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Topics - Aletsch

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1
2006 / Senator J. William Fulbright (1905-1995)
« on: May 21, 2006, 05:15:39 PM »


Washington Report, April 30, 1984, Page 8


Personality

J. William Fulbright

In August, 1945, two atom bombs dropped on Japan brought an end to World War II. A month later, a freshman U.S. Senator from Arkansas introduced a bill to set up a program for the international exchange of professors and students. As vastly different as the two events were, they were not unconnected.

The proposal for the exchange program`”which would eventually make William Fulbright's last name a household word for millions`”was in fact a direct reaction to the dropping of the bombs and the consequent,horrifying prospect of a nuclear war some time down the road.

"It seemed to me," says Senator Fulbright`”who in his eightieth year appears to have lost none of the fire of his convictions`”"that a major reason why people were willing to wage war against another people is that they didn't understand the other culture or even think of the others as real human beings. It is easy for people to fight if they think all the Chinese are 'cruel,' or all the Russians are 'evil,' and so forth. I thought an opportunity for scholars to spend time living in other countries could help dispel some of this prejudice."

Within a relatively short time Senator Fulbright had obtained a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee`”becoming its chairman in 1959`”and developed strong views on the inadmissibility of the use of force to gain political ends, the "folly" of the arms race; and the need for the United States and the Soviet Union to bring it to a halt by dealing with each other in an atmosphere of detente. It was perhaps inevitable that these views would influence his attitudes towards the policies of Israel`”and during the sixties and early seventies he was the Senate's leading critic of Israel's policies. To those Americans who agreed with him, he came across as one of the very few courageous voices in U.S. public life calling for a sane and even-handed approach to the Arab-Israeli issue. To Israel and its supporters, he was viewed as an enemy.

Implementing the Policy

Looking back on this period today, as he sits in his office at the Washington, D.C. law firm he joined after losing his Senate seat in 1974, Senator Fulbright says that an American policy favoring a settlement based on Israel's pre-1967 borders has always been in existence officially `”"but we have never been willing to implement it." The 1950 Tripartite Declaration issued by the United States, Britain and France called for maintenance of the pre-1967 borders, and American-backed U.N. Resolution 242 called for a return to them. Even the withdrawals proposed by the Camp David accords and by the Reagan plan have been premised on a return to those same borders. "Yet we have given Israel the funds and the arms to keep on expanding," Senator Fulbright says. "This will eventually do Israel in."

A Disturbing Pattern

He sees the U.S.'s relations with Israel and with the Soviet Union as being, in some ways, part of the same cloth, and finds the pattern disturbing.

"Israel and its supporters are among the principal obstacles to the normalization of our relations with the Russians," he says. "Since the very early days they have been telling us that Israel is the bulwark against the spread of Soviet influence in the Middle East, and this has fitted in well with our paranoia about the Russians. Now they feel that if there is any relaxation of our attitude towards the Russians, their ability to obtain money and arms from the U.S. would diminish. That's true. If you really had detente it would be much more difficult to get money out of Congress for Israel than it is now."

When asked about the extent to which pro-Israel opposition may have been a factor in the loss of his seat, Senator Fulbright declines to pin the tail on any particular group. "Some say my opposition to the Vietnam war did it, and others say it was my advocacy of detente. But it could be," he adds with a twinkle, "that I had been in the Senate for quite a while, was getting old, and just didn't look good on television."

Since leaving the Senate, Senator Fulbright has kept up with Middle East affairs through reading and travel and through his involvement with such organizations as Georgetown's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (on the advisory committee) and AMIDEAST (emiritus member of the board). He also gives speeches on the subject. But he has been slackening the pace in recent months to devote more time to family matters and to his association with the exchange program`”"my main interest for nearly 40 years." Since his original bill was enacted in August, 1946, 150,000 individuals have participated in the program.

Senator Fulbright was brought up in Fayetteville, Arkansas, graduated from the University of Arkansas and went on to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He received a law degree at George Washington University, was named president of the University of Arkansas at the age of 34, and in 1942 was elected to Congress. He was elected to the Senate two years later.

2
2006 / Iranian nukes not the real issue
« on: May 20, 2006, 06:48:40 AM »


Iranian nukes not the real issue
By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON - In pushing for a showdown over Iran's nuclear program in the United Nations Security Council, the administration of US President George W Bush has presented the issue as a matter of global security - an Iranian nuclear threat in defiance of the international community.

But the history of the conflict and the private strategic thinking of both sides reveal that the dispute is really about the Bush administration's drive for greater dominance in the Middle East and Iran's demand for recognition as a regional power.

It is now known that the Iranian leadership, which was convinced that Bush was planning to move against Iran after toppling Saddam Hussein in Iraq, proposed in April 2003 to negotiate with the United States on the very issues that the US administration had claimed were the basis for its hostile posture toward Tehran: its nuclear program, its support for Hezbollah and other anti-Israeli armed groups, and its hostility to Israel's existence.

Tehran offered concrete, substantive concessions on those issues. But on the advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Bush refused to respond to the proposal for negotiation. Nuclear weapons were not, therefore, the primary US concern. In the hierarchy of the US administration's interests, the denial of legitimacy to the Islamic Republic trumped a deal that could have provided assurances against an Iranian nuclear weapon.

For insight into the real aims of the Bush administration in pushing the issue of Iranian access to nuclear technology to a crisis point, one can turn to Tom Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute, a neo-conservative think-tank. Donnelly was the deputy executive director of the Project for the New American Century from 1999 to 2002, and was the main author of "Rebuilding America's Defenses".

That paper was written for Cheney and Rumsfeld during the transition following Bush's election and had the participation of four prominent figures who later took positions in the administration: Stephen Cambone, Lewis Libby, Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton.

Donnelly's analysis of the issue of Iran and nuclear weapons, published last October in the book Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran, makes it clear that the real objection to Iran's becoming a nuclear power is that it would impede the larger US ambitions in the Middle East - what Donnelly calls the Bush administration's "project of transforming the Middle East".

Contrary to the official line depicting Iran as a radical state threatening to plunge the region into war, Donnelly refers to Iran as "more the status quo power" in the region in relation to the United States. Iran, he explains, "stands directly athwart this project of regional transformation". Up to now, he observes, the Iranian regime has been "incapable of stemming the seeping US presence in the Persian Gulf and in the broader region". And the invasion of Iraq "completed the near-encirclement of Iran by US military forces".

Donnelly writes that a "nuclear Iran" is a problem not so much because Tehran would employ those weapons or pass them on to terrorist groups, but mainly because of "the constraining effect it threatens to impose upon US strategy for the greater Middle East".

The "greatest danger", according to Donnelly, is that the "realists" would "pursue a 'balance of power' approach with a nuclear Iran, undercutting the Bush 'liberation strategy'". Although Donnelly doesn't say so explicitly, it would undercut that strategy primarily by ruling out a US attack on Iran as part of a "regime change" strategy.

Instead, in Donnelly's scenario, a nuclear capability would incline those outside the neo-conservative priesthood to negotiate a "detente" with Iran, which would bring the plan for the extension of US political-military dominance in the Middle East to a halt.

What is really at stake in the confrontation with Iran from the Bush administration's perspective, according to this authority on neo-conservative strategy, is the opportunity to reorder the power hierarchy in the Middle East even further in favor of the United States by overthrowing the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran's position
Meanwhile, Iran has not acknowledged its real interest in pushing its position on nuclear-fuel enrichment to the point of confrontation with the United States, either. Instead, it has focused in public pronouncements on the enormously popular position that Iran will not give up its right to have civilian nuclear power.

According to observers familiar with their thinking, senior Iranian national-security officials have long been saying privately that Iran should try to reach an agreement with the United States that would normalize relations and acknowledge officially Iran's legitimate role in the security of the Persian Gulf.

Trita Parsi, a specialist on Iran's foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, who conducted extensive interviews with senior Iranian national-security officials in 2004, said Iran "is now primarily trying to become rehabilitated in the political order of the region".

Najmeh Bozorgmehr, an Iranian journalist now at the Brookings Institution as a visiting scholar, agrees. Based on several years of covering Iran's national-security policy, she said, "Iran wants to bargain with the United States on Iran's regional role," as well as on removal of sanctions and assurances against US attack. Tehran has been looking for any source of leverage with which to bargain with the United States on those issues, she said, and "enrichment has become a big bargaining chip".

Bozorgmehr said the Iranians have become convinced that they have to do something to show the United States "we can give you a hard time" to induce the Bush administration to negotiate. And Parsi said the prevailing view among Iranian officials after the 2003 US rejection of diplomacy was that they had to have the capability to inflict some pain on the United States to get its attention.

According to Parsi, that rejection confirmed Iranian suspicions that the US problem is not with Iran's policies but with its power. That Iranian conclusion precisely parallels Donnelly's insider analysis of the Bush administration's aims.

But what the Iranians really want, according to these observers of Iranian national-security thinking, is not nuclear weapons but the recognition of Iran's status in the power hierarchy of the Persian Gulf region. The Iranian demand for regional status can only be achieved through a broad diplomatic agreement with the United States.

The Bush administration's insistence on extending its dominance in the Middle East even further can only be achieved, however, by the threat of force and, if that fails, war against Iran.

Gareth Porter is a historian and national-security policy analyst. His latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published last June.

(Inter Press Service)

My comment: This short background information just confirms what has become obvious - The Current Administration Is Unable To Reason.

Quote
Tehran offered concrete, substantive concessions on those issues. But on the advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Bush refused to respond to the proposal for negotiation. Nuclear weapons were not, therefore, the primary US concern. In the hierarchy of the US administration's interests, the denial of legitimacy to the Islamic Republic trumped a deal that could have provided assurances against an Iranian nuclear weapon.

3

Russia, Iran, Venezuela
who is next to leave the dollar system?

President George W. Bush might face a lot of unforeseen challenges during his last years in the White House. His Russian colleague Vladimir Putin said in his remarkable speech to the nation last week that Russia is going to establish a rouble-based trade exchange for oil and gas. Earlier Iran has announced its plans to sell oil for euro. Now Venezuela`s President Hugo Chavez informed that his OPEC-country is thinking about writing its invoices for oil deliveries in the European currency.

A widespread discussion has started about the future position of the USA. Will the United States still be a super power when the dollar looses its role as the dominating international currency? If the energy trade really will go over from the greenback to other currencies, and probably other branches will follow that example, the future might not be very pleasant for the USA. In such a scenario it will be less important for energy importing countries to hold big dollar-reserves.

If energy-exporting countries like Russia, Iran and Venezuela really mean what they say about their currency-plans (and who would doubt about the seriousness of President Putin), could that be the beginning of the end of the dollar-dominance on the world markets. One major reason for the current weakness of the US-currency is the fear for what will happen when some countries reduce their dollar reserves and rather buy euro or even rouble `“ which will be fully convertible probably already during this year.

It is very likely that the markets will be overflowed by dollars. This is of course not favourable for the dollar-rate. If countries like China, Korea or Russia will not support the dollar as they do now in order to protect their enormous dollar reserves, the greenback will loose its value in a dramatic scale. But none of those countries which hold big dollar reserves are interested in a breakdown of the dollar system.

This dilemma is probably the lifebelt for the US-currency: those countries which have big dollar reserves can not afford to cause a world wide currency crisis. In fact the key for a solution is in the hands of those countries `“ among them is Russia `“ and not at the disposal of the United States.

It is widely known that the States are deeply in debt, in fact in such a degree that it seems to be impossible that they can get out of this mire without external help. We should remember that the debt of the countries private households is as large as 9 trillion dollars (9.000.000.000.000). With a population of roughly 290 million inhabitants this means 31.000 dollar per capita.

The trade balance does not look better. While Europe has a positive balance of trade, the US-figures are in deep red. Europe had a trade surplus of 72.8 billion dollar in 2005, while the United States had a shortage of not less than 781.6 billion dollar. During the last 20 years the citizens of the USA have lived beyond their means and consumed more than they were able to produce. This giant deficit could only be financed with permanently increasing credits, which where provided not at least from Asian countries. Such a system can only continue to work as long as there is an increasing demand for dollars as the world`s leading means of payment. But it is a very dangerous and vulnerable game.

If one take a sober view on the situation, it is difficult to deny that the major export product of the USA is today and during the last decades `“ paper, mostly green paper. From my point of view are we talking about a kind of snowball system or pyramid game, which only works as long the demand is rising. This system is now in danger to break down. The Russian and Iranian plans, and also the Venezuelan ideas, can disturb the fragile dollar system in a very serious way.

My grandmother (who went through the inflation of the 1920s in Germany) was probably right when she told me: Money is after all nothing but a sheet of paper with pictures, letters and numbers.

The United States completely depend on external forces to help them out of their debt situation. But this situation is in contradiction to their pretension to be the leading political and not at least moral power in the world. Of course not everything depends on money `“ any way it will be very difficult to keep such a strong position if the States are dependent on countries which they criticise most `“ among them Russia, China and Iran.

As I said before, the protagonist of the world economy are not interested in a breakdown of the dollar system `“ but a lot of people would like to see the United States in a position which is more in accordance to the countries real condition. That might probably result in more justice, peace and inter-cultural understanding.

Ulrich Kreuzenbeck, publisher of russland.RU `“ Internettavisen and Murmansk & Shtokman News

This article is published at the same time in English (Murmansk & Shtokman News), German (russland.RU `“ Die Internetzeitung) and Norwegian (russland.RU `“ internettavisen). All those websites are a part of the russland.RU-group. Usually our editorials are read by at least 127.500 internet users who are interested in Russia.
[ russland.RU `“ Internettavisen / Murmansk & Shtokman News ]


My comment: With all this talk of yet another war, I feel it is important to keep the focus on reality and in reality, the stakes are so high that a war with Iran would assure the immediate downfall of America.

Quote
The United States completely depend on external forces to help them out of their debt situation. But this situation is in contradiction to their pretension to be the leading political and not at least moral power in the world. Of course not everything depends on money `“ any way it will be very difficult to keep such a strong position if the States are dependent on countries which they criticise most `“ among them Russia, China and Iran.

4
Philosophy & Religion / Pastor Stuns Kansas Senate With The Truth
« on: May 10, 2006, 06:47:47 PM »
While updating my filing system, I found this treasure in my archive. It is dated January 10, 2004, the date when I picked it up from somewhere on the net. I have never read any Bible and am not affiliated to any religious organization but this is beautiful:


Pastor Stuns Kansas Senate With The Truth

Thought the penny may drop when you read this prayer given in Kansas at
the opening session of their Senate.

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas
Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what
they heard:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and
to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to
those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We
have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess
that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and call it
Pluralism.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self
esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it
freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called
it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin
and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to
the center of Your will and to openly ask these things in the name of
Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen."


The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during
the prayer in protest.. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church,
where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with
only 47 of those calls responding negatively.

It seems the truth still upsets some people.

The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this
prayer from India, Africa and Korea.

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, "The
Rest of the Story," and received a larger response to this program than
any other he has ever aired.

With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and
wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called "one
nation under God."

Aletsch`s comment: Activism comes from many different angles, it all merges in the end.

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