Bill Weinberg

"Cowboys and Indians" in Iraq

In a May 24 op-ed in the New York Times, Niall Ferguson--a history professor at Harvard, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire--makes the case for a long-term US occupation of Iraq, drawing some instructive lessons from the experience of British imperialism before the American Century. The Brits, in Ferguson's nostalgic view, were real old-fashioned undisguised and unapologetic imperialists, with no squeamishness about the burdens of colonial policing, and therefore were able to prevail over the Iraqi insurgents of the 1920s--and this, of course, is what the US must now emulate. The piece is tellingly entitled "Cowboys and Indians," implicitly invoking the ugliest colonial conquest of America's own past, although the text does not actually invoke the pacification of the American west (presumably because it is too obvious). Ferguson begins:

"I think that this could still fail." Those words - uttered by a senior American officer in Baghdad last week - probably gave opponents of the war in Iraq, particularly those clamoring for a hasty exit, a bit of a kick. They should be careful what they wish for.

He then predicts disaster if the US leaves, and goes on to draw his comparison with the British experience in Iraq starting in the aftermath of World War I:

NPT conference ends in discord

The UN conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has closed with little accomplished in the way of new ways to enforce the fast-unravelling treaty. A May 28 report in the LA Times notes:

The United States tried to keep the focus on alleged nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea instead of its pledges to whittle down its own arsenal. Iran, which contends that its atomic program is strictly for generating electricity, refused to discuss proposals to restrict access to nuclear fuel and objected to being singled out as a "proliferation concern." And Egypt joined Iran in demanding that the conference address Israel's nuclear status and declare the Middle East "a nuclear-free zone." "The conference after a full month ended up where we started, which is a system full of loopholes, ailing and not a road map to fix it," Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters in Vienna as the conference fizzled to a close...

Pentagon admits Koran desecration

Well, after all the "Newsweek-lied-people-died" gloating, the Pentagon acknowledges Koran abuse at Gitmo (while denying the toilet incident).

Pentagon Admits Five Acts of 'Mishandling' the Koran
By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent UK

Friday 27 May 2005

The Pentagon admitted last night it had substantiated five occasions when US military personnel at Guantánamo Bay prison "mishandled" the Koran of Muslim detainees. But it said it found no credible evidence to confirm a complaint that the Islamic holy book had been flushed down a toilet.

Bill would force you to narc on your kids

James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the House Judiciary Committee chair, has introduced the Orwellianly named "Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act" (HR 1528) would compel people to spy on their family members and neighbors, and even go undercover and wear a wire if needed. Citizens who resisted would face imprisonment.

Under the law, if you "witness" or "learn about" certain drug offenses, you must report the offenses to law enforcement within 24 hours and provide "full assistance in the investigation, apprehension and prosecution" of the people involved. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a mandatory minimum two-year prison sentence, and a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Moroccan prisoner dead in hunger strike?

An Islamist prisoner, accused of involvement in the 2003 Casablanca bombings, has died in a Moroccan prison on hunger strike, al-Jazeera reports. The unidentified man died in Autaita prison in the city of Sidi Qasim, where about 1,000 inmates, members of the so-called Salafia Jihadia organisation, had staged a hunger strike. The strikers deny involvement in the bombings and say they have been tortured. Abu Usama, a prisoner in Autaita jail, told Aljazeera the prisoners were demanding the Moroccan authorities open an investigation into rights violations they faced in Morocco's prisons and jails, including being made to sign confessions under threat of torture.

Egypt next for "regime change"?

In recent weeks, we've been following Washington's current regime change offensive, in which the White House is seeking to encourage--and, presumably, co-opt--opposition activists in countries which really are unhappily authoritarian, but (more to the point) insufficiently compliant with US interests. Now there are signs that even Egypt, a top global recipient of US aid, could be next.

Edinburgh police: no anti-war march at G8 summit

Police in Edinburgh are asking for a ban on a major anti-war rally slated for the Scottish capital during the G8 summit meeting, alleging that its organizers have been linked with "violence and disruption." The UK's Stop the War Coalition wants to hold the rally four days before the G8 summit opens the first week of July at the nearby resort of Gleneagles.

Arrest after ETA attack "slams door on peace"

On the morning of May 26, a car bomb exploded in Madrid, causing proprty destruction and leaving 50 with mostly minor injuries. Phone calls to media outlets immediately before the explosion warned that it was coming and claimed responsibility in the name of ETA, the armed Basque separatist organization. (Berria, Bilbao, May 26)

Hours later, Arnaldo Otegi, leader of the outlawed Basque separatist party Batasuna and a former member of the Basque regional parliament, was arrested. He is being held in solitary confinement after being charged with belonging to a terrorist organisation and of forming part of the leadership of ETA.

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