President George W. Bush Addresses the Nation on Iraq
On Monday, President Bush gave the first in a series of speeches building towards the United States “transfer of power” in Iraq. Reaction to the speech has been quite negative around the world, and not just in “the usual places” like Al-Jazeera (Bush Iraq plan offers ‘nothing new’) but also in large US-based corporate publications such as The Washington Post (A Speech Meant to Rally Public Support Doesn’t Answer Key Questions).
Of course, this is not that surprising given that Bush continues to believe the US troops in Iraq are there to “to defend our [the United States] security, not to stay as an occupying power” and that the only way to ensure a “free Iraq” is to continue the occupation of Iraq, whether that be in its current, blatant form with the Coalition Provisional Authority or in its presumed post-June 30 de facto form. It is also worth noting that Bush still believes that the various Iraqi resistance forces are “seeking the return of tyranny and the death of democracy” and refuses to acknowledge the fact that the presence of an occupying force is providing the main impetus for the resistance.
On a related note, author Rahul Mahajan, who is in Iraq, has provided some analysis of the proposed United Nations resolution on the “transfer of authority”, demonstrating that in affect provides a legal mandate for a continuing occupation by a multi-national force.
Some analysis of the speech:
Media on Iraq
In a surprising move, the New York Times actually issued an apology for its coverage of Iraq’s supposed WMD’s during the lead-up to the war. Not surprisingly, the statement was buried in the back pages and did not mention any specific reporters, such as the oft-criticized Judith Miller. The Times places the blame for their faulty reporting squarely on former Bush administration favorite Ahmad Chalabi. Interestingly, while Chalabi’s credibility as an intelligence source has been known to be very suspect for some time, the Times waited to blame him until after he fell from grace with Bush.
Some analysis of the NYTimes retraction:
While the mainstream press continues to focus on the Abu Graib prison abuse scandal, rightwing radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage have repeatedly tried to downplay or justify the abuse visited upon the Iraqi detainees. Both of these ideologues are given 15 hours a week of airtime on AM 1300 here in Grand Rapids.
As the situation in Iraq deteriorates, even some of the Neo-cons are having second thoughts. Richard Pearle, referred to in Washington circles as the “Prince of Darkness,” recently said that the occupation of Iraq was “a grave error.” Perle, one of the architects of the war and a member of the neo-conservative think-tank, Project for a New American Century, is among a growing number of conservatives becoming critical of the war.
CorporateWatch and Global Exchange have released a new study on the largest benefactor of the invasion of Iraq, Halliburton. Thus far, Halliburton has received $18 billion in contracts to rebuild Iraq’s oil industry and to provide various other services to the United States military. The report’s release was timed to coincide with Halliburton’s annual shareholders meeting, which was met by protests.
Here in Grand Rapids, the annual World Trade Week featured a “Focus on Iraq” panel looking at ways in which companies can profit from the invasion of Iraq. The session featured Rick Ortiz, a Senior International Trade Specialist with the US Department of Commerce and Fouad K. Alnajjar of F&F Group. If reports from the local corporate media are any indication of the content of the session, nothing was mentioned about the ethics of profiting from an illegal invasion.
In related local news, it turns out that Betsy DeVos, chairperson of the Michigan State Republican Party, has a connection to war profiteering in Iraq. Her brother, Erik D. Prince, is the founder of Blackwater USA, a company providing private mercenary forces to the United States military for use in Iraq.
In Boston, activists protested the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, holding a protest outside of the local Armed Forces Recruiting Center in which a person stood dressed with a cloak over their body, recalling the famous photo from Abu Ghraib. One student was arrested and is being charged with felonies.
In New York City activists staged a “die-in” in Rockfeller Center outside NBC Studios. Not surprisingly, the Today Show ignored the event, but the New York Independent Media Center has produced a short video documenting the die-in. Activists in New York City are concerned that the overwhelming police presence and the use of “protest pens” to limit the visibility of the protest are signs of how the NYPD will limit dissent at the upcoming Republican National Convention.
In Brighton, United Kingdom a direct action using an elaborate blockade shut down EDO MBM Technology, a company manufacturing bomb and missile components for military aircraft.