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Editorial correspondence | Back to Politics | Back to the world news

What the press can do in the USA
Bush loses the elections again
Will the USA economy ever recover?
The largest terrorist organization in the world strikes again
The Bush tax cut and the art of deception
The USA join the Chinese dictatorship against freedom-fighters
Why Iraq?
Congratulations Mr Bush
Why Bush needs to attack Saddam
What can be done to save the stock markets .
Could it have been prevented?
America's contempt for international agreements
America's contempt for international agreements
George Bush to the rescue of the Palestinians
Surgical strikes or excessive force?
The Bush doctrine on terrorism
The case against Iraq
Is Israel dictating USA's war against terrorism?
How Bush lost the peace
Richard Nixon, war criminal
Why the economy will not improve any time soon
Older articles

    Click here for 2003 articles

  • (December 2002) What the press can do in the USA. Three of the most powerful men in the world have been destroyed by the USA press in december 2002: cardinal Bernard Law, former vice-president Al Gore, and the leader of the senate, Trent Lott. There is no other country, and there never was one before, in which men supported by so many powerful interests could have lost their job. All three have something in common: the press loved to pick on them. It was not a coordinated smearing campaign against them, and the motives are wildly different. But the end result has been the same: each of them had to bow out in the face of mounting opposition by the press.
    Cardinal Bernard Law was identified as the man responsible for the decadent state of the Catholic Church in the USA. There was and is no proof that he helped, in any way or form, the priests who allegedly committed crimes against children. But the press held him responsible and didn't like the way he was avoiding their questions. Ultimately, cardinal Law had to resign.
    After leading the Republican Party to a triumph in the latest elections, Trent Lott had become perhaps the second most powerful man in the country. He made a silly mistake at a birthday party (a reference to his home state's racist past). In other countries politicians who are less powerful than Trott survive far worse scandals. Lott, instead, was dumped by his strongest supporters after the media began targeting him in an almost paranoid manner.
    Al Gore didn't do anything wrong: he simply shunned the media too much. Gore never entertained good relations with the press. It may have cost him the presidency. Now it also cost him the democratic nomination.
    Media scrutiny is the most powerful weapon in the USA. As long as the media are kept independent of politics, they guarantee the USA's democracy the way no other power could.
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  • (November 2002) Bush loses the elections again. The Republicans won the mid-term elections for the Senate and the House: no question about it. Was this a referendum on the president? If it was, it was a disaster for the president: very few Americans went to vote, which is hardly a sign of enthusiastically supporting their president (if this was a referendum).
    Foreigners are often misled by trying to interpret American elections as if they were, say, European elections. In (continental) Europe, government is a messy idea that involves alliances of different parties and virulent, ideological oppositions. In some European countries elections are like soccer games: you vote for your team, regardless. In the USA parliamentary elections are decided by factors that are not ideological in nature at all: 1. Americans vote the candidate not the party (most Americans vote for the best candidate, regardless of the party s/he belongs to); 2. Americans vote only when they have something to vote for (the vast majority of Americans do not vote on most issues, and many don't even cast a vote for the presidential elections); 3. Americans hate politics (most Americans do not want to hear arguments about what is best for the country, they want the president to do what he thinks he is right, and then they will judge the results, unlike Europe where members of the governing alliance argue all the time and it is never clear who is to blame or praise for the results).
    The American democracy is a "bottom-up" democracy: most voters think in terms of "representatives", not in terms of "parties". The Republicans had better candidates overall (Democratic candidates still included convicted criminals and a dead man until a few days ago). In fact, Republicans had "much" better candidates. In a sense, that almost proves the opposite of what most commentators think: what is surprising is that Republicans "only" won two seats in the Senate: they deserved to win four or five. What is even more surprising is that Democrats did not lose states that they should have lost. Governor Davis has turned California from a dreamland to a farce, and still, highly despised by Californians, managed to win (but the very low number of people who voted in California tells the real story). Many Americans seem to have voted Democratic for the sake of not voting Republican, enough to make several bad Democrats win. Thus, in a sense, if there was a "political" vote it seems to have been from people who despise Republicans and Bush, not from people who support them.
    Needless to say, now the danger is Bush: he is not a strong believer in democracy (he became president after losing the election by about 100,000 votes to Gore, not to count the two million votes that went to Nader, the harshest Bush basher) and will be tempted to use his party's majority in the houses to push a corrupt and criminal agenda. This may be less easy than he thinks. Some of the new Republican senators are hardly "numbers" that would simply cast the vote according to party's instructions. Bush may be soon disappointed by his own party.
    There is no doubt, though, that the real loser is the Democratic party. The Democratic party lost the 2000 elections that Gore should have won easily, given the longest economic expansion in history created by Clinton/Gore. The Democratic party lost the 2002 elections that its candidates should have won easily, given the deepest economic recession in history caused by Bush. Something is obviously very wrong with a party that can win neither when it is in power and the economy is good nor when it is not in power and the economy is bad. Under which conditions would they win then?
    It remains a historical moment: a majority for the president in a mid-term election. Very few presidents have managed to achieve this. Credit Osama, not Bush, for this historical event.
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  • (October 2002) The Bush tax cut and the art of deception: the final numbers about the 2001 tax cut are finally in. To refresh your memory, that's the tax cut that Bush promised before being elected, on the grounds that people had "overpaid" in taxes. Once he became president and the economy entered a recession, Bush changed the reason for the tax cut: it would help the economy. One year of lay-offs and stock market crashes later, we also learn how much Americans truly saved and who paid for this tax cut.
    If you add up the tax refund and the repeal of the estate tax (the "death tax"), about 40% of Bush's tax cut went to 1% of the US population, the richest 1%. The middle class got back $300. Unfortunately, in the USA there is something called the "alternative minimum tax" which is a way to tax the middle class even during a tax cut: the 2001 amount of this tax was higher than the $300 tax cut. Bottom line: the middle class paid a tax increase for its own $300 refund, plus it paid for almost a trillion dollars to be handed over to the 1% richest Americans.
    The president is a magician. People who steal so much money from so many people usually spend their life in prison: he managed to change the subject and distract the people whom he robbed.
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  • (October 2002) The largest terrorist organization in the world strikes again. While the entire country is focusing on the phantom sniper, thousands of USA citizens are exercising their right to own a gun and, with that gun, they are doing exactly what the sniper is doing: killing innocents. Americans, especially in the south and the Midwest, love guns. They have lots of them, and they normally shoot their neighbors, family members and schoolmates with them. (How unusual: an American kid shoots classmates). Now they also shoot random people at gas stations and parking lots.
    There are about 200 million guns in America (100 times the Iraqi army) and 20,000 people killed every year (500 times the number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan). Firearm deaths per 100,000 people (CDCP, Bureau Of Justice Statistics, 1998): 14.24 in the U.S., 4.31 in Canada, 0.7 in Holland, and only 0.41 in England (where not even police carry guns). Which means that if you live in the U.S., you are 40 times more likely to die of gunshots than if you live in Britain. Murders by handguns (1996): 15 in Japan, 30 in Britain, 211 in Germany, 9,390 in the United States. Which means if you live in the U.S., you are 300 times more likely to be murdered than in you live in Britain. In 1999 Americans were certainly reassured that "only" 6,000 workers were killed by colleagues in the workplace, a 10% drop from 1994's figure of 6,600, but still just about twice the number of people killed in Kosovo by Milosevic. The scariest data are about the "other" thousands of deaths by handgun: they are suicides and accidents. In the U.S. a child a day is killed by a handgun. All these numbers have been getting worse since Bush became president, thanks to his pro-guns attitude. If you define "terrorist" as "causing terror in the public", the N.R.A., the organization which protects guns, can claim to be, de facto, the deadliest terrorist organization in the world.
    It is not even true that the right to bear guns is written in the Constitution: the Constitution talks about guns that were available at the end of the 18th century, and was written before the US developed a true army. It makes no reference to "every future evolution of guns". Therefore, the only guns that are constitutionally legal are the ones that were available two hundred years ago.
    This is not only the effect of a pervasive "culture of guns", but also the effect of a pervasive "culture of cowardice". They shoot victims who cannot defend themselves, victims who don't even know are being shot at. This is precisely the kind of shooter that the NRA (National Rifle Association) represents. The vast majority of NRA members are hunters, people who shoot harmless animals for fun. It is no surprise that someone, or their children, started shooting harmless humans.
    The NRA has been spending billions of dollars trying to protect the rights of criminals to kill people and the rights to get away with it. The NRA has opposed any law that would help police track down who owns the gun that killed. And George W Bush has lent his power to help the NRA succeed in establishing the rights of criminals to kill. This is now such a widespread culture that dwarfs any act of terrorism carried out by Muslim extremists: 40 Americans a day are killed by shooters protected by the NRA. That's the equivalent of a World Trade Center attack every two months. Countless Washington politicians are being bribed every week to kill legislation that would hurt the rights of criminals to kill. If this is not treason, what is treason? These are politicians who are helping terrorists kill Americans. If an American Taliban was sentenced to 20 years in jail, what would be an adequate punishment for these coward politicians who sell the lives of thousands of Americans?
    The XM-15 used by the sniper is manufactured by Bushmaster Firearms in Maine. Bushmaster's motto is: "the best guns, by a long shot". Bushmaster has made it clear that the XM-15 has been tamed in order to comply with a law passed in 1994 that limits what rifles can be sold to the public. That law expires in 2004, and the NRA has bribed enough politicians to make sure it will not be renewed. Bushmaster has basically told sniper wannabes all over America that, comes 2004, they will be producing a far more deadly gun. The owner of Bushmaster is Richard Dyke: he was the chief fundraiser for George W Bush in Maine.
    As we go about investigating "weapons of mass destruction", we shouldn't forget that 20,000 Americans are shot dead every year: isn't that a case of "mass destruction"? Isn't the NRA as guilty as Saddam? Isn't George W Bush the number one traitor of the USA? If we are willing to bomb the hell out of Afghanistan, why not the hell out of the NRA's headquarters? If we offer millions of dollars for the capture of Osama, why not offer millions of dollars for the capture of the NRA leadership? If we ask countries around the world to round up friends of Osama, why not round up the many friends of the NRA in Washington? It would save a lot of American lives.
    As we fight world terrorism, we shouldn't forget that the largest terrorist organization in the world is based in the USA: the NRA. The NRA is responsible for the deaths of many more Americans than Osama ever dreamed of killing. It even exerts a huge influence on the Washington government: isn't that as scary as Iraq?
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  • (October 2002) Will the USA economy ever recover? In june 2001 we predicted that George W Bush's economic policies will cause the worst recession in modern times. George W Bush, in the meantime, predicted that the economy would improve rapidly. One year after his tax cut and a flood of economic bills, a lot more people are out of job, and a lot more companies are out of business. People's savings and retirements are being wiped out by the crash of the stock market , which the president has not even tried to stop. The current economic crisis is already the worst of the last 30 years.
    Needless to say, George W Bush keeps predicting a rapid recovery. In the meantime, he wants to start a war with Iraq so people have something else to worry about than their jobs and their savings.
    There are two factors that could make this crisis much worse, and both are likely to start playing a role very soon. First of all, the trade deficit of the USA is gigantic. It has never been paid. The USA keeps buying goods from other countries on credit. This can't go on forever, especially now that the USA recession has caused a worldwide recession.
    Second, oil is not infinite, and the USA (unlike Russia or China) depends heavily on foreign oil. The USA's main oil suppliers are Venezuela (a country run by a socialist president who is a personal friend of Fidel Castro and has paid his homages to Saddam Hussein), Saudi Arabia (the country that sponsored the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the country from which most of the Al Qaeda terrorists come from) and Kuwait (a country where the latest poll shows that many people consider Osama a hero and want the USA to leave the Middle East). All the oil reserves in the USA (including the ones in Alaska) would be enough to support the USA for barely one year. The survival of the US economy depends on the oil of three countries that are not friendly to the USA.
    When either factor or both factors are triggered, the USA economy will take another serious beating. This could cause a rapid meltdown of the stock markets, which would disintegrate people's savings and retirements, and the loss of millions of jobs. The Bush administration is not doing anything to address either issue. To address the first factor, if it doesn't come up with a better idea, the USA will probably be forced to lower the value of the dollar (what third-world countries do when they can't pay back their debts). And, to address the second factor, it could, for example, get rid of the oil economy.
    Starting a war in the Middle East is a massive gamble. It could help stabilize the oil markets for a few more years, or it could cause a massive increase in oil prices, and disrupt the flow of oil for many years. Either way, it won't solve the problem in the long run.
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  • (August 2002) The USA join the Chinese dictatorship against freedom-fighters The USA is dreadfully famous around the world for its double standards (that probably account for 99% of the widespread anti-American sentiment on planet Earth). The USA did not miss an opportunity to prove how double their double standards are: they listed as "terrorists" the Turkish people that have been fighting Chinese rule in Turkestan for about half a century.
    Even an incompetent like George W Bush, totally ignorant of the world, could see that Turkestan, which the Chinese renamed Xinjiang after they invaded it and annexed it, is populated by Turkish-looking Muslim people who have nothing in common with the Chinese people. Turkestan's people, called Uighurs, are obviously being forced to be part of China against their will. China (the communist China based in Beijing, not the democratic one based in Taiwan) did to Turkestan what Saddam did to Kuwait. The people of Turkestan (led by a group called ETIM) are fighting Chinese oppression the same way that Kurds are fighting Saddam Hussein: they are fighting for freedom against a dictatorship that wants to annihilate them.
    But Bush has little interest for truth. He has decided to ban the ETIM as a terrorist group. This is the single most important help that China ever received from a foreign country in its repression of minorities. Not even the communist regime of the Soviet Union ever endorsed China's extermination policy the way Bush just did.
    This happens while international groups are pressing China to release a famous Muslim dissident: guess how many chances that dissident has now to survive the Chinese jails.
    The reason Bush bent over to Chinese pression is probably very simply: Bush needs China's huge market to rescue the US economy (and probably needs China's approval to attack Iraq).
    The funny thing is that Republicans used to reproach Clinton for being too friendly to China: if Clinton was a friend of China, then Bush is a prostitute.
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  • (August 2002) Why Iraq now? One can doubt Saddam has any intention of attacking anyone. And one can doubt that he is any worse than many other Arab leaders (Sudan has killed a grand total of one million Dinkas and Morocco has annexed Western Sahara without the USA ever complaining, not to mention Saudi Arabia, the spiritual leader of the sunni world and the country where Osama and most of Al Qaeda come from and got money from). But the US economy is in really bad shape. Now even economists close to the Republican Party talk openly of a "double-dip" recession, which most Americans alive today have never experienced. This is by far the worst recession of the last 30 years. Sooner or later it would come back and haunt the president, who wasn't even elected by the people. Worse: we killed 4,000 civilians in Afghanistan (more than died on Sep 11) and caught precious few terrorists. Osama is still free. So are his closest associates. So is Mullah Omar, and all the leaders of the Taliban.
    All this talk about Iraq has effectively kept the public opinion from focusing on who is to blame for the economy and the simple fact that Osama is still free.
    Bush may not be so stupid to actually attack Iraq (American casualties would not be negligible and chances are Saddam would remain in power), but keep Americans talking about Iraq and they won't complain about their finances.
    It is surprising that the Bush administration does not target Iran: it would be much easier because Iran is ripe for a democratic revolution. Bomb a couple of military centers and the Iranian people will gladly overthrow the ayatollahs, who would probably oppose only token resistance. This would create a formidable pro-American axis in that region (Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan).
    Or North Korea: China is also fed up with that embarrassing ally, Russia could care less, the country is bankrupt, why not take on this craziest of world dictators? The reunification of the two Koreas would generate plenty of Bush-friendly tv coverage.
    Think of it: the axis of evil (Iraq, Iran, North Korea) has nothing to do with September 11 or with Osama (Osama hates Saddam, Iran is not even sunni, North Korea is not even Islamic, none of the known terrorists is Iraqi, Iranian or Korean). Those three countries are simply the three easiest targets from a political viewpoint (and Israel's favorite villains).
    Saddam looks like the easiest because his hands are tied in the back. But the Arab world and western Europe are opposed to a war, and the people of Iraq have never shown any enthusiasm for starting a revolution. Attacking Iraq is not as easy as it may look, as many advisors are explaining to Bush. (There may be oil-related reasons that still prevail: the ways of corruption are mysterious).
    Also, Bush's stubborn, hypocritical, aggressive and sometimes arrogant stance on Iraq is rapidly turning Saddam into the victim. Nobody has done so much to restore Saddam's reputation as Bush. Most of the world is beginning to see Saddam as the victim of American imperialism. Even the countries that are threatened by Saddam are beginning to oppose a war against Iraq, and even Kuwaitis themselves, who were invaded by Iraq, are becoming overwhelmingly anti-American, as the latest polls show. This does not help the cause of overthrowing Saddam.
    That said, Bush does need to do something before the people and the media start focusing on who is to blame for the economy and on the simple fact that Osama is still free... On september 11, 2002, the whole country will be remembering the anniversary of the day that Bush went on tv and said "wherever he hides, we will catch him". And the congressional elections are only two months away.
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  • (July 2002) What can be done to save the stock markets:
    1. Bush and Cheney could resign. While unlikely, this would immediately translate in a huge boost of confidence for the world markets. Bush is the one who talked the economy down even before he became president, who caused most of the trouble with his tax cut, who turned a terrorist attack into a war, who keeps talking about war against Iraq, and who keeps hurting confidence with his speeches. Bush and Cheney are also involved in too many scandals related to corporate malpractice, and corporate malpractice was the proverbial "straw" that started the 2002 crash. Remove them, and everybody regains confidence. If possible, amend the constitution and bring back Clinton. No matter what his moral failures, the Clinton-Greenspan economy was the best of all times: investors would regain confidence.
    2. Bush could shut up. Every time he speaks, he causes devastating crashes of the stock markets worldwide. He could shut up and pretend that he is not the president. This would help increase confidence among investors.
    3. The Bush administration could quickly enact the reforms that the financial community has been demanding, and send the corrupt businessmen to jail (some of them have committed acts far more serious than robbing a bank). Unfortunately, neither Bush nor Congress has any interest in doing so, since the beneficiaries of corporate malpractice are the very lobbies that fund their political campaigns. Instead, in October 2002 Bush vetoed the nomination of John Biggs to lead an independent investigation, thereby killing corporate reform.
    4. The Bush administration could stop lying about the state of the economy. This is, as we predicted, the longest world-wide economic crisis of all times. At least, investors would regain confidence in what the government says. Right now nobody trusts any of their numbers anyway. The vast majority of the world's analysts think that the numbers are far worse than they look.
    5. The fundamental reason that investors are jittery is that companies have more debts than at any point in the history of the modern world. It takes very little to topple those companies. The USA could force companies to reduce their debt ratio. Unfortunately, this would probably cause a major recession. The stock market would go up because the companies left would be the ones with the most solid finances. That recession might be overdue anyway, since much of America's wealth is based on borrowing money, a process that may not be feasible forever.
    6. The USA could reduce its own (federal) debt. Bush could increase taxes. The budget deficit is one bad news too many. By increasing taxes, Bush would restore fiscal discipline, which was Clinton's number one weapon, and at least generate some sense that he is in charge and not simply a puppet of corporate interests. It may also bring in enough money for the government to hire/invest and restart the economy. Big government is not bad at all, as Bush claims: it is, in fact, one of the main sources of economic growth (Bush himself is using government spending as an economic stimulus when he asks to increase the defense budget)..
    7. The Federal Reserve could help the dollar, whose recent crash has scared foreign investors away from America. The problem is that the traditional way to help the dollar is to increase interest rates, which is probably the last thing the Fed wants to do right now (it would worsen the recession).
    8. The Federal Reserve could lower interest rates, a move that normally boosts stocks. Unfortunately this would further depress the dollar, which is already trading at historic lows against the euro, which would in turn scare foreign investors and therefore be counterproductive for the stock markets.
    9. A concerted effort by the Federal Reserve and Bush could send the dollar plunging down. This would make US-made goods so cheap that the rest of the world would start buying them. Of course, this is what third-world countries normally do. World powers are not supposed to do it... unless they get desperate.
    10. Capture Osama Bin Laden. Bush seems to have a vested interested in not capturing Osama (not alive, at least). Osama knows too much of the Bush family's involvement with Saudi Arabia and Osama is probably not the mastermid of the September 11 attack, both embarrassing facts that Bush would rather keep quiet. However, Osama's arrest would restore some level of confidence that at least major terrorist attacks against the USA are not imminent. Osama's behavior proves that he does not want to die, so there may be a strong chance that he decides to cooperate with the USA to eradicate Al Qaeda from the world.
    11. Nothing. Just let stocks plunge to a value that is so low that investors start buying them again. Unfortunately, that value could be much lower than it is today. Companies are not buying back their own stock. That is an admission that, as cheap as they are, those shares are still deemed too expensive for the issuers themselves. If a company does not believe in its own stock, why should anyone else? The signal that the market is ready to turn around will be that companies start buying their own stock (which is what happened in every previous crash).
    12. Bush caused this depression. Bush should go. If we impeach presidents when they are libertines, shouldn't we impeach them too when they are incompetent to run the country?
    Most likely none of these will occur, and the world will have to wait for 2004, when a new American president is elected, to see a recovery.
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  • (July 2002) Congratulations Mr Bush.
    • Unemployment keeps growing: two million Americans lost their jobs since George W Bush became president
    • The stock market is crashing (the numbers tell that Bush's economic policies did more damage than Osama's terrorism), and is poised for its first three-year losing streak since 1939-1941
    • Crime has increased for the first time after ten straight years of decline. Murders increased 2.5% in 2001 (FBI report), robberies 3.7%.
    • The dollar has plunged worldwide, for the first time in a generation, and Americans can't afford a coffee in Rome anymore: since Bush became president, Americans became 20% poorer compared with the rest of the world
    • Since Bush became president, the US governmenst has lost more than a trillion dollars, due to a combination of pork-barrel spending and tax cuts for wealthy Americans: the US government is in debt again after several years of surplus (the US debt has increased to 6 million billion dollars, i.e. each American would have to pay about $21,000 in order to pay off the national debt)
    • The U.S. trade deficit widened to a record $37.6 billion in May (i.e., each American owes about $10,000 to foreign countries)
    • The average American household is indebted (as in "credit cards", "mortgages", etc) like never before in the history of the USA
    • Corporate corruption is rampant (spearheaded by the president and the vicepresident themselves). In October 2002 Bush vetoed the nomination of John Biggs to lead an independent investigation, thereby killing corporate reform.
    • Bush lied about the recession: the revised numbers show that there were three quarters of recession in 2001 (not just one). Thus this is already one of the worst recessions ever This is becoming (as we predicted two years ago) the longest world-wide economic crisis of all times.
    • The trade deficit keeps increasing. Even the IMF and the World Bank (both controlled by the USA) warned that this huge debt cannot be sustained forever. In order to pay its debt to the rest of the world, the USA has to come up with 4 billion dollars a day (a day). This has worked in the past because foreigners were investing in US stocks and real estate. But now US stocks are worth less than the paper they are printed on. Eventually, the USA will have to start paying those 4 billion dollars a day in some other way. The easiest solution will be to devalue the dollar, which is what third-world countries do. Bush may preside over the demise of the USA as a world's power.
    • The terrorists indicted for September 11, including Osama, are still at large
    • The leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, is still at large (in fact the Taliban have already murdered two politicians of the new Afghani government)
    • The vast majority of the people killed in Afghanistan by USA bombs were civilians, not Taliban or Al Qaeda
    • The anthrax terrorist has never been caught, but there is growing evidence that the anthrax came from an American laboratory
    • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is worsening by the day
    • Relationships between the USA and Europe have never been so strained (so much for the "coalition" that Bush promised to build) mainly because Bush has violated all sorts of economic and social treaties
    • The prestige of the USA around the world has never been so low after the USA refused to sign: the Kyoto treaty on reduction of carbon dioxide, the international court, the anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia, and even the treaty against torture
    • The USA government has never spent so much money to finance pork-barrel projects (mainly benefiting the lobbies that elected Bush) and so little money for aid to poor countries (AIDS is killing 4,000 people each and every day in Africa alone, as many as were killed on September 11 in the USA, but Bush thinks those 4,000 Africans are worth only 1% of what the American spends on subsidies to farmers)
    • One disaster that Bush has not been allowed to cause is investing social security in the stock market. It was one of his main campaign promises. The events of September 11 changed the priorities of his administration, otherwise today the whole treasure of social security would be invested in the stock market, and Americans would have lost their pensions. Thankfully, some of Bush's craziest ideas have never been implemented.

    This president is crippling the American economy for many years to come, and taking the whole world down with him.
    Compared to this incompetent president, Clinton looks like a genius. Bring back Clinton: lowest unemployment ever, booming stock market, strong dollar, budget surplus, no wars, peace prospects for the Middle East, respect from Europe and the third-world. Good old days when the only problem facing America was a love affair.
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  • (July 2002) Why Bush needs to attack Saddam. With the economy still sputtering (at best), with the stock market collapsing (and dragging down the pensions of millions of voters), with one corporate scandal after the other advertising the illicit wealth of wealthy Americans, with Osama still at large and broadcasting a video a month, with most of the Taliban regime still at large, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict getting out of control (thanks to Bush's initial decision to disengage from Clinton-style negotiations), with a panicking administration issuing one terrorist warning a week (not exactly a reassuring spectacle), George W Bush and the Republican Party need to give voters at least one reason to vote for them in the Fall 2002 elections that will decide if Bush becomes the de-facto first dictator of the USA (despite having lost the presidential election, he could end up controlling both houses and therefore having virtually absolute power) or (if the Democrats win both houses) a transitional caretaker before the next presidential election. The difference is huge and the outcome depends on giving voters one reason to rally around Bush. So far Bush has proven adept mainly at walking his dogs up and down his personal airplane.
    Given the multiple failures of his collaborators in pretty much everything from the war against terrorism (so far won by the terrorists) to the economy (so far unemployment and the stock market are still way out of control compared with the Clinton years), Bush has to resort to war. After all, the only indisputable success of his tenure has been the war in Afghanistan (well, all the leading Taliban managed to escape and are probably just waiting for a chance to come back, but the American public has a short memory and by now very few Americans can still remember the name of the Taliban's supreme leader, although he used to be America's number-two most wanted man). After all, Saddam is pretty much the only foreign leader that the average American can name (the last Russian leader that most Americans can name is Gorbacev, the last Chinese leader they can name is Mao, and forget about all those little European countries or those complicated Japanese names). Saddam is popular and widely considered evil. Americans would hardly understand a war against Sudan (where one million Christians have been killed by the regime) or Saudi Arabia (a U.S. ally that routinely tortures and kills dissidents and treats women like cows), but they will rally behing an Iraqi invasion. Or at least that's what Bush hopes.
    There is a clear danger. It is not Saddam's (vastly over-rated) weapons of mass destruction. It is the not so negligible chance that these inept American agencies manage to lose sight of Saddam the way they did with Osama, and that Saddam becomes another popular hero for the Arab masses.
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  • (May 2002) Corruption in America is not an opinion, it is a fact of life, and is perfectly legal. The Bush administration is enacting one of the worst campaigns of pork-barrel spending, subsidies and political cover-ups. This is corruption that is absolutely legal, the ultimate masterpiece in abusing government.
    Take the farm bill of May 2002. After telling the whole world that it is bad to subsidize industries that lose money, Congress and Bush signed a "farm bill" worth about $200 billion that will simply subsidize farmers who have been losing money. Worse, it will make it lucrative to lose money, as the bill encourages farmers to increase production when prices fall. Needless to say, this will simply anger foreign partners, who will be flooded with cheap American exports (after America promised to abide by international trade ethics and asked the rest of the world to do the same). Needless to say, the vast majority of this "farm aid" goes to the 10% wealthiest farmers in America.
    All of this at a time when countries like Malawi are starving to death: America spends 40 times more money on its wealthy farmers than on aid to fight famine in the third world. Bush did not miss the opportunity to tell African leaders that they could not expect the help they requested (a mere billion of dollars) because it would not be well spent: as if the 200 billion dollars to subsidize the farmers of America were well spent (incidentally, they even caused a trade war with Europe). Bush denied funding for AIDS programs in the third-world on the basis of similar arguments: the money would be wasted. Much bigger sums of money are being wasted by the Bush budget on the silliest projects that benefit this or that supporter of the Republicans. Is anybody in America expecting gratitude from the rest of the world for betraying international trade agreements, lowering prices (i.e., profits) and wasting money that could save millions of lives?
    Take the Enron-Andersen scandal. It doesn't take a Democrat to figure out that the Bush administration was "friendly" to Enron, the energy company that cheated beyond imagination, and it doesn't take a puritanical Muslim to figure out that the auditing firm, Andersen, was in cahoots, and that this practice is widespread. Enron fell, but its executive management can retire safely with millions of dollars in the bank. Andersen fell, but its customers have simply been swallowed up by its four competitors, which are no less involved in this kind of shady practices. Legislation that was supposed to be passed by Congress to make sure that this never happens again has been (guess) promptly canceled. The only ones to pay a price will be the employees who worked hard at Enron and Andersen, and the millions of small-time investors who were fooled by the managers of Enron and Andersen.
    Dick Cheney spent the first year as vice-president telling everybody that we should drill in Alaska because he thinks that's the only solution to the energy crisis (and a godsend for his own finances and his friends). Despite one of the most incompetent governors in the world, California solved its energy crisis by conserving energy and is now suing Enron for artificially creating the energy crisis (sounds like there is a connection between Cheney's intents, Enron's actions and oil money? surprise surprise). Despite being proven wrong on all fronts (and ridiculed by experts on how much his manic drilling around Alaska would yield), Cheney did not lose his job. Since he has not been punished, he will probably simply try another scheme to get what he wants.
    Health care in America is reaching ridiculous depths. Patients are basically asked to walk to the hospital, even if they are in a coma. Prices for a check up or a vaccination equal a yearly salary in other countries, and often result in a quick and superficial visit by the doctor. Health care in America is obviously taking in billions of dollars from ordinary citizens who are not adequately protected by the government, in a gigantic scam that reminds one of the worst mafia excesses in Sicily.
    On the other hand, what is the government doing for the most pressing problem in health care, the acute shortage of nurses? Absolutely nothing. There isn't a single line in the budget that addresses the simple fact that patients have to share their nurse with many other patients, that only the richest hospitals in America can provide decent health care (as in "care") to their patients. The Bush administration has even made it more difficult to import nurses from abroad.
    Last but not least, think of Bush's tax cut: $300 for ordinary Americans with a job, $0 for ordinary Americans below the poverty line, and millions of dollars for wealthy Americans. Congress repealed permanently the "death tax", which had originally been repealed only temporarily: that's a tax that about 10,000 extremely wealthy Americans were paying. Now they don't pay it anymore, and that is costing the other 280 million Americans a 50-70 billion dollars a year. (If only Americans took Math classes, they would know that this number alone is $500 per person, i.e. more than the $300 that they got back as a refund).
    Unfortunately, it is the ordinary American citizens who are willing to live with this level of corruption. The government is simply taking advantage of a gullable public.
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  • (May 2002) America's contempt for international agreements is unprecedented in modern times. The very same country that wants Iraq to comply with United Nations sanctions and that wants other countries to comply with all sorts of international treaties, has so far reneged on
    • The Kyoto protocol for reduction of carbon dioxide emissions (the USA were the only country not ready to sign it)
    • The recently established international court (that includes every other major country in the world and was considered a milestone in allowing for prosecution of dictators and terrorists)
    • the ABM treaty with Russia (that the Soviet Union had honored when it had an advantage over the USA, but the USA will not honor anymore now that it has an advantage over Russia)
    • the very "free trade" agreement that America forced everybody else to accept (Bush has imposed still tariffs on imported steel in violation of that agreement)
    • the international treaty against torture (the USA, Cuba and Iran were the only major countries that refused to sign the ban on torture)
    What kind of message is Bush trying to send to the rest of the world? That the USA is the number-one rogue country? How can the USA ask any country (western, eastern or arab) for cooperation in the fight against terrorism if it acts as a lawless country itself?
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  • (May 2002) Could it have been prevented? It appears that George W Bush was briefed about the plans of Al Qaeda to strike at America. The question people are asking is whether the September 11 attack could have been prevented.
    No, it could not have been prevented. For two reasons. One reason is that George W Bush was not competent enough to do anything about it. The other reason is that George W Bush did not have the motivation to do anything about it.
    First, Bush is not competent enough to be a president and it is pointless to ask him to be also a genius of counterintelligence. His intelligence is enough to walk the dog and to play golf. Don't expect him to also solve international political puzzles, especially if they occur in countries that he can't even pronounce.
    Second, Bush had no motivation to act on terrorism because, like all modern presidents, he does what the polls tell him to do. This is a democracy. People get elected by voters. Voters want tax cuts, not a plan on how to prevent a terrorist attack from some obscure Arab terrorist living in some obscure Central Asian country. Had Bush, or any other president, focused his administration on terrorism, he had gained not a single point in the polls. By cutting taxes, he gained several points. And, incidentally, Bush was also the biggest winner in the September 11 attack, as his popularity skyrocketed: from a purely political standpoint, the best course of events is to let terrorists strike and then take credit for leading the nation in the war against terrorism. Preventing a terrorist strike has no political value. Preventing a terrorist strike does not get the president re-elected (the mass media would hardly notice that a terrorist attack was prevented), whereas fighting terrorism after a major attack does get the president re-elected.
    So, one more time, the blame is all squarely on the shoulders of ordinary Americans: it is the Americans who elected (well, sort of elected) an incompetent to the White House, and it is the Americans, through polls, who determine what that incompetent does or does not do.
    The details are horrifying, but won't change the overall picture. In 1994 Arab terrorists hijacked a French airliner and tried to crash it into the Tour Eiffel. They failed because they had to rely on the pilot. That hijacking was widely reported worldwide, but, of course, Americans were too busy watching their talk shows to bother about the Tour Eiffel. In 1995 an Arab terrorist was arrested in the Philippines and the USA was warned of a plan to crash a plane into the CIA headquarters. In 1998, after the same network of terrorists blew up two American embassies in Africa, the arrested terrorists tell of a plan to send Arabs to flight schools. Again, Americans were too busy watching talk shows to pay attention. At the end of 1999 an Arab terrorist is arrested while on his way to blow up targets around the USA. On july 5 an experienced FBI agent, Ken Williams, eleven years on the job of surveilling terrorists, issues a memo about Arab terrorists enrolled in flight schools, except the memo is buried in FBI's bureaucracy. On august 6 Bush is briefed about Al Qaeda's plans to attack USA interests. Alas, the president is on vacation at his ranch for a full month (a luxury that very few American workers can enjoy). The CIA has determined that Al Qaeda will strike the USA. On august 16 an Arab terrorist is arrested while he was learning to fly jets, and the French immediately link it to Osama, but agents can't even get a warrant to search his home computer. In september another FBI agent issues a memo about a possible plot to fly a plane into the World Trade center. Last but not least, in early september the CIA prepares a plan to bomb Osama's Al Qaeda army in Afghanistan, but Bush is on tour to boost his popularity and doesn't have time to check this memo.
    Higher up in the hierarcy, John Ashcroft ignores appeals to make terrorism a priority: it is not a priority because the president does not consider it a priority for his political purposes.
    The story does not end here. In fact, it gets worse after September 11. The Bush administration denies having had any warnings about a coming attack. This is simply false. They were covering up. It takes nine months for the full story to surface. The worst part of it is not the cover-up, is the fact that, mostly, there was no cover-up: it really took Bush nine months to figure out what had happened. As of the end of May, nobody (not even Congress) has still been allowed to see Williams' memo. Nobody seems to know the name of the other agent who warned about Zacarias Moussaoui planning to fly a plane into the World Trade Center. Last but not least, nobody has resigned: Condoleezza Rice still has her job, despite being totally ineffective as an advisor, the head of the FBI still has his job, the head of the CIA still has his job, as do all the people reporting to them. Obviously, the Bush administration thinks that nobody made any mistakes. They all seem much more interested in covering up than in reforming whatever did not work properly.
    Nobody can blame the president of having willfully hidden the plot and let it happen. But all these people (FBI, CIA, Bush himself) are the product of a culture of incompetence and corruption that is more interested in winning elections than in protecting Americans. Ultimately, the responsibility is not on Bush, it is on the ordinary American who is accepts this state of things.
    Bush has singled out three countries (the "axis of evil") as the three main threats to America: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Did any American notice that neither was involved in the September 11 attack, and that countries like Saudi Arabia who were obviously involved (most of the terrorists were from Saudi Arabia) were not even mentioned by Bush?
    The Bush administration has published a list of countries harboring terrorists, that lists Iran at number one and even includes Cuba. Did any American notice that Iran is the only country that fought the Taliban and that Cuba has nothing to do with the Arabs and is actually cooperating with the US in Guantanamo?
    How can Americans expect their president to prevent a terrorist attack if they continue supporting his most stupid actions? How can anyone prevent Osama from killing many more Americans if this is the kind of government that ordinary Americans elect and support?
    Somewhere a diligent FBI or CIA agent is writing an important memo that nobody will read until, again, thousands of Americans are killed. You just don't win elections by preventing terrorist attacks.
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  • (April 2002) The Bush doctrine on terrorism The Bush doctrine on terrorism was proclaimed the days after the September 11 attack: "you are either with us or against us", and "any nation that harbors terrorism is as guilty as the terrorists". Thus the bombing and liberation of Afghanistan.
    Those principles obviously do not apply to Israel. Israel, attacked by terrorists sponsored by Arab countries and harbored by the Palestinian Authority, cannot invoke the same principles. Bush himself is not completely "with Israel". Bush himself sends Colin Powell to meet with Arafat, the very man who harbors terrorists.
    The Bush doctrine is probably the single most hypocritical doctrine proclaimed by the United States since the end of the Cold War. The real doctrine (the deeds, not the words) is much simpler: whatever works is fine. In Afghanistan it "worked" to bomb the Taliban out of power (Osama is still free, and probably plotting the next attack, but that will not be a concern until he strikes again). In Israel it did not work: Sharon was allowed to crush the Palestinians the way only a harsh dictatorship would do and still could not destroy the infrastructure of terrorism. Thus in Israel the terrorists win, and Bush is more than willing to negotiate with them.
    Should Osama succeed in perpetrating more attacks against the Americans, you can bet your last barrel of oil that Bush would negotiate with Osama in person.
    The image of Bush walking his dogs (the only thing he seems competent in doing, or, at least, the only chore we see him doing) is a striking reminder of who is to blame for the Middle-eastern crisis spinning out of control.
    This is how America loses its credibility in the eyes of the world. Ultimately, Bush is not only incompetent: he does more damage to America than the terrorists themselves. His inconsistent declarations only hurt America's case and will encourage a new generation of terrorists to strike at America.
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  • (April 2002) Surgical strikes or excessive force? As the numbers are finally revealed, it appears that, yet again, the "surgical strikes" of the US Airforce killed a disproportioned number of civilians. As the Pentagon claims that 75% of the bombs hit their targets, we are left with a devastating 25% that missed their targets and often hit civilian targets. We are also left with several documented cases in which the US hit the wrong target because of poor or deceiving intelligence. (Read this dossier). About 3,000 civilians were killed by American bombs between october 2001 and march 2002, including 160 civilians in Karam on Oct 11, 47 civilians in Sarai Shamali on Oct 18, 100 civlians in Herat on Oct 21, 93 civilians in Bori Chokar and Chowkar-Karez on Oct 23, 200 civilians in Shah Aqa on Nov 10, 100 civilians in Khanabad on Nov 18, 156 civilians in Kama Ado on Nov 30, and including embarrassing episodes such as the bombing of an ambulance in Kandahar on Dec 4, a crowded jeep on Dec 2 (mistaken for a Taliban vehicle), four trucks and five buses on the highway to Spin Boldak on Dec 1 (mistaken for a Taliban convoy), and an entire group of village elders on their way to a meeting with the governor of Nangarhar on Nov 30.
    That translates into about 30-40 civilian deaths a day. While this number is very small by comparison with other wars, and certainly miniscule compared with the number of Afghans killed by the Taliban (or even by other Islamic regimes that are not at war with anybody), it remains an embarrassment for a superpower that spends trillions of dollars in developing sophisticated weapons.
    Human Rights Watch reports that about 500 civilians were killed in Serbia by NATO bombs. That, again, is an unacceptable high number of "collateral casualties" by the standards of a superpower that spends trillions of taxpayers dollars in advanced weaponry research.
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  • (April 2002) George Bush to the rescue of the Palestinians. George W Bush has asked Israel to halt operations against the Palestinians.
    In his address to the world, Bush spared no one: Israel, Palestinians, Europeans, Arabs are all guilty of countless mistakes, in his opinion. He only forgot one cause of the current crisis, and probably the main one: himself. When Bush took office, he decided to disengage from the peace process in the Middle East which had been one of Clinton's pet projects. Bush's strategy was: let them sort out the mess among themselves. A few months later, 4.000 Americans were blown up by Middle-Eastern terrorists. Today, Bush himself admits that the whole area is a mess. Did it dawn on him that maybe his "strategy" is what caused the whole mess?
    When Bush decided to abandon the peace process to itself, he indirectly unleashed the worst extremists on both sides. The conflict became a personal issue between Sharon and Arafat, who did not spare civilians, women and children to make their (bloody) point. The escalation began exactly with the election of George W Bush.
    Later on, Sharon came to visit Bush in Washington and convinced him to target the three main enemies of Israel. Thus the axis of evil: Iran, Iraq and North Korea, three countries that had nothing to do with September 11 but that represent the main threats to Israel's security.
    Now Bush is intervening in the conflict because he has been told he can't attack Iraq (or anyone else, for that matter) until the Arab masses are satisfied that a just settlement has been found for the Palestinians.
    Bush, as usual, is also obeying orders from the royal Saudi family, friends of the Bush family and the ones who make money out of our gasoline (also the ones who funded Osama Bin Laden's terrorist activities and the dreaful Taliban regime, but that's a detail). (See "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden" by Steve Coll, Penguin 2004).
    Bush may also be envious and afraid of the Israeli success in uprooting terrorism. On september 11, Bush declared to the world that nothing will stop him from "smoking out" Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11 attack on America. It turns out Osama is alive and free, and Bush just declared that it is not important to catch him. Translation: Osama won. On the other hand, Israel declared Qais Edwan the mastermind of the Passover massacres, and in less than a week tracked him down and killed him. Compare the two and choose for yourself which one is better at catching terrorists. Bush may be embarrassed more by this episode than by the entire turmoil in Palestine, and may want to prevent a complete triumph of Israel against terrorists that would make America's failure in Afghanistan even too obvious.

    The good news is that Bush has finally realized that there are "terrorists" and "terrorists". After september 11, Bush declared war to all terrorists of the world. Now, effectively, Bush has asked Israel to negotiate with the Palestinian terrorists. The difference? There are terrorists who have legitimate reasons to stage their terrorism, and terrorists who don't have those legitimate reasons. There are terrorists fighting for a just cause (Tibet, Turkestan, Kurdistan, Sudan, Sahrawi) and terrorists who are fighting for a hideous cause (Osama, the FARC in Colombia, the Shining Path in Peru, the IRA in Ireland, the Basques in Spain), and there are terrorists who are fighting for a just cause in the wrong manner (I guess Bush would now file the Palestinians in this group). Some terrorists must be bombed to destruction, period. Some terrorists must be dealt with in a political manner (the Palestinians, according to the new Bush vision). Some terrorists must be helped (America helped the mujaheddin, including Osama, when they were fighting the Soviet Union, Reagan helped the Contras, and we wish America would help the terrorists of Tibet and Sudan and many other places).
    Bush's intervention is welcome, and will probably work out a truce. The problem is that it does not help America's image in the Middle East. In fact, America's image has seriously deteriorated. Nobody, not even the Europeans, believe that America can be a honest peace broker in the Middle East. America is seizing the initiative because America is on the defensive. Americans may pay a dear price for the delays of the Bush administration, for the "strategy" that Bush announced when he was elected.
    (Not to mention the constant distortion of the facts by the Arab media, that hardly mentioned Bush's new stance. Al-Jazeera's grotesque pro-terrorist campaign reached another peak when Al Jazeera claimed that Bush has asked for the murder of Arafat: Arafat is alive only because America does not want him dead. Sharon would love to hang him by his toes).
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  • (March 2002) The case against Iraq
    Reuters, Berlin, October 12: "Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman denied on Friday reports that suspected suicide plane hijacker Mohamed Atta twice met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague before the World Trade Centre attacks. His remarks follow comments by a US source on Thursday that Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague in June 2000 and April 2001. "Atta spent a day in the Czech Republic in transit at Prague's Ruzyne airport, but neither before nor after was he in the Czech Republic," Zeman told a joint press conference"".
    The New York Times, Oct 20, page B6: "Czech officials say they do not believe that Mohamed Atta . . . met with any Iraqi officials during a brief stop he made in Prague last year... Czech officials said they had been asked by Washington to comb their records to determine whether Mr. Atta met with an Iraqi diplomat or agent here. They said they had told the United States they found no evidence of any such meeting. ... Petr Necas, chairman of the parliamentary defense committee, said, 'I haven't seen any direct evidence that Mr. Atta met any Iraqi agent'." Mr. Gross ( the Czech interior minister) and other Czech officials suggested that while there was evidence that Mr. Atta had visited Prague, there was none he had actually met with Iraqi agents."
    Blair has very open to admit in front of the British parliament that there was no case, but the US has never openly admitted it. It is funny that, despite repeated denials by the alleged sources, this event keeps being mentioned in the media (Bill O'Reilly mentions it routinely in his show). Although we must admit we have not heard anyone from the Bush administration seize on it recently, they have certainly not done a good job of clarifying what the evidence is and is not. When confronted with the denials coming from Prague, Rumsfeld said, 'The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence' (ie, guilty until proven innocent). Basically, they created a rumour and let it spread.
    This happened at the same time that a rumour was created about the anthrax being of Iraqi origin. They were basically trying to build a case that Atta may have carried Iraqi anthrax to the US. Now we know with almost absolute certainty that the anthrax came from a US military lab: no need for Atta to purchase it from Iraq, and probably no need for an Arab terrorist to mail it. We can only hope that the Bush administration was only behind fabricating the evidence, not also behind spreading the anthrax...
    Nobody would be surprised if Osama had tried to purchase weapons from Iraq. But, then, there are reports that he tried to purchase weapons from German and Swiss concerns, and from Russian officials: not exactly a good reason to invade Germany and Switzerland and Russia. On the other hand, it doesn't take any fabrication to prove the help he received from Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, United Emirates, all countries notably missing from Bush's "axis of evil", all countries that Bush has no intention of invading, no matter how deep and compromising their involvement in Al Qaeda's activities.
    There is no case against Iraq. Saddam is a brutal dictator and we wish him all the worst. However, the US has been investigating for six months and cannot come up with a single speck of evidence that Saddam is involved in the September 11 attacks. On the other hand, there is overwhelming evidence of involvement by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. If the USA invades Iraq, it should also invade Saudi Arabia and the other countries of the region that are rules by dictators no less brutal than Saddam (whether they are friend of the Bush family or not).
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  • (March 2002) The irony: exactly six months from September 11, the U.S. Senate has voted against saving gasoline. Oil was the ultimate cause of September 11: if the USA's economy did not depend on oil, the USA would not meddle into the affairs of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia could not have afforded to support the Taliban regime, the USA would not have fought a war against Iraq, Osama Bin Laden would not have taken up arms against the USA to protest the USA's intervention. It all goes full circle back to the oil. It is ironic that the USA would show the entire world how little it has learned from history.
    What this means is simple: the USA will depend even more on oil, Arab countries will make even more money, terrorists supported by those countries will acquire even more powerful weapons, and even more Americans will be killed.
    Who benefits? The oil companies, of course. Politicians have sold the lives of thousands of American citizens so that a few oil barons can get richer.
    As the corrupt U.S. senate well knows, in the USA vehicles account for almost half of total oil consumption. As the corrupt U.S. senate well knows, vehicles have become less and less fuel-efficient. The result is a ghastly statistic: oil imports have increased 28% over the last decade. The USA is virtually held hostage by the Arab world, which controls most of that oil.
    While American troops are risking their lives to fight against the by-products of America's oil policy, American politicians are betraying their country. This is, simply put, treason.
  • (February 2002) Richard Nixon, war criminal. The National Archives finally released tapes that reveal how Richard Nixon manipulated the Vietnam war and the extent of his evil plans. Nixon: "I'd rather use the nuclear bomb". Kissinger: "That, I think, would be too much". Nixon: "The nuclear bomb... does that bother you... I just want you to think big". Almost one million Vietnamese died after this meeting of April 25, 1972: Nixon did not drop a nuclear bomb on Vietnam, but unleashed a campaign of bombing that killed more people than a nuclear bomb would have. One can suspect that he dropped his plans to nuke Vietnam not because it would have killed too many people, but because it would have killed too "few" people: he knew that increased air bombings would kill more people. And by "people" Nixon meant "people" (women, children, elderly), not soldiers.
    America asks the world to try Milosevic and Saddam Hussein. One wonders what moral standard granted Nixon immunity and should send Milosevic to jail.
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  • (February 2002) How Bush lost the peace. America may have won the war in Afghanistan, but Bush's inclusion of Iran in the "axis of evil" has been an astonishing blunder, one that could jeopardize any future settlement for Afghanistan. Besides bordering on Afghanistan, and having fought the Taliban when America was helping them, and being the single largest donor of humanitarian aid, Iran exerts an influence on almost half of Afghanistan. Iran welcomed the toppling of the Taliban.
    After Bush's speech, it is no longer clear why Iran should cooperate with the war against terrorism at all.
    Iran has no relationship with Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Iran does not sponsor any of the terrorists that pledged war against America. Iran has literally nothing to do with anti-American terrorism. Iran has a president and a parliament that were elected democratically by the people (a rarity in the Middle East: none of the allies of the USA allows for free elections). However, Bush put Iran at the same level as Iraq and North Korea, which are obviously much worse regimes (neither had anything to do with September 11, by the way: almost all the terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, as is Osama himself, and their financial sponsors can all be tracked back to Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates, two traditional USA allies).
    American allies in Europe and Asia (even Britain and Pakistan) were shocked by the totally unexpected inclusion of Iran in the "axis of evil". Everybody was expecting a reapproachment between the USA and Iran and possibly even an alliance against their common enemies.
    It is puzzling (to say the least) why Bush would attack Iran at a time when Iran just helped the USA in its campaign against the Taliban (reminder: Iran was the only country that fought the Taliban even before September 11) and when Iran is the most notorious enemy of Saddam Hussein. Iran and the USA seem to have more in common than in opposition. There were signs that the two countries were close to reopening diplomatic channels. Why would the president of the USA jeopardize this historic chance?
    Notably absent from Bush's "axis of evil" were Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia has raised more terrorists than any other country in the world. Saudi Arabia was one of the few countries to recognize the Taliban (neither Iran nor Iraq ever recognized them as a legitimate government). Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates are the main financial sponsors of terrorist groups around the world. They fund the religious schools in Pakistan that raised and trained the Taliban and countless Pakistani terrorists. They support Al-Jazeera news agency, which has virtually become the official medium of anti-American sentiment in the Arab world. Anybody who has lived in Saudi Arabia knows that the vast majority of young Saudis root for Osama. Countries like Saudi Arabia do not meet any of the moral standards set forth by Bush: there have never been democratic elections, women are treated like slaves, dissidents are routinely tortured and executed, etc. Last but not least, Saudi Arabia officials have refused to issue a strong condemnation of September 11, even implying that America's attitude was to blame, not terrorists.
    Bush's comment on the "axis of evil" has angered a country (Iran) that was on the USA's side against the Taliban and against terrorism, has alienated allies in Europe and the Middle East, has absolved countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates) that are clearly responsible for September 11 and has created concern in many other countries that are now unsure what exactly America is fighting against (none of the countries Bush mentioned have been involved in anti-American terrorism).
    With just one sentence Bush has destroyed whatever "coalition against terrorism" he was trying to build. With just one sentence Bush has actually helped create a "coalition against America", that is certainly going to be a problem for future generations of Americans. Bush has destroyed whatever sympathy for America there was after September 11.
    Here is what Khameini (Iran's religious leader) said in response to Bush's speech: "America has opposed popular movements, supported undemocratic regimes, sold lethal weapons and looted the wealth of other nations... These are evil acts". Therefore implying that America is the "evil one", not Iran. These words were reported in every country of the world. It is hard to deny that Khameini's statements are correct. People around the world who suffered from America's support of dictators are likely to enjoy Khameini's words and laugh at Bush's words.
    What has Bush accomplished with his "axis of evil"?
    Was Bush just an idiot who forgot which countries he was supposed to mention and simply mentioned the countries he could recollect from his dad's speeches? Or was Bush told to mention those specific countries for sinister purposes that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism?
    Who benefits from Bush's war against Iran, Iraq and North Korea? Certainly not the American people.

    (Almost every single head of state in Europe criticized Bush and distanced themselves from America's war against "terrorism", and, a few days later, Great Britain, which is America's staunchest ally in the world, released the suspected terrorist they were still keeping in jail on behalf of the USA: America has completely lost any credibility).
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  • (February 2002) Is Israel dictating USA's war against terrorism?. Who benefits from Bush's war against Iran, Iraq and North Korea? What have these countries in common? Well, one thing they have in common is that they have nothing to do with September 11, the Taliban, Al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden. But this is hardly a reason to single them out in a speech about September 11. Clearly the USA does not benefit. Who benefits?
    The inclusion of Iran (a relatively democratic country that has been for years the staunchest opponent of the Taliban) only helps Israel. While Iran has not harmed a USA citizen in decades, Iran is openly sponsoring Palestinian "freedom fighters" (one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter) who are staging a liberation war against Israeli occupation. One may or may not agree with those "freedom fighters", but it is a fact that they have never attacked the USA. They do attack Israel, though. Bush's comment is out of context in the war against the enemies of the USA, but it would be perfectly in synch with Israel's war against the enemies of Israel.
    Ditto for North Korea, the poorest country in the world which is hardly capable of striking anybody, but a country that owns nuclear technology and is selling it to Iran, Syria, Libya, and Iraq. These countries are not going to use that nuclear technology against the USA, but they are certainly going to use it against Israel. Thus, North Korea is not a direct threat to the USA, but it is a threat to Israel. (Other countries that are selling nuclear technology to potential enemies of the USA are Russia and China, and both have fare more sophisticated nuclear technology than North Korea, not to mention France and Germany, two USA allies, that sold nuclear technology to Iraq).
    Iraq has made no mystery that it would strike Israel if it could (and done so during the Gulf War, when Israel wasn't even attacking Iraq). Saddam Hussein wants to go down in history as the first Arab leader to cause massive casualties in Israel. Saddam is also considered a hero throughout the Palestinian territories for his anti-Israel stand.
    If Bush indeed made that unwarranted and untimely comment against Iran out of friendship for Israel, and therefore jeopardized peace in Afghanistan and the war against terrorism to help Israel against Iran, that episode reveals an unprecedented Israeli influence on the USA government. Clearly, Bush could not find Iran on the map and has no clue what is going on in the Middle East, so someone else in his administration must have masterminded that accusation.
    This is no coincidence. Over the last few weeks, it has become evident that the USA is not going to pressure Israel into making peace with the Palestinians. The USA has tolerated repeated Israeli incursions in Palestine, the destruction of hundreds of civilian houses (the sum of which is not that much smaller than the World Trade Center) and the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians. It seems that the Bush Administration has given Israel "carte blanche" at the expense of its own interests: Israel's arrogance has exacerbated the Arab public against the USA at a time when the USA would like support and not hatred from the Arabs. Is it a coincidence that Bush declares war to the enemies of Israel at the same time that Bush lets Israel get away with blatant violations of past agreements? Is Israel running the USA's foreign policy? Is the USA's war against terrorism being diverted to look after Israel's interests instead of USA's interests?
    The Bush administration should divulge why it decided to include Iran in the "axis of evil" and not include, for example, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates (mounting evidence shows a trail of money from these two countries towards Al Qaeda, and, again, the terrorists that struck on September 11 were mainly from Saudi Arabia). The Bush administration should divulge how Israel has managed to hijack one of the president's most important speeches (and perhaps the entire USA foreign policy).
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  • (January 2002) Why the economy will not improve any time soon Factor number one is the president of the USA, the very man who started this recession when he talked down the economy during the political campaign of 2001.
    • The single main reason for the recession is that the public has no confidence in George W Bush. People feel that the future looks bleak and businesses feel that this is not a good time to invest. They both mean that they do not have confidence in George W Bush (even if they say the opposite when polled). This loss of confidence will not come back any time soon. In fact, it will not return for as long as Bush is president.
    • George W Bush's economic policy so far has been to pay back the special interests that got him elected. The tax cut went mostly (99%) to the wealthy people and corrupt companies that sponsored his campaign. September 11 was an excuse to hand out billions of dollars to the airlines. The stimulus package he proposed would give money to the very same companies and individuals.
    • A corrupt administration causing a bad economy is nothing new. What is new is that this administration enjoys a very high level of popularity, thanks to the September 12 terrorist attack. In fact, Bush has managed to blame the recession (that started in the spring) on Osama Bin Laden. The September 11 attack has rallied Americans around their president, as it should be. However, it has created an unusual and dangerous situation: a president who is responsible for a failed economy and still enjoys very high ratings, i.e. he was no motivation to change. Normally, what prompts the corrupt administration to change course is voters' complaints. What is unusual this time is that voters applaud the president.
    • The single biggest threat to George W Bush's political future is campaign finance reform. Any form of campaign finance reform would reduce the amount of money that Bust can raise. Bush knows that he got elected first governor of Texas and then president of the USA because he had raised more money than anyone else. Even Bush himself must recognize that he would never win a fair election. Bush's number-one goal is to everything he can to postpone campaign finance reform. As long as the economy is in bad shape, the people of America are more concerned about jobs than about campaign finance reform. Bush's number-one goal is to keep the economy lousy.
    • Despite Bush's promise that the government will not enter a new era of deficits, and despite the forecasts of Bush's economic team that predicted no deficit, it appears now obvious that the USA will post a deficit this year. Government debt was precisely the reason for the last recession (the main thrust behind the expansion of the 1990s was that Clinton balanced the budget). If the government runs out of money again, it will have to cut jobs and public projects. Most local governments (states, counties, cities) are already cutting their budgets. This will only make the economy weaker.
    Then there are international reasons:
    • This is the first time in 30 years that the USA, Japan and Europe are in a recession at the same time.
    • Argentina collapsed with little or not help from the rest of the world, for the simple reason that the rest of the world does not have the means to help. There are countless countries on the brink of similar collapses. This is creating a huge market for low-pay jobs and is shrinking dramatically the market for high-end products. It only spells trouble for the USA.
    • The USA is letting Israel poung Palestinians and humiliate Arafat. Whether this is right or wrong, it is only likely to increase tensions that could ignite a wider conflict that would affect the price of oil, which is still (alas) the USA's main import.

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