Progressive Calendar 08.17.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2008 02:17:35 -0700 (PDT)
               P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   08.17.08

1. Atheists/AM950    8.17 9am
2. Street medic      8.17-19 10am
3. First aid         8.17 time?
4. RNC/rights        8.17 12noon
5. Disaster recovery 8.17 12:15pm
6. RNC/YAWR          8.17 1pm
7. RNC/outreach      8.17 1pm
8. Stillwater vigil  8.17 1pm
9. RNC/puppets       8.17 2pm
10. FNVW camp        8.17-23
11. Kolstad/AM950    8.17 3pm
12. Impeach/RNC      8.17 4pm
13. KFAI/Indian      8.17 7pm

14. Richard Rhames  - The Dems' big betrayal: single-payer, a dream denied
15. Mumia Abu-Jamal - The perils of black political power
16. Mike Whitney    - The humiliation of Georgia (and Bush)
17. Conn Hallinan   - Georgia on my mind: from West Point to the Caucasus
18. Deepak Tripathi - From Georgia to the brink of a new cold war
19. John Pilger     - Don't forget Yugoslavia
20. ed              - Dear Miss Manners

--------1 of 20--------

From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at]>
Subject: Atheists/AM950 8.17 9am

Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio show
Sunday, August 17, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time
Biologist Greg Laden discusses "Food, Cooking, and Human Evolution."

Also, local author John Coy discusses his new young adult novel "Box Out."

"Atheists Talk" airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
To stream live, go to Podcasts of past
shows are available at or through iTunes.
Program Notes are available at

--------2 of 20--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Street medic 8.17-19 10am

8/17 to 8/19, 10 am to 6 pm, street medic training (24 hours total)
covering basic first aid, chemical weapons protocol, street options for
medics, Bedlam Theater, 1501 S 6th St, West Bank, Mpls.  Write to
seadsofpeace [at] or go to
for further information.)

--------3 of 20--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: First aid 8.17 time?

Sunday, 8/17, North Star Health Collective offers all-day course with
intro to general first aid, CPR and AED, along with some specific skills
for treating protest injuries, meet at U of M, inside 720 Washington Ave
SE, Mpls.  Meet in lobby and go to space.

--------4 of 20--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: RNC/rights 8.17 12noon

Sunday, 8/17, noon to 4 pm, Coldsnap Legal Collective sponsors free Know
Your Rights and volunteer training for the RNC and aftermath, Hosmer
Library meeting room, 347 E 36th St, Mpls.  coldsnap [at]

--------5 of 20--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Disaster recovery 8.17 12:15pm

Sunday, 8/17, 12:15 to 2 pm, retired ELCA pastor and New Orleans recovery
organizer speaks on "Justice Issues in the Face of Disaster Recovery,"
Central Lutheran Church, 3rd Ave and 12th St, next to Convention Center,
Mpls.  Lunch available for $7.  Validated parking in ramp on south side of
church.  dhilden [at] or 612-825-1581.

--------6 of 20--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: RNC/YAWR 8.17 1pm

Sunday, 8/17, 1 to 2:30, meeting of Youth Against War and Racism to plan
the student strike on September 4, YAWR office, 3024 Chicago Ave S, Mpls. (Note: meeting may have changed to Bedlam Theater,
due to puppet making.)

--------7 of 20--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: RNC/outreach 8.17 1pm

Sunday, 8/17, 1 pm, help do outreach for days 1 and 4 at the RNC, make
banners,hang posters, do calling, 1313 - 5th St SE, rm. 213, Dinkytown,
Mpls. or 612-379-3899.

--------8 of 20--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 8.17 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------9 of 20--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: RNC/puppets 8.17 2pm

Sunday, 8/17, 2 to 5 pm, Youth Against War and Racism makes puppets for
the protests against the RNC, Bedlam Theater, 1501 S 6th St, West Bank,
Mpls. Puppet workshops are led by Chris Lutter of
Puppet Farm Arts, Please RSVP
tytymo [at] gmail so they know how many folks to plan for.

--------10 of 20--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: FNVW camp 8.17-23

8/17 to 8/23, Friends for a Nonviolent World sponsors People Camp at
Northern Pines near Park Rapids.

--------11 of 20--------

From: James Mayer <jmayer [at]>
Subject: Kolstad/AM950 8.17 3pm

AM 950

Of the People: This Sunday, August 17th at 3 p.m. on AM 950 - Air America
Minnesota's new name; call letters: ktnf - with Host James Mayer. "

In this "land of the free" are we truly free to make vocational or career
decisions, to start a small business, work for one, or even to change jobs
without the threat of being unable to survive a sudden or unforeseen
health crisis because of having inadequate or no insurance?  Not when
we're chained to the corporate-medical industrial complex and its health
insurance "plans".  You can help break those chains and increase the
health of our people and our economy.  Find out how this Sunday on AM950
and the next 2 Sundays when we will broadcast at the Minnesota State Fair
the "Great Minnesota get-together".

Join us this Sunday as we look at how people have come together to break
those chains through 2 organizations: the Metro Independent Business
Association or MIBA, with one of its key founding members, (Papa) John
Kolstad; and the coalition he chaired for 2 years, The Minnesota Universal
Health Care Coalition. The MUHCC is bringing us closer to health care for
all of us.

Then on Sunday, 8/24 and 8/31 come and enjoy our own "get-together" as we
broadcast from the AM950 booth on Randall Avenue between Cosgrove and
Cooper Streets as experts and citizens talk about why and how to get
lawmakers to enact the Minnesota Health Act and make health care for all
of us a reality.

Tune into Of the People this Sunday at 3 P.M. on AM 950, KTNF.* While
on-air you can call us at 952-946-6205 or e-mail us at info [at]

From: John Kolstad <jkolstad [at]>

Tomorrow, Sunday, I am doing the Radio Show " Of The People"  on Air
America [ AM 950 on the Dial] with James Mayer at 3 PM to 4.  It is a very
good show with a strong progressive theme.  I'll be talking about the
importance of small business and Universal Single Payer.

Others from MUHCC may call in too.  I will make the case why Small
Independent Business is important to MN and The USA.  SB could be a major
contributor to economic recovery and job creation.  The Health Care mess
is a major obstacle for SB (along with Property Taxes).  I will mention
that the Metro IBA has unanimously endorsed Uni Single Payer, That Sen
Marty has a great Bill to solve the problem, and the People just need to
demand it.

So tune in tomorrow and hear me without a guitar.
-John Kolstad

--------12 of 20--------

From: Impeach <lists [at]>
Subject: Impeach/RNC 8.17 4pm

Those interested in Impeach for Peace's plans for the RNC, are invited to
attend a meeting at Joe's Garage on the north side of Loring Park in
Minneapolis on Sunday, August 17, at 4 p.m.

--------13 of 20--------

From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at]>
Subject: KFAI/Indian 8.17 7pm

KFAI's Indian Uprising, August 17, 2008 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. CDT #278

 Brenda Norrell (NI), Independent Journalist for Censored News:; Listen at Earthcycles: Norrell was a reporter for Indian Country
Today, now owned and operated by the Oneida Nation in New York.
 Clara NiiSka, (Ahnishinahbaeotjibway), Ph.D. Candidate, University of
Minnesota and previously, a reporter for the Native American Press/Ojibwe
News, Minnesota.

Indian Uprising is a KFAI Public & Cultural Affairs program relevant to
Native Indigenous people, broadcast each Sunday on 90.3 FM Minneapolis and
106.7 FM St. Paul. Volunteer producer & host is Chris Spotted Eagle.

For internet listening, visit, click Play under ON AIR NOW or
for listening later via their archives, click PROGRAMS & SCHEDULE > Indian
Uprising > STREAM.  Programs are archived for two weeks.

--------14 of 20--------

The Democrats' Big Betrayal
Single-Payer, a Dream Denied
August 16 / 17, 2008

"[Democratic Party] activists dropped a tougher platform amendment seeking
a government-run, single-payer system..."

"Guaranteed Health Care Key Plank in Democrat's Platform", AP, 8/11/08

Stick a fork in 'em, they're done as an advocate for the majority.
Actually, the Democratic Party, for decades little more than a quirky wing
of the Property Party, has been done for a while. Yet some of us - damaged
optimists, deluded dreamers, dissenters to mass murder - held out hope for
a turn. Against all available evidence we wished and worked in our small
and pathetic ways to preserve the Party as a vehicle for completing the
New Deal, and bringing the US partially into the civilized world. We
failed. It's official.

The United States is rather infamously alone in the so-called developed
world in condemning many of its citizens to death or diminishment because
of injury or illness if they can't purchase care. As in the fable, the
System turns to the hapless, down-scale crowd and like Pontius Pilate,
washes its hands proclaiming, "I am innocent of this....blood".

When polled, the public has long overwhelmingly expressed support for
governmentally guaranteed single-payer health care. Yet even at the height
of the New Deal, such a plan was squashed by insiders. Truman brought it
up again in his time. Nope.

After decades of tireless organizing, there seemed to be an opening with
the election of The Man From Hope in the early 90s. Bill Clinton had
ridden to power on a platform of massive public investment and national
health care. He promptly put his better half, WalMart mouthpiece Hillary
C. in charge. She held closed-door confabs with insurance company
executives (think Dick Cheney's energy policy meetings) and ultimately
proposed a two-tier health care regime which built-in the three biggest
insurance companies and consigned those of modest means to a "budget"
plan. Those with money could buy Cadillac care. Those without would be
offered a go-cart. "Choice," they called it. In today's lingo, any
"reform" that might have cut insurance company profits was "off the

In 1993, one of the single-payer movement's most prominent leaders, Dr.
David Himmelstein (Physicians for a National Health Program) gained some
face-time with Ms. Clinton. The Washington Monthly reported,
"Himmelstein's studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine
since 1986, showed that the U.S. could save as much as $67 billion in
administrative costs alone by cutting out the 1,500 private insurers and
going to a single government insurer in each state - easily enough to pay
to cover every uninsured American".

"Hillary had heard it all before," the Monthly continued. How, she asked
Himmelstein, do you defeat the multibillion-dollar insurance industry?
"With presidential leadership and polls showing that 70 percent of
Americans favor ... a single-payer system," Himmelstein recalls telling
Mrs. Clinton. The First Lady replied "Tell me something interesting,

The Rube Goldberg horror which the Clinton administration brought forward
was frankly impossible to easily understand or admire. It proposed mostly
to herd the population into private HMOs run by the big insurers. There
the sheep might be fleeced, flogged, and flummoxed, with profits (and
campaign contributions) uninterrupted.

Even this mincing alteration to the heinous status quo proved too much for
the Health Insurance Association of America however. They unleashed "Harry
and Louise" on the distracted American public. H&L decried the proposal as
"big government" - an odd claim in that the so-called Health Security Act
clearly demonstrated just how puny and simpering government had become in
the face of concentrated corporate power.

The chance for reform squandered, Bill Clinton turned his attention to
passing NAFTA, "violating the territorial integrity" of Yugoslavia,
softening up Iraq for the big 2003 bipartisan invasion (killing 1.5
million Mesopotamians in the process), ending "welfare" financial support
to children and their mothers, repealing New Deal-era regulation of the
financial sector, and destroying what was left of the traditional
Democratic Party. His touching fondness for hamburgers, hum-jobs, and
hide-the-cigar notwithstanding he left a toxic legacy.

That political sludge was on display in Pittsburgh last weekend as the
Democratic platform committee put the finishing touches on a draft set of
"principles" for its national convention to adopt and its candidates to
ignore. The platform was of course, shot through with "compromises". The
Associated Press (AP) focused primarily on the (alleged) potential
"flash-point" issue of single-payer. With "little dissent or room for it"
the 186-member committee took any reference to single-payer "off the
table" (AP). Instead the Party "declar[ed] itself 'united behind a
commitment that every American man, woman, and child be guaranteed to have
affordable, comprehensive health care'".

"United behind a commitment," huh? These are weasel words which trumpet
the descent of the Democratic Party remnant. The slack-jawed, vanquished,
personality cultists who labor in this hollow shell/money-drop bide their
time, and await the national convention and the coronation.

The AP observed dryly that, "Party platforms are a statement of principles
that are not binding on the candidates or the next president and they are
typically given little attention after they are adopted". You know - like
international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The national platform evisceration contrasts with the recently adopted
Maine Democratic Party platform. The Party's convention set aside a sadly
typically revisionist draft proposing "access to not-for-profit health
care"... which could easily translate into what's called charity care via
the emergency room or voluntarist free clinics. At least for now, the
democratic wing of this state's Party was able to prevail. The convention
affirmed a belief "that health care is a fundamental civil right"... It
pledged that Maine Democrats still support a "universal single-payer
nonprofit health system for all".

Candidates like Mr. Obama will, as the AP notes, "give little attention"
to either platform plank.

Such petty squeaks are simply not that "interesting".

Richard Rhames is chair of the Biddeford (Maine) Democratic City
Committee, which is chartered to promote the "ideals of the Party."

--------15 of 20--------

The Perils of Black Political Power
Mumia Abu-Jamal
[col. writ. 8/6/08] (c) '08
Liberation-News [at]

As we are on the eve of what may be the most powerful Black achievement in
U.S. history, it would be well to examine the history of Black political
leadership in this country.

Most historical researchers look to the 1967 election of Carl Stokes,
(1927-1996), as Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio as the emergence of black
political power in major American cities.  Many Blacks saw this as the
beginning of an age of freedom for our people.

From the 1960's to now, we most certainly have been disabused of that

For while black political leadership has surely been a source of pride,
they have not been a source of black political power.

That's because as agents of the States, they must defend the interests of
the State, even when this conflicts with the interests of their people.

For example, let's look at the experience of Mayor Stokes.

Shortly after taking office, Stokes appointed former U.S. Army Lt.-General
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. as his public safety director (a kind of super
police chief).  Gen. Davis, fresh from the rigors of Vietnam, ordered
30,000 rounds of hollow point (or dum-dum) bullets, items in violation of
the laws of war.

The object of his ire?  The Cleveland branch of the Black Panther Party,
and a local office of the National Committee to Combat Fascism, a Panther
support group.

In Aug. 1970, Gen. Davis resigned from the post, and criticized Mayor
Stokes for not giving him sufficient support in his battle against
radicals (like the Panthers).

Stokes, the more politically adroit of the two, made Davis look bad for
ordering ammo which violated the Geneva Conventions, but Stokes' personal
papers revealed meetings between the two men, and their agreement on
dum-dums as appropriate arms to be used against Panthers.

Just because he was a Black mayor, didn't mean he wasn't dedicated to
destroying a Black organization.  Indeed, in times of Black uprising and
mass discontent, Black mayors seem the perfect instrument of repression,
for they dispel charges of racism.

If Barack Obama wins the White House, it will be a considerable political
achievement.  It will be made possible only by the votes of millions of
whites, most especially younger voters.

This does not diminish such an achievement, it just sharpens the nature of

But Black faces in high places does not freedom make.

Power is far more than presence.  It is the ability to meet people's
political objectives of freedom, independence and material well-being.

We are as far from those objectives as we were in 1967.

[Source: Nissim-Sabat, Ryan, "Panthers Set Up Shop in Cleveland," p.111;
from Judson L. Jeffries, ed., COMRADES: Local History of the Black Panther
Party (Blomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2007), pp.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner in the United States facing
possible execution.  For more on his case see:

(Myth #1) ^”Five eyewitnesses saw Mumia shoot officer Faulkner.^‘

--------16 of 20--------

The Humiliation of Georgia (and Bush)
Revisiting the "Battle of Tskhinvali"
August 16 / 17, 2008

There are no military installations in the city of Tskhinvali. In fact,
there are no military targets at all. It is an industrial center
consisting of lumber mills, manufacturing plants and residential areas. It
is also the home to 30,000 South Ossetians. When Georgian President
Mikheil Saakashvili ordered the city to be bombed by warplanes and shelled
by heavy artillery last Thursday, he knew that he would be killing
hundreds of civilians in their homes and neighborhoods. But he ordered the
bombing anyway.

There was no "Battle of  Tskhinvali"; that's another fiction. A battle
implies that there is an opposing force that is resisting or fighting
back. That's not the case here. The Georgian army entered the city
unopposed; after all, how can unarmed civilians stop armed units. Most of
the townspeople had already fled across the border into Russia or hid in
their basements while the tanks and armored vehicles rumbled bye firing at
anything that moved.

What took place in South Ossetia on August 7, was not an invasion or a
siege; it was a massacre. The people had no way to defend themselves
against a fully-equiped modern army.  It was a war crime.

In less than 24 hours, the Russian army was deployed to the war zone where
it chased the Georgian army away without a fight.  Michael Binyon put it
this way in the London Guardian: "The attack was short, sharp and deadly -
enough to send the Georgians fleeing in humiliating panic."

Indeed, the Georgians left in such haste that many of their weapons were
left behind.  It was a complete rout; another black-eye for the US and
Israeli advisers who trained the clatter of thugs they call the Georgian
army. Soon vendors on the streets of Tskhinvali will be hawking weapons
that were left behind with a mocking sign: "Georgia Army M-16; Never used,
dropped once."

By the time the army was driven out, the downtown area was in engulfed in
flames and the bodies of those who had been killed by sniper-fire were
strewn along the streets and sidewalks. Many of people who stayed behind
were simply too old or infirm to leave. Instead, they huddled in their
basements waiting for the shelling to stop. It was a bloodbath. The city's
only hospital was deliberately targeted and destroyed; another war crime.
By day's end, over 2,000 people were killed in an operation that was
clearly engineered with the assistance of the Bush White House. Bush
regards Saakashvilli as his main client in the region; they are friends.
He is America's cat's paw in the Caucasus. Saakashvilli's assignment is to
try to get Putin to overreact militarily and demonstrate to European
allies that Russia still poses a threat to their national security.
Fortunately, many Europeans see through the ruse and know that the trouble
originates in Washington.

For the most part, Americans are still in the dark about what really
happened last weekend. There's a great video circulating on the Internet
by a Russian citizen that has been living in USA for the last 10 years. He
sums up the role of the US media with great precision. He says, "The
western media - especially CNN - is feeding you complete horseshit. Russia
did not invade Georgia first."  The youtube can be seen here:

The coverage of the western media has been abysmal. Nearly every article
and TV news segment begins with accusations of Russian aggression
concealing the fact that the Georgian Army bombarded and invaded the
capital of South Ossetia one full day before the first Russian even tank
crossed the border. By the time the Russians arrived, the city was already
in a shambles and thousands were dead.

These facts are not in dispute by those who followed the developments as
they took place. Now the media are revising the facts to manage public
perceptions, just as they did with the fictional WMD in Iraq. Many people
think that the press learned its lesson after they were exposed for using
bogus information in the lead up to the war in Iraq. But that is not true.
The corporate media - especially FOX News, CNN and PBS (the smug,
liberal-sounding channel) - continue to operate like the propaganda arm of
the Pentagon. It's disgraceful.

In a 2006 referendum, 99% of South Ossetians said they supported
independence from Georgia. The voter turnout was 95% and the balloting was
monitored by 34 international observers from the west. No one has
challenged the results. The province has been under the protection of
Russian and Georgian peacekeepers since 1992 and has been a de facto
independent state ever since. If Putin applied the same standard as Bush
did in Kosovo, he would unilaterally declare South Ossetia independent
from Georgia and then thumb his nose at the UN. (Sauce for the goose, is
sauce for the gander) But Putin and newly-elected Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev have taken a conciliatory attitude towards the international
community and tried to resolve the issue through diplomatic channels.

Still, Russia's operation in South Ossetia has ignited a firestorm in the
US political establishment and Democrats and Republicans alike are
demanding that Russia be "taught a lesson". Condoleeza Rice flew to
Tbilisi on Friday and ordered Russian combat troops to withdraw from
Georgia immediately. Saakashvili topped off Rice's comments by saying that
the Russian troops were "cold-blooded killers" and "barbarians". So much
for reconciliation.

Saakashvili's hyperbolic rhetoric was followed by a surprise announcement
from Poland that they had approved Bush's plans for deploying the Missile
Defense Shield in Eastern Europe. The system is supposed to defend Europe
from the possibility of attacks from so-called "rogue states" like Iran,
but the Kremlin knows that it is intended to neutralize their nuclear

The new "shield" will be integrated into the larger US nuclear weapons
system placing the world's most lethal weapons just a few hundred miles
from Russia's capital. It is a clear threat to Russia's national security
and no different than nuclear weapons in Cuba.

President Medvedev made this statement after hearing of Poland's decision:
"This decision clearly demonstrates everything we have said recently. The
deployment of new anti-missile forces in Europe is aimed at the Russian

It was President Ronald Reagan, the darling of the neoconservatives, who
decided to remove short-range nuclear weapons from the European theater.
Now, ironically, it is his ideological heir, George W. Bush, who is on
track to restart the Cold War by putting a high-tech nuclear system on
Russia's perimeter. The younger Bush has already broken his father's
commitment to Mikail Gorbachev to never expand NATO beyond Germany.
Presently, Bush is pushing to gain NATO membership for two former-Soviet
states; Ukraine and Georgia. If they are approved, then any future dispute
with Russia will pit the United States and Europe against Moscow. It's no
wonder Putin is trying to derail the process.

The Bush administration has been planning for a confrontation with Russia
for more than a year. In fact, Raw Story reported on operations that were
conducted by the military on July 14, 2008 which were probably a dress
rehearsal for the current conflict. According to Raw Story:

"US troops on Monday (July 14) began military exercises near the Russian
border in ex-Soviet Ukraine and were poised to launch them in Georgia,
amid tense relations between Moscow and Washington. A ceremony
inaugurating the Sea Breeze-2008 NATO exercise was held off Ukraine's
Black Sea coast against anti-NATO protests and a hostile reaction from
officials in Russia. Sea Breeze-2008...includes forces from Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany,
Greece, Latvia, Macedonia and Turkey...'The US-Georgia joint exercises
will be held at the Vaziani military base' less than 100 kilometers (60
miles) from the Russian border with a total of 1,650 servicemen taking

So, it appears the Bush administration, working in conjunction with the
Pentagon, did have contingency plans for dealing with a flare-up with
Georgia. The real question is whether or not they planned to initiate
those hostilities to advance their own regional agenda? No one knows for

Now that Georgia's American-trained army has been humiliated in front of
the world, Bush is trying desperately to save face by demanding that
Russia allow the US Air force to deliver humanitarian aid via C-17
military aircraft to the tens of thousands of Georgians who were displaced
in the fighting.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:
fergiewhitney [at]

--------17 of 20--------

From West Point to the Caucasus
Georgia On My Mind
August 16 / 17, 2008

One of the major causes of the recent war in Georgia has nothing to do
with the historic tensions that make the Caucasus such a flashpoint
between east and west. Certainly the long-stranding ethnic enmity between
Ossetians and Georgians played a role, as did the almost visceral dislike
between Moscow and Tbilisi. But the origins of the short, brutal war go
back six years to a June afternoon at West Point.

Speaking to the cadets at the military academy, President George W. Bush
laid out a blueprint for U.S foreign policy, a strategy lifted from a
neocon think tank, the Project for a New American Century. In essence, the
West Point Doctrine made it clear that Washington would not permit the
development of a "peer competitor," and that, if necessary, the U.S. would
use military force to insure that it maintained the monopoly on world
power it had inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The 21st Century was to be an American century.

Some of the building blocks of this strategy were already in place before
the President's address. Rather than dismantling the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) following the disintegration of the East bloc's Warsaw
Pact in 1991, the alliance was expanded to include former Pact members
Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Latvia, Lithuania, Romania,
Slovakia and Bulgaria followed in 2004. On the eve of the latest Caucasus
war, Washington was lobbying hard to recruit Georgia and the Ukraine.

It is important to keep in mind the deep paranoia state of mind well
founded in historical experience that the Russians have over their
borders. Those borders have been violated by Napoleon, and by Germany in
both WW I, and WW II. In the later conflict, the Russians lost 27 million

Besides expanding NATO from a regional military pact to a worldwide
alliance - the organization is deeply engaged in Afghanistan and is
currently moving into the Pacific Basin - the Bush Administration began
dismantling East-West agreements, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty (ABM). The demise of the Treaty allowed the U.S. to deploy an ABM
and to recruit nations to sign up for the system, including Japan, India
and Australia. Lastly, NATO has just agreed to build an ABM system in
Eastern Europe.

In spite of the way it is portrayed, an ABM is not a defensive system and
is certainly not aimed at "rogue states," since none of them have missiles
than can threaten the U.S. or Europe. An ABM is designed to absorb a
retaliatory attack following a first strike. U.S. nuclear doctrine is
based on this first strike, or "counterforce," strategy.

Russia and China - currently the only two nations that can seriously
challenge the idea of an American century - find themselves surrounded by
U.S. bases from northern Europe, through the Middle East and Central Asia,
to the north Pacific. At least in theory, the U.S. ABM system pretty much
cancels out China's modest nuclear capability, and, fully deployed, a
European system could neutralize much of Russia's.

The Bush Administration says that its ABM system is not large enough to
stop Russia's thousands of nuclear warheads, but it fails to mention that
a first strike would destroy all but about five percent of those weapons.
All an ABM would have to do is handle the handful of warheads that
survived a counterforce strike.

The Russians and the Chinese have made it quite clear that they consider
the ABM system a threat to their nuclear deterrence ability.

The Russians are also deeply angry over the European Union and NATO's
support for dismembering Yugoslavia and the forcible removal of the
province of Kosovo from Serbia

"I think we have underestimated the anger in Moscow over the increasing
NATO involvement in Russia's backyard," says Christopher Langton of the
International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

This is the context in which the recent fighting took place. While the
western media has largely portrayed the war as the mighty Russian bear
beating up on tiny Georgia, Moscow sees Tbilisi's attack on South Ossetia
as yet another move aimed at surrounding it with hostile powers.

U.S. non-governmental organizations, some, like the National Endowment
for Democracy, close to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, played a key
role in helping to bring Georgia's current president Mikhail Saakashvilli
to power. For all the Bush Administration touts him as a "democrat," the
Georgian president has exiled his political enemies, closed down
opposition newspapers, and turned his police on peaceful demonstrators.

Following his election, the U.S. and Israel poured military aid and
trainers into Georgia. Some 800 U.S. and 1,000 Israeli trainers are
currently working with the Georgian military.

While the U.S. claims that it strongly advised the Georgians not to use
force in Ossetia and Abakhzia, just a few weeks before the attack
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Tbilisi and made it clear that
the Bush Administration fully supported Georgia claim over the two

The U.S. pledge was made despite the fact that Saakashvili broke a 2005
agreement not to use force in the two provinces. In 2006, the Georgian
president sent troops into Abkhaza to occupy the Kodori Valley. Did it
occur to the U.S. that backing Saakashvili's adventurism in Abkhaza might
encourage him to consider a similar move in South Ossetia?

Besides the trainers, 1,000 U.S. troops recently carried out joint
exercises with the Georgian military. How would Americans feel about
Russians troops training in Mexico, particularly if the latter government
was demanding back the lands seized by the U.S. in the Mexican-American
War? And what were those troops training for? An invasion of South
Ossetia? Defense against a Russian counterattack?

U.S. trainers say they had no inkling that the Georgians were going to
attack Ossetia, a denial that is hard to swallow given the buildup of
ammunition, armored vehicles, and supplies that the Georgians must have
made in preparation for the invasion. It strains credibility to think that
U.S. advisors did not know what was up, but if they did not, it bespeaks a
sobering level of incompetence on the American military side.

The Israelis are not so coy.

According to the DEBKA File, a publication close to the Israeli military
and intelligence agencies, Israeli advisors "were undoubtedly deeply
involved in the Georgian Army's preparations to conquer the South Ossetian

The Israeli interest in Georgia is over the two oil and gas pipelines that
transit the country, bypassing Russian pipelines to the north. Israel
takes on oil at the Turkish port of Ceyhan and ships it to a refinery at

So who knew what, and when did they know it? This is not an abstract
exercise. Had Georgia been admitted to NATO, the war would have triggered
Article 5 requiring alliance members to use "collective force" against
Russia. Such a scenario could well have led to a worldwide thermonuclear

Did the Georgians think they could attack Ossetia, kill civilians and
Russian peacekeepers, and get away with it? Unless President Saakashvili
and the people around him are snorting something that turns reality upside
down, they must have known that Georgia's army was no match for Russia's.

Could the Georgians have been working under the illusion they had the full
backing of the U.S? What Rice told Saakashvili during her July 10 trip
becomes critical. Did she really tell the Georgians in private not to
attack as she claims? Or did Tbilisi take Rice's public rhetoric
supporting Georgia's claim of sovereignty at face value?

Shortly before Georgia attacked, the Russians tried to get a resolution
through the UN Security Council calling on Ossetia and Georgia to renounce
the use of force. The U.S., Britain, and Saakashvili torpedoed it. Why?

Might the U.S. have snookered the Georgians into making an attack
Washington knew would end in disaster? Political commentator Robert Scheer
suggests the war was a neocon election ploy aimed at getting John McCain
elected president. On one level the charge seems far-fetched, but as
Scheer points out, the McCain campaign is filled with neocons and Georgia
boosters, and some of McCain's recent statements seem as if they were
lifted from the depths of the Cold War.

Is the Georgia War the "October surprise" for the fall elections as Scheer
suggests? The Republicans need a crisis so they can argue that only McCain
has the experience to handle it. The Iran bugaboo is wearing thin, and the
polls show overwhelming opposition to a war with Teheran. China is playing
nice, and, in any case, it is not a good idea to pick a fight with someone
who can call in its loans and bankrupt you.

But there is always the big, bad Russian bear.

This is an inordinately dangerous situation. The Bush Administration has
sent U.S. troops into Georgia, and it is not inconceivable that Russians
and Americans might end up shooting at one another. Wars have a tendency
to get out of hand, which is one reason why it is good to avoid them.

But avoiding war means avoiding the kind of policies that make war a
possibility. If you have a strategy that says you have the right to
determine what happens in the world, and then go about surrounding your
potential competitors with military bases and destabilizing weapons
systems, sooner or later someone is going to push back. A hundred years
ago that would lead to tragedy. In today's nuclear-armed world, it is an
existential issue.

In the short run the solution is a ceasefire, withdrawal of troops, and a
pledge not to use force in the future.

But the problem that brought about the recent war is the result of
policies that the U.S. and its allies have followed since the end of the
Cold War. A real solution would be:

Dissolve NATO;
Revive the ABM Treaty;
Enforce the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which means dismantling the
world's supply of nuclear weapons and embarking on a course of general
To do less it to hold the world hostage to the actions of a few who might
at any moment hurl us all into a war that none would survive.

Conn Hallinan is an analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus.

--------18 of 20--------

From Georgia to the Brink of a New Cold War
A Pawn in Their Game
August 16 / 17, 2008

The conflict between Russia and the pro-US regime of Georgia has been a
decisive turning-point in Russia's relations with Washington and has taken
us to the brink of a new Cold War.

For the first time in almost twenty years, the West faces a resurgent
Russia that has put the trauma of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the
resulting chaos behind. Today's Russia is run by a younger leadership with
autocratic efficiency, confident because of its vast energy resources and
determined to resist American hegemony, by force if necessary. The crisis
in Georgia goes beyond the Caucasus region. Its roots lie in America's
overwhelming ambition to expand and its tendency to make colossal
miscalculations under the Bush presidency.

It is often said that the first casualty of war is truth. Behind the fog
of disinformation coming from Washington, London, Tbilisi and, indeed,
Moscow, the fact remains that the Russian invasion came after Georgia's
bombardment of the breakaway region of South Ossetia. The vast majority of
residents in the enclave are Russian citizens and Moscow had deployed its
peacekeepers there. Many experts in Europe are depressed over the events
in Georgia and blame hardliners in the Bush administration for provoking
the Georgian President, Mikheil Saakasvili, to adopt the aggressive
posture that has brought this disaster.

What we see in Georgia is a classic proxy war between Russia and America,
which has become heavily involved in the republic since a popular revolt
in late 2003 ousted Eduard Shevardnadze from power, with Western help.
Today, US troops occupy Georgian military bases of the Soviet era, on the
southern fringe of Russia. America provides weapons, training and
intelligence to the Georgian armed forces. America's involvement, which
began under the umbrella of the "war on terror" after 9/11, has since
become much more. If President Bush had his way, Georgia would be granted
membership of NATO as part of the alliance's expansion around Russia.

The impoverished former Soviet republic is, in effect, a pawn in the
broader US design to encircle Russia. It is also located in a region which
has some of the largest energy reserves in the world. For the Kremlin, the
prospect of NATO coming so close to its southern borders is a step too
far. Fortunately, some NATO members, most notably France and Germany, also
do not see Georgia either as a full democracy or a stable country. And
many in the alliance and the European Union have doubts about Saakasvili's
ability to take mature decisions.

In an era when America has assumed the right to launch pre-emptive
strikes, it is difficult to see the Kremlin behaving differently. The
prospect of Georgia joining NATO, which might deploy nuclear weapons on
Georgian territory, is simply not acceptable to Russia. Remember the Cuban
missile crisis of 1962? At the time, Soviet nuclear missiles, deployed
just 90 miles from the coast of Florida, brought America and the Soviet
Union close to a disastrous war and the Soviets were forced to back down.
Does the White House not know history? Or do the neo-conservatives in the
Bush administration not care?

Saakasvili's decision to order the bombardment of the Russian-majority
South Ossetia gave the Kremlin a convenient cover to invade Georgia, just
as the Bush administration had found it expedient to invade Iraq in March
2003 based on claims that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction, which
were never found. Russia is playing for bigger stakes now just as America
did in Iraq a few years ago.

About one-fifth of Georgia has fallen under Russian military occupation
and the Kremlin leadership seems to be in no mood to entertain the idea of
Georgia's territorial integrity in any negotiations sponsored by the West.
There are daily condemnations of Moscow in the Western capitals. However,
the West is powerless to prevent the Russians doing anything they want in

This US-Russia proxy war in the Caucasus region has created a serious
humanitarian crisis. President Saakasvili, the pro-US leader of Georgia,
has been humiliated. Its chances of joining NATO are negligible after the
latest events. They have demonstrated that the West cannot and will not
intervene militarily to protect Georgia from the Russian threat. The most
important clause in the NATO constitution says that an attack on one
member-state will be regarded as an attack on the whole alliance, which
will use all possible means to protect the member-state under threat.
NATO's inability to defend Georgia now is a defeat for the West. It is
difficult to see how the alliance will accept the republic as a member.

The description by President Bush of the Russian action as
"disproportionate and unacceptable" is laughable in the context of
America's own conduct in its foreign wars in recent years. Washington
should be more worried about the damage the crisis has done to its
authority in the world. Diplomacy was never a strong point of the Bush
administration. The blunders in Washington and Tbilisi have made the
conduct of relations with Russia much more difficult. They may also have
created other problems for the next occupant of the White House, for an
increasing number of countries around the world may begin to look to
Russia now that it has risen again.

Deepak Tripathi, a former BBC foreign correspondent and editor, is now a
researcher and an author. He is writing a book on the Bush presidency. His
website is

--------19 of 20--------

Don't Forget Yugoslavia
By John Pilger
Aug 16, 2008

The secrets of the crushing of Yugoslavia are emerging, telling us more
about how the modern world is policed. The former chief prosecutor of the
International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague, Carla Del
Ponte, this year published her memoir The Hunt: Me and War Criminals.
Largely ignored in Britain, the book reveals unpalatable truths about the
west's intervention in Kosovo, which has echoes in the Caucasus.

The tribunal was set up and bankrolled principally by the United States.
Del Ponte's role was to investigate the crimes committed as Yugoslavia was
dismembered in the 1990s. She insisted that this include Nato's 78-day
bombing of Serbia and Kosovo in 1999, which killed hundreds of people in
hospitals, schools, churches, parks and tele vision studios, and destroyed
economic infrastructure. "If I am not willing to [prosecute Nato
personnel]," said Del Ponte, "I must give up my mission." It was a sham.
Under pressure from Washington and London, an investigation into Nato war
crimes was scrapped.

Readers will recall that the justification for the Nato bombing was that
the Serbs were committing "genocide" in the secessionist province of
Kosovo against ethnic Albanians. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large
for war crimes, announced that as many as "225,000 ethnic Albanian men
aged between 14 and 59" may have been murdered. Tony Blair invoked the
Holocaust and "the spirit of the Second World War". The west's heroic
allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose murderous record was
set aside. The British foreign secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call
him any time on his mobile phone.

With the Nato bombing over, international teams descended upon Kosovo to
exhume the "holocaust". The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and
went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily
denouncing "a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines". A year
later, Del Ponte's tribunal announced the final count of the dead in
Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma
murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide in Kosovo. The "holocaust" was
a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.

That was not all, says Del Ponte in her book: the KLA kidnapped hundreds
of Serbs and transported them to Albania, where their kidneys and other
body parts were removed; these were then sold for transplant in other
countries. She also says there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the
Kosovar Albanians for war crimes, but the investigation "was nipped in the
bud" so that the tribunal's focus would be on "crimes committed by
Serbia". She says the Hague judges were terrified of the Kosovar Albanians
- the very people in whose name Nato had attacked Serbia.

Indeed, even as Blair the war leader was on a triumphant tour of
"liberated" Kosovo, the KLA was ethnically cleansing more than 200,000
Serbs and Roma from the province. Last February the "international
community", led by the US, recognised Kosovo, which has no formal economy
and is run, in effect, by criminal gangs that traffic in drugs, contraband
and women. But it has one valuable asset: the US military base Camp
Bondsteel, described by the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner
as "a smaller version of Guantanamo". Del Ponte, a Swiss diplomat, has
been told by her own government to stop promoting her book.

Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent and multi-ethnic, if imperfect,
federation that stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War.
This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially
newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to dominate its
"natural market" in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By
the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991, a secret deal had been
struck; Germany recognised Croatia, and Yugoslavia was doomed. In
Washington, the US ensured that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied
World Bank loans and the defunct Nato was reinvented as an enforcer. At a
1999 Kosovo "peace" conference in France, the Serbs were told to accept
occupation by Nato forces and a market economy, or be bombed into
submission. It was the perfect precursor to the bloodbaths in Afghanistan
and Iraq.

Source: The New Statesman

--------20 of 20--------

Dear Miss Manners:

I have heard that the words "President" and "Mister" when applied to
George Bush are really just polite pseudonyms for "Asshole". If that's so,
why can't I and everybody else just call him what he really is? Why diddle
around with phony names that amount to lies?
  -Truth Speaker

Dear Truth Speaker:

Polite society depends on overlooking assholery, even, as perhaps in this
case, blatant assholery with bells on.  If it and we didn't, where would
"polite" society be? Why, then polite society would be impolite, a
contradiction in terms, and thus a logical impossibility.

Kissing the butts of assholes is the essence of the social register, and
of my column lo these many decades. It has made America what it is today.
Truth-speaking is way overrated, just like that whangdoodle about speaking
truth to power.  Power wouldn't know the truth even if you whacked it over
the head with it, so why not just go for a walk or watch TV? Mister
President (BunnyBuns) Bush will be on tonight and I'm sure you won't want
to miss him.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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