Sunday, March 30, 2003

Background material for the second Gulf "War"

How far back was this war planned?

A common claim in the writings surrounding this "War" (again, as a military action, there has been no formal Declaration of War, and further the action seems to be illegal by International Law) is that right-wing Republican hawks have been planning this war for a long time. (e.g. this Washington Monthly article Practice to Deceive) On this page we will trace down the source material and see what was really being said.

The Project for a New American Century

Web Site:

The project was founded in 1997 using these statements of principles:

June 3, 1997

American foreign and defense policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America's role in the world. They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy. They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives. And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century.

We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership....

There's more along the same lines on the web site. So, this was formed in response to the Clinton years, and part of the broadly based hatred of that administration. The site is publishing papers with topics in this vein.

[September 18, 1998] Paul Wolfowitz, Statement before the House National Security Committee,

The problem with U.S. policy toward Iraq is that the administration is engaged in a game of pretending that everything is fine, that Saddam Hussein remains within a “strategic box” and if he tries to break out “our response will be swift and strong.” The fact is that it has now been 42 days since there have been any weapons inspections in Iraq and the swift and strong response that the Administration threatened at the time of the Kofi Annan agreement earlier this year is nowhere to be seen.

Note, this was delivered in 1998, in the waning years of Pres. Clinton. Clearly this opinion was a guiding principle in the leadup to the current Gulf "War", and note that the speaker is currently Deputy Secretary of Defense and did a lot to push for this new "War". Reading on we see the seed-kernel of the current strategy of the current "War" in Iraq.

The United States is unable or unwilling to pursue a serious policy in Iraq, one that would aim at liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam's tyrannical grasp and free Iraq’s neighbors from Saddam’s murderous threats. Such a policy, but only such a policy, would gain real support from our friends in the region. And it might eventually even gain the respect of many of our critics who are able to see that Saddam inflicts horrendous suffering on the Iraqi people, but who see U.S. policy making that suffering worse through sanctions while doing nothing about Saddam.Administration officials continue to claim that the only alternative to maintaining the unity of the UN Security Council is to send U.S. forces to Baghdad. That is wrong. As has been said repeatedly in letters and testimony to the President and the Congress by myself and other former defense officials, including two former secretaries of defense, and a former director of central intelligence, the key lies not in marching U.S. soldiers to Baghdad, but in helping the Iraqi people to liberate themselves from Saddam.

Saddam’s main strength -- his ability to control his people though extreme terror -- is also his greatest vulnerability. The overwhelming majority of people, including some of his closest associates, would like to be free of his grasp if only they could safely do so.

A strategy for supporting this enormous latent opposition to Saddam requires political and economic as well as military components. It is eminently possible for a country that possesses the overwhelming power that the United States has in the Gulf. The heart of such action would be to create a liberated zone in Southern Iraq comparable to what the United States and its partners did so successfully in the North in 1991. Establishing a safe protected zone in the South, where opposition to Saddam could rally and organize, would make it possible:

  • For a provisional government of free Iraq to organize, begin to gain international recognition and begin to publicize a political program for the future of Iraq;
  • For that provisional government to control the largest oil field in Iraq and make available to it, under some kind of appropriate international supervision, enormous financial resources for political, humanitarian and eventually military purposes;
  • Provide a safe area to which Iraqi army units could rally in opposition to Saddam, leading to the liberation of more and more of the country and the unraveling of the regime.

Clearly this is exactly the plan currently being carried out in Iraq. The main activity has been an invasion from Kuwait, into Iraq, and set on capturing the port cities of Basra and Uum Qasr. They clearly expected the Shi'ites to welcome them with open arms. But this is not what's happening as of this writing (March 30, 2003).

What's important here is to see this clearly, that the toppling of Iraq was planned at least five years ago. Paul Wolfowitz, the current Undersecretary of Defense, made this presentation, giving this plan, the same plan that's largely being carried out today.

This would be a formidable undertaking, and certainly not one which will work if we insist on maintaining the unity of the UN Security Council. But once it began it would begin to change the calculations of Saddam’s opponents and supporters -- both inside and outside the country -- in decisive ways. One Arab official in the Gulf told me that the effect inside Iraq of such a strategy would be “devastating” to Saddam. But the effect outside would be powerful as well. Our friends in the Gulf, who fear Saddam but who also fear ineffective American action against him, would see that this is a very different U.S. policy. And Saddam’s supporters in the Security Council -- in particular France and Russia -- would suddenly see a different prospect before them. Instead of lucrative oil production contracts with the Saddam Hussein regime, they would now have to calculate the economic and commercial opportunities that would come from ingratiating themselves with the future government of Iraq.

And here it's even more telling. That five years ago it was recognized that France and Russia would resist a war with Iraq, which they actually did (joined by Germany, various other countries, and peoples all over the world), and that they would likely have to damage the United Nations in order to do this. How else can you interpret "will not work if we insist on maintaining the unity of the UN" than, he's purposely bent on damaging the current UN structure?

Glancing around the rest of the web site reveals other papers & writings along the same lines. Here are a few, along with capsule summaries. Generally every article on the site contains, a) Slams of President Clinton and other Democrat party leaders, and b) the presumption that U.S. force should be directly used in the world to force U.S.-centric goals upon the world.

[June 29, 1998; New Jersey Law Journal; John R. Bolton] Welcome Back, Taiwan ( Most of it is a detailed analysis of the U.N. machinations which ejected the Republic of China (that is, Taiwan) from the U.N. and replacing it with the Peoples Republic of China (Mainland China). What's telling is a this statement at the beginning, "In the 1970s, the United Nations was a convenient, indeed preferred, venue for delegitimizing American and Western institutions, values and allies" showing great disdain and perhaps hatred of the United Nations.

Other papers in the East Asia section revolve around all the attacks made against the Clinton Administration about how it dealt with China. It's best demonstrated by this one title: "Clinton's Sorry Excuse for a China Policy Robert Kagan and William Kristol, Weekly Standard, March 22, 1999". (on this page

[June 3, 2000; The Washington Post; John Lancaster, Washington Post Staff Writer] In Saddam's Future, A Harder U.S. Line ( Written during the 2000 election year, it's a review of various positions against Iraq. It's clear that whoever was elected, either Gore or Bush, was going to take a harder line towards Iraq.

[November 20, 2000; Weekly Standard; Gary Schmitt] State of Terror ( Discusses a claim that all or most "Terrorism" is an act of governments, rather than crazed lunatic fringe elements. As proof a book, The War Against America: Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks: A Study of Revenge (and Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America), is discussed. The claim is that Iraq covertly "manipulated a largely inept and unimaginative group of muslims" into performing the first World Trade Center bombing. This line of reasoning appears to be behind the shift, in the "post-9/11" days from the Hunt for Al-Queda to Regime Change In Iraq. That is, it's one thing to think of "Stateless Terrorist Groups" acting on their own without funding or guidance from a sitting government, and at the surface that's what we have with Al Queda. Does that mean, then, that the paramilitary Cuban groups in South Florida, all itching to invade Cuba, are funded and directed by the U.S. Government?

[January 7, 1999; MEMORANDUM TO: OPINION LEADERS; MARK LAGON] ( "Now that the dust has settled from the 70-hour aerial attack on Iraq, it has become clear that the only solution for the threat Iraq poses is to remove Saddam."

[March 9, 1998; Weekly Standard; John Bolton] Kofi Hour ( What is harder to understand is why the Clinton administration allowed him [UN Secretary General Kofi Annan] to go at all [to Iraq to broker peace with Iraq], or permitted him any negotiating flexibility. By the time of Annan’s departure from New York, the administration had finally, albeit inartfully, rallied an international coalition sufficient to provide political cover for a major military strike against Iraq. Domestically, there was broad, bipartisan agreement about the use of force. Indeed, opinion polls indicated a willingness to go so far as to remove Saddam Hussein from power, a goal well beyond anything contemplated by the administration. American military forces were deployed in the Persian Gulf region and poised to act. There's a presumption here that the U.S. can order the U.N. Secretary General to do whatever the U.S. wants him to do. In general, this article is another keeping up the call for invasion of Iraq and forcefully toppling the government.

[July 6, 2001; MEMORANDUM TO: OPINION LEADERS; TOM DONNELLY] ( George W. Bush came to office declaring he would “defend America’s interests in the Persian Gulf” by reviving “the vision” of his father’s “Gulf War coalition.” But more was promised. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz were signatories to a May 1998 letter, sponsored by the Project for the New American Century, calling for the establishment of a provisional, free government in those areas of northern and southern Iraq not under Saddam’s control. The letter also argued that U.S. and allied military forces should be prepared to support the Iraqi opposition and “be prepared…to help remove Saddam from power.” Likewise, the Republican Party platform demanded “a comprehensive plan for the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.” In the hunt for smoking guns, here it is. Hidden within the promises of George W. Bush and the Republican party during the 2000 election year, is a fore-ordained invasion of Iraq to unseat the government there. We've already seen that Wolfowitz, now Deputy Secrety of Defense, had been planning for perhaps a decade to invade Iraq, and we see here that GW Bush had promised to actually do as Wolfowitz proposed.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Second Gulf "War" effort struggling

War gone "wrong"

The second Gulf "War" is now in its second week, and there is a lot of trouble. Initially it was exciting, in a way, with successes and the possibility of quick success. Certainly War, even if its legitimacy is questionable, is more palatable if it is quick and involves little in the way of death. Unfortunately that is not what is happening, right now.

[March 27, 2003; Asia Times] The 'Palestinization' of Iraq ( For 280 million Arabs, the symbolic effect of the tanks in the country is as devastating as a lethal sandstorm. ... To date, an estimated 5,200 Iraqis have crossed the Jordanian-Iraqi border, going back "to defend their homeland" as they invariably put it. In already one week of a war that was marketed by the Pentagon as "clean" and "quick" and which is revealing itself to be bloody and protracted, not a single Iraqi refugee has crossed the al-Karama border point into eastern Jordan. ... the fact that from Amman to Cairo, from Beirut to Riyadh, the bulk of the Arab nation is now "Palestinized". ... The Arab League has meekly called for an end to the war. Washington didn't even register it. And the Arab street is not buying excuses any more. ... For around half a century, the anger in a way channeled by the Palestinians - who by practical experience have learned not to trust Arab leaders. Now the loss of legitimacy is total ... One of the first things anyone mentions in Jordan[...]is their happiness about the way the Iraqi people are resisting the "invaders" (never qualified as "liberators").

The author here is weaving two things together. First, rather than greeting the U.S. as "liberators", we are being greeted as "invaders" and the entire country is actively fighting against the U.S. This is sad, in that it's going to be a long and protracted battle, because the American side is not about to give up the battle. More importantly the author talks of the opinion of the people, basically of desiring Arab unity as a pan-Arab nation, and resentment or hatred of the Europeans & Americans over the Colonial past.

[March 28, 2003; BBC] Conflict sapping forces' morale ( Here on the frontline this conflict is taking its toll on morale. ... They have had a tiring week of guerrilla-style fighting and it continues. ... I think the other problem is the conditions here. There were major sandstorms earlier in the week, which created an appalling amount of dust. ... " I've had enough of being fired at from all directions, I just want to go home" ... One thing that's certainly had an effect is the news that the Pentagon is deploying another 120,000 troops.

Hmm, it's only a week and they're already wanting to go home and already feeling frustrated. Must be tough over there, and it must be tough having things not go your way.

In some other recent news articles U.S. military commanders were quoted saying "We didn't expect them to fight back" or "This isn't the enemy we wargamed against". Apparently the expected was for an easy war, namely to invade, everybody loves us, we kill the bad guy, a few buildings get blown up, and everything's happy. How very Hollywoodish of us to expect such an easy victory.

There's a concept from Psychology that's useful here. "Projection" is something which EVERYBODY does, and it's a process of taking your internal issues (worries, fears, traumas, mistaken beliefs, etc) and instead of admitting that it's your problem, you put it out on someone else. In other words, it's a blind spot, something you're unwilling to look at.

It seems that in the planning of this war, and the decision to even take the step of launching the war, Projection was rampant. The mistaken belief being that we are Right, and that we will be automatically accepted for whatever we decide to do. Sometimes people learn these kind of lessons at the cost of millions of dead human beings and vast sums of riches wasted. Most of the time this lesson plays out in a more personal level, for example in the normal squabbles of individuals dealing on a day-to-day basis with each other. But when it comes to countries relating with one another, the same processes occur, just on a larger scale.

[April 2003; Washington Monthly] Practice to Deceive ( Imagine it's six months from now. The Iraq war is over. After an initial burst of joy and gratitude at being liberated from Saddam's rule, the people of Iraq are watching, and waiting, and beginning to chafe under American occupation. [various nightmare scenarios ensue] .... To most Americans, this would sound like a frightening state of affairs, the kind that would lead them to wonder how and why we had got ourselves into this mess in the first place. But to the Bush administration hawks who are guiding American foreign policy, this isn't the nightmare scenario. It's everything going as anticipated. ... In their view, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination was an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East. ... Undersecretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that [...] the United States would "deal with" Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

Yes, and there have been numerous position papers that have surfaced, written by the people who are now the top Administration advisors, laying out exactly this scenario. A series of wars to topple a range of Middle East countries, and installing friendly governments.

Maybe this satire article at The Onion isn't far off the mark. [March 26, 2003; The Onion] U.S. Forms Own U.N. ( Frustrated with the United Nations' "consistent, blatant regard for the will of its 188 member nations," the U.S. announced Monday the formation of its own international governing body, the U.S.U.N. ... "The U.N. has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to act decisively in carrying out actions the U.S. government deems necessary," U.S.U.N. Secretary General Colin Powell said. ... The U.S.U.N. Charter, ratified unanimously by delegates in a four-minute vote Monday, sets forth the mission of the organization as "the proliferation of peace and international economic, social, and humanitarian progress through deference to the U.S." ... Condoleezza Rice, a U.S. delegate to the U.S.U.N. "This organization will carry out peacekeeping missions all over the world, but, unlike the U.N., these missions will not be compromised by the threat of opposition by lesser nations." ...

But more seriously, there is news articles hinting of a building demonization of Syria for what may become stage two of the second Gulf War.

[March 29, 2003; The Guardian (of London)] Rumsfeld raises stakes with warning to Syria over military sales to Iraq (,2763,925247,00.html) Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, delivered a stark warning to Syria yesterday, accusing it of failing to stop cross-border sales of military equipment, including night-vision goggles, to the Iraqi army. Mr Rumsfeld called the shipments "hostile acts" and threatened to "hold the Syrian government accountable", but refused to say whether he meant military action. He also struck out at Iran for letting state-sponsored anti-Saddam militants flood into Iraq, interfering in the coalition's war plans. ... An official at the Syrian foreign ministry dismissed the Mr Rumsfeld's accusations last night, saying they were "an attempt at covering what his troops have committed against civilians in Iraq... a violation of international law".

You can see the telescope'd event being begun here. We already know there is a pre-existing plan to topple a range of anti-American regimes in the Middle East, installing ones friendly to the U.S. And now we have claims that Syria, one of the countries on the hit-list, is sending "military equipment" into Iraq. Is the claim real, or made up? We have seen quite a number of previous snow jobs delivered by this very same administration, and very little in the way of truthful presentation of fact, so what credibility do these people have that we can trust their claims?

This is similar to the rhetorical build-up to the current "War". It began long ago with occasional comments raising old complaints about Iraq, putting the question out "do we need to invade Iraq", etc. Yet in the context of the time, when the Hunt for Al Queda was the principle center of attention, it was a head-twister to hear them mention Iraq, because it seemed like a huge distraction from the real pressing problem of taking care of the immediate instigators of the immediate attack. It's clear in hindsight, the goal at the time wasn't Al Queda, as the goal now isn't Iraq, but the real goal is hidden from mainstream view.

Note, the same article mentions Iran, another member of the hit-list, and supposed incursions of Iran-based Shi'ite militants going to Iraq.

[March 29, 2003; Reuters] Iran Dismisses U.S. Warnings as Propaganda ( Iran on Saturday dismissed as propaganda U.S. warnings not to meddle in the war in neighboring Iraq. ... Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned on Friday that armed Iranian "proxies" gathered inside Iraq would be considered combatants if they interfered with U.S. forces. He was referring to elements of the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Tehran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SICRI), which comprises Iraqi exiles who share the Shi'ite branch of Islam with Iran. Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh dismissed Rumsfeld's comments. "The Badr Brigade's decisions have nothing to do with Iran, they are independent, like any other Iraqi opposition group," he told Reuters. "Rumsfeld is making propaganda to cover up his lack of success in this war. What he says has no logic behind it."

We have to step back a bit from this one to appreciate what's being said here.

Consider the news reports elsewhere discussing Iraqi's returning from Jordan to "defend their homeland". Why wouldn't the same be true of Iraqi's who happen to live in Iran. But, wait, wasn't there a war between Iraq and Iran? Why would Iraqi's go to the land of their enemy? Consider that Iran is Shi'ite, and the Shi'ite's in Iraq have been bloodily suppressed by the central Iraqi government, so of course they would be welcome in Iran as refugees.

The Washington Monthy article (mentioned above) discusses the likely choices to be made by Iran. The statement here in this article is right in line, namely for Iran to (officially) stay on the sidelines. It's possible these groups are actually independant from the Iranian government (just as there are militant Cuban groups in South Florida waiting for the chance to invade Cuba and liberate it from the Communist regime there).

What's really being said? Rumsfeld is, for some reason, dragging both Syria and Iran into this conflict. The question is "why", and we have an apparent reason outlined in the Washington Monthly.

Is this what the American people really want? Is this really in alignment with who Americans are? Pre-emptively invading foreign countries for the express purpose of toppling their government is so completely outrageous that the main example in our memory of such an attack was the Pearl Harbor attack launched by the Japanese against the U.S. Why should America be cast in that role now?

In closing, here's a powerful statement from a member of the British Parliament. [March 27, 2003; The Guardian (of London)] Blair, the war criminal (,,922572,00.html, also here My constituency Labour party has just voted to recommend that Tony Blair reconsider his position as party leader because he gave British backing to a war against Iraq without clearly expressed support from the UN. ... I have served in the House of Commons as a Labour member for 41 years, and I would never have dreamed of saying this about any one of my previous leaders. But Blair is a man who has disdain for both the House of Commons and international law. ... The overwhelming majority of international lawyers[..] have concluded that military action in Iraq without proper UN security council authorisation is illegal under international law. The Foreign Office's deputy legal adviser, Elizabeth Wilmhurst, resigned on precisely this point after 30 years' service. ... (Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow since 1962, is the longest continuously serving member of the House of Commons.)

Seems the British people also are aghast at what's being done in their name. That such a high ranking member of the government, no doubt a penultimate insider, is completely against this says a lot about the outrageousness of the situation.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

March 15, 2003, protest rally in San Francisco

The Second Gulf War

At the time I'm writing this, the U.S. has launched a pre-emptive war in Iraq. Unlike many wars which spring spontaneously into being, this was telescoped ahead by at least a year (or more). At this moment it is five days (5) since active fighting begun, though in a way the first Gulf War never stopped because the U.S. military had continued to fly aircraft patrols over Iraq with occasional bombing of targets. In any case, so far as the official public perception, this new round of fighting is 12 years after the first Gulf War stopped, and it began last Wednesday.

There has been a rising tide of anti-war protest over the last 6-9 months. I myself have attended three protest rallies, and have gravely mixed feelings over the whole process.

First off, the justification for this is very weak. War is always indicating a failure of diplomacy (even if you consider war simply to be diplomacy conducted via other means), and I find it abhorrent because of the death and suffering that ensues. Even when loss of life is low, war always involves grave trauma (psychological and otherwise) to those who fought in it, and it is well known how traumatized people often go on to traumatize others (e.g. the children who receive child abuse often go on to be child abusers). Even if this war to be short and "clean", it will leave behind it a wake of trauma that will haunt us for years, just as the previous wars have left behind its own traumatized "War Hero's".

Secondly, the people pushing for this war (the Bush Administration and other government leaders) have little or zero credibility. Most especially true here is the Bush administration and the cronies surrounding him in office. I have too much material on this subject for this article, so will write about it elsewhere. Basically, they cannot be trusted, and that they stole the presidential election in November 2000 only serves to confirm that they cannot be trusted at all.

Thirdly, is the form of anti-war protest in general. What I've observed is, the rhetoric, the words, the actions, nearly everything involved with these protests are simply creating a condition of making war on war. That is, by saying "NO WAR", how are you going to stop WAR? Obviously War is the worlds second most favorite pastime, and the second oldest profession, so it is ingrained in our being and society. To stop all WAR from happening, well, you'll run into resistance from those who like the practice of war. You can stand at the sidelines and repeat "NO WAR" until your throat gives out, and nothing will change until those who want to practice war decide themselves to stop it. But if you take an active role, doing some kind of interference with activities that create war, wouldn't you then be making war-like acts upon the warmakers, and thus become a warmaker yourself?

Protest march & Rally, March 15, 2003 (and the following week)

On March 15 the International ANSWER coalition (e.g. Not In Our Name) scheduled mass worldwide marches and rallies in many cities. Living near San Francisco, I attended that one. This rally explains the points above very well.

Typical scene from the official protest. A bunch of people sitting in the park, speakers on the stage, protest signs in abundance, people selling literature and other materials, and generally a nice and peaceful day.

A few of the signs evident.

Here we have GW Bush praying to God, and someone else implying that GW Bush should be indicted for war crimes & sent to the Hague. But really, isn't the important idea to celebrate peace and life?

Here we have the fear that Democracy has died (in November 2000, when GW Bush "stole" the election).

This war seems to be a blatant grab at the oil supplies of the Middle East. Regardless of whether it is, the american people are shooting themselves in the head with the wasteful cars we're driving nowadays.

The other refer to the tone of the "Diplomacy" that led up to this war. First, GW Bush seems to have learned "Diplomacy" from his father, because in the first Gulf War GHW Bush kept making ultimatums which of course nobody would ever agree to, yet he would claim to be trying to negotiate with Sadaam Hussein. Same in this Gulf War, a long string of belligerant demands, couched as diplomacy, which nobody would ever agree to.

Finally, we have France and Germany promising to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution approving a war. Among the anti-war crowd they became popular for standing up to the steam-roller drive to create this war.

More signs, everywhere signs, blocking the scenery, filling my mind, ...

And to prove this is San Francisco, we have a naked man. He was just wandering around in the crowd, no doubt seen by any number of police, quietly minding his own business, and nobody bothering him. Gotta love this town.
This part of the protest rally was pretty tame and mild. (Even with the naked guy running around)

Remember my point earlier about making war on war? In this part of the protest rally, you have to look very hard to find it. There were signs (didn't manage to take a picture of them) accusing GW Bush and/or Ariel Sharon as War Criminals, accusing the United States of being the Terrorist here, accusing GW Bush of idiocy (e.g. "Somewhere a Village is Missing its Idiot"), and more. Similarly the speeches from the stage took the stance of "Not In Our Name", that is that the war is being made pretending that GW Bush has the country's approval, when in fact there is a great deal of disaproval in the country. Yet there was a tone of blasting the Bush administration, calling them idiots and worse.

We gotta remember, the person at the other end of this war, Sadaam Hussein, doesn't have much going for him either. He (his government) has repeatedly massacred their own citizens, practiced brutal torture, attacked its neighbors, and more. Maybe the people of Iraq would be better off, as the Bush Administration promises, by kicking out this leader of a sovereign government. The cure (the war required to do the deed) may be worse than the disease, though. It's a tricky thing to take on the role of deciding for other countries who their leaders can be, yet the dialog from our government and among the people has been about "Can we allow Sadaam Hussein to be the leader of Iraq".

It's clear few people like the fact that he's there, but who gives any outside organization the right to determine the ruler of a specific country? It's just like an abusive marriage, you know the woman would be better off leaving, but it's not for you to force her to leave is it? It's up to her to make the choice and take the steps herself to end the marriage. Maybe it would be better for the Iraqi people to, themselves, gather the strength, as a people, to topple Sadaam Hussein from power. No doubt that's what has made America so great, that we gathered the cultural strength to rid ourselves of an unwanted government.

If this were all there were to this protest, I would have little to write about. Just this rambling mental masturbation. Regardless of the morality, the fact is that the U.S. Government has gone ahead and invaded Iraq, with the express intention of toppling its government. This is an absolutely blatant action. An action the likes of which America has undertaken before, but in previous decades it was always handled in a hush-hush behind the scenes matter, by sending in CIA operatives to work with local leaders, and the end result always seemed to be the replacement of a moderate somewhat democratic government with a brutal dictatorship. This time it's different, this time the government leaders (GW Bush and gang) have been talking for over a year about the need to topple this foreign government leader.

The future of these protests

The War in Iraq is right now in an indeterminate stage. US and British troops have spent 5 days establishing a foothold in Iraq, and have captured Basra (the port city at the mouth of the Tigris-Euphrates River), which they will then be able to use to bring in supplies. At the other end they are nearing Baghdad where the bulk of the fighting is expected to happen. It's hard to predict how this will turn out, since it may devolve to street-street fighting in Baghdad, going toe-toe with the Republican Guard.

In other words, how long this war will be is anybody's guess. However it goes, it's clear the Bush Administration plans further wars, as there is a megalomaniacal plan in the background to setup a series of wars to reshape the Middle East in some way for geopolitical purposes.

This means that one way or another there will be more of these protests. We are going to witness the 1960's all over again, with mass demonstrations only getting larger and larger, and the fighting in the streets only getting bloodier.
Below I give a detailed report, with many pictures, of a side demonstration. Over 100 protesters who had been semi-peaceably marching down the sidewalk were arrested. Later in the week, once the war started, the protesters turned out in mass numbers to disrupt the financial district of San Francisco, and thousands were arrested. In the media they are acting surprised that so early in the War is there mass protests already forming, but what they're missing is obvious if you only read the Black Bloc information below. Namely, these protest groups are merely followon efforts from the previous years demonstrations at various WTO or G7/8 meetings.

Over recent years a growing backlash against Globalization has risen, with people attempting to take power for themselves. So much of our lives are being lost to the whims of giant corporations, who own all the media outlets, who determine what images we see and are bombarded with, who choose politicians, who write the laws, who subvert our freedom of choices by choosing for us what products end up in the stores, and more. Who is more important? The people? Or the corporations? This country was founded BY THE PEOPLE and FOR THE PEOPLE, not by the Corporations and for the Corporations. Somewhere along the lines this got lost, and the corporate interests subverted the picture.

Where are these protests going? Who knows, really. A lot depends on the choices of everybody involved. The only thing clear is that it isn't going to stop anytime soon. This war is only a symptom of Globalization.

The other Protest, many arrests

I spent only a short time in the first part of the main protest. I got "called" to leave, thinking it was time to go home. But on my way back to the BART station, I came across another protest march going down Market Street, which was being paralleled by a large group of Police officers. This is a report from an independent reporter who was at basically the same place I ended up.
update from bloc
by bodzin Saturday March 15, 2003 at 04:51 PM
timeline so far

2:50 I hook up with the bloc on Mission, between 8 & 9
3:00 Captain Springer gave 3 orders to clear Mission, most people get on the sidewalk
3:04 sheriff van & bus arrives
3:08 sheriffs let people in from south sidewalk, from the east, so i just walk through to witness arrests. 15 people are sitting with arms linked on Mission, surrounded by about 10 cops. cops start arresting.
3:15 sheriffs & cops charge the north sidewalk to get people back, using clubs to push, but not apparently swinging
3:17 officer 947 uses starts tearing at the right ear of an arrestee for no apparent reason. when the arrestee is raised to his feet, officer 473 holds the man's throat from both sides, rubbing the vagal sinuses.
3:20 officer 2124 told me to get back behind the police line
3:22 officer 647 uses a vagal sinus maneuver on an arrestee
3:24 three scream from the 3 remaining protesters in the street. i can't clearly see what's happening, as they are completely surrounded by cops.

3:25 one woman appears to be on her front on the ground, with a cop pulling her hair to lift her head.
3:38 cops stop blocking the street, march away. I hear a Channel 7 reporter refer to the march as “the Black Flags,” which I have to tell her is a musical ensemble from the 80s.
3:40 protesters retake street. walk north on tenth, then many break into a run to 9th & market.
3:43 i hear that a protester was hit by a civilian car, but can get no verification.
3:46 Capt. Springer warns more of unauthorized march. He clearly wants to keep people from getting past 7th Street. I notice that the MUNI buses ahead are all backed up, so I go forward on my bicycle to check out the scene.
3:51, at the other march: I get to SF Center (at 5th & market) just as the march arrives. shoppers are locked out by nervous security guards. The march proceeds by without apparently breaking anything, not even knocking over any newspaper boxes. totally peaceful. still, 100 cops are present for the 500 or so marchers.
3:55 many marchers abruptly sprint south on fourth.
3:59 Three marchers are arrested at 4th and Mission. Cops push them back to Market Street.
4:01 I see another arrested person on 4th near Market, and a bystander tells me he was grabbed from the crowd by a group of cops, though he wasn’t apparently doing anything at the time. I felt like filing this story, so I left. After riding around a little, I got to the office at 3rd & Market, and found that cops had closed 3rd to cars and were getting read to clear the street and sidewalk.
4:15 I hear a lieutenant (2 bars on the hat) say “Time to start picking them off.”
4:16 A man in black abruptly runs east down Stevenson. A sheriff’s deputy runs after him into the Hearst Parking Garage. Four motorcycle cops go to help. The guy turns tail and evades the motorcycle cops, one of whom rams my bicycle. The Sheriff’s deputy, I see, had dropped his can of pepper spray, as though he was ready to use it.
4:18 about 40 cops in helmets run down Third Street to clear it. I go into my office to file this story.
This writer was within 100 feet of me at 4:16, because I witnessed that same event (well, I didn't see the pepper spray).

This picture shows what I saw. A big group of people, and a massive police presence. At the far left, those are individual police helmets (motorcycle cops), the police are in the street, and the crowd on the sidewalk were loud protesters marching as a group.
The Police attempts to control this crowd meant blocking Market street. Police were running back and forth across the street, though mostly they were in phalanx formations (lines) ringing the sidewalks. There was tremendous tension everywhere, with the police having a very menacing demeanor about them. The number of vehicles of all kinds (including multiple helicopters circling overhead) was impressive, and made for a lot of drama.
Part of the intimidation was the threat "Stay on the sidewalk" (implied: you'll be arrested if you step off). Mostly they were in lines everywhere, and a tremendously grim looks on their faces.

Never before have I witnessed activity like this. For me the biggest danger police have meant is their not-so-gentle reminder to drive within the speed limit (if, by "reminder", you mean a speeding ticket that then causes high insurance rates). Yet, here were a group of people purposely playing games with the police. Near one intersection they clustered close together, and began counting "1..2..3..4.." up to "..10" and then charged for the intersection, the police madly chasing after them, in a mad rush to see who could take over the next street first. They rushed into the next street, the police close behind them, there was a bit of a shuffle down the street (I was too far to clearly see), and then they all rushed back to Market Street.

The games continued in this vein for many blocks. The crowd on the sidewalk obviously wanted to take over the street. In a way this is like the main winning strategy in Reversi (a.k.a. Othello) where the one that can control the center of the board generally has more control, and the Police were doing a good job of controlling the street and had a strong position from which to control crowds on both sides of the street. The crowd causing most rowdiness was on the south sidewalk, and I mostly stayed on the north sidewalk where it was relatively calm and you could witness from a safe distance.

I felt incredibly nervous the whole time, yet at the same time felt like I had to stay and witness this activity.
What's he grinning about? Doesn't he feel the incredible tension and palpable fear in the atmosphere? Just goes to show, some people totally enjoy this kind of environment.

I spent a short time across the street with the rowdy crowd. I apologize for the low quality. I was very nervous, the situation was extremely fluid, they were preparing to make another round of marching down the street, and I had to move quickly.

Having witnessed them up close, they were merely being loud, not extremely so, and they had a BIG ATTITUDE on. I had an incredibly palpable feeling THESE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE ARRESTED (or else, that they want to be arrested) and as I most certainly did not want that for myself, I had to run to stay ahead of them. For drums they used pots and pans, or plastic buckets.

I had never heard of these people before. This is a group of people using the Black Bloc tactic. Here's a couple pages giving information about them:

  • Black Bloc's for Dummies (
  • Black Bloc activity at the WTO/Seattle protest in the fall of 1999 (
  • A letter from a Black Block participant in the WTO/Genoa protests which resulted in a killed protester (
    • "Although there is no consensus among us on what we all believe, I think I can safely say that we have a few ideas in common. The first is the basic anarchist philosophy that we do not need or want governments or laws to decide our actions. Instead, we imagine a society where there is true liberty for all, where work and play are shared by everyone and where those in need are taken care of by the voluntary and mutual aid of their communities. "
    • "We believe that destroying the property of oppressive and exploitative corporations like The Gap is an acceptable and useful protest tactic. We believe that we have the right to defend ourselves when we are in physical danger from tear gas, batons, armored personnel carriers and other law enforcement technology. "
    • "We live in a society that is racist and homophobic and sexist and unless that is taken out of our society, it cannot be taken out of the cops who enforce the rules of our society. In an even larger view, we live in a society that has agreed to give some people the right to control what others do. "
    • "Violence is a tricky concept. I'm not totally clear what actions are violent, and what are not. And when is a violent action considered self defense? I believe that using the word violent to describe breaking the window of a Nike store takes meaning away from the word. Nike makes shoes out of toxic chemicals in poor countries using exploitative labor practices. Then they sell the shoes for vastly inflated prices to poor black kids from the first world. "
  • A Financial Times (of London) special report on the WTO/Genoa protest, including a bit about the Black Bloc's (
There's lots more available, easily findable by going to Google and typing in "Black Bloc". The point is, it's clear after a week of educating myself, that the popular press has made these people out to be "Hooligans" taking advantage of a larger protest to cause some random damage and have a few thrills. Having seen them up close, I can say that Mary Black's (pseudonym) letter (above) is much closer to the truth than the idea pushed on us by the popular press. Since the popular press is corporate owned and controlled, and totally subverted to corporate needs, their job has to be to diminish any message the Black Bloc or other activists would have to present, which only makes them want to act out even worse just so they can get any kind of attention.

And, she's right, "Violence" is tricky. But, as the question has been rumbling in my mind for months, "Is violence the best use of power"?

Here's one of the main learnings I've had over the last few months. POWER is often seen by people in its negative form, where POWER is already corrupted, and is used against others. In truth, power is merely power, meaning that it is someones ability to affect change in the world. In particular, each of us have within us the power to shape our lives in the way we want, regardless of the apparent obstacles in front of us. What makes it NEGATIVE POWER is when it is used as a weapon against others. If practiced in complete centeredness, in alignment with the divine plan, and in alignment with your true wants and true needs (we're not talking ego wants/needs like having 10 Cadilacs in the garage), then POWER cannot help but create great beauty and true peace in the world.

It takes a lot of integrity and continual self inquiry to learn to practice POWER in this way. The self inquiry is there to explore your actions (perhaps after the fact) and see where your ego has Eased God Out of the picture, and where your divinity has allowed God to sneak back in. The reality is that we all inhabit bodies, meaning we all have EGO's (Easing God Out), even the saintliest of us have our moments of rejecting God (note, by God I refer to a generic concept of Divinity which is the aspect of each of us that is in unison with everything everywhere, and I specifically do not mean the old judgemental Man who's going to Smite us for our every Sin). By having an EGO, we always have a part of us acting outside the divine plan.

In any case, back to the Black Bloc.

After seeing the Black Bloc, I skedaddled across the street at the earliest moment. I was very intent on not getting arrested. So I shadowed them from across the street, taking pictures as I went. I did feel clearly, what I was doing was incredibly important, if only to be a documentary check on the Police from overstepping their bounds and roughing up the crowd. For all their bravado and bluster, this Black Bloc was relatively peaceful and not at all causing any damage.

One of the never-ending fixtures of Market street is the chess players. They are there every day, and there are homeless street people hanging out there who are supreme chess masters. When I saw them, the irony struck me, of the war-game being played in real life that day, contrasted with the abstracted war of the Chess game.
Who's causing more trouble? The Black Bloc making noise on the sidewalk, or the police blocking the street? The Black Bloc had the intent to block the street, and they succeeded, but had to enlist the police to block the street for them, rather than doing it themselves. Hmmm..

Here the Bloc had attempted to take over a side street. The police presence was thick, with an inner ring surrounding the crowd, and an outer ring preventing the rest of us from going to the crowd. Notice the cloud of smoke - there were two that rose around then, and it's not clear what the smoke was.
They look very meanacing, don't they? That's their intent. I have a friend who has done a lot of these kind of protests, have run with Black Bloc groups, and is also (now) a healer. He pointed out that the police MUST use the energy field, they MUST send out extremely menacing energetic forms, or else how could a group of 100 police control a crowd of 1000?

There were many cameras present, some in the hands of Police. These two officers were running around everywhere taking pictures of everything they could. One of the flaps currently in San Francisco is that the Police are using undercover police to infiltrate the protesters groups, giving other undercover police cameras and dressing them up as tourists to benignly take pictures of the protest crowds, in order to build up dossiers of whoever is attending the protests.

Supposedly this is illegal. But let's be realistic here, one of the jobs of the police is to protect the property of citizens. It is well known that protests sometimes involve damage to property. If the police stepped aside and let the anarchists do as they wished, they wouldn't be doing their job, now would they?

At the same time, there is freedom of assembly to consider. I suppose having police recording the people who attend public assemblies, this would put a damper on people attending them, and could be construed as creating an environment of hostility towards public assemblies.
Nice sentiment - War is Not the Answer - but these protesters spent the night in jail. This is where the arrests occurred, over the next couple of hours.
Again, two lines of police. This time one group making arrests, and again the other group menacing us on the sidewalk. One time this line of police charged us on the sidewalk, and I felt this intense and palpable wave of INTIMIDATE pass by me. They stopped right after that, probably they just wanted to get our attention. They sure did.
This is what we were kept away from (notice baldie taking his home movies). This is on 3rd Street near Market. Coincidentally (maybe) it is across the street from the Hearst Building (e.g. the original home of the Hearst empire, the inventor of Yellow Journalism, where you can print any lie you want, so long as it sells newspapers, and who cares if it starts a war because that'll just sell more newspapers).

Down the street was a school-bus type vehicle, but it was armored with plates of steel, with slits cut in them, and painted "SHERRIF" on the side. As people were arrested, they were taken to the bus. Two, maybe three, of these busses were filled with arrestees over the next two (or more) hours. All the while those of us on the other sidewalk were experiencing various levels and forms of rage, all the while taking pictures and many calling out "The whole world is watching".
I must not have been the only one feeling the importance of documenting this, to keep the police in check from going overboard.

There was a young lady repeatedly calling out "Peaceful protesters are being arrested ... SHAME", with many in the crowd joining in with this.

I exchanged some words with a woman - she was incensed, sheer hate spewing from her eyes, calling GW Bush an idiot, "CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS", "Do you think he even cares about what we're believing", pointing out that President Johnson at least anguished over the Vietnam war, and eventually accusing GW Bush of being without soul. I said, "He has a soul, we all have souls", and that visibly clicked in her - she got it - she said clearly something like "Well, then, we'd all better pray for his" and walked away. That really touched me, still does, she got it, we all have souls, we all have the divine in us. And, behind her, in the street, the police were leading arrestees into the bus marked Sheriff.

The process of arresting people was very well organized and orchestrated. Obviously they have a lot of experience with this, both sides. The police had huge bundles of plastic cable ties being used as handcuff's. They would, one at a time, pull people from the crowd and most of the time was able to calmly slip the cable tie around their wrists and lead them away. On the way to the bus their picture was taken, and they were led into the bus.

On the sidewalk was a woman calling out to the arrestees "What is your name" and offering them legal help. Some answered, maybe some were too dazed to notice her, and in any case she had to stay on the sidewalk or risk being arrested herself.

Often the arrestees were dragged away, purposely being limp in the classic Ghandi-inspired non-resistance mode.

Continually I had trouble feeling what was really happening inside me. I am in such rage about this, it feels so fundamentally wrong for the police to have arrested these people. In this case the Bloc was not causing actual damage, and just walking down the street, but since the police declared them an "ILLEGAL ASSEMBLY" this no doubt gave them enough legal cover to do the arrests. Continually I felt "THIS IS WRONG", and helpless to do anything about this but witness, take pictures, and remember.

There was a guy mouthing off "Break the Law, Go To Jail". Obviously he felt differently about the arrests, and had a very simplistic rule to back it up. Obviously supporting the police, and assuming that if the police is arresting someone, that the person being arrested must've broken the law. "Why would they be being taken to jail, if they hadn't broke the law" he kept saying. Since most of the crowd around him was war protesters, some were activists themselves, he wasn't very popular, but he stuck to his story, no matter how the yelling escalated between him and the others. I'm rather surprised it didn't break out as a fight.

My worst fear (one of them) was being played out in front of me. This is that people following their hearts longing, and acting from their core beliefs, were being arrested and hauled away. Fortunately they weren't beat up (the other part of my worst fear) but that didn't make it any easier to watch.

Instead, what I felt was a great deal of discomfort. Rage isn't my comfort zone, and it took a lot of intregity to surrender to the feelings in the moment, feeling the range, the wrongheadedness of what was happening, on all sides of the street, the constant danger and tension around me. Eventually I came to two moments of clarity, the first being the range of rage and tension and danger.

The second moment of clarity was shortly after the first - no doubt I couldn't have gotten to the second without the first. I felt expanded into realizing the divinity of the situation. Everybody present had their presence of being, were acting from their own beliefs of what their best course of action was. Above we looked at a few web pages describing the Black Bloc, and how they are acting from their beliefs. At the core of those beliefs is their own divine purpose, their divine mission in life, which they are expressing as walking down the street, taking the power back for themselves, demonstrating to the rest of us that people have their own power even in the land of corporations and police.

But what of the Police? The nemesis of this scene, they too had a divine plan and presence here. They embody the framework and rules of society, and are in charge of personally maintaining the structures of society. For us all to live here together, we've decided to create ground rules and agreements of conduct between us. Without those ground rules, part of which are the laws, we know from experience that EGO will run rampant and many people get hurt. It is the police who are on the front line of enforcing this. It is a tough job.

And the rest of us? The rest had such a mix of purposes for being present, and I was most present with the "WITNESS" aspect that I've already discussed for myself.

Monday, March 10, 2003

How mobile phones and an £18m bribe trapped 9/11 mastermind

How mobile phones and an £18m bribe trapped 9/11 mastermind (March 11, 2003 Guardian (UK))

The electronic surveillance network Echelon played a key role in the capture of the alleged September 11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it was reported yesterday - as did a $27m (£18m) payment to an "al-Qaida foot soldier", who may be planning to relocate to Britain. ... Echelon reportedly monitors phone numbers and voices, then uses satellite triangulation to locate the user. The Swiss justice ministry has confirmed reports that the September 11 hijackers used pre-paid Swiss cellular phones, not registered in any name and thus hard to trace, in preparing the attack. ... "Let's say that thing that drug traffickers and terrorists thought they could do to avoid detection are really not effective strategies anymore," said Larry Johnson, a former deputy director for counter-terrorism at the US state department. "The technology being used now [by the authorities] is really pretty effective." ... Other Pakistani intelligence sources said the real breakthrough had come when the FBI had managed to "persuade" an al-Qaida operative arrested earlier to reveal the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden or his close associates.

Echelon is a super-secret (sorta) world-wide wiretap system in use by at least the UK and US intelligence services. It's not often talked about openly. It's interesting the contrast between the ultra-high-tech tools, and that the real breakthrough happened through old-fashioned human interaction (e.g. the "persuasion" of the al-Qaida "foot soldier" to talk).

Sunday, March 2, 2003

NSA tapping U.N. telephones to help U.S. interests

(update: July 22, 2005; This story came out in the runup to the current war in Iraq. It concerns how the NSA was bugging U.N. delegates so that the U.S. would know ahead of time how the votes would be going.)

Leaked NSA email exposes UN bugging offensive (March 3, 2003; The Register)

The US National Security Agency is mounting a bugging offensive against UN delegations in order to gain "information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises" in the Iraq debate....

It refers to this article in The Observer: US plan to bug Security Council: the text Online document: The text of the memorandum detailing the US plan to bug the phones and emails of key Security Council members, revealed in today's Observer

The text To summarize, this is the use of the US Intelligence Services (specifically the NSA) to take actions around the members of the UN Security Council, primarily wiretaps and the like. The purpose is to jig up the Security Council process, attempting to gain an advantage, and tilt the vote the way the U.S. administration wants it to go.