Friday! Jam- Symptomless Coma

Brought to mind by Chalmers Johnson on Our ‘Managed Democracy’ by Sheldon S. Wolin.

“Our thesis … is this: it is possible for a form of totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a putatively ‘strong democracy’ instead of a ‘failed’ one.”

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

(Reuters) – New estimates of war deaths in 13 nations including Vietnam, Ethiopia and Bangladesh show that previous counts vastly understated the lives lost to war in the past half century, researchers said on Thursday. The new estimates relied on data from nationally representative population surveys done by the U.N. World Health Organization in these countries earlier this decade to calculate death tolls in wars waged from 1955 to 2002.

In most of the countries, this method pointed to much higher loss of life than broadly cited media estimates of the various war death counts had shown, the researchers said. For example, the method indicated 3.8 million Vietnamese died in the protracted fighting in Vietnam, mostly from 1955 to 1975, compared to previous estimates cited by the researchers of 2.1 million. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington said the findings, published in the British Medical Journal, suggest standard ways of tracking war deaths using media, eyewitness and combatant accounts tend to underestimate deaths, particularly in smaller wars. Ziad Obermeyer of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, another of the researchers, said accurate estimates of death tolls during wartime are extremely difficult to make. He also said the findings undercut the idea that the advent of modern weapons like “smart bombs” had made war less lethal.

But…

The study did not look at war dead in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Because that is a topical example of ruling elites and their media chums hiding corpses from view. Although also rather pathetically even people who claim anti-war positions still refuse to use Lancet or Orb figures, I think because they simply can’t get past their nationalistic ego of we can’t be as evil as those… others. Yeah, because no one ever told themselves that as they stuffed people into gas chambers…

Naked Lunch

Nearly four decades after the four biggest Western oil companies were expelled from Iraq by Saddam Hussein, they are negotiating their return. By the end of the month, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil and Total will sign agreements with the Baghdad government, Iraq’s first with big Western oil firms since the US-led invasion in 2003.

The deals are for repair and technical support in some of the country’s largest oilfields, the Oil Ministry in Baghdad said yesterday. The return of “Big Oil” will add to the suspicions of those in the Middle East who claimed that the overthrow of Saddam was secretly driven by the West’s desire to gain control of Iraq’s oil. It will also be greeted with dismay by many Iraqis who fear losing control of their vast oil reserves.

The companies have the option of being paid in cash or crude oil for the deals, each of which will reportedly be worth $500m (£250m). For Iraq, the agreements are a way of accessing foreign expertise immediately, before the Iraqi parliament passes a controversial new hydrocarbons law.

But they mean that the four oil companies, which originally formed the Iraq Petroleum Company to exploit Iraqi oil from the 1920s until the industry’s nationalisation in 1972, will be well-placed to bid for contracts for the long-term development of these fields. The oilfields affected are some of the largest in Iraq, from Kirkuk in the north to Rumaila, on the border with Kuwait. Although there is oil in northern Iraq, most of the reserves are close to Basra, in the far south.

The nationalisation of Iraq’s oil is one the few acts of Saddam Hussein’s long years in power which is still highly popular, and Iraqi members of parliament are fearful of anything that looks like back-door privatisation in the interests of foreigners.

UK Number 1!

Britain was the world’s biggest arms seller last year, accounting for a third of global arms exports, the Government’s trade promotion organisation said.

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) said that arms exporters had added £9.7 billion in new business last year, giving them a larger share of global arms exports than the United States.

“As demonstrated by this outstanding export performance, the UK has a first-class defence industry, with some of the world’s most technologically sophisticated companies,” Digby Jones, the Minister for Trade and Investment, said.

Digby does like the shade of scarlet his hands are,

The US is still the world’s biggest exporter over the past five years, with $63 billion in total arms exports. Britain was second with $53 billion and Russia third with $33 billion.

But as the Raytheon 9 have shown stopping war crimes at the weapon making source is a much better idea for a growth industry.

5 War Criminals

  • David Addington
  • Timothy E. Flanigan
  • Alberto Gonzales
  • William J. Haynes II
  • John Yoo

The quintet of lawyers, who called themselves the “War Council,” drafted legal opinions that circumvented the military’s code of justice, the federal court system and America’s international treaties in order to prevent anyone — from soldiers on the ground to the president — from being held accountable for activities that at other times have been considered war crimes.

H. CON. RES. 362 -Calling For The Naval Blockade of Iran

H.Con.Res. 362, new resolution introduced on May 22, 2008 by Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Mike Pence (R-IN), is raising controversy in Washington and across the country.  There is a particular clause that some many fear is tantamount to declaring that the President should pursue a naval blockade against Iran, which would be an act of war.

The bill was introduced just prior to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Annual Policy Meeting and urging co-sponsorship is one of AIPAC’s central legislative asks.  They are currently circulating a letter in support of H.Con.Res. 362 and the Senate companion, S.Res. 580.

According to the House leadership, this resolution is going to “pass like a hot knife through butter” before the end of June on what is called suspension — meaning no amendments can be introduced during the 20-minute maximum debate.  It also means it is assumed the bill will pass by a 2/3 majority and is noncontroversial.  As of June 18, the bill already has 169 co-sponsors.  If and when the bill is voted on suspension, there will be a roll call vote and AIPAC will use how members voted on the resolution in the lead up to the elections.

When Representative Dennis Kucinich introduced articles of impeachment against Vice-President Cheney, and then against President Bush, one of his key accusations was that the Bush Administration has tried to lead the United States into war with Iran. So you might have thought that Members of Congress who signed on to the impeachment crusade shared Rep. Kucinich’s critique of U.S. saber-rattling towards Iran.

If you thought that, you might want to think again. The evidence is, shall we say, mixed. Representative Robert Wexler, who has made support of impeachment a signature issue, has signed on to a House resolution promoted by AIPAC that appears to endorse a naval blockade of Iran. A naval blockade would, of course, be an act of war. If not sanctioned by the UN Security Council – and there is no reason to believe that it would be – it would be a war crime. The resolution makes no mention of seeking Security Council approval.

As well as AIPAC the American Jewish Committee is working to get this resolution passed but they do not mention the part that would enable a Naval Blockade, they call it an urgent effort—economic, political, and diplomatic—to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

If it were just that it would not have this key part buried in the penultimate paragraph of the resolution –

(3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program; and

Just Foreign Policy have a form to write to your representative (if a citizen of the American Empire) and wake them up to this and ask them not to support the resolution. Click Here.