Article 43

 

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Psychiatrist Calls To Impeach Bush

By CAROL WOLMAN, MD
Board Certified in Psychiatry
Co-chair, IMPEACH BUSH-CHENEY
Member, THE LONGHGOUSE COALITION
December 30, 2006

We the people” HAVE BEEN AND ARE BEING badly abused by the BUSH ADMINISTRATION. We’ve been DIENFRANCHISED by DIEBOLD, a major Bush donor. Our Congress, our elected Representatives, have been corrupted, intimidated into going along with SHREDDING of the CONSTITUTION. The incoming Democrats, whom we elected in protest, plan to play ball with Bush.

We’ve been LIED INTO Iraq and our taxes are being used to support all kinds of atrocities there. Our reputation as an honorable nation has been destroyed, and hatred has been stirred up against us all over the world.

Our treasury is being drained, the public sector, on which we rely for essential services and infrastructure, is being STARVED. Rampant CRONYISM and RIPOFFS go unchecked.

Our LAND is being defiled with pollutants, clearcutting, exploitation of pristine areas. Standards of cleanliness and safety have been lowered or ignored. Public utilities are being “privatized”, including the health care system, the prison system, the energy system, so that the PUBLIC WELFARE IS SUBORDINATED TO PROFIT. The COMMONS is being destroyed.

We are being systematically stripped of our FREEDOMS. Freedom of the PRESS has all but vanished, and the TV networks and major newspapers have become propaganda organs. Freedom of assembly and speech are being THREATENED. Individual PRIVACY has disappeared. Habeas corpus is NO MORE.

Our FUTURE is being mortgaged. We are leaving our kids an overheating planet, since the BUSHIES WON’T ACKNOWLEDGE GLOBAL WARMING, let alone do anything about it. We are leaving them an enormous debt, and a set of laws that allows FASCISM to be imposed at will.

Our emotions are being manipulated by the constant fake terror alerts. Meanwhile we are being terrorized into SUBMISSION TO BUSH, with reports of concentration camps under construction by Halliburton, warrantless TAPPING of our phone calls and emails, scary legislation like the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act, and the MILITARY COMMISSIONS ACT.

I could go on and on- you, reader, can add your own outrages to the list. The point is, ”we the people” are being abused by the members of the Executive Branch, whose job it is to carry out OUR will, the will of “we the people”.

As a people, we are now depressed. We feel helpless to stop the depredations. Our massive repudiation of the Iraq occupation and the Bush administration at the polls seems to have been pointless. The Iraq occupation is escalating again- more troops, more money for Halliburton and Carlyle. The Democrats has said that “impeachment is not on the table”. A feeling of hopelessness and dread of what the future will bring is hanging over us.

We are like a wife trapped in an abusive marriage, who feels that duty and economics prevent her from leaving. Perhaps she still feels some love and loyalty to the husband who mistreats her. Perhaps she feels she deserves ill treatment, or that she’s too weak and pitiful to do anything about it. She becomes depressed and resigned to a dismal life.

When a woman is being abused by her husband, it is commonly accepted that he is committing criminal acts, and needs to be brought to justice. First of all, she is separated from him, and he is served with a restraining order to prevent further abuses. Safety first. The case is then investigated by the District Attorney, and if enough evidence is found, he is indicted and brought to trial. If convicted, he may serve some time, depending on how bad the abuse has been.

All this helps the victim to realize that it is wrong to be mistreated, and that justice is on her side. She regains a sense of power and self-esteem, and is able to manage her life. She sees some hope and happiness ahead.

We the people need to separate from Bush and Cheney. The mechanism for this is impeachment. Pelosi’s plan to “work with” Bush is co-dependence, allowing the perpetrator to continue his abuse. In this case, enabling the criminals to continue their ripoff of the public amounts to co-conspiracy, opening the Congresspeople who go along to criminal charges.

A statement by House leaders of intention to investigate for impeachment, and a REFUSAL to cooperate with Bush plans to escalate in Iraq, etc, etc, would amount to a restraining order, preventing further harm to “we the people”. Safety first.

This should be followed by a thorough investigation and impeachment by the House, which acts as the “district attorney"- the attorney for “we the people”. Impeachment = indictment. The evidence will surely be strong enough to warrant conviction by the Senate, even if the Democrats do lack a 2/3 majority there. Public airing of Bush and Cheney’s high crimes through the House investigation will force the Senate to convict, and eject them from office. They can then be tried as ordinary citizens in a regular criminal court.

We the people will become empowered, as we are supposed to be under our Constitution. We will be able to restore paper ballots and ensure fair elections. We will be able to address the pressing problems of global warming, budgetary crisis, nuclear pollution, and all the other ills which we will inherit from 6 years of Bush’s plundering. Our self-esteem as a nation, and our reputation among nations, will be restored.

Impeachment is the only way this can happen. Impeachment is peaceful, legal and democratic.

Power to the people!

In the name of the Prince of Peace, who taught us to speak truth to power.

Carol S. Wolman, MD is a psychiatrist in Northern California. A lifelong peace activist, she has written extensively on the psychology of our times. She is actively working to impeach Bush and Cheney, and suggests you join or form a LOCAL GROUP at She is running for Congress as a nonpartisan write-in candidate in CA district 1, and is a coordinator of THE LONGHGOUSE COALITION.

SOURCE

BUSH NEEDS TO BE IMPEACHED FOR HIS OWN GOOD
NEW DARK AGE OF DOGMA
IMPEACH BUSH-CHENEY

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Chrysler Signs China Car Deal

By Tom Krisher, AP Business Writer
Yahoo News
December 29, 2006

DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group and China’s CHERY AUTOMOBILE CO have agreed on a plan for the Chinese manufacturer to build small CARS to be sold worldwide. The cars, which already are being designed, would be based on an existing model but will be modified jointly by Chrysler and Chery engineers, Chrysler spokesman Jason Vines said Friday. Chrysler is taking the lead on the design and will ensure that the vehicles meet high quality standards, he said. 

They will be sold at Chrysler dealerships in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere under a Chrysler Group brand as either a Dodge, Chrysler or Jeep.

Chery will build tiny cars known in the industry as “B-cars,” but it also may build something larger for Chrysler, Vines added.

The deal needs to be approved by Chrysler’s supervisory board, which meets next month, and by the Chinese government.

The move gives Chrysler a relatively quick entry into a growing segment of the car market where it now has no significant product, and it prepares the company in case gasoline prices escalate again to above $3 per gallon, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. The average retail price of gasoline in the U.S. ended 2006 at around $2.34 a gallon, or 14 cents higher than a year ago.

Alan Helfman, general manager of River Oaks Chrysler Jeep in Houston, said the pact will give dealers coverage in all segments of the car market. “I think that’s an INCREDIBLE DEAL,” he said.

Chrysler has been seeking a Chinese partner to build small cars, saying it CANNOT make money by manufacturing them in the United States due to high LABOR and OTHER COSTS.

WE CAN’T BUILD ONE here in that segment. You can’t make any money on it. That’s why we need a partner,” Vines said.

He said Chrysler would unveil a prototype “fairly soon,” although no date has been set. Production will not start until sometime after 2007, Vines said.

Chrysler would not say how many cars Chery would build or how much they would cost. It also would not reveal the financial terms of the agreement. The letter of intent was signed about two weeks ago, Vines said.

Chery had plans to begin exporting vehicles to the U.S. as early as next year in a joint venture with U.S. entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin’s Visionary Vehicles, but the deal fell apart in November.

“Both sides agreed a joint venture was not a good idea,” said Visionary Vehicles spokeswoman Wendi Friedman Tush, adding that Chery wanted to modify existing cars and Bricklin wanted totally new products.

Visionary Vehicles is now pursuing other Chinese manufacturers and will announce an agreement soon, she said.

The deal with Chery will help Chrysler in the U.S., but it also gives the company small vehicles to sell in growing global markets such as India and China, Cole said.

To be successful, automakers have to be ready with cars and trucks for different economic and fuel price situations, Cole said.

“If you don’t have that entry-level small car and we see $3.50 or $4 per gallon, that could be a huge problem of really not having a product in a segment that would be very hot with high fuel prices,” Cole said.

Energy analysts predict the $3 level could be within reach in some parts of the country next summer, but that prices in 2007 should mainly be lower than in 2006, when they averaged $2.38 a gallon nationwide.

The agreement also helps Chery by giving it access to design, engineering and manufacturing skills that it doesn’t currently have, Cole said.

The Chery-produced cars likely would be sold for $8,000 to $10,000, and would have to be high quality to compete with Chevrolet, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and other automakers that already are selling B-cars, Cole said. Chrysler likely would give Chery more credibility than it would have had selling the cars on its own in the U.S., he said.

Cole said the Chrysler-Chery deal likely won’t be the largest one between a U.S. automotive company and a Chinese manufacturer. General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. already have significant manufacturing deals with CHINESE COMPANIES that could be larger, he said.

GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said the Chery cars certainly would compete against Chevrolet’s Aveo small car, which is built by GM Daewoo in South Korea. But he questioned whether the Cherys would be able to carve out a niche in a competitive market.

“The car would have to be good enough to earn its way into the segment,” Wilkinson said.

The United Auto Workers UNION, which has been critical of companies that move manufacturing jobs overseas, would not comment on the Chrysler-Chery deal.

Last year, GM settled several legal disputes with Chery over allegations that it had stolen GM’s design of the Spark minicar, which looks similar to the Chery QQ.

GM had sued to prevent Chery from selling the car in various markets, including Asia and Eastern Europe.

Terms of the settlement weren’t fully disclosed, but Chery agreed not to market its vehicles under the Chery name in the United States. GM and Chery also agreed not to take further legal action against each other.

SOURCE

Credit: Eduardo Felix

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Wal-Mart Relations

The company made buying American a national cause—but these days, WAL-MART spends its money elsewhere. Countless jobs have followed—and in overseas factories, foreign workers have suffered: 

Massive Reliance on Imports.

Buying American takes second place to the bottom line—and foreign suppliers benefit:

Abandons Buy American Program. In February 1985, Walton wrote 3,000 American manufacturers and wholesalers to announce that the chain wanted to buy more American goods. Walton said: “We cannot continue to be a solvent nation as long as we pursue this current accelerating direction. Our company is firmly committed to the philosophy by buying everything possible from suppliers who manufacture their products in the United States.” Today, however, over 80 percent of Wal-Mart’s 6,000 global suppliers are based in China. [Wal-Mart Press Release, 3/13/85; Wal-Mart Literature, 1994; PBS Frontline, 11/16/04]

China’s Eighth Largest Trading Partner. In 2004, almost 10 percent of everything imported to the United States from China was imported by Wal-Mart—making the company, if it counted as a sovereign nation, China’s eighth-largest trading partner. [Business Week Online, 10/7/05; Charles Fishman, The Wal-Mart Effect, 2006]

Increasing Dependence on India. In March 2004, Business Line reported that Wal-Mart intends to outsource $11 billion in textile merchandise over the next few years. The company has planned to buy $1.5 billion dollars worth of goods from India in 2006, and has increased operations out of its Bangalore office—which already employs 80 staffers focused on new outsourcing relationships. [Business Line, 3/26/05; Bloomberg News, 7/11/05; Women’s Wear Daily, 3/13/06]

More than 60,000 Suppliers in 70 Countries. A Wal-Mart website declares: “As the world’s largest retailer, we’re in thousands of communities around the USA and 15 other countries. We buy products from MORE THAN 60,000 SUPPLIERS IN 70 COUNTRIES.”

Buys Local Elsewhere. During discussions about sourcing in other countries, Amy Wyatt of the store’s international corporate affairs division said that 90 to 95 percent of products in Wal-Mart’s stores outside the United States—including stores in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom—are generally produced in the region. “In the United States, our local sourcing is not as high as 90 percent,” she said. “The manufacturing just doesn’t exist.” [Tico (Costa Rica) Times, 3/17/06]

Internal Report Exposes Wal-Mart’s Lack Of Commitment To International Workers Rights. In a 2005 study, Wal-Mart audits its international factory inspection program and the results are not promising. Only 20 percent of inspections are unannounced and 89 percent of all inspections find medium to severe violations. With only 200 associates covering five regions around the globe, it appears workers will have to suffer under poor working conditions for years to come. [Wal-Mart’s 2005 Report on Ethical Sourcing, 7/31/06]
Hurting American Manufacturers.

Hurting American Manufacturers

Wal-Mart works to keep the green flowing—even if that means red ink for American suppliers:

Ruining Rubbermaid. In 1994, Rubbermaid won accolades as the most admired company in the United States—but five years later, its fortunes fell so hard that the company sold itself to a competitor. When the price of a key component of its products went up, Rubbermaid asked Wal-Mart for a modest price increase—but Wal-Mart said no, and stopped sales of Rubbermaid products. At a Rubbermaid factory in Wooster, Ohio, that meant the loss of 1,000 jobs. [PBS Frontline, 11/23/04]

Advises Supplier: Open a Factory in China. To land a supply contract with Wal-Mart, the Lakewood Engineering and Manufacturing Company—a Chicago fan manufacturer—had to locate manufacturing operations in Shenzhen, China. Workers there make $.25 an hour—while the company’s Chicago workforce earned an average hourly $13. [Los Angeles Times, 11/23/03]

Advises Mr. Coffee to Move Overseas. Mr. Coffee—which won awards for moving manufacturing operations back to the United States—faced pressure to shift production to China even at the height of Wal-Mart’s ‘Buy American’ program. After Wal-Mart demanded a $1 reduction in the wholesale price of a brisk-selling four-cup coffeemaker in 1985, Mr. Coffee executives scouted for factory sites in China—and executives say Wal-Mart encouraged offshore production even as it promoted its ‘Made in the USA’ campaign.” [The Commercial Appeal, 6/8/01; Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/14/04]

Forces Huffy Bikes to Brake US Production. Despite decades of making bicycles in the United States, Huffy was forced by Wal-Mart price pressures to close three factories and lay off thousands of workers. The mayor of Celina, Ohio—where Huffy closed a large factory—said Wal-Mart’s “demand for cheaper bicycles drove Huffy out of Celina.” [Mansfield News Journal, 12/8/03]

Minimum Social Responsibility

Suppliers pay subpar wages—but Wal-Mart pays little mind:

Dropped from Socially Responsible Investing Index. In 2001, Wal-Mart was removed from the nation’s largest “socially responsible” mutual fund, the Domini 400 Social Index, because of its human rights standards. The Domini Index is described as the “the first benchmark for stock funds to screen for social responsibility.” Kyle Johnson, the project manager for the index, stated “Wal-Mart is a market leader in retail, yet has not taken a leadership position on labor issues and has been unresponsive to calls for change from shareholders.” [Palm Beach Daily News, 6/12/05; International Shareholder, 4/17/01; The Los Angeles Times, 5/18/01]

Wage Violations at Supplier Factories. According to Wal-Mart’s own audit, “several serious violations are still found consistently at the factory level, including problems with payment of overtime compensation, coaching of workers for worker interviews, and the use of `double-books’ to hide true numbers of hours worked or wages/benefits paid.” [Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 2005 Ethical Sourcing Report]

Sweatshop Labor

The drive for low prices produces another result: neglected human dignity:

Toys Built in South China Sweatshop. A China Labor Watch report detailed the mistreatment of workers in a factory making small toys for Wal-Mart. As of early December 2005, violations against workers at the Lungcheong factory were as follows: the systematic denial of maternity leave, work-related injuries leading to termination, illegally denying health insurance, mandatory overtime work, insane quotas and employing underage workers. [China Labor Watch, December 2005, China Labor Watch SOURCE (PDF)]

Sweatshops for Kathie Lee Gifford Products. Charles Kernaghan, director of the New York-based National Labor Committee, testified before Congress in 1996 that Kathie Lee Gifford’s clothing line was being produced in sweatshops around the globe. He reported that Global Fashion Plant in Choloma, Honduras—a Wal-Mart vendor that produces clothing for the Kathie Lee apparel line—employed pregnant women and children under harsh conditions and paid only 31 cents an hour. In 2000, The National Labor Committee reported that workers at Qin Shi Handbag factory in Zhongshan, China—which made handbags for Kathie Lee Gifford’s Wal-Mart line—were forced to work 14-hour shifts, seven days a week for little or no money. [Arkansas-Democrat Gazette, 5/24/96; National Labor Committee, “Made in China: The Role of U.S. Companies in Denying Human and Worker Rights,” 5/25/00]

Exposed on NBC’s Dateline. In 1992, NBC’s Dateline reported that 11-year old workers from Bangladesh were making t-shirts for Wal-Mart. [New York Times, 12/24/92]

Rock-Bottom Wages

Compared to Wal-Mart’s United States workers, laborers for overseas suppliers earn pennies on the dollar:

Low Pay Scales. The average full-time United States Wal-Mart employee earns $10.11 per hour. In Swaziland, a worker at a Wal-Mart subcontractor earns 53 cents per hour; in Indonesia, a worker at a Wal-Mart subcontractor earns 46 cents per hour; in Nicaragua, a worker at a Wal-Mart subcontractor earns 23 cents per hour; and in Bangladesh and China, workers at Wal-Mart subcontractors earn 17 cents per hour. [Institute for Policy Studies, “Wal-Mart’s Pay Gap,” 4/15/05]

Missing Overtime Pay. In 2004, the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) documented violations of overtime pay rules at Wal-Mart garment supply factories in Nicaragua, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Swaziland. In September 2005, ILRF filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of workers in China, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Swaziland, and Indonesia. Workers in these countries complained of being “kicked and beaten, locked in factories, fired for supporting a union and not paid the minimum wage or overtime.” [Institute for Policy Studies; New York Times, 9/16/05; Corporate Legal Times, 11/05]

Chinese Workers Earning Too Little to Afford Wal-Mart. The influx of cheap labor from the Chinese countryside allows Wal-Mart to produce its goods at extremely low prices. The Pearl River Delta, home to some of China’s newest and largest factories, is a breeding ground for poor working conditions, environmental destruction, and inadequate urban planning. With the help of the Chinese government, infrastructure improvements mean more and more workers will descend upon this area to toil away in horrible conditions. With wages around $100 dollars a month, most workers cannot even afford the products they produce. [BusinessWeek, 7/26/05; China Daily, 11/29/04; San Francisco Chronicle, 12/29/04]

---

How well does the world’s largest company treat the people who make its success possible? A look around uncovers troubling facts—and shows that when it comes to keeping employees from working together to ask for respect, Wal-Mart knows few limits

Ignoring Labor Laws

State and federal regulators have hit Wal-Mart for violating rules on work hours and leave:

Family Leave Laws. Wal-Mart has received numerous fines for violating the Family and Medical Leave Act in locations all over the country—firing workers while on federally protected medical leave. In 2005, Wal-Mart was fined $188,000 by the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission for violating California state law by failing to reinstate a woman after she completed her maternity leave. [U.S. Department of Labor, via Freedom of Information Act; California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, case no. E 200203 M-0774-00-pe, C 03-04-026; Sacramento Bee, 6/14/05.]

Off-the-Clock Work. In 2000, Wal-Mart paid $50 million to settle a lawsuit that involved 69,000 workers in Colorado who had allegedly been forced to work off the clock. In 2002, a federal grand jury in Oregon found Wal-Mart employees were forced to work off the clock and awarded back pay to 83 workers. In December 2005, Wal-Mart was ordered to pay $172 million to 116,000 current and former California workers for violating a 2001 state law that requires employers to give 30-minute, unpaid lunch breaks to employees who work at least six hours. In the United States, Wal-Mart has 53 class action lawsuits over wage and hour violations. [New York Times, 11/19/04; Associated Press, 2/17/04; Associated Press, 9/19/05; Associated Press, 12/22/05.]

Hiring Undocumented Workers. Wal-Mart paid $11 million to settle a federal investigation called “Operation Rollback,” which found hundreds of undocumented immigrants working off the clock to clean stores. In 2003, federal agents raided 61 Wal-Mart stores and arrested 250 undocumented immigrants. [Washington Post, 3/19/05; Los Angeles Times, 10/24/03.]
Skipping Work Breaks. In 2000, an internal Wal-Mart audit found that of 128 stores, 127 of them were “not in compliance” with company policies providing for work breaks. [Indiana Lawyer, 5/7/03.]

Using Child Labor

Federal investigators found Wal-Mart complementing low wages with low ages:

Employing Teens in Unsafe Conditions. In January 2005, after an investigation of 27 stores in three states, Wal-Mart reached a settlement with the United States Department of Labor for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Wal-Mart paid a $135,540 fine for allowing 85 workers, aged 16 and 17, to participate in activities prohibited to minors—“including loading and occasionally operating or unloading scrap paper balers, and operating fork lifts.” Wal-Mart signed an agreement with the Department’s Wage and Hours Division regarding future child labor conditions. [U.S. Department of Labor Press Release, 2/14/05.]

Negotiating for Weak Enforcement. An audit by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the child labor agreement between Wal-Mart and the Department of Labor found “serious breakdowns in the WHD [Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division] process for negotiating, developing, and approving such agreements. These breakdowns resulted in the WHD entering into an agreement that gave significant concessions to Wal-Mart. Specifically, the agreement provided for advance notification by WHD of Wal-Mart investigations, and gave Wal-Mart the ability to avoid civil money penalties (CMP) under certain conditions. In exchange, the agreement primarily committed Wal-Mart to continue measures that were already in place or required by law. Also, WHD did not consult with the Office of the Solicitor (SOL) in developing and approving the agreement.”

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said: “This report constitutes an unexpected and virtually unprecedented indictment of the U.S. Department of Labor’s sweetheart deal with Wal-Mart. [It] should lead us to be more vigilant and vigorous in enforcing our state child protection laws.” [U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Audit, 10/05; Hartford Courant, 11/1/05.]

Source: WALMART WATCH

WAL-MART’S DEAL WITH THE US LABOR DEPARTMENNT
WAL-MART’S UNION EXCLUSION CLAUSE
WAL-MART DRAGGING DOWN US LABOR STANDARDS

Posted by Elvis on 12/31/06 •
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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Border Agents Petition

SIGN THE PETITION to stop this injustice.

Two U.S. Border agents were CONVICTED AND SENTENCED to 11 and 12 year prison terms for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler who had crossed our border illegally and physically assaulted one of the agents

This outrageous injustice took place near El Paso, Texasa hotbed of illegal activity, where drug smugglers, and violent gang members illegally crossing from Mexico are often encountered. On February 17, 2005, U.S. Border Ignacio Ramos (a former nominee for border patrol agent of the Year), and Jose Compean attempted to apprehend a fleeing ILLEGAL ALIEN at our border.

Today, both are facing 20 year prison terms, and even more outrageous, this same illegal alien is now suing the U.S. for $5 million claiming his civil rights were violated. Click HERE for the Lou Dobbs report.

Both agents must surrender to federal authorities on January 17, to begin their terms.

Posted by Elvis on 12/30/06 •
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Reflecting On Saddam Hussein

A Dictator Created Then Destroyed By America
By Robert Fisk
The Independent
December 30, 2006

SADDAM TO THE GALLOWS. It was an easy equation. Who could be more deserving of that last walk to the scaffold—that crack of the neck at the end of a rope—than the Beast of Baghdad, the Hitler of the Tigris, the man who murdered untold hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis while spraying chemical weapons over his enemies? Our masters will tell us in a few hours that it is a “great day” for Iraqis and will hope that the Muslim world will forget that his death sentence was signed—by the Iraqi “government”, but on behalf of the Americans—on the very eve of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, the moment of greatest forgiveness in the Arab world.

But history will record that the Arabs and other Muslims and, indeed, many millions in the West, will ask another question this weekend, a question that will not be posed in other Western newspapers because it is not the narrative laid down for us by our presidents and prime ministers—what about the other guilty men?

No, Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don’t gas our enemies. George W Bush is not Saddam. He didn’t invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead—and thousands of Western troops are dead—because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great brutality.

In the aftermath of the international crimes against humanity of 2001 we have tortured, we have murdered, we have brutalised and killed the innocent—we have even added our shame at Abu Ghraib to Saddam’s shame at Abu Ghraib—and yet we are supposed to forget these terrible crimes as we applaud the swinging corpse of the dictator we created.

Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam’s weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.

And the mass killings we perpetrated in 2003 with our depleted uranium shells and our “bunker buster” bombs and our phosphorous, the murderous post-invasion sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, the hell-disaster of anarchy we unleashed on the Iraqi population in the aftermath of our “victory"-- our “mission accomplished”—who will be found guilty of this? Such expiation as we might expect will come, no doubt, in the self-serving memoirs of Blair and Bush, written in comfortable and wealthy retirement.

Hours before Saddam’s death sentence, his family—his first wife, Sajida, and Saddam’s daughter and their other relatives—had given up hope. “Whatever could be done has been done—we can only wait for time to take its course,” one of them said last night. But Saddam knew, and had already announced his own “martyrdom”: he was still the president of Iraq and he would die for Iraq. All condemned men face a decision: to die with a last, grovelling plea for mercy or to die with whatever dignity they can wrap around themselves in their last hours on earth. His last trial appearance—that wan smile that spread over the mass-murderer’s face—showed us which path Saddam intended to walk to the noose.

I have catalogued his monstrous crimes over the years. I have talked to the Kurdish survivors of Halabja and the Shia who rose up against the dictator at our request in 1991 and who were betrayed by us—and whose comrades, in their tens of thousands, along with their wives, were hanged like thrushes by Saddam’s executioners.

I have walked round the execution chamber of Abu Ghraib - only months, it later transpired, after we had been using the same prison for a few tortures and killings of our own—and I have watched Iraqis pull thousands of their dead relatives from the mass graves of Hilla. One of them has a newly-inserted artificial hip and a medical identification number on his arm. He had been taken directly from hospital to his place of execution. Like Donald Rumsfeld, I have even shaken the dictator’s soft, damp hand. Yet the old war criminal finished his days in power writing romantic novels.

It was my colleague, Tom Friedman—now a messianic columnist for The New York Times—who perfectly caught Saddam’s character just before the 2003 invasion: Saddam was, he wrote, “part Don Corleone, part Donald Duck”. And, in this unique definition, Friedman caught the horror of all dictators; their sadistic attraction and the grotesque, unbelievable nature of their barbarity.

But that is not how the Arab world will see him. At first, those who suffered from Saddam’s cruelty will welcome his execution. Hundreds wanted to pull the hangman’s lever. So will many other Kurds and Shia outside Iraq welcome his end. But they—and millions of other Muslims—will remember how he was informed of his death sentence at the dawn of the Eid al-Adha feast, which recalls the would-be sacrifice by Abraham, of his son, a commemoration which even the ghastly Saddam cynically used to celebrate by releasing prisoners from his jails. “Handed over to the Iraqi authorities,” he may have been before his death. But his execution will go down—correctly—as an American affair and time will add its false but lasting gloss to all this—that the West destroyed an Arab leader who no longer obeyed his orders from Washington, that, for all his wrongdoing (and this will be the terrible get-out for Arab historians, this shaving away of his crimes) Saddam died a “martyr” to the will of the new “Crusaders.”

When he was captured in November of 2003, the insurgency against American troops increased in ferocity. After his death, it will redouble in intensity again. Freed from the remotest possibility of Saddam’s return by his execution, the West’s enemies in Iraq have no reason to fear the return of his Baathist regime. Osama bin Laden will certainly rejoice, along with Bush and Blair. And there’s a thought. So many crimes avenged. But we will have got away with it.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/30/06 •
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