Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dubya beats out Bubba and Poppy (655.000 to 500,000 to 158,000 Iraqi dead) in the criminal game of Amerikkkan Genocide.

Dubya beats out Bubba and Poppy (655.000 to 500,000 to 158,000 Iraqi dead) in the criminal game of Amerikkkan Genocide. The title of #1 war criminal goes to “the Shrub”. The prize is (if the Democrats and the American people in general discover their balls) is a trial and then a lifetime sentence of hard labor in a maximum security prison in the Hague (or for nostalgia sake and to keep the neocons’ Nazi role models company, in a prison in Nuremberg).

Under Poppy, see here: http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0214-03.htm
and here: http://www.post-gazette.com/nation/20030216casualty0216p5.asp



Under Dubya, see here: http://milfuegos.blogspot.com/2006/10/human-cost-of-war-in-iraq-655000-dead.html
and here: http://www.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5841&news_iv_ctrl=1009


Under Clinton, see here: http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2000/msg00816.html
and here: http://www.seattleweekly.com/news/0223/nc-parrish.html


One of the most telling moment in the story of the U.S. imposed sanctions against Iraq (under the Clinton regime) occurred during a 1996 interview with Madeleine Albright, who was at that time Clinton's UN ambassador.

Albright was appearing on the CBS show, "60 Minutes," and the dialog went as follows:
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

--60 Minutes (5/12/96)

Kill the Messenger: The Tragic Life of Gary Webb By Doug Ireland, In These Times

Gary Webb, the legendary journalist who sccoped the big papers and found himself punished for it, teaches the lesson that it's often dangerous to speak truth to power.

Reviewed:"Kill the Messenger: How the CIA's Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb" by Nick Schou, Charles Bowden (Nation Books, 2006).

With Kill the Messenger (Nation Books/Avalon), Nick Schou, an editor at Orange County Weekly, provides a meticulous, balanced account of the life of Gary Webb, the former San Jose Mercury News reporter who, despite minor errors, basically got it right when he wrote the biggest story of his career. That story lifted the rug on a historical episode the mainstream media didn't want to touch: how the Central Intelligence Agency turned a blind eye to drug dealing in furtherance of its covert support for the Nicaraguan contras. For his efforts, Webb was hounded out of journalism after a ferocious assault from America's most prestigious newspapers, which Schou documents in painstaking and shameful detail. When Webb -- who had once shared a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting -- committed suicide in December 2004, it was the last chapter in a real-life American tragedy.

Webb was not the first one on to the story. AP reporter Robert Parry had been forced out of his job at the wire service for pursuing it. The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics and Terrorism, chaired by Sen. John Kerry, conducted an investigation into the contras' drug trafficking in 1987-88 that had documented (among other things) how CIA cargo planes ferried arms to the contras and then carried cocaine back to military bases and remote airfields on the return flights. But, as Schou notes, "Because of its sensitive nature, the committee … sealed most of the testimony, and Kerry's investigation got scant play in the national news media."

The Kerry investigation was mainly concerned with cocaine coming into the U.S. East Coast. Webb's 1996 series for the Mercury News, based on a year-long investigation, looked at the cocaine traffic in Los Angeles, which was then known as "the crack capital of the world." Webb detailed how "Freeway" Ricky Ross, the first '80s crack millionaire and a crack kingpin in L.A.'s South Central neighborhood, had been supplied with crack cocaine by Nicaraguan exiles and contra supporters with CIA connections. Webb discovered an affidavit from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department that said that the coke profits of Ross's suppliers "are transported to Florida and laundered through … a chain of banks in Florida. …From this bank the monies are filtered to the Contra rebels to buy arms in the war in Nicaragua."

Webb's articles, however, were unjustifiably hyped by the Mercury News' editors, who, according to Schou, were hungry to compete with the media Big Boys. The series ran with war-sized headlines and a silhouette of a man smoking a crack pipe superimposed on the official seal of the CIA. "Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion," screamed the paper, with a subhead claiming that "Crack Plague's Roots Are in Nicaraguan War."

The story got away from Webb and took on a life of its own, fueled by anger and despair in black communities being destroyed by the crack epidemic and the lethal gang wars surrounding it. As Schou puts it, "Dark Alliance" created an alliance of conspiracy theorists, from some "on the left who believed the CIA had deliberately started the crack epidemic to commit genocide against black people" to "right-wing followers of Lyndon LaRouche, who saw the story as further proof that George Bush Sr. and the Queen of England belong to a secret cabal that controls the planet." Opportunistic politicians like Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) -- who exclaimed on the floor of Congress that "CIA" stood for "Central Intoxication Agency" -- seized on Webb's story to grab headlines for themselves. The "Dark Alliance" series quickly became a national cause célebre.

The Los Angeles Times -- embarrassingly scooped on its own turf by Webb -- reacted by assigning no less than two dozen reporters to what one of them described as the "Get Gary Webb Team," running a takedown series on the "Dark Alliance" stories that dwarfed them in size. The Washington Post and the New York Times piled on with multiple stories discrediting not just what Webb had written, but Webb himself, delving into his past to come up with mud to throw. Most of these papers' "deconstructions" of Webb's reporting were based on unnamed government sources. But the damage was done. In the end, the very Mercury News editors who'd made exaggerated claims for Webb's series publicly disowned him in an editorial while refusing to print stories Webb wrote further documenting his series. Demoted to a remote police beat, Webb left the paper.

Unable to get another reporting job on any U.S. daily, his marriage destroyed by the intensity of his "Dark Alliance" experience, a depressed Webb killed himself. In Schou's telling, he was the victim of incompetent editors and of a media feeding frenzy that the Washington Post's own ombudsman later described as misplaced. Throughout Kill the Messenger, Schou does fresh reporting that bolsters some of Webb's findings. He also interviews some of those who helped incinerate Webb and who now admit they went overboard. The book is an important cautionary tale for anyone considering a career in investigative journalism. And the moral is: It's often dangerous to speak truth to power.

Doug Ireland has been writing about power, politics and the media since 1977. A former columnist for theVillage Voice, the New York Observer and the Paris daily Libération, among others, his articles have appeared everywhere from The Nation to Vanity Fair to POZ. He's a contributing editor of In These Times. He can be reached through his blog, Direland.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/42882/

The Case Against Depleted Uranium

"The Children of the World Don't Deserve"

By DON MONKERUD

When the US Army advertises for recruits, it emphasizes jobs and benefits the Army offers, but nowhere are prospects informed about the risk of illness, sickness and death caused by the Army's use of radioactive munitions.

On September 7, in the first court case on Gulf War I to reach Federal Court, nine veterans from a National Guard unit argued their case before a judge in New York, claiming the Army violated its own safety protocols by exposing them to radioactive depleted uranium and refusing to provide medical care. Representing the US Army, Assistant US Attorney John Cronan asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit immediately because courts can't decide "sensitive military matters" and a 1950 Supreme Court decision ruled that soldiers can't sue the government for injuries caused by their military service. The Court has not reached a decision.

Depleted uranium remains a nagging problem for the US Army, which extensively used such munitions during fighting in Gulf War I, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. DU is a chemically toxic, radioactive element with a half-life of 4.5 billion years that damages the kidneys and lungs, causes genetic mutations and cancer, and is associated with a number of medical problems.

The US nuclear industry has produced 1.2 billion pounds of DU waste as a by-product of nuclear energy and weapons production. This nuclear waste is being recycled into DU munitions, which many believe were given to Israel in the form of armor piercing shells for use in the 1973 Sinai war. Since then, DU has been tested, manufactured and sold to a number of countries by US arms manufacturers. Considered highly-effective in penetrating armor, uranium munitions are used by the main US Abrams battle tanks, Bradley Fighting vehicles, A-10 attack aircraft and a host of other ammunition, including bunker busters.

Upon impact, DU munitions burn at 3000 to 6000 degrees Centigrade and combust into a radioactive gas of fine particles of uranium oxide dust, which remain suspended in the air and, once inhaled, become a chronic source of uranium heavy metal and contact radiation poisoning. Estimates vary on the total tonnage of DU used by the US and include: during the US bombing of Yugoslavia, 34 tons of DU; in Gulf War I, up to 375 tons; in Afghanistan in 2001, 1,000 tons; and in Gulf War II in 2003, up to 2,200 tons.

The release of radioactive and chemically toxic dust and uranium fragments causes serious medical problems. According to Leuren Moret, an independent scientist and international radiation specialist, depleted uranium is considered a factor in Gulf War syndrome, which affects many of the 325,000 Gulf War I veterans who are on permanent medical disability.

In August 2004, the VA reported that over 518,739 Persian Gulf veterans were on medical disability since 1991. Moret attributes many of these disabilities to DU exposure. Although some remain controversial, Moret compiled a list of 100 illnesses that veterans associated with DU, including brain tumors, Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, rectal cancer, Parkinson's disease, respiratory problems, rashes, kidney and eye problems, and thyroid cancer. Others point to definite connections between DU and brain tumors, and Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

"Under international law, depleted uranium meets the definition of WMD and violates US military law as well as the Geneva and Hague conventions," says Moret. "There has been a cover-up by three administrations including Bush Senior, Clinton and Bush the younger because reparations, which the countries attacked are entitled to, would bankrupt the US."

The Pentagon asserts that DU "is only mildly radioactive" and a White House website stated that reports of health problems and cancers caused by DU are propaganda, although a US Army report by Col. E. Wakayama in August 2002, confirms serious health and environmental problems. The report recommends long-term sampling of water and milk from sites heavily contaminated with DU and the removal of contaminated soil from populated areas.

Vietnam and Gulf War veteran and former US Army Depleted Uranium Project director Doug Rokke charges that the Department of Defense (DOD) deliberately ignores its own orders for testing soldiers who come in contact with DU. In August, 1993, General Eric Shinseki issued an order requiring training for anyone who "may come in contact" with DU equipment, complete medical testing for solders "exposed to DU contamination," and the development of "a plan for DU contaminated equipment." Rokke cites a number of other orders including an April 2004 Surgeon General's order and US Army regulations requiring medical and environmental clean up from DU contamination.

Rokke charges government and political officials with a deliberate cover-up to limit liability and to ensure uranium munitions use during combat. He insists that DOD officials provide medical care for all DU casualties, complete environmental mediation, and complete decontamination of all DU damaged equipment, structures, and terrain as required by US regulations. He also emphasizes that documented health problems exist in many of the 55 US locations where DU is stored, processed and tested.

"Clinton and Bush totally were aware of the use of DU and made conscious choices to disregard the law," said Rokke. "The world needs to know about it: It's a horrible mess and it will continue until someone holds these people accountable for what they've done and demands compliance. The children of the world don't deserve this."

The Pentagon took 25 years to acknowledge problems with the corrosive defoliant Agent Orange, used in Vietnam to destroy the jungle. It took 40 years before sick WWII veterans were compensated for exposure to atomic bomb radiation. Officials today can't say, "We didn't know," because they are fully aware of the dangers of DU. How long will it take them to stop using radioactive ammunition and exposing soldiers and civilians to genetic damage, cancer and other illnesses?

Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based writer who follows cultural, social and political issues.

How Hezbollah kicked Israel's ass

The three supremely – and, I dare say, uniquely - clear-headed articles by Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry on how Hezbollah kicked Israel’s ass are all excellent, but the third is probably the best (I’ve noted the choicest parts in red):

“First, the Hezbollah victory has shown that Israel - and any modern and technologically sophisticated Western military force - can be defeated in open battle, if the proper military tactics are employed and if they are sustained over a prolonged period. Hezbollah has provided the model for the defeat of a modern army. The tactics are simple: ride out the first wave of a Western air campaign, then deploy rocket forces targeting key military and economic assets of the enemy, then ride out a second and more critical air campaign, and then prolong the conflict for an extended period. At some point, as in the case of Israel's attack on Hezbollah, the enemy will be forced to commit ground troops to accomplish what its air forces could not. It is in this last, and critical, phase that a dedicated, well-trained and well-led force can exact enormous pain on a modern military establishment and defeat it.

Second, the Hezbollah victory has shown the people of the Muslim world that the strategy employed by Western-allied Arab and Muslim governments - a policy of appeasing US interests in the hopes of gaining substantive political rewards (a recognition of Palestinian rights, fair pricing for Middle Eastern resources, non-interference in the region's political structures, and free, fair and open elections) - cannot and will not work. The Hezbollah victory provides another and different model, of shattering US hegemony and destroying its stature in the region. Of the two most recent events in the Middle East, the invasion of Iraq and the Hezbollah victory over Israel, the latter is by far the most important. Even otherwise anti-Hezbollah groups, including those associated with revolutionary Sunni resistance movements who look on Shi'ites as apostates, have been humbled.

Third, the Hezbollah victory has had a shattering impact on America's allies in the region. Israeli intelligence officials calculated that Hezbollah could carry on its war for upwards of three months after its end in the middle of August. Hezbollah's calculations reflected Israel's findings, with the caveat that neither the Hezbollah nor Iranian leadership could predict what course to follow after a Hezbollah victory. While Jordan's intelligence services locked down any pro-Hezbollah demonstrations, Egypt's intelligence services were struggling to monitor the growing public dismay over the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

Open support for Hezbollah across the Arab world (including, strangely, portraits of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah carried in the midst of Christian celebrations) has put those Arab rulers closest to the United States on notice: a further erosion in their status could loosen their hold on their own nations. It seems likely that as a result, Mubarak and the two Abdullahs are very unlikely to support any US program calling for economic, political or military pressures on Iran. A future war - perhaps a US military campaign against Iran's nuclear sites - might not unseat the government in Tehran, but it could well unseat the governments of Egypt, Jordan and perhaps Saudi Arabia.

At a key point in the Israel-Hezbollah contest, toward the end of the war, Islamist party leaders in a number of countries wondered whether they would be able to continue their control over their movements or whether, as they feared, political action would be ceded to street captains and revolutionaries. The singular notion, now common in intelligence circles in the United States, is that it was Israel (and not Hezbollah) that, as of August 10, was looking for a way out of the conflict.”

The dictators running the Arab states for American and British economic interests made the stunningly cynical move of secretly supporting Israel, hoping for a quick defeat of Hezbollah and a corresponding reduction in Iranian (i.e., Shi’ite) influence and power. Sunni-led governments agreed to allow the Jews to bomb the shit out of a Muslim country – with the cluster bombs and DU falling on a lot of Sunnis – just to attempt to perpetuate their immoral hold on power (this kind of Machiavellian leadership is one of the main things that angers bin Laden). Of course, the reason Iran has become so powerful is entirely thanks to the folly of the American/Zionist attack on Iraq, so what goes around comes around. Since Hezbollah wasn’t defeated quickly, internal pressures on the Arab states became intolerable, and the real fear of popular uprisings unseating governments across the Middle East led to the phone lines to Washington lighting up, which led in turn to the American Establishment putting down its champagne long enough to rein in the neocons and send Condi on her embarrassing trip to Lebanon (when the Israelis greeted her by bombing Qana). The secret recent meeting between Olmert and the Saudis, denied by both sides, must have been interesting.

The authors have many more interesting things to say, including:

“. . . recent history shows that those thousands of students and Lebanese patriots who protested Syria's involvement in Lebanon after the death of Rafiq Hariri found it ironic that they took refuge from the Israeli bombing in tent cities established by the Syrian government. Rice is correct on one thing: Syria's willingness to provide refuge for Lebanese refugees was a pure act of political cynicism - and one that the United States seems incapable of replicating. Syria now is confident of its political position. In a previous era, such confidence allowed Israel to shape a political opening with its most intransigent political enemies.

Tenth, and perhaps most important, it now is clear that a US attack on Iranian nuclear installations would be met with little support in the Muslim world. It would also be met by a military response that would collapse the last vestiges of America's political power in the region. What was thought to be a "given" just a few short weeks ago has been shown to be unlikely. Iran will not be cowed. If the United States launches a military campaign against the Tehran government, it is likely that America's friends will fall by the wayside, the Gulf Arab states will tremble in fear, the 138,000 US soldiers in Iraq will be held hostage by an angered Shi'ite population, and Iran will respond by an attack on Israel. We would now dare say the obvious - if and when such an attack comes, the United States will be defeated.”

Most importantly, the American Establishment knows this. It was great fun to play polo while the neocons ran the American government, but fun is fun and business is business. This is getting dangerous. The Bush Administration is both completely incompetent – I find it amazing that, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, some people continue to believe that fools like Cheney and Rumsfeld actually have a serious plan to lead to American hegemony over world oil resources – and treasonous, running American foreign policy for the sole benefit of the Israeli generals. An attack on Iran – whether by the United States or Israel – will permanently wreck a hundred years of careful planning and management of oil resources. That’s why the Establishment, which clearly, despite what Noam says, hasn’t been running the United States, had to get back in the saddle, and why there won’t be an attack on Iran (another reason is that Asian central bankers, who with a stroke of the pen can determine whether the United States is bankrupt or not, won’t let it happen).
ITMFA - Impeach The Mother Fucker Already

Impeach all the Neocons and sent them all to Nuremberg for trial like their Nazi predecessors.

HOW HEZBOLLAH DEFEATED ISRAEL

HOW HEZBOLLAH DEFEATED ISRAEL
PART 3: The political war
By Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry

(For Part 1 in this three-part series, Winning the intelligence war, click here.

For Part 2, The ground war, please click here.)

In the wake of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, a public poll in Egypt asked a cross-section of that country's citizenry to name the two political leaders they most admired. An overwhelming number named Hassan Nasrallah. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad finished second.

The poll was a clear repudiation not only of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who had made his views against Hezbollah known at the outset of the conflict, but of those Sunni leaders, including Saudi King Abdullah and Jordan's Abdullah II, who criticized the Shi'ite group in an avowed attempt to turn the Sunni world away from support of Iran.

"By the end of the war these guys were scrambling for the exits," one US diplomat from the region said in late August. "You haven't heard much from them lately, have you?"

Mubarak and the two Abdullahs are not the only ones scrambling for the exits - the United States' foreign policy in the region, even in light of its increasingly dire deployment in Iraq, is in a shambles. "What that means is that all the doors are closed to us, in Cairo, in Amman, in Saudi Arabia," another diplomat averred. "Our access has been curtailed. No one will see us. When we call no one picks up the phone."

A talisman of this collapse can be seen in the itinerary of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose inability to persuade President George W Bush to halt the fighting and her remark about the conflict as marking "the birth pangs" of a new Middle East in effect destroyed her credibility.

The US has made it clear that it will attempt to retrieve its position by backing a yet-to-be-announced Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, but America's continued strangulation of the democratically constituted government of the Palestinian Authority has transformed that pledge into a stillborn political program. The reason for this is now eminently clear. In the midst of the war, a European official in Cairo had this to say about the emotions roiling the Egyptian political environment: "The Egyptian leadership is walking down one side of the street," he said, "and the Egyptian people are walking down the other."

The catastrophic failure of Israeli arms has buoyed Iran's claim to leadership of the Muslim world in several critical areas.

First, the Hezbollah victory has shown that Israel - and any modern and technologically sophisticated Western military force - can be defeated in open battle, if the proper military tactics are employed and if they are sustained over a prolonged period. Hezbollah has provided the model for the defeat of a modern army. The tactics are simple: ride out the first wave of a Western air campaign, then deploy rocket forces targeting key military and economic assets of the enemy, then ride out a second and more critical air campaign, and then prolong the conflict for an extended period. At some point, as in the case of Israel's attack on Hezbollah, the enemy will be forced to commit ground troops to accomplish what its air forces could not. It is in this last, and critical, phase that a dedicated, well-trained and well-led force can exact enormous pain on a modern military establishment and defeat it.

Second, the Hezbollah victory has shown the people of the Muslim world that the strategy employed by Western-allied Arab and Muslim governments - a policy of appeasing US interests in the hopes of gaining substantive political rewards (a recognition of Palestinian rights, fair pricing for Middle Eastern resources, non-interference in the region's political structures, and free, fair and open elections) - cannot and will not work. The Hezbollah victory provides another and different model, of shattering US hegemony and destroying its stature in the region. Of the two most recent events in the Middle East, the invasion of Iraq and the Hezbollah victory over Israel, the latter is by far the most important. Even otherwise anti-Hezbollah groups, including those associated with revolutionary Sunni resistance movements who look on Shi'ites as apostates, have been humbled.

Third, the Hezbollah victory has had a shattering impact on America's allies in the region. Israeli intelligence officials calculated that Hezbollah could carry on its war for upwards of three months after its end in the middle of August. Hezbollah's calculations reflected Israel's findings, with the caveat that neither the Hezbollah nor Iranian leadership could predict what course to follow after a Hezbollah victory. While Jordan's intelligence services locked down any pro-Hezbollah demonstrations, Egypt's intelligence services were struggling to monitor the growing public dismay over the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

Open support for Hezbollah across the Arab world (including, strangely, portraits of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah carried in the midst of Christian celebrations) has put those Arab rulers closest to the United States on notice: a further erosion in their status could loosen their hold on their own nations. It seems likely that as a result, Mubarak and the two Abdullahs are very unlikely to support any US program calling for economic, political or military pressures on Iran. A future war - perhaps a US military campaign against Iran's nuclear sites - might not unseat the government in Tehran, but it could well unseat the governments of Egypt, Jordan and perhaps Saudi Arabia.

At a key point in the Israel-Hezbollah contest, toward the end of the war, Islamist party leaders in a number of countries wondered whether they would be able to continue their control over their movements or whether, as they feared, political action would be ceded to street captains and revolutionaries. The singular notion, now common in intelligence circles in the United States, is that it was Israel (and not Hezbollah) that, as of August 10, was looking for a way out of the conflict.

Fourth, the Hezbollah victory has dangerously weakened the Israeli government. In the wake of Israel's last lost war, in 1973, prime minister Menachem Begin decided to accept a peace proposal from Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. The breakthrough was, in fact, rather modest - as both parties were allies of the United States. No such breakthrough will take place in the wake of the Israel-Hezbollah war.

Israel believes that it has lost its deterrent capabilities and that they must be retrieved. Some Israeli officials in Washington now confirm that it is not a matter of "if" but of "when" Israel goes to war again. Yet it is difficult to determine how Israel can do that. To fight and win against Hezbollah, Israel will need to retrain and refit its army. Like the United States after the Vietnam debacle, Israel will have to restructure its military leadership and rebuild its intelligence assets. That will take years, not months.

It may be that Israel will opt, in future operations, for the deployment of ever bigger weapons against ever larger targets. Considering its performance in Lebanon, such uses of ever larger weapons could spell an even more robust response. This is not out of the question. A US attack on Iranian nuclear installations would likely be answered by an Iranian missile attack on Israel's nuclear installations - and on Israeli population centers. No one can predict how Israel would react to such an attack, but it is clear that (given Bush's stance in the recent conflict) the United States would do nothing to stop it. The "glass house" of the Persian Gulf region, targeted by Iranian missiles, would then assuredly come crashing down.

Fifth, the Hezbollah victory spells the end of any hope of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least in the short and medium terms. Even normally "progressive" Israeli political figures undermined their political position with strident calls for more force, more troops and more bombs. In private meetings with his political allies, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas castigated those who cheered on Hezbollah's victory, calling them "Hamas supporters" and "enemies of Israel". Abbas is in a far more tenuous position than Mubarak or the two Abdullahs - his people's support for Hamas continues, as does his slavish agreement with George W Bush, who told him on the sidelines of the United Nations Security Council meeting that he was to end all attempts to form a unity government with his fellow citizens.

Sixth, the Hezbollah victory has had the very unfortunate consequence of blinding Israel's political leadership to the realities of their geostrategic position. In the midst of the war with Lebanon, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert adopted Bush's language on the "war on terrorism", reminding his citizenry that Hezbollah was a part of "the axis of evil". His remarks have been reinforced by Bush, whose comments during his address before the UN General Assembly mentioned al-Qaeda once - and Hezbollah and Hamas five times each. The United States and Israel have now lumped Islamist groups willing to participate in the political processes in their own nations with those takfiris and Salafists who are bent on setting the region on fire.

Nor can Israel now count on its strongest US supporters, that network of neo-conservatives for whom Israel is an island of stability and democracy in the region. These neo-conservatives' disapproval of Israel's performance is almost palpable. With friends like these, who needs enemies? That is to say, the Israeli conflict in Lebanon reflects accurately those experts who see the Israel-Hezbollah conflict as a proxy war. Our colleague Jeff Aronson noted that "if it were up to the US, Israel would still be fighting", and he added: "The United States will fight the war on terrorism to the last drop of Israeli blood."

The continued weakness of the Israeli political leadership and the fact that it is in denial about the depth of its defeat should be a deep concern for the United States and for every Arab nation. Israel has proved that in times of crisis, it can shape a creative diplomatic strategy and maneuver deftly to retrieve its position. It has also proved that in the wake of a military defeat, it is capable of honest and transparent self-examination. Israel's strength has always been its capacity for public debate, even if such debate questions the most sacrosanct institution - the Israel Defense Forces. At key moments in Israel's history, defeat has led to reflection and not, as now seems likely, an increasingly escalating military offensive against Hamas - the red-headed stepchild of the Middle East - to show just how tough it is.

"The fact that the Middle East has been radicalized by the Hezbollah victory presents a good case for killing more of them," one Israeli official recently said. That path will lead to disaster. In light of America's inability to pull the levers of change in the Middle East, there is hope among some in Washington that Olmert will show the political courage to begin the long process of finding peace. That process will be painful, it will involve long and difficult discussions, it may mean a break with the US program for the region. But the US does not live in the region, and Israel does. While conducting a political dialogue with its neighbors might be painful, it will prove far less painful than losing a war in Lebanon.

Seventh, Hezbollah's position in Lebanon has been immeasurably strengthened, as has the position of its most important ally. At the height of the conflict, Lebanese Christians took Hezbollah refugees into their homes. The Christian leader Michel Aoun openly supported Hezbollah's fight. One Hezbollah leader said: "We will never forget what that man did for us, not for an entire generation." Aoun's position is celebrated among the Shi'ites, and his own political position has been enhanced.

The Sunni leadership, on the other hand, fatally undermined itself with its uncertain stance and its absentee landlord approach to its own community. In the first week of the war, Hezbollah's actions were greeted with widespread skepticism. At the end of the war its support was solid and stretched across Lebanon's political and sectarian divides. The Sunni leadership now has a choice: it can form a unity government with new leaders that will create a more representative government or they can stand for elections. It doesn't take a political genius to understand which choice Saad Hariri, the majority leader in the Lebanese parliament, will make.

Eighth, Iran's position in Iraq has been significantly enhanced. In the midst of the Lebanon conflict, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld privately worried that the Israeli offensive would have dire consequences for the US military in Iraq, who faced increasing hostility from Shi'ite political leaders and the Shi'ite population. Rice's statement that the pro-Hezbollah demonstrations in Baghdad were planned by Tehran revealed her ignorance of the most fundamental political facts of the region. The US secretaries of state and of defense were simply and unaccountably unaware that the Sadrs of Baghdad bore any relationship to the Sadrs of Lebanon. That Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki would not castigate Hezbollah and side with Israel during the conflict - and in the midst of an official visit to Washington - was viewed as shocking by Washington's political establishment, even though "Hezbollah in Iraq" is one of the parties in the current Iraqi coalition government.

We have been told that neither the Pentagon nor the State Department understood how the war in Lebanon might effect America's position in Iraq because neither the Pentagon nor the State Department asked for a briefing on the issue from the US intelligence services. The United States spends billions of dollars each year on its intelligence collection and analysis activities. It is money wasted.

Ninth, Syria's position has been strengthened and the US-French program for Lebanon has failed. There is no prospect that Lebanon will form a government that is avowedly pro-American or anti-Syrian. That Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could, in the wake of the war, suggest a political arrangement with Israel shows his strength, not his weakness. That he might draw the correct conclusions from the conflict and believe that he too might successfully oppose Israel is also possible.

But aside from these possibilities, recent history shows that those thousands of students and Lebanese patriots who protested Syria's involvement in Lebanon after the death of Rafiq Hariri found it ironic that they took refuge from the Israeli bombing in tent cities established by the Syrian government. Rice is correct on one thing: Syria's willingness to provide refuge for Lebanese refugees was a pure act of political cynicism - and one that the United States seems incapable of replicating. Syria now is confident of its political position. In a previous era, such confidence allowed Israel to shape a political opening with its most intransigent political enemies.

Tenth, and perhaps most important, it now is clear that a US attack on Iranian nuclear installations would be met with little support in the Muslim world. It would also be met by a military response that would collapse the last vestiges of America's political power in the region. What was thought to be a "given" just a few short weeks ago has been shown to be unlikely. Iran will not be cowed. If the United States launches a military campaign against the Tehran government, it is likely that America's friends will fall by the wayside, the Gulf Arab states will tremble in fear, the 138,000 US soldiers in Iraq will be held hostage by an angered Shi'ite population, and Iran will respond by an attack on Israel. We would now dare say the obvious - if and when such an attack comes, the United States will be defeated.

Conclusion
The victory of Hezbollah in its recent conflict with Israel is far more significant than many analysts in the United States and Europe realize. The Hezbollah victory reverses the tide of 1967 - a shattering defeat of Egypt, Syria and Jordan that shifted the region's political plates, putting in place regimes that were bent on recasting their own foreign policy to reflect Israeli and US power. That power now has been sullied and reversed, and a new leadership is emerging in the region.

The singular lesson of the conflict may well be lost on the upper echelons of Washington's and London's pro-Israel, pro-values, we-are-fighting-for-civilization political elites, but it is not lost in the streets of Cairo, Amman, Ramallah, Baghdad, Damascus or Tehran. It should not be lost among the Israeli political leadership in Jerusalem. The Arab armies of 1967 fought for six days and were defeated. The Hezbollah militia in Lebanon fought for 34 days and won. We saw this with our own eyes when we looked into the cafes of Cairo and Amman, where simple shopkeepers, farmers and workers gazed at television reports, sipped their tea, and silently mouthed the numbers to themselves: "seven", "eight", "nine" ...

Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry are the co-directors of Conflicts Forum, a London-based group dedicated to providing an opening to political Islam. Crooke is the former Middle East adviser to European Union High Representative Javier Solana and served as a staff member of the Mitchell Commission investigating the causes of the second intifada. Perry is a Washington, DC-based political consultant, author of six books on US history, and a former personal adviser to Yasser Arafat.

(Research for this article was provided by Madeleine Perry.)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Don't Go! The Ballad Of Ho Chang

Video animation a classic anti-war story.


DON’T GO!
THE BALLAD OF HO CHANG


By Wulf Zendik


Don’t Go

Ho Chang rests his rifle across a branch and focuses its sights on the American infantryman. Ho Chang is fourteen years old. He is a guerrilla fighter, a skilled assassin, a sniper. Concealed high in a tree — a tree that a short time ago he climbed in play — he reaches and methodically plucks a leaf from his line of fire. Killing is his single remaining pleasure.…

Don’t Go

Ho Chang is a fanatic. He became a fanatic six months earlier while watching his mother, father, and beloved sister run screaming from the pyre of curling flame and smoke that had been their home. He watched his loved ones, each a wild torch, stumbling crazily through the village and finally sprawling laying in the dust, eyeless hairless black smoking hulks that twitched and emitted sounds not human. In the terrible racking sobbing agony of his grief the boy knelt beside the charred remains of his family and pleaded that he too might die... Their hut had been struck by an American bomb....

Don’t Go

The American infantryman, Private Eugene Roberts, is in his first day of combat. Always a peaceful boy and raised in the quiet suburbs of Los Angeles, Private Roberts had never been involved in physical conflict until today. Today he has killed three people. A few hours earlier his squad was fired on from a dense thicket by a number of the enemy. The boy beside him suddenly stopped and turned, a puzzled expression on his face and a small red oozing hole in his forehead....

Don’t Go

Private Roberts, in a blurred rage of revenge, followed his combat training. Running, zigzagging, firing from the hip, he charged the thicket with his squad. A flurry of shouts, of confusion and violent hand-to-hand combat resulted in Private Roberts shooting two uniformed boys and pulling his bayonet from deep in the breast of a third, a slim uniformed enemy — a girl enemy, a girl younger than he. Their eyes had locked... His in young blue-irised horror... hers in brown graceful long-lashed acceptance that glazed to death while he watched and whimpered.....

Don’t Go

Alone now, lost from his squad, wandering aimlessly, he slogs through the lonely landscape. Dazed, oblivious, mumbling to himself, his mind has returned home... To Los Angeles, to the suburban high school he last year graduated from, to sixteen-year-old Donna who still attends the school — Donna who promised to wait, who writes long chatty lonesome letters on wide-ruled notebook paper. School days together, surfing together, high together, their clear eyes close staring inquisitive innocent learning one another, touching one another, loving one another in gentle tentative passion.....

Don’t Go

There’s others who wait: his younger brother who brags of a big brother hero in uniform. His father, veteran of an earlier war, proud of his fighting son. His mother, who successfully impersonalizes the war news and insures Eugene’s safety by prayer... perhaps a medal, perhaps a purple heart, a slight, romantic wound. His car waits parked in their suburban yard, and his surfboard — the board he decorated and glassed himself––waits stored in the garage rafters. Sometimes Mrs. Roberts goes to the garage and stands a moment looking up at the board.....

Don’t Go

Private Roberts’ head looms large, circle-framed in Ho Chang’s telescopic sights. The boy feels grim satisfaction at the imminent destruction of another American. He pauses... Deciding against a quick death, he lowers his sights on the enemy figure and slowly, skillfully squeezes the trigger... The rifle jumps, kicks solidly against his shoulder and a single violent crack of sound shatters the insect-buzzing bird-calling tropical day... The immediate absolute silence that follows hangs still and ominous on the warm heavy air....

Don’t Go

The hate-altered hollownose bullet makes a small smoldering hole in Private Roberts’ tunic, enters his side below the ribs and above the hip bone. Expanding rapidly it plows a deep hole through the abdomen. Private Roberts throws up his hands, and as a wind-up toy soldier whose spring has burst, staggers crazily wildly awkwardly. He does not fall. Stunned by the bullet’s slamming impact he fails to understand what has happened... But immediately the numbness begins to change to pain, a trail of dull pain across his belly. He looks down and in confused stupor unbelts his tunic....

Don’t Go

He stands there swaying in shock and bewildered comprehension while with fear fumbling fingers he tries to unbutton the shirt. Sweat pours over his face and his lips move trembling. The real pain hits him then. Its white hot sear is terrible. He rips frantically at the red seeping cloth — buttons fly — the shirt opens... He sees the wound from which his entrails now bulge, a wound that now sluggishly disgorges long grotesque ropes of mangled gut, of yellow dismembered quivering glands, of blue ruptured spurting arteries, of red severed nerve jumping muscles — a hanging mutilated mass of brown leaking intestine that dangles and splashes to the ground.....

Don’t Go

Private Roberts begins shaking his head in unbelieving protest. He mumbles, "No... No... Oh, God... No..." Swaying, crying, still moving his head in denial he clumsily grasps the mangled mess of maimed entrails and begins to stuff them back into himself. For a few seconds he plays the hopeless game. His legs begin to shake violently, to jump uncontrollably. They buckle....

Don’t Go

Still striving to hold his intestines within himself, Private Roberts slowly sinks to his knees. He kneels there, and his blood bleeds a clear crimson stain. He understands then the futility — dimly understands his death, as head bowed, he watches his weakened hands fall away and the bulging intestines emerge, go floating out like bright hued tentacles reaching across the void....

Don’t Go

Private Roberts’ face contorts with the last flashing emotions of his quick young life. No glory, no thoughts of country, no audience, no movie-soldier brave clenched-cigarette wisecracking death, no patriotic slogans in his fading mind. He sobs his last now, nods in final acceptance and as thousands and thousands of dying boy soldiers before him, he piteously asks for that woman who bore him and who eased each childhood pain — quietly softly he whispers, "Mom... Mother... I..." And upon the sunlit surface of a far distant native land only a red smear remains... Nineteen years of clean young promise gone. Shot to hell....

Don’t Go

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What’s at Stake by Emir Sader

Emir Sader


What’s at stake in the second round is more than whether Petrobrás will be privatised – as Alckmin’s assistant, Mendoça de Barros, affirms in the Exame magazine – and with it, Banco do Brasil, Caixa Economica Federal and Eletrobrás. Emir Sader writes.

What’s at stake in the second round is more than whether social movements will be re-criminalised and repressed by the federal government.

What’s at stake in the second round is more than whether Brazil will continue to follow its foreign policy of priority to alliances with Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Uruguay, Cuba as well as other countries from the global South, as an alternative to submission to US policies.

What’s at stake in the second round is more than whether there will be a return to policies of savage privatisations in education.

What’s at stake in the second round is more than whether cultural policies will be centred on private funding.

What’s at stake in the second round is more than whether we’ll have fewer or more precarious jobs, fewer or more jobs in the formal sector.

What’s at stake in the second round is more than whether there will be more or less public investment in areas like energy, communications, roads, sanitation, education, health and culture.

What’s at stake in the second round is more than whether we’re going to continue reducing inequality in Brazil through redistributive social policies – micro credit, rising of real purchasing power of the minimum salary, lowering the prices of basic goods, Bolsa Família, electricity to rural areas, among others – or if we’re going back to the PSDB-PFL line of policies exercised by the former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

What’s at stake in the second round is all this – which, already alone, makes an immense difference between the two candidates. What most of all is at stake in the second round is Brazil's international position, with direct consequences on the country’s destiny.

With Lula, foreign policy will continue to prioritise regional integration and South-South alliances in opposition to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) and favour the Mercosur. With Alckmin free trade would be the priority: the FTAA, a bilateral treaty with the USA, isolation of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), which would weaken the Mercosur, the South American Community of Nations, alliances with South Africa and India and the G20.

What’s at stake in the second round is whether Brazil will subordinate its future to policies of free trade or regional integration. This makes a major difference for the future of Brazil and Latin America. Adopting free trade and opening for good the country’s economy to large international – particularly North American – monopolies means giving up the right to any form of internal regulation – environmental, monetary, quotas etc. It means to definitely condemn Brazil to a situation where market policies are at the centre, with the perpetuation of inequalities that make our country the most unequal in the world.

What’s at stake in the second round is finally whether we will have a country that’s less unequal or a country that’s more unequal, if we will have a sovereign or a subordinated country, if we will have a more democratic or a less democratic country, if we will definitely turn into a speculative market and consolidate ourselves as a conservative country that’s driven by oligarch elites (like a mixture of luxury department store Daslu and Opus Dei). If we will be a country, a society, a nation – democratic and sovereign – or if we will be reduced to a stock market, a shopping centre surrounded by misery from all sides.

All this is at stake in the second round. In this situation no one can be neutral, no one can distance himself, no one can be indifferent.

http://alainet.org/active/13774〈=en

Excess Death in Iraq By Dahr Jamail

It is the single most important statistic regarding the illegal US invasion and occupation of Iraq. How many Iraqis have been killed?

655,000.

655,000 Iraqis killed as a result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I have worked for eight months in Iraq as a journalist, witnessing the carnage on a daily basis, visiting the morgues with bodies and body parts piled into them, meeting family after family who had lost a loved one, or more ... Finally, we get an accurate figure that shows how immense the scale of the long drawn carnage really is.

The first Lancet Report, published on October 29, 2004, reported that there were 100,000 "excess" Iraqi deaths as the result of the US invasion and occupation. (Excess deaths are the difference between pre-invasion and post-invasion mortality rates.) Whenever I have given public presentations about the occupation, I have invariably found myself in a difficult position due to the lack of a more realistic and recent figure I can cite, knowing full well that the number was grossly higher than 100,000.

The least I could do was mention that Les Roberts, one of the authors of that report, is known to have said this past February that the number of Iraqi casualties could be over 300,000. And now, we know it is far higher, which merely confirms what most Iraqis already know.

In the context of the horror stories that have reached us over the three-plus years of the occupation, this latest figure is not nearly as shocking as when the first Lancet report was published in October of 2004. It has been abundantly clear since then that the number of Iraqis being killed by and because of the occupation has continued to increase exponentially.

The recent survey, like the first one, was conducted by Iraqi physicians and overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. The findings are based on interviews with a random sampling of households from across Iraq. This survey yielded the same estimate of deaths immediately following the occupation, as the first survey. It also found that 30% of the reported deaths are caused by the occupation forces.

This study is the only one, other than the first study published in The Lancet, that calculates mortality in Iraq using scientific methods. It is a technique of "cluster sampling" also used to estimate mortality caused by famines and after natural disasters.

The 2004 survey came under fire from pro-war critics and from the supposedly anti-war group Iraq Body Count (IBC) which currently claims a ridiculously low figure between 44 and 49,000 dead Iraqis. In the past, the figure generated by IBC has been quoted by George W. Bush.

The controversial results of the first survey were backed by Bradley Woodruff, a medical epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who was quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education on January 27, 2005: "Les [Les Roberts, co-author of the first survey] has used, and consistently uses, the best possible methodology ... Indeed, the United Nations and the State Department have cited mortality numbers compiled by Mr. Roberts on previous conflicts as fact - and have acted on those results. [He] has studied mortality caused by war since 1992, having done surveys in locations including Bosnia, Congo, and Rwanda. His three surveys in Congo for the International Rescue Committee, a nongovernmental humanitarian organization, in which he used methods akin to those of his Iraq study, received a great deal of attention. 'Tony Blair and Colin Powell have quoted those results time and time again without any question as to the precision or validity,' he added."

Further underscoring the validity and authenticity of the survey methodology are two important facts: first, that the leg work has been conducted by eight Iraqi doctors and second, that the recent survey came up with the same estimate for immediate post-invasion deaths as the previous survey. Additionally, the figures are backed by official evidence as the greater majority of deaths were substantiated by death certificates.

Ronald Waldman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University who worked at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for several years, said that the survey method is "tried and true," and that "this is the best estimate of mortality we have." His view was backed by Sarah Leah Whitson at the Human Rights Watch in New York, who testified, "We have no reason to question the findings or the accuracy."

Here it is worth recording that the survey's estimate of Iraq's pre-invasion death rate, which was used as the baseline of the survey, was roughly the same as the one used by both the CIA and the US Census Bureau.

As in the instance of the first survey, this study found that the actual number of dead Iraqis could in fact be higher. The fact that this study tabulated "excess deaths" implies that these people would still be alive if the US had not invaded their country.

While the staggeringly high number of the dead may shock some, for others who have kept track of facts it is no great wonder that surveyors have found a steady increase in Iraqi mortality since the invasion and a steeper increase in the last year. This alarmingly reflects the worsening violence which even the US military, the news media and civilian groups have been forced to admit.

Most of what we have heard reported, prior to this survey, had been deaths in Baghdad, with headlines like "50 Bodies Found in Baghdad" and "Baghdad Morgue Reporting 100 Bodies per Day." They are stories that have failed to take into account the rest of the country, although Baghdad is roughly 20% of the total population of Iraq. What has been happening in the rest of the country is a question that the latest survey answers: that there are approximately 500 unexpected violent deaths every single day throughout Iraq.

The survey found that 87% of the deaths had occurred during the occupation rather than during the initial invasion, and that 31% of them were a consequence of attacks and air strikes by the coalition forces.

It was no surprise that Mr. Bush dismissed the findings of the study. He did not consider the report credible and said that the methodology used was "pretty well discredited." I'm sure that the feeble-minded Mr. Bush took a very close look at the methodology used in the study.

Last December, Bush claimed that 30,000 Iraqis had died as the result of the invasion and occupation. When reporters asked him if he still stood by his estimate, he said he stood by the figure that "a lot" of innocent people have died in the conflict.

One of my contacts in Iraq, a man who works with several Iraqi NGOs that monitor human rights abuses, deaths, detentions and other violations of international law, was furious when I asked him how he felt about IBC's attack on the outcome of the first Lancet Report. I present his outburst here:

This is a mayday call to all colleagues around the world to STOP writing about the Iraqi issue without having enough information from reliable sources. People are getting killed here and the country is virtually dying and it is not so human to rob the dead! IBC supposedly worked to correct the number of Iraqis killed because of the US occupation of Iraq. All I saw in this violent attack upon The Lancet was a harsh offensive that adds the killing of truth to whatever number of killings that actually took place by gunfire and bombs.

Salih Al-Jabiri is a 55-year-old human rights activist in Baghdad. Jabiri, commenting on the figure offered by IBC at that time of roughly 30,000 dead Iraqis, the figure which was infamously quoted by Mr. Bush, said, "What difference does it make whether the number is 30,000 or 200,000 for God's sake? It is people's lives you are counting here, not farm chickens! Do you people mean we should be happy to believe US statistics of ONLY 30,000? But we are not happy with this insultingly low number, when all of us know the true number is so much higher!"

My aforementioned contact added more recently:

Whatever the numbers the crime is still big enough to be condemned by all those who claim to be human beings. To our colleagues at IBC and those others who think the way they do, we say, be human enough to condemn the crimes of the occupation in Iraq or do not say you are humans.

For over a year now many Iraqis have been referring to what is happening in their country as genocide. With over 500 Iraqis being killed every single day as a direct result of the occupation, it is difficult to argue with them.

Posted by Dahr_Jamail at October 12, 2006 09:40 PM

Time of Reckoning: The North Korean Bomb, the United States, and the Future of the Korean Peninsula



by Alexandre Y. Mansourov

Despite Chinese intermediation and South Korean flexibility and generosity in the past three years, prospects for security settlement on the Korean peninsula and normalization of relations between Pyongyang and Washington and Tokyo seem to be farther than ever. The six-party talks are stalled, and early implementation of the principles embodied in the 19 September 2005 Joint Statement on Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is put in doubt. North Korea continues to publicly build up its semi-opaque nuclear arsenal. In turn, the United States insists that "all options are on the table" and keeps on "kicking the can down the road" in terms of its policy of "regime change," while intensifying its efforts through "proliferation security initiative," in various multilateral fora, and via other venues to form an "anti-DPRK coalition" aimed at restraining, if not rolling back, the North Korean arduous march to the nuclear superdome.

The Bush and Koizumi administrations believe that the DPRK is a "criminal state" ("a rogue state," "punk state," "psycho state," "evil state," "stalker state," or a "state of concern," depending on one's sensibilities) undergoing internal implosion, that poses a world-wide existential threat because of its willingness to exploit the seams of lawlessness and international terrorism, its involvement in international trafficking of drugs and humans, counterfeiting of foreign currency, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction abroad, and gross violations of human rights at home.

In the same vein, Pyongyang considers the United States an "evil empire pursuing a unilateralist policy of aggression and hegemonism in order to spread American-style 'democracy' worldwide by the force of arms to build a U.S.-led order for world domination."(1) In the minds of North Korean officials, the U.S. presents a "clear and present danger" to the survival of their regime because "the U.S. military occupation of the south is aimed at strangulating socialism and bringing down our system in the north."

Obviously, there is zero mutual trust between Pyongyang and Washington, and there exists an acute security dilemma between these belligerents, as well as a bad history of broken promises and discarded security commitments. Short of regime change in either capital, it is hardly possible that Pyongyang and Washington might reach any kind of substantive and durable security settlement any time soon.

Current U.S. Policy Towards the DPRK

Current U.S. policy towards the DPRK is based on three pillars -- the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), the Illicit Activities Initiative (IAI), and the Human Rights Initiative (HRI). These policy initiatives are the products of the high-level inter-agency policy-making coordination processes concerning the North Korean problem, which have occurred since 2002 under close supervision by the Office of the Vice-President and National Security Council. They were proposed by the relevant inter-departmental policy coordination committees, reviewed by the deputies committee, vetted by the principals committee, and approved by the President of the United States. The Department of State North Korea Working Group was responsible for facilitating their timely implementation and evaluation of the effects achieved.

First, the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and denuclearization of the peninsula through the mechanism of the six-party talks. It is also designed to interdict the WMD/E-related proliferation through a multitude of coercive efforts, including such multinational exercises as Pacific Protector, Sanso, Sea Saber, Clever Sentinel, and Team Samurai. The PSI also involves contingency planning in the event if the DPRK goes nuclear.

President Bush authorized the PSI in his National Security Presidential Directive 20 in May 2003. The National Strategy to Combat WMD Proliferation (NSCWMD) further elaborated the fundamental objectives, ends, and means of PSI. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a CJCS Instruction 3520.01 to provide guidance for the U.S. armed forces on PSI participation. The PACOM Security Cooperation Guidance (SCG) dated November 2005 laid out further directives regarding the implementation of the PSI-related activities in the areas of prevention, interdiction, and contingency planning. Following the passage of the UNSC resolution 1695 on July 15, 2006, in response to DPRK missile tests of July 4-5, the United States adopted a "broad interpretation" of the missile and WMD-related sanctions on North Korea, essentially outlawing all financial and most of the economic transactions with the DPRK because of the potential for their proceeds being diverted for the prohibited uses.

Second, the Illicit Activities Initiative (IAI) is designed to halt the flow of illicit resources to the North Korean regime, which should undermine its long-term survivability, by combating the North Korean counterfeiting of the U.S. currency, trafficking in narcotics, and smuggling of contraband goods. The IAI is underpinned by the administrative and criminal findings and rulings issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, Commerce Department, and other U.S. government agencies. Some of the publicly known examples of the IAI in action include the Operation "Smoking Dragon," Operation "Royal Charm," the case of the drug-running vessel "Ponsu," and the money-laundering case at the Banco Delta Asia.

Third, the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) is envisioned to enable the promotion of democratic ideals and human rights in the short term, which is projected to lead to political liberalization, development of civil society, and regime transformation in the DPRK in the long run. The HRI was launched in October 2004 when the U.S. Congress passed the North Korea Human Rights Act. The Advance Democracy Act of 2005 added further momentum. In order to implement the HRI, President Bush appointed Jay Lefkowitz as his Personal Envoy for North Korean Human Rights with an office at the Department of State under the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs.

As part of the HRI, the U.S. government seeks to promote the freedom of information via stepped up anti-regime radio broadcasting into the DPRK with the assistance from the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia stations. The Department of State provides funding for the National Endowment for Democracy and North Korea Freedom Coalition to promote democratic values and principles among the North Korean population. The US Agency for International Development links its humanitarian aid to Pyongyang to the requirements of transparency, accountability, and greater access, currently unmet by the DPRK government. The U.S. Congress, supported by a wide-ranging coalition of high-profile interest groups and NGOs, including the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, etc., relentlessly presses the administration to condemn human rights abuses in the North Korean gulag, to provide political asylum to North Korean defectors, and strongly defend North Korean refugees' rights in the third countries.

In sum, the neoconservative consensus within the Bush administration appears to maintain that the North Korean economy is in shambles, and Kim Jong Il's totalitarian rule is doomed. The country is in protracted decay, and it is just a matter of time before it collapses. The current U.S. hard-line policy is designed to expedite system disintegration in the North through intensifying pressure on all fronts -- diplomatic, economic, financial, informational, military, law enforcement, etc., by rolling out escalating international sanctions regimes, in order to restrict the flow of resources from the international community that may support the current regime, and by minimizing the potential negative consequences of the regime's lashing out in a final act of desperation in close cooperation with U.S. allies and partners in the region. It is unrealistic to expect that the neoconservative consensus shared by most officials from the U.S. national security establishment can be softened or moved closer towards the constructive engagement position, regardless of what the DPRK government does, short of unconditional surrender, unilateral nuclear disarmament, following the CVID model, and self-imposed regime abdication. It is wishful thinking to expect that the current path of confrontation may meander somehow into a mutually acceptable path of peaceful coexistence any time soon.

The "October Surprise" and Possible U.S. Response to the North Korean Nuclear Test

On October 3, 2006, the DPRK Foreign Ministry announced that "the DPRK will in the future conduct a nuclear test under the condition where safety is firmly guaranteed."(2) For quite some time, experts assumed that the question was not if it does it, but when, and expected the nuclear test to take place much sooner rather than later. North Korea detonated its first nuclear device at last on October 9, 2006. It remains to be seen whether another, more powerful, nuclear test will follow shortly. International repercussions of the North Korean nuclear breakout will be grave.

In a politically-charged atmosphere of the upcoming mid-term congressional elections, on October 4, 2006, Christopher R. Hill, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, reiterated the long-standing U.S. official position in a speech at the newly created US-Korea Institute at John Hopkins University "We are not going to live with a nuclear North Korea, we are not going to accept it."(3) The United States made clear that it would not let Pyongyang's nuclear challenge undermine American nuclear hegemony, put in doubt the U.S. nuclear guarantees to the allied states against nuclear threats from nuclear powers, mock Washington's promise to halt the spread of nuclear weapons to local enemies, further damage the nuclear nonproliferation regime, and weaken U.S. leadership in Northeast Asia. But, on October 9, 2006, the DPRK called the U.S. bluff.(4)

After the nuclear explosion went off in North Korea, Washington's policy approach towards Pyongyang did not change in any fundamental way. Tough rhetoric became even tougher. A long list of harsh unilateral sanctions will become even longer and harsher. Together with Japan, the United States is sure to push for a very stern Chapter VII resolution by the UN Security Council, condemning the nuclear test, demanding that the DPRK cease and desist all nuclear weapon development activities, imposing a new comprehensive layer of international sanctions, and, possibly, threatening the use of "all means available" to remove the "threat to international peace and security" posed by the DPRK's expanded nuclear programs.

China and Russia may seek to shape the consensus-building process within the United Nations Security Council by offering their own draft resolution with milder language. In the end, although China and Russia may decide to condemn the DPRK for its nuclear proliferation activities and the spark that its action could provide for igniting a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia, they are likely to impose only limited, mostly symbolic, sanctions on their North Korean neighbor.

Despite many predictions of a possible Chinese U-turn in its policy towards the DPRK, Beijing's reaction to the North Korean nuclear test is unlikely to exceed its reaction to the Pakistani nuclear tests back in May-June 1998. After all, today the DPRK is a much closer ally of the PRC than Pakistan was at that time. Even after arming itself with nuclear weapons ostensibly against the Chinese will, the North continues to play an important role in the PRC's strategic calculations in Northeast Asia, deflecting American military pressure from the Taiwan Straits and blocking the peninsular gateway to the Chinese industrial Northeast. Besides, Chinese officials are well aware that if they push Pyongyang too hard, the Dear Leader may do exactly the opposite to show his independence and maintain his nationalist credentials.

Against the backdrop of the worsening military security situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and continued nuclear tensions with Iran, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said on October 3, 2006: "North Korea is an active proliferator (of WMD). And were they to test and were they then to proliferate those technologies, we would be living with a proliferator and obviously we would be living in a somewhat different world."(5)

The nuclear test may put the future of nuclear diplomacy on the Korean peninsula in doubt. A senior Bush administration official commented that, "North Korea's nuclear test would make the six-party talks worthless." China's role as an honest broker and fair mediator in the resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis may prove to be ineffective and futile. Many U.S. conservatives admonish that after refusing to negotiate seriously with non-nuclear North Korea, Washington cannot succumb to nuclear blackmail after the test and start negotiating with a nuclear gun put to its head: it will send a very bad message around the world. In contrast, some pragmatic officials argue that the United States did negotiate successful nuclear arms control and disarmament deals with other nuclear powers -- current and former: there is nothing wrong with negotiating with the enemy as long as U.S. national interests are advanced. The U.S. cannot outsource the protection of its vital national interests to other countries or multilateral fora; it must enter into serious bilateral negotiations with the DPRK to find a meaningful and lasting solution to the North Korean nuclear problem without delay.

With regard to the military security posture in Northeast Asia, as former senior Department of State official Richard Armitage has indicated recently, Washington may attempt to tighten its military alliance relationships with both Japan and South Korea, possibly slowing down, or even reversing outright, the ongoing strategic readjustments within both alliances, including transfer of wartime operational control reform, troop reduction and redeployment in Korea, as well as the relocation of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam. The U.S. plans to stand up TMD and NMD systems will be accelerated. The U.S. military may be asked to move more combat-ready assets to the theater, including a deployment of strategic bombers in Guam and possible re-introduction of tactical nuclear weapons on the peninsula. These policy changes will be necessitated not only by the strategic imperative of nuclear deterrence of the growing North Korean WMD threat, but also by the U.S. desire to prevent further nuclear proliferation in the region by keeping a tight lid on the re-awakened nuclear aspirations of Tokyo, Seoul, and Taiwan.

The U.S. may press its allies, partners, and all friendly nations, especially the EU countries and Australia, to recall their ambassadors from Pyongyang for consultations, suspend all humanitarian and developmental aid to Kim Jong Il's regime, put in place a general trade embargo, and even, possibly, impose an air and sea blockade of North Korea. Washington will press Seoul to radically overhaul its policy of peace and prosperity and terminate its bilateral assistance, investment, and trade with Pyongyang, including ROK participation in the Mt. Kumgang tourism development project and in the development of the Kaesong Industrial Zone.

The North Korean nuclear test may further undermine the global nuclear non-proliferation regime by encouraging the other nuclear wannabes -- both rogue states and non-state terrorist groups -- to intensify their own search for nuclear weapons and opening the door for the resumption of nuclear testing by the existing nuclear powers. Iran is sure to attempt to benefit from the new found North Korean nuclear prowess, while following very closely the U.S. response to the DPRK nuclear challenge. Thus, Washington is under pressure to respond sternly in order not to send the wrong signal to Teheran, which has the domestic resources to create a much bigger nuclear headache for the U.S. in the Middle East than North Korea in Northeast Asia. On October 9, 2006, President Bush warned Pyongyang, "The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action."(6) This time, the Bush administration is not bluffing. This is clearly a red line vital to the U.S. national security, which can be crossed only at Kim Jong Il's peril.

Conclusion

Could an escalation in nuclear confrontation have been averted? On October 7, 2006, in an exercise of multilateral preventive diplomacy, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a Japanese-drafted non-binding presidential statement, urging North Korea to discontinue its planned nuclear test, and return to the six-party talks and cautioning the communist nation that a nuclear test would threaten world security.(7) This last warning fell on deaf ears in Pyongyang.

On October 8, 2006, CNN, citing a former ROK MDP lawmaker Jang Sung-min who referred to his conversation with a senior Chinese diplomat, reported that North Korea allegedly informed China it might drop its plan to test its first atomic bomb if Washington held direct bilateral talks with Pyongyang. However, if the U.S. were to ignore this final offer and move toward imposing new sanctions or launching a military attack, the DPRK would accelerate its preparations for a nuclear test.(8) This may have been a product of wishful thinking on the part of some South Korean and, perhaps, Chinese circles eager to find a way to de-escalate the current crisis. Or, it may have been a genuine trial balloon floated by Pyongyang in a last-minute attempt to get a reputable senior American official, someone with stature of the former US President Carter or Bush, to come to North Korea and negotiate the eleventh hour nuclear deal with Kim Jong Il, reminiscent of the June 1994 Kim Il Sung-Carter breakthrough. For ideological, diplomatic, personal, and domestic political reasons, this last-ditch offer fell on deaf ears in Washington.

At 10:36 am, on October 9, 2006, the DPRK conducted an underground nuclear test(9) at a facility in Hwadaeri (under a mountain at an estimated depth of 360 meters) near Kilju city, North Hamgyong Province (385 km northeast off Pyongyang and 130 km off the DPRK-Russian border), causing a 4.2-magnitude earthquake (US Geological Service estimate) and producing a yield equivalent ranging from 550 tons of TNT (ROK-US estimate) to 5-15 kilotons (Russian estimate).(10) Whether it was a real "pop" or just a "fizz" is now a matter of technical assessment and political spins. Obviously, the test has proved that the North Korean scientists successfully mastered the nuclear weapon design and manufacturing technology. It also took the wind out of the speculation that the DPRK may have had a very small stockpile of separated plutonium sufficient only for 1-2 nuclear weapons. Now, one can be more confident that they have enough separated plutonium to produce more weapons, perhaps 6-13, and can afford conducting another nuclear test in the future. It also confirms that Pyongyang has chosen the plutonium route to the atomic bomb, contrary to the serious concerns of the international community about the alleged DPRK clandestine HEU program, which led to the termination of the 1994 Agreed Framework. Only history will tell whether the U.S. abandonment of the Agreed Framework in 2002 was a strategic blunder on the part of the Bush administration, which finally let the North Korean nuclear genie out of the bottle, thereby undermining the national security of the United States, its allies, and friends in the region.

Now, the world indeed has become somewhat different: North Korea has arrived as the eighth official nuclear weapon state. But, it also remains somewhat the same. The US-DPRK tensions will continue to escalate. The game of chicken between Washington and Pyongyang will race on with little bilateral communication.(11) The regional nuclear arms race will possibly intensify. The day after the nuclear test, we are all somewhat less secure, worse off, and closer to the second Korean War. This notwithstanding, the international community can attempt to turn this crisis into a unique opportunity to resolve the Korean question writ large once and for all through a multinational peace-making effort aimed at extending the benefits of a secure and prosperous life in a free and open society to all Koreans living on a united peninsula, while establishing the foundations for a genuine regional multilateral security architecture capable of coping with the most difficult security challenges in Northeast Asia in a cooperative, effective, and mutually acceptable manner.


Notes

(1) See "US Anti-Terrorist War Flayed," KCNA, Pyongyang, April 7, 2005.

(2) "DPRK Foreign Ministry Clarifies Stand on New Measure to Bolster War Deterrent," KCNA, Pyongyang, October 3, 2006

(3) David E. Sanger and Jim Yardley, "US Warns North Koreans About Nuclear Test," The New York Times, October 5, 2006.

(4) Tony Karon, "North Korea Calls the U.S. Bluff," Time Magazine online edition, October 9, 2006

(5) "North Korean Nuclear Test Imminent?" The Dong-A Ilbo, Seoul, October 5, 2006.

(6) "Bush: North Korea defies international community," CNN online edition, October 9, 2006

(7) "Security Council formally urges N. Korea to scrap nuclear test plans," Yonhap News Agency, Seoul, October 7, 2006

(8) "Source: N. Korea may drop test if U.S. holds talks," CNN online edition, October 8, 2006

(9) According to the KCNA announcement on October 9, 2006, "The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, 2006, at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation. It has been confirmed that there was no such danger as radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test as it was carried out under scientific consideration and careful calculation. The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability." See KCNA, Pyongyang, October 9, 2006.

(10) "N. Korea tests nuclear weapon at Hwadaeri near Kilju: Defense Ministry," The Yonhap News Agency, October 9, 2006.

(11) Reportedly, Pyongyang decided to shut down the so-called New York channel by recalling its deputy head of the U.N Mission, Han Song-ryol, who was in charge of the DRPK-US contacts, from New York without sending any replacement.


Alexandre Y. Mansourov is Associate Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu and a specialist in Northeast Asian security, politics, and economics, focusing primarily on the Korean peninsula. His most recent book is Alexandre Y. Mansourov, ed., "A Turning Point: Democratic Consolidation in the ROK and Strategic Readjustment in the U.S.-ROK Alliance," APCSS: Honolulu, HI, 2005 This is a slightly abbreviated version of an article that was published at Nautilus, The Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network, on October 11, 2006.

The Human Cost of the War in Iraq (655,000 dead due to American Genocidal Stupidity)


ZIRALDO - Porque eu vou votar no Lula

Segundo o Mauro Santayana, que não nasceu em Minas - como o
Itamar, que nasceu no mar -, mas é uma instituição mineira, a
gente tem que ter muito cuidado com paulista.

É claro que estou tratando a coisa como uma brincadeira, somos
todos brasileiros (meus seis netos nasceram em São Paulo, a
esposa do meu filho e os maridos de minhas filhas são
paulistas e estou muito feliz com essa arrumação).

Como em nossa História, porém, nós, mineiros, andamos de
pinimba revolucionária com a paulistada, as lendas correm
soltas. Os cariocas diziam que mineiros compravam bondes.

Compravam, sim, confirmam alguns mineiros mais espertos; mas
pra vender pra paulistas. Conta-se também que mineiros nunca
se importavam de ver seus times sempre perdendo para os times
paulistas.

E explicavam: "Futebol nós perde; o que nós num perde é
revolução." Segundo o Mauro, que explica como a frase que vou
citar surgiu - história da qual me esqueci -, a rapaziada de
Minas mais próxima da fronteira com São Paulo avisa pro resto
da mineirada: "Paulista, nem à prazo nem à vista!"

Taí o Fernando Henrique Cardoso que não deixa a mineirada
mentir, não é mesmo, Itamar? Bem, depois de ler esta
introdução e ver lá em cima o título do artigo, os mineiros
que me leêm neste instante e para quem um pingo é letra já
perceberam onde quero chegar.

Pra simplificar, antes de entrar em considerações é só lembrar
ao meu povo - mineiro, como vocês sabem, chama o povo lá de
casa de povo - que nós, o Brasil inteiro, ficamos, a esta
altura, entregues a duas possibilidades paulistas: ou entra o
Álck'min (cujo sobrenome é um desrespeito a Minas, terra dos
alquimíns de Bocaiuva) ou entra o Lula que, no fundo, é um
metalúrgico paulista que venceu na vida.

Nunca podemos nos esquecer de que, quando FHC assumiu, o
projeto deles era o de ficar 20 anos no poder. Dentro do
plano, tiveram a cachimônia (adoro esta palavra!) de inventar
o acontecimento mais antiético da história da República
brasileira: a reeleição.

Ela foi um sujo golpe às instituições, uma medida que nem os
militares da ditadura tiveram a coragem de perpetrar,
realizada em causa própria - com o principal beneficiário no
poder - e conseguida da maneira mais desonesta de que se tem
notícia: comprando, por preço nunca sabido, o voto dos
deputados que, sem que a imprensa brasileira se escandalizasse
ao nível do que se escandaliza hoje, começavam a desmoralizar
mais ainda o nosso tão desmoralizado Congresso. Tudo começou
com essa gente. E eles querem voltar ao poder.

"Non pasarán!" - os mineiros têm a obrigação de dizer. A
trajetória política do Lula serviu para provar que a alma
humana é que atrapalha todos os mais nobres planos de salvação
de um povo. A verdade é que ninguém, mas ninguém mesmo, ama o
povo. É tudo conversa.

As pessoas se movem em torno do poder e só depois é que
descobrem uma causa para justificar sua luta por ele (o
poder). Enquanto o ser humano, como indivíduo, mover-se em
função do rancor, da carência afetiva e da inveja, não haverá
possibilidade de êxito para qualquer causa coletiva.

Mas isso é outra história. O Luis Fernando Veríssimo descobriu
a pólvora: Lula é o sertão - vejam sua vitória no Norte e
Nordeste; na alma do povo ele é mais de lá do que de São
Bernardo - e o Alckmin é da Daslu.

Delenda Daslu! Não é possível que nós, mineiros - depois de
termos cometido o erro que o Itamar cometeu, este de inventar
essa deletéria figura do Fernando Henrique - vamos agora
eleger o Alckmin.

"Um erro, nós admitimos, dois, não." - como diria o macaco que
não devolveu o troco a mais na primeira compra e exigiu o
troco a menos na segunda.

Tenho certeza de que o Aécio está no palanque apoiando o
Alckmin por uma questão de lealdade ao seu partido - onde ele
me parece um estranho no ninho, mas já que está lá... - e não
por convicção.

Ele sabe que Lula tem que ganhar disparado em Minas neste
segundo turno para evitar que Alckmin assuma a presidência e
mele o projeto nacional de ter o Aécio como presidente do
Brasil no próximo pleito.

Então, é isto: o Aécio está falando que é pra gente de Minas
votar no Alckmin. Mas, todo mineiro sabe que isto é como
aquela velha anedota da rodoviária: "Ocê tá dizendo que vai
pra Manhuaçu pra eu achar que ocê vai pra Manhumirim, mas, ocê
vai é pra Manhuaçu, mesmo".

Ou seja, ele tá dizendo pra nós votá no Geraldo, mas é pra nós
votá no Lula, mesmo. Para aplacar a consciência dos possíveis
eleitores do Lula que não votarão nele com muita alegria,
prestem atenção: independente das razões que dei até agora pra
nós, mineiros, votarmos no Lula, tenho outras razões mais
consistentes.

Todo mundo fala do escândalo da corrupção no governo Lula. É
realmente assustador, nunca vimos pessoal mais incompetente,
mais desastrado, mais canhestro e - vamos lá - mais desonesto.

Quer dizer, mais desonestos já vimos, sim. É só lembrar que a
maioria dos escândalos que são atribuídos a estes melancólicos
sindicalistas da tropa do Lula, esses peleguinhos de quinta
ordem, sempre foram frequentes em administrações anteriores,
só não tiveram tanta visibilidade como têm agora.

Muitos dos escândalos que se creditam à administração Lula
começaram no governo anterior, como o escândalo dos
sanguessugas - cujo teor de gravidade pode ser medido pelo
valor atribuído ao dossiê que o denuncia - e a fabulosa
aventura do Marcos Valério.

Agora tudo se denuncia, tudo se apura, ainda que tudo vá ficar
por isso mesmo, mas vejam um detalhe: a turminha do Lula, meus
amigos, é descartável! Eles são ladrõezinhos de m. dos quais o
país pode se livrar com um peteleco. Vai ser fácil ficar livre
deles.

O que nós nunca conseguiremos é livrarmo-nos da oligarquia
brasileira, dos bornhauses da vida, dos jereissatis, dos ACMs,
dos ricos paulistas que já tiveram a coragem de confessar:
"Somos todos corruptos!"

É essa gente que herdou as capitanias hereditárias e que está
montada no povo desde que os portugueses chegaram aqui. É essa
gente que construiu a parte indecente da história do nosso
país. É essa gente que fala em ética, mas acha que aceitar
voto de qualquer um é correto.

É essa gente farisaica que pensa que é melhor do que o povo do
Lula. Mas, não é. Temos que dar mais uma chance a este
segmento da sociedade que chegou ao poder com o Lula.

Eles estão sendo minados o tempo todo, mas, pelo menos, são
outra gente. Não quero de volta os hipócritas da paulicéia
desvairada. Prefiro o messianismo sertanejo do Lula.
--
____________________________

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Olbermann on the Murder of Habeus Corpus

"Inappropriate nature" (Brazilian video) by Latuff

Latuff

My video "Similarities" has been rejected by YouTube (just bought by Google) due to its inappropriate nature. Perhaps for YouTube/Google is inappropriate any comparison between Nazi troops in Europe and U.S. troops in Iraq. Anyway, we're in Internet, where we can always dodge the censorship (at least until now). So, you can check the video in the following links:
http://www.yourfilehost.com/media.php?cat=video&file=Similarities.wmv
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/10/11/18319539.php

Study Claims Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000

A survey team made up of Iraqi physicians and epidemiologists from Johns Hopkins University has determined that the US invasion of Iraq caused the deaths of roughly 655,000 people. The estimate is more than 20 times higher than one Bush gave in December, but the researchers feel they have substantial evidence to back the claim.

By David Brown

A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred.

The estimate, produced by interviewing residents during a random sampling of households throughout the country, is far higher than ones produced by other groups, including Iraq's government.

It is more than 20 times the estimate of 30,000 civilian deaths that President Bush gave in a speech in December. It is more than 10 times the estimate of roughly 50,000 civilian deaths made by the British-based Iraq Body Count research group.

The surveyors said they found a steady increase in mortality since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence as reported by the U.S. military, the news media and civilian groups. In the year ending in June, the team calculated Iraq's mortality rate to be roughly four times what it was the year before the war.

Of the total 655,000 estimated "excess deaths," 601,000 resulted from violence and the rest from disease and other causes, according to the study. This is about 500 unexpected violent deaths per day throughout the country.

The survey was done by Iraqi physicians and overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. The findings are being published online today by the British medical journal the Lancet.

The same group in 2004 published an estimate of roughly 100,000 deaths in the first 18 months after the invasion. That figure was much higher than expected, and was controversial. The new study estimates that about 500,000 more Iraqis, both civilian and military, have died since then -- a finding likely to be equally controversial.

Both this and the earlier study are the only ones to estimate mortality in Iraq using scientific methods. The technique, called "cluster sampling," is used to estimate mortality in famines and after natural disasters.

While acknowledging that the estimate is large, the researchers believe it is sound for numerous reasons. The recent survey got the same estimate for immediate post-invasion deaths as the early survey, which gives the researchers confidence in the methods. The great majority of deaths were also substantiated by death certificates.

"We're very confident with the results," said Gilbert Burnham, a Johns Hopkins physician and epidemiologist.

A Defense Department spokesman did not comment directly on the estimate.

"The Department of Defense always regrets the loss of any innocent life in Iraq or anywhere else," said Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros. "The coalition takes enormous precautions to prevent civilian deaths and injuries."

He added that "it would be difficult for the U.S. to precisely determine the number of civilian deaths in Iraq as a result of insurgent activity. The Iraqi Ministry of Health would be in a better position, with all of its records, to provide more accurate information on deaths in Iraq."

Ronald Waldman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University who worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for many years, called the survey method "tried and true," and added that "this is the best estimate of mortality we have."

This viewed was echoed by Sarah Leah Whitson, an official of Human Rights Watch in New York, who said, "We have no reason to question the findings or the accuracy" of the survey.

"I expect that people will be surprised by these figures," she said. "I think it is very important that, rather than questioning them, people realize there is very, very little reliable data coming out of Iraq."

The survey was conducted between May 20 and July 10 by eight Iraqi physicians organized through Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. They visited 1,849 randomly selected households that had an average of seven members each. One person in each household was asked about deaths in the 14 months before the invasion and in the period after.

The interviewers asked for death certificates 87 percent of the time; when they did, more than 90 percent of households produced certificates.

According to the survey results, Iraq's mortality rate in the year before the invasion was 5.5 deaths per 1,000 people; in the post-invasion period it was 13.3 deaths per 1,000 people per year. The difference between these rates was used to calculate "excess deaths."

Of the 629 deaths reported, 87 percent occurred after the invasion. A little more than 75 percent of the dead were men, with a greater male preponderance after the invasion. For violent post-invasion deaths, the male-to-female ratio was 10-to-1, with most victims between 15 and 44 years old.

Gunshot wounds caused 56 percent of violent deaths, with car bombs and other explosions causing 14 percent, according to the survey results. Of the violent deaths that occurred after the invasion, 31 percent were caused by coalition forces or airstrikes, the respondents said.

Burnham said that the estimate of Iraq's pre-invasion death rate -- 5.5 deaths per 1,000 people -- found in both of the Hopkins surveys was roughly the same estimate used by the CIA and the U.S. Census Bureau. He said he believes that attests to the accuracy of his team's results.

He thinks further evidence of the survey's robustness is that the steepness of the upward trend it found in excess deaths in the last two years is roughly the same tendency found by other groups -- even though the actual numbers differ greatly.

An independent group of researchers and biostatisticians based in England produces the Iraq Body Count. It estimates that there have been 44,000 to 49,000 civilian deaths since the invasion. An Iraqi nongovernmental organization estimated 128,000 deaths between the invasion and July 2005.

The survey cost about $50,000 and was paid for by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies.

Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.