of the battlefield, but the biggest problem for all coalition forces in the 'War On Terror' has actually been finding the enemy.

The new weapon should prove effective, however, in clearing out suspect houses from a distance, or taking out vehicles well out of range of enemy fire.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


(click the headlines for the story links)


Even before the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against North Korea have been truly acted upon, North Korea is warning that cutting off military, nuclear, financial and "luxury goods" supplies are being viewed by the Stalinist regime of Kim Jong-Il as something of a war declaration.

China and Russia have already backed off imposing the true scope of the sanctions, and are casually warning the US, in particular, not to apply further pressure over the issue.

China Warns Against "Wilfully Expanding" Sanctions Against North Korea

US & Japan Build Up Naval Blockade Of North Korea Under Cover Of "Exercise"

US Promises 'Nuclear Umbrella' For South Korea

China And United States Want Different Things From North Korea


An Asia Times report chewing over the counter-insurgency options available to the US in Iraq, and the pros and cons for each. Interesting reading :
Suggestions are rife for dumping (President Bush's) goal of "democracy" in Iraq and swallowing a little of the hard stuff. Reports indicate that in two desperate capitals, Washington and Baghdad, rumors about possible future Iraqi coups are spinning wildly. People of import are evidently talking about the possibility of a new five-man "ruling commission", a "government of national salvation" that would "suspend parliament, declare martial law and call back some officers of the old Iraqi army". Even the name of that Central Intelligence Agency warhorse (and anti-neo-conservative candidate) Iyad Allawi, who couldn't get his party elected dogcatcher in the new Iraq, is coming up again in the context of the need for a "strongman".
Young Shiite Militia Men Splitting Into Heavily Radicalised "Cells"

UK Forces To Be Out Of Iraq By End Of 2007, Blair Tells House Of Commons


There are very real fears in Washington that Japan and Taiwan will use the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea to push forward on nuclear weapons programs of their own. Japan has assured Washington it doesn't want nukes, Taiwan has said little. But what worries Washington the most is how China will respond if these two countries pursue nuclear weapons.
Ms. Rice's reference to U.S. willingness to honor the "full range" of the nation's security commitments was meant as a signal to allies that the United States does not want to see them embarking on a new nuclear arms race to protect themselves. It was also likely to be taken as a reminder to North Korea that, should it use nuclear weapons on a neighbor, the U.S. has powerful forces of its own - including nuclear - and is pledged to defend its friends in the region.

Tamil Tiger rebels posing as fishermen blew up two of their boats today in the first suicide attack to target an area of Sri Lanka's southern coast popular with tourists.

Sir Lanka's government said at least one sailor had been killed, another two were missing and at least 14 civilians and 12 sailors were wounded.

A violent backlash by the majority Sinhalese against Tamil civilians could strengthen the Tigers' claim that the Tamil people can live in peace only if they achieve a separate homeland.

On Monday, a rebel suicide bomber rammed a truck filled with explosives into a military bus convoy in central Sri Lanka, killing at least 95 sailors and wounding more than 150 others in the deadliest insurgent attack since a 2002 ceasefire temporarily halted the country's civil war.

Last Wednesday, fierce battles on the besieged northern Jaffna peninsula killed at least 129 soldiers and more than 200 rebels, and left hundreds of others wounded.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in the north and east, citing decades of discrimination by the Sinhalese.

Prior to the 2002 ceasefire, some 65,000 people had been killed in the conflict.


It is unrealistic fo the public to expect ASIO to prevent all terrorist attacks, and it is inevitable that some threats from extremists will remain hidden from the spy agency, says its director-general, Paul O'Sullivan.

The the most pessimistic yet from Mr O'Sullivan, who has previously said only that an attack here was "feasible".

The remarks came as ASIO published its annual report, highlighting threats to national security including potential jihadist attacks, Jemaah Islamiah and divisions in Sydney's Islamic community over the Iraq war.

Mr O'Sullivan said terrorists were becoming more sophisticated, could attack almost anywhere, were driven by an absolute commitment and were using advances in technology and the ease of international travel to pursue their goals.


While the Australian Federal Police's pursuit of a known pedophile from the Solomon Islands to Papua New Guinea and back to the Solomons again is extremely important, the constant barrage of verbal attacks, threats and insults from both the Australian prime minister and the Australian foreign minister have made a mockery of South Pacific diplomacy.

There's a particular ugly, and old world, imperialistic tone to recent comments by Australia's PM and FM, as though they can't believe the leaders of the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea would act so defiantely, or so independently.

However, China is more than ready to take the place of Australia in the region, and has made strong inroads into the business communities of the Solomons and Papua New Guinea, something the Australian government is all too well aware of.

The Solomons Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has accused Australia of trying to undermine his government and warned that he would "deal with" the Australians serving as police commissioner and solicitor-general.

He said Australia was guilty of the unwarranted arrest and "humiliation" of his immigration minister over the smuggling of the fugitive Australian lawyer Julian Moti into the country.

He also threatened to expel more than 200 Australian police and soldiers - only hours after his foreign minister tried to soften a similar threat made in Parliament last Friday.


Russia is helping to build Iran's nuclear energy program and does not believe, as Israel continually insists, that Iran is working on a nuclear weapons program.

Neither does the International Atomic Energy Association, who recently harshly criticised Israel backed US senators for circulating "misleading" reports about Iran's intentions and nuclear weapons technological capabilities.

But Israel keeps on pushing.
Israel's Prime Minister has urged Russia to join ranks against Iran's nuclear program.

Speaking in Moscow after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the entire international community should unite to block what he called Iran's intention to build nuclear weapons. a joint news conference Wednesday, Mr. Putin said nothing about Iran's nuclear program. He said Russia wants to help restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel's Siege Of Gaza Enters Fifth Month - Hundreds Of Civilians Killed - New Offensive On The Horizon

Lebanon Says Israel Greater Nuclear Threat Than Iran - Israel Alleged To Be Hiding At Least 200 Nukes

Israel's Militarised Men Coming To Terms With New Age Of Sexual Harrassment Laws - 18 And 19 Year Old Secretary Pools Once Regarded As "Harems"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


One of the most remarkable documents uncovered by Washington DC investigative journalist Bob Woodward for his new book 'State Of Denial' is also one of the least discussed.

The document, "Illustrative New 21st Century Institutions And Approaches, is a memo from US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, issued and circulated on May 1. Rumsfeld is a notorious memoist, who turns out endless lists of questions and advice and lists about whatever has crossed his mind.

These memos are dispatched throughout the Pentagon and Rumsfeld is said to expect feedback, on all of them, much to the annoyance of many senior Pentagon officials and staff.

We will return to discuss the implications of this 'plan' later, but for now have a read of it for yourself.

From the Washington Post :

1. Transformation of international institutions.

Today the world requires new international organizations tailored to new circumstances. Many of the more pressing threats are global and transnational in scope. Terrorism proliferation, cyber crime, narcotics, piracy, hostage-taking, criminal gangs, etc. Because they cannot be dealt with successfully by any one nation alone, the cooperation of many nations will be vital.

Current institutions such as the UN, NATO, OAS, the African Union, ECOWAS, ASEAN and the European Union, to mention a few, were designed at a time when the world's challenges were notably different. Some were formed over half a century ago to further U.S. foreign and security policy purposes.

Today, as U.S. goals in the world at large have changed, existing international institutions have failed to adapt sufficiently. Effective international organizations are needed to bring competence to such areas as quick reaction forces, military training, military police training, counterproliferation, capacity building for the rule of law, governance and domestic ministries. This may require institutions designed for those purposes rather than struggling to reform existing institutions to take on tasks for which they are ill suited.

Examples . . . Peacekeeping and governance. The world and the U.S. would benefit from a "global peace operations and governance corps." A standing capability is needed ready to respond rapidly to deal with emerging situations before they spin out of control. Such a capability would have been useful in just the past few years in Liberia, Haiti and perhaps Sudan.

The U.S. and like-thinking nations could help to enable such a capability by training, equipping and sustaining peacekeepers with military and police capability, perhaps organized regionally in considerably greater numbers than are currently available. . .

Similarly, the U.S. and our friends and allies could help organize and train cadres of international professionals who can assist emerging governments in areas of governance and ministry building. The cost-benefit ratio of being prepared in advance and in benefiting from the use of several nations' troops rather than using solely US military forces would be substantial.

2. Regional challenges. Mideast security initiative.

The threat Iran is posing and will likely continue to pose argues that it may well be time to form a new collective security arrangement for the Middle East and/or the Arabian Sea. Already one or two Middle East nations appear to be wondering if they should develop nuclear programs.

This is the moment first to reassure key friends of U.S. commitment to shield them from nuclear blackmail through declaratory policy; and second, to find other ways to strengthen cooperation with them. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the key. The U.S. needs to bolster Arab moderates now while they are viable. Some Gulf states are leaning well forward on this idea. . . .

3. A Goldwater-Nichols process for the national security portions of the U.S. government.

The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols legislation led to greater jointness and interdependence in the Department of Defense among the 4 services, but it has taken 20 years to begin to fully realize its potential. The broader [U.S. government] structure is still in the industrial age and it is not serving us well. It is time to consider a new Hoover Commission to recommend ways to reorganize both the executive and legislative branches, to put us on a more appropriate path for the 21st century.

Only a broad, fundamental reorganization is likely to enable federal departments and agencies to function with the speed and agility the times demand. The charge of incompetence against the U.S. government should be easy to rebut if the American people understand the extent to which the current system of government makes competence next to impossible.

Foreign assistance. The present structure of the U.S. government foreign assistance is an anachronism. A system is needed that recognizes assistance for what it really is, a component of our national security strategy. In simple terms, DOD has resources but not authorities, while State has authorities but not resources. . . . The only choice is to trash the current laws and to undertake a total overhaul of the current systems.

Strategic communications . . . A new U.S. agency for global communication could serve as a channel to inform, educate and compete in the battle for ideas. . . .

Today the centers of gravity of the conflict in Iraq and the global war on terror are not on battlefields overseas. Rather, the center of gravity of this war are on the centers of public opinion in the U.S. and in the capitals of free nations.

The gateways to those centers are the international media hubs and the capitals of the world. [Ayman al-] Zawahiri has said that 50 percent of the current struggle is taking place in the arena of public information. That may be an understatement.

Osama bin Laden, Zawahiri, [Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi had media committees that consistently outpace our ability to respond. When the U.S. government tries to compete in the communications arena it runs up against lack of national consensus and understanding about what means are acceptable to the media and to the Congress and disagreements as to what is legal. . . .

Why hasn't such an extraordinary document by one of the key players in the failure of the 'War On Iraq' recieved more attention, and discussion?

It's hard to find, or think of, an explanation.

In short, Rumsfeld wants to establish a sort of Global Police/Fast Response Military Force; he wants to "trash" the laws of the American Congress and rewrite the US Constitution for the benefit of the Pentagon and the Department of Defence; he wants to ferment further chaos in the Middle East by pitting moderate Muslims against extremists and jihadists; he wants to come up with new methods of controlling the flow of global information and in particular ensure the US has a key role in controlling information and media critical of the US and its foreign policies; and he wants the rules of foreign assistance rewritten so countries recieving American aid use it to secure America's interests in their region.

One of the most remarkable Bush Co. documents to reach the public in recent years. Easily.

And maybe that's why this document has been so widely ignored, even by those extremely critical of Rumsfeld's tenure at the Pentagon.

Maybe the whole memo is just too over-the-top, too outrageous, for most people to seriously contemplate. Let alone write about and discuss in detail.

But it is a vital document, and it is full of good ideas, regardless of how distatesful some may find the thought of American foreign aid merely being a method of extending US control and influence in the world, and Rumsfeld demanding, in short, more bang for the bucks.

This memo is also likely to spark some dramatic changes in the way the United States government not only deals with the rest of the world, but the way the Pentagon and the Department of Defence run their media and propaganda strategies.

That is, of course, if Rumsfeld still actually remains an influential member of the Bush Co. and the Pentagon, or whether he is simply biding his time until the mid-term US election are over, so he can leave office without causing further damage to the Republicans' slim chances of holding onto control of the Congress.

Rumsfeld : Terror Threat Has Not Been Exaggerated

More Time Is Needed To Win The War On Terror, Says Defence Secretary
The New Global Nuclear Order

North Korea has detonated a nuclear bomb. Are we at the beginning of a new age of nuclear weapons states?

From the LA Times :

North Korea's announcement of a test follows ones by India and Pakistan in 1998. The rise of a new generation of nuclear states has led to increasing concerns that others could follow, and fueled fears that the more countries with nuclear capability, the greater the risk that fissile material will fall into terrorist hands.

"We are, at present, at the unraveling of the nonproliferation regime and the global nuclear order that we've taken for granted," said Graham Allison, a former assistant secretary of Defense under President Clinton, who directs the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. "This is a huge event whose importance may only become evident in five years….

"In terms of global order, global nuclear order, this is a nuclear blast," he said.

On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea for its declared nuclear test Monday.

But China's reluctance to take part in inspections of North Korean cargo to help stop the flow of weapons materials throws into doubt how effective the sanctions can be.

Policymakers point to three levels of problems with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which has been in force for 36 years: weaknesses in the treaty itself, at the political level in the Security Council, and at the technical level in the ability of nuclear inspectors to detect undisclosed nuclear programs.

Countries that had nuclear weapons when the treaty went into effect — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China — were allowed to keep them, whereas others were asked to forswear them.

The "haves" made the commitment to reduce and eventually eliminate their arsenals, and the "have-nots" agreed not to seek atomic weapons as long as they could have the advantages of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Nuclear technology is such that once a country masters uranium enrichment, it is relatively easy to go from low-level enrichment, which produces fuel for nuclear power plants, to high-level enrichment, which produces material used for a bomb.

Although 187 countries have signed the treaty, some developing nations are skeptical of the intentions of the five original nuclear states and are reluctant to give up the option of enriching uranium, leaving the door cracked to nuclear weapons capability.

There are now about 27,000 nuclear warheads worldwide — the vast majority in the U.S. and Russia. And most of the five original nuclear states have moved to modernize or, in China's case, expand their arsenals.

Countries that have pursued nuclear capability outside the treaty or by hiding their programs have, after an initial distancing by the international community, gone unpunished over the long term.

Three countries — India, Pakistan and Israel — refused to sign the treaty. Pakistan and India have developed nuclear weapons, and Israel is thought to have them.

All three enjoy the favor and respect of world leaders, setting an example of what countries can get when they acquire nuclear weapons.

India and Pakistan, initially sanctioned over their nuclear tests, have seen the bans diminish, and India has been offered a multibillion-dollar deal with the United States that includes nuclear technology. The agreement has not been approved by the U.S. Senate.

Two other countries have refused to abide by the treaty, although they signed it: Iran and North Korea. The latter withdrew from the treaty three years ago. Neither nation has suffered significant consequences for refusing to comply.

From the New York Times :

The declaration last Monday by North Korea that it had conducted a successful atomic test brought to nine the number of nations believed to have nuclear arms. But atomic officials estimate that as many as 40 more countries have the technical skill, and in some cases the required material, to build a bomb.

That ability, coupled with new nuclear threats in Asia and the Middle East, risks a second nuclear age, officials and arms control specialists say, in which nations are more likely to abandon the old restraints against atomic weapons.

The spread of nuclear technology is expected to accelerate as nations redouble their reliance on atomic power. That will give more countries the ability to make reactor fuel, or, with the same equipment and a little more effort, bomb fuel — the hardest part of the arms equation.

Signs of activity abound. Hundreds of companies are now prospecting for uranium where dozens did a few years ago. Argentina, Australia and South Africa are drawing up plans to begin enriching uranium, and other countries are considering doing the same. Egypt is reviving its program to develop nuclear power.

Concern about the situation led the International Atomic Energy Agency to summon hundreds of government officials and experts from around the world to Vienna in September to discuss tightening restrictions on who is permitted to produce nuclear fuel.

“These dangers are urgent,” Sam Nunn, an expert on nuclear proliferation and a former Democratic senator, told the group. “We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe and, at this moment, the outcome is unclear.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2006




The former President Bush used to say he never talked with his son, the current US president, about the 'War On Iraq', and his son had never asked him for any advice, much to his chagrin.

Now, however, it appears the president has not only asked his father for advice, but has had him put together a team of policy and defence experts to get the president out of the tragic, brutal mess that is the 'War On Iraq'.

There's a new support' team of advisors surrounding President Bush these days, and they're said to be keeping the neocon crowd who cheerleaded the US into the current Iraq war, and backed Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "Chaos Can Be Good" non-strategy of stabilisation post-war, out of the president's circle of influence.

Henry Kissinger is a regular White House visitor these days, along with James Baker III.

Daddy's helpful friends already appear to be making some ground.

The US president was heard today saying that if the current plans are not working, then they will change the plans to make the war work. Or at least, work enough for the US to scrabble some kind of victory and get out of Iraq as soon as possible.

Former Secretary of State to the president's father, James Baker III, is heading up an 'Iraq Study Group', which, while not recommending immediate withdrawal, is formulating new plans on how to reign in the US casualties and secure the flow of oil.

From :
Former US Secretary of State, James Baker, was visibly shocked when he last visited Iraq and said the country was in a "helluva mess"...

Citing unnamed members of Mr Baker's committee, The Los Angeles Times yesterday said that two options under consideration would represent reversals of US policy - withdrawing American troops in phases, and bringing neighbouring Iran and Syria into a joint effort to stop the fighting.

The BBC also reported that a third possibility was under consideration - to concentrate on getting stability in Iraq, and stop aiming to establish a democracy there.

Some more details from the London Times :
The report of the Iraq Study Group, led by Mr Baker, is expected to propose significant changes to American strategy, including negotiating with Iran and Syria or even pulling US troops out of harm’s way to bases beyond Iraq’s borders.

“There will probably be some things in our report that the Administration might not like,” Mr Baker said last week. for the President’s position, usually characterised as “stay the course”, has become increasingly strained. Cracks are showing not only in Mr Bush’s Republican base, but also in the US and UK military — with General Sir Richard Dannatt’s interview last week prompting some alarmed calls to the British Embassy from the White House.

John Warner, the respected Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was the first to hint at a growing impatience with policy.

Speaking on his return from Iraq this month, he suggested that it was drifting sideways and said that the US should “in two or three months” consider a “change of course”.

Mr Baker said: “I think it’s fair to say our commission believes there are alternatives between the stated alternatives — the ones that are out there in the political debate — of stay the course and cut and run.”

According to leaks that are beginning to dribble out of the commission, it has focused on two options: negotiating a settlement with current foes or phased withdrawal.

Britain is understood to be cautiously sympathetic to a new approach.

Sir David Manning, the British Ambassador in Washington, briefed the commission in May and members also met Dominic Asquith, the British Ambassador to Iraq, when they visited Baghdad — one of 150 separate pieces of testimony that it has received.

British forces have already withdrawn from two of the four provinces in southern Iraq under their command — Muthanna and Dhi Qar. Plans are under way to hand over security to Iraqi forces in a third, Maysan, by the end of the year.

This would leave the British force concentrated in Basra province, the main area of southern Iraq.

London, which has normal diplomatic ties with Damascus and Tehran, is also in favour of Washington engaging more fully with the regimes to help to ease the situation in Iraq.

Mr Bush...(would) find some of the leaked recommendations from the Baker panel a bitter pill to swallow.

The options bear a remarkable resemblance to the much-derided policies advocated at different times by John Kerry, his opponent in the 2004 presidential contest.

Mr Baker set a timetable for US withdrawal and increase pressure on the Iraqi authorities to take on greater responsibilities.

So, the three options apparently under consideration, and heated discussion, are :

Dump the goal of a functioning, Jeffersonian democracy and settle for stability.

Or :

Roll all forces into Baghdad, stabilise the whole city, turn it into a siege city and negotiate with the insurgency to find political solutions, while keeping the chaos and sectarian slaughter outside the walls (and moats and berms) surrounding the city.

Or :

Pullout of Iraq completely, withdraw to surrounding friendly states (like Jordan, Egypt, Suadi Arabia) and deploy fast response squads to handle regional terrorism.

Or :

Bite the bullet, swallow bitterly, and go to Iran and Syria and negotiate an end to their infiltration of Iraq in exchange for more respectable relations, as Britain still maintains with both countries.

"Stay The Course", still being pumped even today by the Australian prime minister and foreign minister is said to be totally rejected now as any kind of forward policy.

The White House is said to have dumped the STC plan utterly, as has the Pentagon and the Baker-led study group.

But no-one from the White House appears to have briefed their Australian allies, the PM and FM, before they backed "stay the course" in the Parliment today.

More Than 3000 Iraqi Police Sacked : 1200 For Breaking Law, 2000 For Dereliction Of Duty

Saddam Hussein : The Kurds Are Dividing Iraq For The Benefit Of Israel

US Vice President Claims Iraq Is Doing "Remarkably Well"

Iraq Quickly Becoming Iran's First Trade Partner - $580 Million In Goods In Six Months

Reconciliation Talks Put On Hold As Widespread Slaughter Continues - Hundreds Die In Bombings, Executions

Builders Leave Iraq Long Before The Job Is Done - Vast Areas Still In Ruins - Billions Wasted Or Spent Fighting Insurgency

Militias Rampage Through Iraq Towns And Villages

Rumsfeld Claims US Military Too Strong To Lose In Iraq

Iran And Iraq Agree To Share High Level Intelligence

Why Bush Smiles : Victory For Power And Money Is Close In Iraq

Monday, October 16, 2006

Saddam Tells Sunnis To Forgive And To Unite To Save Iraq

War In Iraq Updates

Saddam Hussein addresses the nation, via letter :
"On the occasion of Ramadan, when our people live in the most difficult circumstances because of the occupation, killing, and destruction, they are holding to their faith and courage.

"They are rejecting humiliation and aggression from their near neighbor and the ones faraway.

"Some of them came as invaders from across the Atlantic, encouraged by cowardly Zionism and its illegal interests and heinous aggression. Some of them came from the east of Iraq.

"You know, brothers, that I am free in ideology and doctrine but, because I am detained by the invading forces, my opportunities to express myself are limited."

"It was only a few times that I managed to address you through the farcical, so-called trial, when the microphones were not switched off.

"Fighting the invaders, is a right and a duty ... I call upon you my brothers and comrades in the courageous resistance, no matter whoever you are and no matter wherever you live, to embrace righteousness and justice in your jihad (holy war).

"I urge you to be tolerant with the ones who lost the right way ... The door for forgiveness must be open to everyone until the hour of liberation, which is now at hand, God willing.

"But remember that your near-term goal is confined to freeing your country from the forces of occupation and their followers and not to be preoccupied in settling scores.

"We remember it is the great unified Iraq, which is not split by any color, segment or allegation, that makes us proud.

"When you achieve victory, remember you are God's soldiers and, therefore, you must show genuine forgiveness and put aside revenge over the spilled blood of your sons and brothers, including the sons of Saddam Hussein.

"You must remember what the prophets taught us, including the two honorable ones, Muhammad and Jesus, the son of Mary. Both forgave and turned to God, beseeching him to forgive those whom they had forgiven, including those who had hurt them.

"And you know very well that Saddam Hussein never surrendered to any threat ... and Saddam Hussein will remain as you knew him."

Saddam Hussein al-Majid, President and commander-in-chief of the holy warrior armed forces.

From the Washington Post :

Saddam's chief defense lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi, said the former president dictated the letter during a four-hour meeting in a Baghdad detention center on Saturday. Al-Dulaimi typed the letter on Sunday.

Al-Dulaimi said that during the meeting, they discussed Saddam's two current trials. In the one, he is charged with killing of 148 Shiites from the town of Dujail in the 1980s, and in the other he is charged with genocide against the Kurds during a military offensive in 1987-88, codenamed Operation Anfal.

He urges Sunnis to forgive their Iraqi opponents, including those who helped the U.S. forces track down his two sons _ Odai and Qussai _ who were killed in a battle with American soldiers in the nothern city of Mosul in 2003.

The verdict and possible sentences against Saddam and seven co-defendants in the Dujail case will be handed down on Nov. 5, the chief investigating judge Raid Juhi said Monday.

Saddam's genocide trial against the Kurds began on Aug. 21. The trial, of which 15 sessions have been held so far, is due to resume on Tuesday.


From the Washington Post :

Militias allied with Iraq's Shiite-led government roamed roads north of Baghdad, seeking out and attacking Sunni Arab targets Sunday, police and hospital officials said. The violence raised to at least 80 the number of people killed in retaliatory strikes between a Shiite city and a Sunni town separated only by the Tigris River.

The wave of killings around the Shiite city of Balad was the bloodiest in a surge of violence that has claimed at least 110 lives in Iraq since Saturday. The victims included 12 people who were killed in coordinated suicide bombings in the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk.

"This has pushed us to the point that we must stop this sectarian government," Ali Hussein al-Jubouri, a Sunni farmer in Duluiyah, said as he searched for the body of a nephew reportedly killed in the violence around Balad.

The slaughter came as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday renewed pledges by the Iraqi government to break up the militias, and as al-Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups declared a new Islamic republic in the western and central parts of the country.


From the Australian :

Iraq's fragile democracy, weakened by mounting chaos and a rapidly rising death toll, is being challenged by calls for the formation of a hardline "government of national salvation".

The proposal, which is being widely discussed in political and intelligence circles in Baghdad, is to replace the Shia-led Government of Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, with a regime that is capable of imposing order and confronting the sectarian militias leading the country to the brink of civil war.

Saleh al-Mutlak, a prominent Sunni politician, travelled to Arab capitals last week seeking support for the replacement of the present Government with a group of five strongmen who would impose martial law and either dissolve parliament or halt its participation in day-to-day government.

Other Iraqis dismissed the idea that a unilateral change in the leadership would be desirable or even possible.

"The only person who can undertake a coup in Iraq now is General George Casey (the US commander) and I don't think the Americans are inclined to go in that direction," said Ahmed Chalabi, the head of a rival political party.

A suspension of the democratic process would be regarded as a severe blow to US and British policy. The establishment of democracy has been the allied coalition's cornerstone and successful elections last December had been hailed as a cause for optimism.

But Anthony Cordesman, an influential expert on Iraq at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said there was a "very real possibility" that Mr Maliki could be toppled in the coming months.

"Nobody in Iraq has the military power to mount a traditional coup, but there could be a change in government, done in a back room, which could see a general brought in to run the Ministry of Defence or the Interior," Mr Cordesman said.

"It could be regarded as a more legitimate government than the present one as long it doesn't favour one faction."

This weekend Dr Mutlak, who leads the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, the fifth-largest political group in the National Assembly, vowed to press ahead with his plans. "We think Iraq is now in a tragic state," he said.

"Maliki must step down. He has done nothing up to now. Hundreds of Iraqis are being killed almost daily and thousands are being removed from their homes in sectarian purges, and he takes no action."

Dr Mutlak's proposal is evidence of an increasing frustration with Mr Maliki, who has failed to stop violence and to revive the economy. Iraqi officials estimated last week that up to 100 people, mostly civilians, were being murdered every day.


From the Washington Times :

Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is expressing growing concern about how quickly Iraq's emerging security forces can take over the job of fighting insurgents, say defense sources familiar with his briefings in Washington last week.

Contrasting Gen. Casey's latest assessments with more optimistic ones he gave early this year, the sources described him as "more sober" and "more concerned" about the progress of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The Bush administration's opportunity to bring home troops and reduce battlefield deaths is tied directly to the ISF's ability to assume the counterinsurgency mission.

Sources did not describe Gen. Casey's mood as pessimistic. They say he still expresses confidence that the coalition eventually will win, but the timing is much more in doubt.

"His concern is the Iraqis are not standing up quickly enough to take this mission," said a defense source with knowledge of Gen. Casey's discussions in Washington. He briefed President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other senior leaders.

Said an Army official at the Pentagon, who asked not to be named, "There is resignation that we are in this for the long haul. It's harder to plan now because your world has been turned upside down. Soldiers are being delayed in assignments and surprised by freezes and short-fused reassignments. Families are in a pressure cooker not knowing whether stability is all but thrown out the window. The question that must be asked is how long can this pace be sustained?"

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a military analyst and a hawk on Iraq, said the past three months of intense Sunni-versus-Shi'ite violence, coupled with attacks from Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists, might be designed to influence the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 7 in favor of candidates who want a quick troop exit from Iraq.

"This is all orchestrated around the election," Gen. McInerney said. "It's simple. It should come as no surprise."

Other military analysts have said the huge increase of killings is a typical insurgent tactic. Invade key cities -- in this case, Baghdad -- and create mass death and chaos in an attempt to weaken the will of the coalition and dampen the U.S. public's war support.

He said that since the bombing of the Shi'ite Golden Dome mosque in February, "we have seen the nature of the conflict evolving from an insurgency focused against us to a struggle for the division of political and economic power among the Iraqis."

He said he had been on a course in July to cut two brigades, or about 15,000 U.S. troops, but instead increased the number of troops when violence flared in the capital.

US Helps Gets Iraqi Air Force Back Into The Sky, But Not Into Fighters

38 Soldiers Granted American Citizenship, Deployed Immediately To Iraq

There Was A Plan For Post-War Iraq, But Rumsfeld Tore It Up

Sunday, October 15, 2006





The Bush administration is trying to ramp up the benefits of the UN Security Council resolution against North Korea, which has invoked sanctions against luxury goods, nuclear weapons technology and general weapons system technology being imported into the Stalinist regime.

But while the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolten, and President Bush have managed to spin the sanctions as being "tough" and "targetted", media across China, Russia and the EU have claimed Russia and China won the stand-off over North Korea with the US.

China and Russia allowed a certain number of sanctions through, while refusing to commit to military objectives should North Korea go forward with other tests of their nuclear weapons.
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose punishing sanctions on North Korea including ship searches for banned weapons, calling Pyongyang's claimed nuclear test "a clear threat to international peace and security."

North Korea immediately rejected the resolution, and its U.N. ambassador walked out of the council chamber after accusing its members of a "gangster-like" action which neglects the nuclear threat posed by the United States.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian warships are likely to join any internationally sanctioned blockade of North Korea.

John Howard revealed Australia would be willing to join the US in blockading North Korea, after a phone coversation with President Bush.

"If there were, for example, some kind of trade embargo sanctioned by the Security Council under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, then it would be reasonable for Australia to participate along with a lot of other countries in enforcing those sanctions," he said.

Mr Howard said the suspected nuclear test carried out in North Korea this week was "a little humiliating for China" because it was the one country regarded as capable of reining in Pyongyang.

North Korea has said it will view any attempts to block its sea trade as an act of war, to which it intends to respond.

As China and Russian officials come forward to comment on the sanctions, it becomes clear that the US had been forced to accept a watered down version of the sanctions list they wanted. Not only did China and Russia refuse to allow wording to include the threat of military action, they've also placed a time limit on how long the sanctions can last.
Any sanctions approved by the UN Security Council against North Korea should not even hint at the use of force and should be for a limited period, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said Saturday.
“Sanctions should not carry even a hint at any kind of forceful methods and should not be aimed against the North Korean people,” Ivanov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying after a meeting with Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan.

“We and China share the view that means of political pressure via the UN Security Council cannot be for an unlimited period, so in the event of a return by North Korea to six-party talks and progress in those talks, sanctions, if they are adopted, should automatically be cancelled,” Ivanov said.
The US military staged exercises at an airbase in South Korea yesterday, revealing it has batteries of Patriot missiles already aimed at key targets inside North Korea.

Draft Text Of UN Security Council Resolution On North Korea

Defectors Claim North Korea Has "State Eugenics Program" - Forced Abortions, Attempts At Racial Purification

Voice Of America : Experts Warn Nuclear-Tipped Missiles Is North Korea's Next Goal

Bush Says United States Will Never Accept Nuclear North Korea, But Accept And Tolerate Are Two Different Things

Claim : North Korea Plans To Test Hydrogen Bomb - New York City & Tokyo "Will Be Blazed"



The UK's Independent On Sunday has covered the Iraq and Afghanistan wars like few other newspapers in the world.

The IoS has managed to be both against the war and for the troops, regularly citing attempts by the Blair government to cut Army funding, to stiff the soldiers on essential resources and equipment, the impact of the war on the military families both for and against the conflicts and also following the lives of British soldiers once their part in the war is over and they're back home again.

This week's coverage of both Iraq and Afghanistan is excellent :

British Soldiers In Iraq And Afghanistan : Overstretched, Under Resourced And Furious

Many of the troops on the ground in Iraq, and their commanders back home, believe that they are remaining there almost exclusively for political reasons. Their main role, in this view, is face-saving for the Iraqi government as well as their own, not to mention relations between London and Washington.

A succession of middle-ranking officers in Iraq have told visitors that the welcome from the local population is fast wearing out.

Some of the soldiers now returning from Afghanistan fear that the same process of hasty intervention, with a lack of clear and achievable objectives, is being repeated there

"We went there to carry out reconstruction, and we ended up fighting a war ... We were going into the unknown. More could have been done to prepare the public better for the kind of war we're facing."

War And Resistance In Iraq
I had often watched crowds dancing with delight among the burning remains of a US Humvee blown apart by a roadside bomb. It was by exploiting the solidarity of the five-million-strong Sunni community in the face of the occupation that the anti-Shia suicide bombers were able to carry out their murderous work with impunity and bring Iraq to the brink of all-out civil war.

Why The War On Iraq Has Failed To Make Us Safer, UK General Speaks With Army's Permission

He spoke about how the presence of British troops in Iraq was making the situation there worse and called for a clear commitment to an exit strategy from the country.

The general suggested it had been a "naive hope" that it was possible to install a liberal democracy in Iraq and said that we should now be aiming for a "lower ambition".

Most damaging of all, he said that the Iraq operation "exacerbates" the "difficulties we are experiencing around the world" - a direct contradiction of Tony Blair's claim that the UK would have been targeted whatever had happened with Saddam Hussein.

The truth, according to those who know both Sir Richard and Mr Browne well, is rather different. Frustrated at the Prime Minister's failure to stick to a timetable of withdrawal from Iraq, military chiefs decided to fire a warning shot in public.

Finally The Truth : UK Genera's Dissent On Iraq And Afghanistan Backed By Senior Commanders, Front Line Soldiers And...Tony Blair

The authority of Tony Blair was left battered last night as he attempted to play down a rift with the head of the British Army over his unprecedented warning that the presence of foreign troops was "exacerbating" the security situation in Iraq

The devastating assessment by General Sir Richard Dannatt, the chief of the general staff, infuriated ministers and caused alarm in Washington.

However there was widespread backing across the Army yesterday as soldiers of every rank praised General Dannatt for standing up to the Government.

Within hours of his comments being made public, the Army's unofficial website was packed with hundreds of blogs from troops voicing their support.

Other serving soldiers were also quick to voice their relief at the general's intervention.

One senior officer said: "It has been decades since someone senior actually stood up for us, the soldiers and their families.

Last night the Prime Minister tried to minimise the damage, saying he had agreed with General Dannatt's later remarks in a series of "clarifying" interviews. Mr Blair said: "I have to say, I've read his transcript of his interview on the radio this morning, and I agree with every word of it."

UK Runs Out Of Helicopters In Afghanistan - US Refuses To Fill The Gap

Britain is so short of helicopters in Afghanistan that military chiefs are being forced to scour the world for civilian aircraft to support its troops after the US rejected a plea to help plug the shortfall.

An ageing fleet of just eight Chinooks is working around the clock to supply and reinforce soldiers in remote outposts facing waves of Taliban attacks. The only Chinook in the Falklands was taken away for use in the campaign.

UK Foreign Secretary Says Guantanamo Bay Must Close, Increasing Ranks Of Islamic Extremists

US Soldiers "Unlawfully Killed" British Journalists, Widow Demands Murder Charges Be Laid

NATO Backs Pakistan's "Peace Deal" With Taliban Fighters, Supporters

Afghans "May Swing To Taliban" Says NATO Commander

British Hire Anti-Taliban Mercenaries In Afghanistan, By Paying Better Wages

British General Quantifies His Remarks On Iraq Early Troop Withdrawal

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Presumably the Canadian soldiers took a lot of photos like this one, supplied to the media by a military man with a director's mind - Canadian Forces Sgt Lou Penney.

During September, Canadian soldiers were chasing Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters through "forests" of ten foot high cannabis plants in Afghanistan.

They hit the small trees with white phosphorous, they tried burning them with diesel, but the plants just smouldered. Canadian soldiers down wind were reported to have suffered "some ill effects."

The three metre tall plants are full of water and soak up heat, so thermal imaging the fields of cannabis for the hidden enemy fighters doesn't work.

Go Here For The Full Story

Tuesday, October 10, 2006




So what exactly can the UN and Security Council do to stop North Korea?

Incredibly, the answer appears to be : Not Much.

The only viable option under discussion to hav leaked out of UN talks today is to cut off the supply of "luxury goods" to Kim Jong-Il and the elite of North Korea.

Both Russia and China, who hold veto power on the Security Council, have dismissed the idea of any kind of military action.

The US proposed taking steps to stop and inspect all cargo and container ships leaving or entering North Korean waters in case of nuclear cargo or equipment that could be sold onto terrorist entities.

That proposal, too, was talked down, for good reason. All North Korea would have to do is tell one cargo ship to run the blockade and see if the US fires on it, which could trigger an international incident.

China, in particular, is said to be trying to water down the harshest actions demanded by the US for fear of the Kim Jong-Il regime toppling over, which China believes would lead to millions of refugees flooding across its borders.

For the moment, then, the United Nations remains divided over what to do next to reign in North Korea and bring them back to the negotiating table.

North Korea, meanwhile, has said it's all up to the US : agree to one-on-one talks and they'll come back to the table. But this time, of course, North Korea will be in a far more powerful position to negotiate.

North Korea, meanwhile, has announced it will attack "international targets" (presumably in the US or South Korea) if the US doesn't unfreeze North Korea's international banking assets.

All options may be still on the table when it comes to North Korea, but there are few, if any, that will roll back the current reality that North Korea is now a communist dicatorship armed with nuclear weapons.

A Stratfor intelligence briefing yesterday spoiled the party for anyone imagining there will be a US military attack on North Korea :

"Whatever the political realities may seem to dictate after a North Korean nuclear test, an overt military strike ... is not in the cards....When U.S. military planners have nightmares, they have nightmares about war with North Korea."

Not only are many key US naval assets half a world away in the Middle East, but the US has both too many forces in South Korea and not enough.

More than 30,000 Americans are stationed over the border from North Korea, not enough for an effective ground invasion against a standing North Korean army of more than 1.2 million, and too many to risk North Korean counter-strikes on US military bases should an attempt be made to launch an air campaign against NK's nuclear facilities.

Most international military and intelligence analysts, at least today, agree that the only military option is : there is no military option.

Any B-2 bomber strikes on hardened bunkers will need to be followed up, and Stratfor suggests that North Korea would see such repetitive strikes as the US attempting a little regime change in North Korea. Not only are US troops in South Korea than placed at great risk, but North Korea is believed to have more than 10,000 artillery pieces that can reach Seoul.

North Korea is believed to have begun developing nuclear weapons "as an insurance policy against the hostile states on their doorstep," according to the UK Independent :

They did it secretly, burying research facilities inside impenetrable mountains and buying the hardware to build a bomb off the shelf in the international black market. They achieved this in the midst of a famine that killed unknown numbers, by accepting international aid and diverting it to the military.

The North Koreans had no trouble in finding willing assistants in the international community. In 1975, the young Pakistani scientist AQ Khan had returned home, after working at a uranium enrichment facility in the Netherlands, and was looking for customers.

Khan, who developed the world's first Islamic nuclear bomb for Pakistan in a top-secret programme, in the mid-1980s opened his own private "supermarket" of nuclear technology transfers in which he sold secrets to anyone who would pay.

One branch was based in his Pakistan laboratories, where four or six scientists were - perhaps unwittingly - involved. But the hub was in Dubai, which took care of procurement and distribution, with the help of European businessmen.

One flight from Pakistan to North Korea carrying conventional weapons was intercepted by the Pakistani government, acting on a tip-off that more sensitive material was on board. They found nothing - apparently because Khan's people were informed in advance.

Through his network, Khan transferred to North Korea "nearly two dozen" P-1 centrifuges, and the more sophisticated P-11 centrifuges, according to President Musharraf, who debriefed the Pakistani scientist after his fall from grace. It has become apparent that North Korea was part of a global web of nuclear proliferation and was selling on to Iran.

President Musharraf has recounted in his memoirs, In the Line of Fire, that he became suspicious as soon as he took over responsibility for Khan's activities in 1999.

Musharraf denies that there was a government-to- government deal with North Korea for the purchase of conventional ballistic missiles, including technology transfers for hard cash. But he says: "I received a report suggesting that some North Korean nuclear experts, under the guise of missile engineers, had arrived at Khan Research Laboratories and were being given secret briefings on centrifuges."

These are the spinning machines which enrich uranium to levels suitable for production of a nuclear weapon. Musharraf and the Pakistani intelligence chief confronted Khan and he denied the report, "but we remained apprehensive".

Once Khan had been confronted, however, his programme went further underground. "It was becoming clearer by now that AQ was not 'part of the problem' but 'the problem' itself," writes Musharraf.


North Korea began working towards a nuclear program, with the aim of arming itself with nuclear weapons in the mid-1980s. The knowledge and equipment is believed to have been sourced via the nuclear technology blackmarket run by the notorious Pakistani scientist AQ Khan. In 1986, North Korea managed to produce plutonium in one of its reactors.

By 1991, the US had begun a long series of talks and negotiations aimed at encouraging North Korea to stop its nuclear program, in exchange for oil and increased food aid. There was even talk of a final peace deal between the US and North Korea to officially end the Korean War (which has langered in a ceasefire for more than 50 years).

While the US played diplomat, North Korea allegedly 'separated' some 10kg of weapons-grade plutonium, which gave it enough fuel for at least nuclear bombs.

By 1993, North Korea had announced it intended to leave the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty now that a workable nuclear bomb was a reality. US President Bill Clinton ordered the military to begin planning how they could, and would, attack North Korea's nuclear sites.

At the same time, diplomatic talks continued, as an uneasy world urged the US not to attack North Korea. Kim Jong-Il agreed to a new framework which would see North Korea put its nuclear production on ice until President Bush entered the White House. Instead, the US would help North Korea build safe nuclear power reactors to generate electricity, on the condition they agreed to international inspections of the facilities and did not pursue nuclear weapons. The United States began shipping nuclear fuel to North Korea for use in its 'light water' reactors.

But, while they were standing back from generating nuclear weapons, North Korea pushed forward on developing the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead to international targets - testing its medium range missiles in late 1998.

By September 1999, North Korea had agreed to a moratorium on tests of its under-development long range missiles.

When Bush became president, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced the US would continue with the Clinton administration diplomacy gambit to stall North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and the missiles to launch them.

But within days of Colin Powell's announcement, President Bush said that negotiations with North Korea would not be as diplomatic as those undertaken by Clinton.

North Korea was cited as one of the key reasons why the US should spend hundreds of billions of dollars developing a missile defence shield through the rest of 2001, and in January 2002, Bush told the UN that North Korea was part of the 'Axis Of Evil', along with Iran and Iraq :
"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. . . . In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."
But in April 2002, Bush cleared a payment of more than $US90 million dollars to North Korea as part of the 1994 arrangement to build nuclear reactors in the country. But President Bush didn't insist that North Korea abide by international demands the facilities be open to snap international inspections.

The 'War On Iraq' was a way for the US to show 'outlaw regimes' like North Korea, Iran and Libya that the game had changed, and pre-emptive strikes were not just talk, but an actionable policy.

The Bush doctrine of pre-emption is believed to have encouraged Kim Jong-Il to withdraw from the NP treat in April 2003 and restart their reactor for the purposes of generating weapons grade plutonium.

In May 2003, President Bush announced that the US would not "tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea...(We) will not settle for anything less than the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.”

Within two years, North Korea had some 15 kilograms of such plutonium and ramped up its development of medium and long range missiles.

Despite President Bush's refusal to one-on-one talks with North Korea, the six-party talks saw North Korea agreeing to dump its nuclear program in September 2005, in exchange for a package of new incentives.

But within days, the Bush White House had sabotaged the new agreements by declaring a bank and financiers tied to the North Korean Government Agencies as being connected with international money laundering. Once North Korea's assets were frozen, the six party agreement was voided.

By June, 2006, North Korea was believed to have generated plutonium sufficient to create up to 15 nuclear bombs.

In July, North Korea began testing its short and medium range missiles again, and put out the word to Russia and China that it was planning a test of its nuclear weapons, within months.

US Plans To Make Kim Jong-Il "Rue The Day" He Tested Nukes, US Plans Trade Blockade Under Guise Of Cargo Inspections

Nuclear Tests Were China's "Nightmare Scenario" - Can't Cut Food Aid As Regime Collapse Would See Millions Of Refugees Flood Over China's Border With North Korea

US Secretary Of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, Sat On Board Of Company That Sold Nuclear Reactors To North Korea

Negotiations By Threat And Intimidation Won't Work Anymore, US Ambassador To The UN John Bolton Announces

US Rejects Direct Talks With North Korea, Again

New Yorker Magazine : Kim Jong-Il's Canny Game With United States And South Korea

Monday, October 09, 2006



From TimesOnline :

An independent commission set up by Congress with the approval of President George W Bush may recommend carving up Iraq into three highly autonomous regions, according to well informed sources.

The Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James Baker, the former US secretary of state, is preparing to report after next month’s congressional elections amid signs that sectarian violence and attacks on coalition forces are spiralling out of control. The conflict is claiming the lives of 100 civilians a day and bombings have reached record levels.

The Baker commission has grown increasingly interested in the idea of splitting the Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish regions of Iraq as the only alternative to what Baker calls “cutting and running” or “staying the course”.

“The Kurds already effectively have their own area,” said a source close to the group. “The federalisation of Iraq is going to take place one way or another. The challenge for the Iraqis is how to work that through.”

The commission is considered to represent a last chance for fresh thinking on Iraq, where mass kidnappings are increasing and even the police are suspected of being responsible for a growing number of atrocities.

Baker, 76, an old Bush family friend who was secretary of state during the first Gulf war in 1991, said last week that he met the president frequently to discuss “policy and personnel”.

His group will not advise “partition”, but is believed to favour a division of the country that will devolve power and security to the regions, leaving a skeletal national government in Baghdad in charge of foreign affairs, border protection and the distribution of oil revenue.

The Iraqi government will be encouraged to hold a constitutional conference paving the way for greater devolution. Iran and Syria will be urged to back a regional settlement that could be brokered at an international conference.

Frustrated by the failure of a recent so-called “battle of Baghdad” to stem violence in the capital, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to Iraq, said last week that the unity government of Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, had only two months left to get a grip. Rumours abound that the much-admired ambassador could depart by Christmas.

Bush and Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, have resisted the break-up of Iraq on the grounds that it could lead to more violence, but are thought to be reconsidering. “They have finally noticed that the country is being partitioned by civil war and ethnic cleansing is already a daily event,” said Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In Baghdad last week Rice indicated that time was running out for the Iraqi government to resolve the division of oil wealth and changes to the constitution.

Many Kurds are already hoping for their own national state, while the Shi’ite Islamist leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is pressing for regional autonomy. The Sunnis are opposed to a carve-up of Iraq, which would further deprive them of the national power they enjoyed under Saddam Hussein and could leave them with a barren tranche of the country bereft of oil revenue.

Many Middle East experts are horrified by the difficulty of dividing the nation. “Fifty-three per cent of the population of Iraq live in four cities and three of them are mixed,” said Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, who fears a bloody outcome.

Baghdad is a particular jumble, although ethnic cleansing is already dividing the population along the Tigris River, with Shi’ites to the east and Sunnis to the west of the city.


From the Washington Post :

President Bush has signed a new National Space Policy that rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit U.S. flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone "hostile to U.S. interests."

The document, the first full revision of overall space policy in 10 years, emphasizes security issues, encourages private enterprise in space, and characterizes the role of U.S. space diplomacy largely in terms of persuading other nations to support U.S. policy.

"Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power," the policy asserts in its introduction.

National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said in written comments that an update was needed to "reflect the fact that space has become an even more important component of U.S. economic, national and homeland security." The military has become increasingly dependent on satellite communication and navigation, as have providers of cellphones, personal navigation devices and even ATMs.

The administration said the policy revisions are not a prelude to introducing weapons systems into Earth orbit. "This policy is not about developing or deploying weapons in space. Period," said a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record.

Nevertheless, Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonpartisan think tank that follows the space-weaponry issue, said the policy changes will reinforce international suspicions that the United States may seek to develop, test and deploy space weapons. The concerns are amplified, he said, by the administration's refusal to enter negotiations or even less formal discussions on the subject.

"The Clinton policy opened the door to developing space weapons, but that administration never did anything about it," Krepon said. "The Bush policy now goes further."

Theresa Hitchens, director of the nonpartisan Center for Defense Information in Washington, said that the new policy "kicks the door a little more open to a space-war fighting strategy" and has a "very unilateral tone to it."

The administration official strongly disagreed with that characterization, saying the policy encourages international diplomacy and cooperation. But he said the document also makes clear the U.S. position: that no new arms-control agreements are needed because there is no space arms race.

The official also said the administration has briefed members of Congress as well as a number of governments, including Russia, on the new policy. The public, however, has not learned much about it: The policy was released at 5 p.m. on the Friday before Columbus Day, with no public announcement.

The National Space Policy follows other administration statements that appeared to advocate greater military use of space.

In 2004, the Air Force published a Counterspace Operations Doctrine that called for a more active military posture in space and said that protecting U.S. satellites and spacecraft may require "deception, disruption, denial, degradation and destruction." Four years earlier, a congressionally chartered panel led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld recommended developing space weapons to protect military and civilian satellites.

Because of the political sensitivities, several analysts said, the Pentagon probably will not move forward quickly with space weapons but rather will work on dual-use technology that can serve military and civilian interests. But because many space initiatives are classified, Krepon and others said, it is difficult to know what is being developed and deployed.

Some of the potential space weapons most frequently discussed are lasers that can "blind" or shut down adversary satellites and small, maneuverable satellites that could ram another satellite.

The new Bush policy calls on the defense secretary to provide "space capabilities" to support missile-warning systems as well as "multi-layered and integrated missile defenses," an apparent nod toward placing some components of the system in space.

The new document grew out of Bush's 2002 order to the National Security Council, with support from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, to assess the nation's military and civilian space policies. The review has already led to a major shift in emphasis at NASA, away from research and unmanned exploration to returning Americans to the moon and then sending them on to Mars.

Bush's top goals are to "strengthen the nation's space leadership and ensure that space capabilities are available in time to further U.S. national security, homeland security, and foreign policy objectives" and to "enable unhindered U.S. operations in and through space to defend our interests there."

Clinton's top goals were to "enhance knowledge of the Earth, the solar system and the universe through human and robotic exploration" and to "strengthen and maintain the national security of the United States."

The Clinton policy also said that the United States would develop and operate "space control capabilities to ensure freedom of action in space" only when such steps would be "consistent with treaty obligations." The Bush policy accepts current international agreements but states: "The United States will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space."

A number of nations have pushed for talks to ban space weapons, and the United States has long been one of a handful of nations opposed to the idea. Although it had abstained in the past when proposals to ban space weapons came up in the United Nations, last October the United States voted for the first time against a call for negotiations -- the only "no" against 160 "yes" votes.

The U.S. position flows in part from the fact that so many key weapons systems are now dependent on information and communications from orbiting satellites, analysts said. The U.S. military has developed and deployed far more space-based technology than any other nation, giving it great strategic advantages. But with the superior technology has come a perceived vulnerability to attacks on essential satellites.

A 10-page unclassified version of the U.S. National Space Policy was posted Friday on the OSTP Web site.



US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld :

On Oct. 7, 2001, President Bush spoke from the Treaty Room of the White House to announce the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, a mission designed to disrupt and destroy al-Qaeda operations in Afghanistan and the regime that had harbored and supported Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

It was never going to be an easy mission. Afghanistan was among the world's poorest nations, with little political or economic infrastructure. Nearly three decades of war, drought and a Soviet occupation by hundreds of thousands of troops had yielded a broken, lawless nation.

Yet from halfway around the world -- with but a few weeks' notice -- coalition forces were charged with securing a landlocked, mountainous country that history had dubbed the "graveyard" of great powers.

Given the circumstances, it is not surprising that military experts and columnists raised the specter of Vietnam and "quagmires" -- both before and during combat operations. They cited the forbidding terrain, brutal weather and the Soviet Union's total failure.

Within weeks of our launching combat operations, however, the Taliban regime had been defeated, consigning yet another cruel regime to the dustbin of history. Coalition forces took control of Kabul, and since then the Afghan people have fashioned a new constitution and successfully held the first democratic presidential election in their long history.

Now, five years after the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, another signpost has been marked on Afghanistan's long, difficult road to stability: NATO took control of security operations for the entire country on Thursday, as well as the 24 Provincial Reconstruction Teams that are strengthening infrastructure across the nation.

This is an unprecedented moment for the NATO alliance. In 2001 NATO forces were for the first time deployed beyond their traditional European borders. Today the number of troops in Afghanistan from nations besides the United States has reached more than 20,000 -- to add to the approximately 21,000 American troops serving there.

Not all the news about Afghanistan is encouraging. There is, for example, the legitimate worry that increased poppy production could be a destabilizing factor. And rising violence in southern Afghanistan is real.

President Hamid Karzai, speaking with President Bush recently at the White House, acknowledged the difficulties: "Afghanistan is a country that is emerging out of so many years of war and destruction. . . . We lost almost two generations to the lack of education. . . . We know our problems. We have difficulties. But Afghanistan also knows where the problem is."

The problem, he said, is poverty and extremism. Success requires a strong and capable Afghan government that can provide services and opportunities for all its people.

During the active combat or conventional phase of any war, there are clear signs of progress: battles won, key strategic points taken, enemy forces captured or killed. In the post-battle phase, however, the measure of progress is not as clear -- especially in a war such as the Global War on Terror, which relies so heavily on the development of civic institutions in places
that have known little more than war and destitution.

And yet, for all of the challenges the Afghan people face, there are many promising indicators. Among them:

· Security: The Afghan National Army has grown to more than 30,000, with approximately 1,000 soldiers added each month. The Afghan National Police now number more than 46,000. Afghan forces were successful in providing security for the two national elections held since 2004.

· Economy: The size of Afghanistan's economy has tripled in the past five years and is projected to increase another 20 percent next year. Between 2003 and 2004, government revenue increased 70 percent, to $300 million. Coca-Cola recently opened a $25 million bottling plant in Kabul, and other large multinational companies are considering opportunities in Afghanistan.

· Education: In the past five years, more than 42 million school textbooks have been printed and distributed, and some 50,000 Afghan teachers have been trained. Almost 600 schools have been built, and now more than 5 million children attend school, a 500 percent increase from 2001.

· Health care: In 2001 only 8 percent of Afghans had access to at least basic health care; at least 80 percent do today. Some 5 million Afghan children have been vaccinated.

· Infrastructure: Thousands of kilometers of roads have been built or improved since the Taliban fell. Since 2004, 25 provincial courthouses have been built and hundreds of judges trained.

Building a new nation is never a straight, steady climb upward. Today can sometimes look worse than yesterday -- or even two months ago. What matters is the overall trajectory: Where do things stand today when compared to what they were five years ago?

In Afghanistan, the trajectory is a hopeful and promising one.

From the Times of London :
British forces holed up in isolated outposts of Helmand province in Afghanistan are to be withdrawn over the next two to three weeks and replaced by newly formed tribal police who will be recruited by paying a higher rate than the Taliban.

The move is the result of deals with war-weary locals and reverses the strategy of sending forces to establish “platoon houses” in the Taliban heartland where soldiers were left under siege and short of supplies because it was too dangerous for helicopters to fly in.

Troops in the four northern districts of Sangin, Musa Qala, Nawzad and Kajaki have engaged in the fiercest fighting since the Korean war, tying up more than half the mission’s available combat force. All 16 British soldiers killed in the conflict died in these areas.

“We were coming under as many as seven attacks a day,” said Captain Alex Mackenzie of the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, who spent a month in Sangin. “We were firing like mad just to survive. It was deconstruction rather than reconstruction.”

The districts will be guarded by new auxiliary police made up of local militiamen. They will initially receive $70 (£37) a month, although it is hoped that this will rise to $120 to compete with the $5 per fighting day believed to be paid by the Taliban. “These are the same people who two weeks ago would have been vulnerable to be recruited as Taliban fighters,” said Richards.

“It’s employment they want and we need to make sure we pay more than the Taliban.”

The withdrawal of the British troops will coincide with the departure of 3 Para, whose six-month deployment is coming to an end. The battalion will be replaced by Royal Marines from 3 Commando Brigade who started arriving last week.

Locals in these districts are fed up with the fighting that has led to the destruction of many homes, bazaars and a school. A delegation of more than 20 elders from Musa Qala met President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday evening and demanded to be allowed to look after their own security. “The British troops brought nothing but fighting,” they complained. They pledged that if allowed to appoint their own police chief and district chief, they would keep out the Taliban.

The other crucial factor has been Nato’s success last month in inflicting the heaviest defeat on the Taliban since their regime fell five years ago. The two-week Operation Medusa in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province left between 1,100 and 1,500 Taliban dead, many of whom were believed to be committed fighters rather than guns for hire.

“Militarily it was against the odds — it was only because the Taliban were silly enough to take us on in strength when we had superior firepower and because of very, very brave fighting on the part of Americans, Canadians, British and Dutch, as well as the Afghan national army,” said Richards.

The Taliban, emboldened by their successes in Helmand, had changed their strategy from hit-and-run tactics to a frontal attack, apparently intending to try to take the key city of Kandahar. They had taken advantage of a change of command of foreign troops in the south from American to Canadian and eventually Nato to move large amounts of equipment and men into the Panjwayi district southwest of the city. The area was a stronghold of the mujaheddin during the Russian occupation and contains secret tunnels and grape-drying houses amid orchards and vineyards alongside the Argandab River.