Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The President speaks

Why do we bother with this guy?

Here is the speech that I wish President Obama would give about the Iraq War, but which neither he nor any other president ever will.

Fellow Americans, and Iraqis who are watching this speech, I have come here this evening not to declare a victory or to mourn a defeat on the battlefield, but to apologize from the bottom of my heart for a series of illegal actions and grossly incompetent policies pursued by the government of the United States of America, in defiance of domestic US law, international treaty obligations, and both American and Iraqi public opinion.

The United Nations was established in 1945 in the wake of a series of aggressive wars of conquest and the response to them, in which over 60 million people perished. Its purpose was to forbid such unjustified attacks, and its charter specified that in future wars could only be launched on two grounds. One is clear self-defense, when a country has been attacked. The other is with the authorization of the United Nations Security Council.

It was because the French, British and Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956 contravened these provisions of the United Nations Charter that President Dwight D. Eisenhower condemned that war and forced the belligerents to withdraw. When Israel looked as though it might try to hang on to its ill-gotten spoils, the Sinai Peninsula, President Eisenhower went on television on February 21, 1957 and addressed the nation. These words have largely been suppressed and forgotten in the United States of today, but they should ring through the decades and centuries:

“If the United Nations once admits that international dispute can be settled by using force, then we will have destroyed the very foundation of the organization, and our best hope of establishing a real world order. That would be a disaster for us all . . .

[Referring to Israeli demands that certain conditions be met before it relinquished the Sinai, the president said that he] “would be untrue to the standards of the high office to which you have chosen me if I were to lend the influence of the United States to the proposition that a nation which invades another should be permitted to exact conditions for withdrawal . . .”

“If it [the United Nations Security Council] does nothing, if it accepts the ignoring of its repeated resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the invading forces, then it will have admitted failure. That failure would be a blow to the authority and influence of the United Nations in the world and to the hopes which humanity has placed in the United Nations as the means of achieving peace with justice.”

In March of 2003, it was the United States government itself that contravened the charter of the United Nations, aggressively invading a country that had not attacked it and against the will of the UN Security Council. The war was preceded by a summit in the Azores of the US, Britain, Spain and Portugal, for all the world as though it were the sixteenth century and a confusion between empire and piracy still prevailed.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

AP and Waukesha Freeman know how to set the tone to mark Hiroshima Day

Eric Talmadge August 5, 2010, 5:43 PM
Nothing projects U.S. global air and sea power more vividly than supercarriers. Bristling with fighter jets that can reach deep into even landlocked trouble zones, America's virtually invincible carrier fleet has long enforced its dominance of the high sea.
China may put an end to that...
Read the rest of this witless, jingo bombast here.

Nothing projects the American spirit of Miles Gloriosus as much as this sort of chest thumping.

And nothing misreads what the next--perhaps the ultimate--Sino-American confrontation is going to look like. The Chinese need not risk the dangers inherent in blowing up the U.S. military-industrial complex's favorite toy.

They merely need to keep the Renminbi pegged to the U.S. Buck and steadily decline to roll over the proceeds of their U.S. Bond holdings as they come due.


Friday, August 06, 2010

The myths about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Every August, upon the anniversaries of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, comments resume about American decisions at the end of World War II. Despite the passage of 65 years, heated opinions are repeated as fact and myths become immortalized as truths. Beyond distorting the historical record, wishful thinking leads us to repeat past mistakes in new ways against new enemies.

Among the inaccuracies :

1. Japan was ready to fight to the end.

Facts: In an intercepted cable of July 12, 1945, Japanese Emperor Hirohito revealed his decision to intervene to end the war. In Harry S. Truman’s journal, the U.S. president characterized the message as “telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace.” Tokyo was prepared to surrender unconditionally if the monarchy would be retained, the very position the Allies accepted after Hiroshima.

Five days later, Truman predicted that Stalin would “be in the Jap war by August 15. Fini Japs when that comes about.” Nevertheless, he ordered the bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6. The USSR entered the war on Aug. 8. Truman ordered the Aug. 9 bombing of Nagasaki anyway.

2. Dropping the bomb was necessary to prevent an American invasion.

Facts: In 1946, a U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey report based on intelligence available to the White House concluded: “Certainly prior to Dec. 31, 1945, and in all probability prior to Nov. 1, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russian had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

3. Dropping the bomb saved lives.

Facts: Stanford historian Barton Bernstein’s study of declassified documents found that the worst-case scenario by military planners was 46,000 deaths if the U.S. invaded both Kyushu and Honshu islands. Since Hiroshima, these estimates have grown exponentially as if to justify using the bomb. In notes, Truman cites 250,000 casualties (dead, wounded, missing). His published memoir raises the number to 500,000 dead. Still later, he referred to saving a million lives. In 1991, President H.W. Bush claimed that the bomb saved “millions.”

Since both presidents, among countless others, ignored the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey conclusion that an invasion was unnecessary, it is no wonder average Americans do the same. All of these morbid calculations ignore the stark fact that more than 187,000 humans died at Hiroshima.

Read the rest

Russell Vandenbroucke, professor and chair of theatre arts at the University of Louisville, is the author of “Atomic Bombers,” a play that was broadcast on public radio to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima. This column was provided by the PeaceVoice Program of the Oregon Peace Institute.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Who ya gonna believe, Tim Geithner or your own lying bank statements?

The devastation wrought by the great recession is still all too real for millions of Americans who lost their jobs, businesses and homes. The scars of the crisis are fresh, and every new economic report brings another wave of anxiety. That uncertainty is understandable, but a review of recent data on the American economy shows that we are on a path back to growth.
While the economy has a long way to go before reaching its full potential, last week’s data on economic growth show that large parts of the private sector continue to strengthen. Business investment and consumption — the two keys to private demand — are getting stronger, better than last year and better than last quarter. Uncertainty is still inhibiting investment, but business capital spending increased at a solid annual rate of about 17 percent.

Together, private consumption and fixed investment contributed about 3.25 percent to growth. Even the surge in imports, which lowered the rate of increase of G.D.P., actually reflects healthy and growing American demand.
Omigod! We've turned the corner. Happy Days are Here Agai.... What's that? There's still a little downside?
We have a long way to go to address the fiscal trauma and damage across the country, and we will need to monitor the ups and downs in the economy month by month. The share of workers who have been unemployed for six months or more is at its highest level since 1948, when the data was first recorded, and we must do more to ensure that they have the skills they need to re-enter the 21st-century economy. Small businesses are still battling a tough climate. State and local governments are still hurting.
Train millions of 45-year olds to take jobs in the service sector at half their former income? Is this what you mean Mr. Geithner?
And while making smart, targeted investments in our future, we must also cut the deficit over the next few years and make sure that America once again lives within its means.
Yah! We're talking about cutting Social Security; making sure that your new job as an on-line customer service rep (which you stole back from some guy in Mumbai or Manila by undercutting his wages) will be still there for you until you're 75, and finally eligible for a pension.

h/t: Digby

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Of the biblical allotment of three score and ten I have lived only three of them more than a bicycle ride from one of the Great Lakes. I grew up ten blocks from Lake Erie in the (once Irish/Italian ghetto, now newly-hip) "Near West Side" of Cleveland. I can still cycle to the Milwaukee lakefront in an hour and a half; but, a round-trip has always been more than I would (noror ever did) attempt. -0- I'm a "...somewhat combative pacifist and fairly cooperative anarchist," after the example of Grace Paley (1922-2007). -0- I'm always cheerful when I pay my taxes (having refused--when necessary--to pay that portion of them dedicated to war). -0- And I always, always vote.