The Atomic Road To Damascus (With a Detour Through Goldsboro)

Trinity_Test_Mushroom_Cloud_10s_2

Hey, remember when the US almost detonated an atomic bomb (260 times more powerful than either Fat Man or Little Boy) over North Carolina?

Good times:

The document, obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the US was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961. The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage.

Each bomb carried a payload of 4 megatons – the equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT explosive. Had the device detonated, lethal fallout could have been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York city – putting millions of lives at risk.

Though there has been persistent speculation about how narrow the Goldsboro escape was, the US government has repeatedly publicly denied that its nuclear arsenal has ever put Americans’ lives in jeopardy through safety flaws. But in the newly-published document, a senior engineer in the Sandia national laboratories responsible for the mechanical safety of nuclear weapons concludes that “one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe”.

It really is a wonder we made it out of the Cold War alive, considering.

Bonus:  Schlosser on Democracy Now, talking Damascus (the other one, natch):

and in the Slaughterhouse:

(Oh, and yes, Schlosser’s latest has vaulted to the top of my looming tower of must-reads.)

PSA: Canadian Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day Events (Updated)

by matttbastard

Via Canadian Peace Alliance:

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day Events

Please join one of the 12 Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemorations this week. The full events listings are available at: http://www.acp-cpa.ca/en/HiroshimaDay.htm

BRANDON

The First Annual Japanese Lantern Ceremony for World Peace
Where: Keystone Centre YMCA Pool on 13th Street
When: Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Time: 7:30 PM

CALGARY

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial

Thursday, August 7, 2008, 7pm – 9pm
Calgary Area Outdoor Council, Large Room on 2nd floor
(wheelchair access to 2nd floor, 1111 Memorial Drive NW)

- We may watch movie with colour footage of the devastation.
– Speeches
– Lantern ceremony with glow in the dark non-flame, non-flammable
lanterns.

CASTLEGAR, BC

This year we gather on Zuckerberg Island, Wednesday, August 6 at 6:00 pm to both commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also to listen to our minstrels of peace and hear from the Mayor of Hiroshima and other voices of reason in our troubled world.

Kootenay Region Branch of the        United Nations Association in Canada (KRUNA)

2600 Columbia Avenue
Castlegar, B.C., V1N 2X6
250-365-7180

GRAND FORKS

Grand Forks City Park at 1 pm on Saturday, August 9th to commemorate the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and mourn today’s victims from ‘Depleted Uranium’ radiological weapons, tanks, vests, bullets and bombs.

We urge you to join us on August 9th at 1 pm in City Park for speakers, entertainment and a Auction. The auction is to raise funds to support our work and encourage all to donate items and then make generous bids.

We thank all who have given of their time, energy and funds in the past and look forward to your continued participation at events and regular meetings in Selkirk College on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month.

For inquiries please phone Laura at 250-442-0430.

On behalf of the Boundary Peace Initiative: member of B.C. Southern Interior Peace Coalition, Canadian Peace Alliance, Uranium Free Kootenay Boundary, Uranium Free B.C., Abolition 2000, Lawyers Against the War, and an affiliate of Fellowship of Reconciliation.

HAMILTON

Wednesday, August 6th 2008, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
The Hamilton Spectator Auditorium, 44 Frid Street, Hamilton
Help Eliminate Nuclear Weapons Everywhere!

Presented by the Hamilton Chapter of Project Ploughshares, a national, ecumenical, non-profit organization; part of the Canadian Council of Churches working to transform a world of violence into a world of enduring peace and security.
Co-sponsored by Amnesty International Group No. 1 in Hamilton; Group No. 8 at McMaster University and Group No. 21 in Burlington; the Hamilton Mundialization Committee; Children’s International Learning Centre; United Nations Association in Canada; Gandhi Peace Festival; Physicians for Global Survival; Interfaith Council for Refugees and Human Rights; Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster University; The Hamilton Culture of Peace Network.

Everyone is invited to this very important and informative presentation
For information call Leonor Sorger at 905-528-7988, Reverend Linda Nash 905 387-9783
Project Ploughshares: www.projectploughshares.ca

MIDLAND

Peaceworks Midland will hold a commemorative service at the Peace Garden in Penetanguishene at 5.30 on August 6. Bring some food for a picnic and be inspired by the Orillia Raging Grannies. There will be a hands on workshop on making origami cranes.

For further information contact peace_works@hotmail.com

NORTH BAY

The North Bay Peace Alliance will host an event commemorating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The gathering will be held on the 63rd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6 on the steps of North Bay City Hall (McIntyre Street, between Wyld and Sherbourne Streets) between 8 and 9 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

For more information please call 497 0373.

OTTAWA

EVENT DETAILS (SATURDAY, AUGUST 9th):
6:30pm: meet at Friends House (91 A Fourth St in The Glebe) to decorate laterns
7:30pm: film screening and discussion @ Friends House on the threat posed by nuclear weapons
8:30pm: march to float and light the laterns (location to be announced shortly)

The Ottawa Peace Assembly

SASKATOON

Commemorate Hiroshima Day, Wednesday August 6 at Rotary Park Peace Pole, 12-1 pm

Program includes Mayor Don Atchison, Mayors for Peace • Reverend Hiraku Iwai • Jillian Cyca, Artist • John Crawford, Project Ploughshares

ELIMINATE NUCLEAR WEAPONS FOREVER

For more information, call (306) 384-4134

Building peace in our families, communities, and world. www.saskatoonpeace.tk

TORONTO

See Hiroshima Day Coalition for more information

The Toronto Hiroshima Day Coalition (THDC) cordially invites you to attend the unveiling of the powerful exhibition of photographs from the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Rotunda inside Toronto City Hall on Wednesday, August 6th, 2008 at 5:30 pm.

The exhibit runs from August 6th -11th, 2008 in conjunction with the “Paths to Hope” Peace Commemoration and Lantern Ceremony on Saturday, August 9th, 2008 at the Toronto Peace Garden, Nathan Phillips Square beginning at 6:30 pm.

To RSVP for the August 6th, 2008 unveiling of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki Photo Exhibition at the Rotunda, Toronto City Hall, please contact Helen Chilas, National Coordinator of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, via email h-chilas@rogers.com or cell at 416-473-8238

Note: If you would like to reserve a table at the Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Annual Peace Commemoration and Lantern Ceremony (August 9th at the Toronto Peace Garden, Nathan Phillips Square), please contact Dr. Barbara Birkett with Physicians for Global Survival at bbirkett@interlog.com.

VANCOUVER

HIROSHIMA MEMORIAL PEACE LANTERN CEREMONY

Mayor Derrick Corrigan reading of the Burnaby City proclamation,

Free family event with Music, Speakers and Floating Lanterns

Wednesday Aug 6 7:30 to 9:30 pm
South Pond, Central Park, Bby
Parking N. side of Imperial, just E. of Boundary Road

Related events: Powell Street Festival – Sat. Aug. 2nd & Sun. Aug. 3rd includes a showing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki exhibit panels, along with beautiful embroidered quilts, which show the wording of the Renunciation of War in Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution; now threatened with repeal.

Presented by Veterans Against Nuclear Arms, Lanterns for Peace and Vancouver Save Article 9 – for info. call 604-325-8824, email lanterns@shaw.ca

Sponsored by: Veterans Against Nuclear Weapons
Endorsed by: STOPWAR.ca, World Peace Forum, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, & Peace and Philosophy Centre in Vancouver
Contact: David Laskey laskey8824-at-shaw.ca

WINNIPEG

Where: Memorial Park, Winnipeg
When: Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Time: 7:30 PM

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

PSA: Canadian Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day Events

by matttbastard

Via Canadian Peace Alliance:

There are 8 cities planning events for Hiroshima/Nagasaki Days this week. Please check the listings and join events calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons worldwide.

Any new event postings can be sent to cpa@web.ca to be posted on the website at http://www.acp-cpa.ca/en/HiroshimaDay.htm

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day Events

BRANDON

The First Annual Japanese Lantern Ceremony for World Peace
Where: Keystone Centre YMCA Pool on 13th Street
When: Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Time: 7:30 PM

CALGARY

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial

Thursday, August 7, 2008, 7pm – 9pm
Calgary Area Outdoor Council, Large Room on 2nd floor
(wheelchair access to 2nd floor, 1111 Memorial Drive NW)

- We may watch movie with colour footage of the devastation.
– Speeches
– Lantern ceremony with glow in the dark non-flame, non-flammable
lanterns.

CASTLEGAR, BC

This year we gather on Zuckerberg Island, Wednesday, August 6 at 6:00 pm to both commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also to listen to our minstrels of peace and hear from the Mayor of Hiroshima and other voices of reason in our troubled world.

Kootenay Region Branch of the United Nations Association in Canada (KRUNA)

2600 Columbia Avenue
Castlegar, B.C., V1N 2X6
250-365-7180

GRAND FORKS

Grand Forks City Park at 1 pm on Saturday, August 9th to commemorate the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and mourn today’s victims from ‘Depleted Uranium’ radiological weapons, tanks, vests, bullets and bombs.

We urge you to join us on August 9th at 1 pm in City Park for speakers, entertainment and a Auction. The auction is to raise funds to support our work and encourage all to donate items and then make generous bids.

We thank all who have given of their time, energy and funds in the past and look forward to your continued participation at events and regular meetings in Selkirk College on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month.

For inquiries please phone Laura at 250-442-0430.

On behalf of the Boundary Peace Initiative: member of B.C. Southern Interior Peace Coalition, Canadian Peace Alliance, Uranium Free Kootenay Boundary, Uranium Free B.C., Abolition 2000, Lawyers Against the War, and an affiliate of Fellowship of Reconciliation.

OTTAWA

EVENT DETAILS (SATURDAY, AUGUST 9th):
6:30pm: meet at Friends House (91 A Fourth St in The Glebe) to decorate laterns
7:30pm: film screening and discussion @ Friends House on the threat posed by nuclear weapons
8:30pm: march to float and light the laterns (location to be announced shortly)

The Ottawa Peace Assembly

SASKATOON

Commemorate Hiroshima Day, Wednesday August 6 at Rotary Park Peace Pole, 12-1 pm

Program includes Mayor Don Atchison, Mayors for Peace • Reverend Hiraku Iwai • Jillian Cyca, Artist • John Crawford, Project Ploughshares

ELIMINATE NUCLEAR WEAPONS FOREVER

For more information, call (306) 384-4134

Building peace in our families, communities, and world. www.saskatoonpeace.tk

TORONTO

See Hiroshima Day Coalition for more information

The Toronto Hiroshima Day Coalition (THDC) cordially invites you to attend the unveiling of the powerful exhibition of photographs from the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Rotunda inside Toronto City Hall on Wednesday, August 6th, 2008 at 5:30 pm.

The exhibit runs from August 6th -11th, 2008 in conjunction with the “Paths to Hope” Peace Commemoration and Lantern Ceremony on Saturday, August 9th, 2008 at the Toronto Peace Garden, Nathan Phillips Square beginning at 6:30 pm.

To RSVP for the August 6th, 2008 unveiling of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki Photo Exhibition at the Rotunda, Toronto City Hall, please contact Helen Chilas, National Coordinator of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, via email h-chilas@rogers.com or cell at 416-473-8238

Note: If you would like to reserve a table at the Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Annual Peace Commemoration and Lantern Ceremony (August 9th at the Toronto Peace Garden, Nathan Phillips Square), please contact Dr. Barbara Birkett with Physicians for Global Survival at bbirkett@interlog.com.

WINNIPEG

Where: Memorial Park, Winnipeg
When: Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Time: 7:30 PM

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Pakistan Update: Of Gunfire, Grassy Knolls and Bumped Heads

by matttbastard

The word of the day is ‘conspiracy’. As in ‘conspiracy theories‘. Consider the waters thoroughly muddied:

An elusive Taliban leader with links to Al Qaeda is emerging as the key suspect in Thursday’s assassination of Benazir Bhutto, killed as she campaigned for a third term as Pakistan’s prime minister.

Intelligence services in Pakistan and the West yesterday identified Baitullah Mehsud, a 34-year-old pro-Taliban militant commander, as the man behind the plot to kill Bhutto, leader of the popular Pakistan Peoples Party, in the run-up to Jan. 8 elections in the nuclear-armed nation.

Yesterday, Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, cited an intercepted telephone conversation between Mehsud and one of his operatives as proof the terrorist organization was responsible.

“We have an intercept from this morning in which he congratulated his people for carrying out this cowardly act,” Cheema said.

“We have irrefutable evidence that Al Qaeda and its networks are trying to destabilize the government,” he added. “They have been systematically attacking our government, and now a political icon.”

“Irrefutable”, eh? Insert Inigo Montoya quote here:

The government released no audiotape of Mehsud’s purported conversation in the Pashto language with another militant, whom he called Maulvi Sahib, or religious leader. But, in a government-provided transcript, Mehsud is quoted congratulating Maulvi Sahib for the deadly work of the two men who were apparently directly involved in Bhutto’s assassination.

Unsurprisingly, the PPP has called “bullshit”:

The Pakistan Peoples Party rejected government claims that a Taliban commander linked to al-Qaeda was behind the assassination of its leader Benazir Bhutto, as the death toll from rioting rose to 32.

Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban commander linked to al-Qaeda, is suspected of plotting the Dec. 27 suicide attack that killed Bhutto, the Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema told reporters yesterday. Mehsud denied the claim, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a spokesman.

The government “is trying to divert the investigations into Bhutto’s killing,” Farhatullah Babar, her spokesman, said in a phone interview today. “Mehsud had already denied he planned to assassinate Bhutto.”

[...]

“If the government had accepted our demand of holding an independent inquiry by overseas experts into the Oct. 19 bombing on Bhutto, this would not have happened,” Babar said.

Also, in an article examining the shifting explanation re: cause of death, The Star touches upon why Pakitsan’s gov’t is trying so desperately to establish the convoluted “bumped her head” narrative:

The question of whether she died of violence or an unfortunate accident is important because if she did not die because of foul play there is less chance that her death would be considered that of a martyr.

At this point, I would say their efforts aren’t succeeding. Unified in anger and frustration, Bhutto’s supporters continue to demonstratively express their emotions, as chaos threatens to engulf the nation:

Masked gunmen killed a supporter of Benazir Bhutto early on Saturday, while security forces shot dead two other party activists as a mob tried to force its way into an oilfield, police said.

The killings take the death toll since Bhutto’s assassination on Thursday to 40, including four policemen, and came as protesters torched shops, lorries, welfare centers and ambulances overnight as violence entered a third day.

A 27-year-old man wearing a tunic made from a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) flag had just shouted “Bhutto is great” when he was gunned down while returning from the mausoleum where Bhutto was buried on Friday, police said.

“Two gunmen were waiting in a vehicle, their faces covered, and they opened fire,” said Shaukat Ali Shah, deputy inspector general of police in the city of Hyderabad in Sindh.

Separately, up to 400 PPP activists carrying banners portraits of Bhutto and wielding bricks, tried to burst into an oilfield facility near Hyderabad before dawn, when security forces acted on orders to shoot violent protesters on sight.

“The mob was warned,” Shah said. “Two people were killed.”

Almost all of the deaths since Bhutto’s killing occurred in the southern province of Sindh, the PPP’s power base, where the Election Commission said several of its offices were set on fire and electoral rolls and ballot boxes destroyed.

VOA reports that Musharraf wants “firm action” to be taken against rioters, reportedly telling security officials “those looting and plundering cannot be allowed to damage lives and property in the guise of protest.” Cutting through the euphemistic fog, Pakistani blogger Inspirex reports that “[a]ccording to varios [sic] news reports, Sindh Rangers have been issued Shoot at Sight orders across the province.” Metroblogging Karachi has posted several personal accounts of the violence currently gripping the region.

Regardless, whether matryr status will have any lasting effect on events in Pakistan (other than inspiring protests and rehabilitating Bhutto’s spotty reputation) remains to be seen. As analyst Ayesha Siddiqa notes:

…”al-Qaida” is just a name which can be used to mean everything or nothing. It will now be difficult to find out who exactly killed Benazir – especially when the government made sure they washed away all forensic evidence in the twelve hours after the murder.

And it’s not like there isn’t historical precedence for the undertaking of extra-judicial measures on the part of the Pakistani security and intelligence apparatus. In a recently published LRB essay examining the the US-brokered “arranged marriage” between Bhutto and Musharraf, Tariq Ali recalls at length the assassination of Benazir Bhutto’s brother, Murtaza:

[I]n September 1996, as Murtaza and his entourage were returning home from a political meeting, they were ambushed, just outside their house, by some seventy armed policemen accompanied by four senior officers. A number of snipers were positioned in surrounding trees. The street lights had been switched off. Murtaza clearly understood what was happening and got out of his car with his hands raised; his bodyguards were instructed not to open fire. The police opened fire instead and seven men were killed, Murtaza among them. The fatal bullet had been fired at close range. The trap had been carefully laid, but as is the way in Pakistan, the crudeness of the operation – false entries in police logbooks, lost evidence, witnesses arrested and intimidated, the provincial PPP governor (regarded as untrustworthy) dispatched to a non-event in Egypt, a policeman killed who they feared might talk – made it obvious that the decision to execute the prime minister’s brother had been taken at a very high level.

As Robert Fisk, commenting on Ali’s essay, notes:

When Murtaza’s 14-year-old daughter, Fatima, rang her aunt Benazir to ask why witnesses were being arrested – rather than her father’s killers – she says Benazir told her: “Look, you’re very young. You don’t understand things.” Or so Tariq Ali’s exposé would have us believe. Over all this, however, looms the shocking power of Pakistan’s ISI, the Inter Services Intelligence.

This vast institution – corrupt, venal and brutal – works for Musharraf.

But it also worked – and still works – for the Taliban. It also works for the Americans. In fact, it works for everybody. But it is the key which Musharraf can use to open talks with America’s enemies when he feels threatened or wants to put pressure on Afghanistan or wants to appease the ” extremists” and “terrorists” who so oppress George Bush.

Speaking of George and Co., The Guardian reports that the US is scrambling for a Plan B:

US officials based in Pakistan were sounding out senior members of her opposition Pakistan People’s party about a possible successor. They were also in contact with members of the other main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League, led by Nawaz Sharif, even though the US had previously opposed his return to Pakistan because of links between his party and Islamist extremists.

President George Bush called for the election to go ahead, though he avoided mention of whether Pakistan should stick to the January 8 timetable. An announcement on whether to delay the election has been left until the end of the three days of mourning.Asked whether the US was confident that Pakistan could stage an election in January, the US state department spokesman, Tom Casey, said: “Well, we’re going to see what happens.”

The assassination of Bhutto has thrown into disarray Bush administration hopes of establishing a degree of security in Pakistan. Since 9/11, Bush has relied on the military-run government of President Pervez Musharraf as an ally in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida. With Musharraf’s loss of popularity, the administration placed its hopes on a return to democracy and the emergence of a Musharraf-Bhutto coalition.

US intelligence analysts warned that al-Qaida, which has a hold in Pakistan’s tribal areas – where the US believes Osama bin Laden is hiding – and in cities such as Karachi would be strengthened by the chaos in the aftermath of the assassination.

John McLaughlin, former acting director of the CIA, predicted that the chaos would last for weeks at least and that the capacity of Pakistan’s authorities to deal with al-Qaida during that time would be diminished.

WaPo has more:

President Bush held an emergency meeting of his top foreign policy aides yesterday to discuss the deepening crisis in Pakistan, as administration officials and others explored whether Thursday’s assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto marks the beginning of a new Islamic extremist offensive that could spread beyond Pakistan and undermine the U.S. war effort in neighboring Afghanistan.

U.S. officials fear that a renewed campaign by Islamic militants aimed at the Pakistani government, and based along the border with Afghanistan, would complicate U.S. policy in the region by effectively merging the six-year-old war in Afghanistan with Pakistan’s growing turbulence.

“The fates of Afghanistan and Pakistan are inextricably tied,” said

J. Alexander Thier, a former United Nations official in Afghanistan who is now at the U.S. Institute for Peace.

[...]

How the United States responds will hinge largely on the actions of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, in whom U.S. officials have mixed confidence. If there is indeed a new challenge by Islamic militants emerging in Pakistan, then the United States will have to do whatever it can to support Musharraf, the U.S. Army officer in Afghanistan said.

“Pakistan must take drastic action against the Taliban in its midst or we will face the prospect of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of al-Qaeda — a threat far more dangerous and real than Hussein’s arsenal ever was,” he said, referring to the deposed Saddam Hussein.

The same WaPo dispatch indicates that the US is running with the Interior Ministry’s al Qaeda/Taliban story (if not dictating it outright):

U.S. intelligence and Defense Department sources said there is increasing evidence that the assassination of Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister, was carried out by al-Qaeda or its allies inside Pakistan. The intelligence officials said that in recent weeks their colleagues had passed along warnings to the Pakistani government that al-Qaeda-related groups were planning suicide attacks on Pakistani politicians.

The U.S. and Pakistani governments are focusing on Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, as a possible suspect. A senior U.S. official said that the Bush administration is paying attention to a list provided by Pakistan’s interior ministry indicating that Mehsud’s targets include former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former interior minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, and several other cabinet officials and moderate Islamist leaders. “I wouldn’t exactly call it a hit list, but we take it very seriously,” the official said. “All moderates [in Pakistan] are now under threat from this terrorism.”

Mehsud told the BBC earlier this month that the Pakistani government’s actions forced him to react with a “defensive jihad.”

After signing a condolence book for Bhutto at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, Rice said the United States is in contact with “all” of the parties in Pakistan and stressed that the Jan. 8 elections should not be postponed. “Obviously, it’s just very important that the democratic process go forward,” she told reporters.

A quick “compare and contrast review: “Asked whether the US was confident that Pakistan could stage an election in January, the US state department spokesman, Tom Casey, said: “Well, we’re going to see what happens.”

Ok, let’s continue:

“We’ve really got a new situation here in western Pakistan,” said Army Col. Thomas F. Lynch III, who has served in Afghanistan and with Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for Pakistan and the Middle East. He said the assassination marks a “critical new phase” in jihadist operations in Pakistan and predicted that the coming months would bring concentrated attacks on other prominent Pakistanis.

Over at Bread and Roses, the ever-quotable skdadl made the following astute observation:

What is out of control in Pakistan is the military and intelligence elites. They aren’t unified, but the different factions are all very powerful, and any one of them could do something bananas at any time. Musharraf’s days are probably numbered.

I don’t know how this problem is addressed, but one thing I am sure of: Americans don’t know how to address it.

They certainly don’t, but someone forgot to inform the usual suspects of this all-too-apparent fact. I wouldn’t be surprised to see O’Hanlon and Kagan’s preemptive strike option given greater consideration now that Plan Bhutto is no longer on the table.

(This also seems like the perfect time to post a link to Najum Mushtaq’s aptly titled The Neocons on Pakistan: Neat, Simple, and Dangerously Naïve.)

On the off chance that elections do happen to take place as scheduled, opposition leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is looking to fill the secular void left by Bhutto:

Mr. Sharif, a former prime minister who had brought a raft of corruption charges against Ms. Bhutto and her family, needs to forge an alliance with her currently leaderless political party to challenge the government of President Pervez Musharraf. On Saturday, he flew on a chartered plane to Moenjodaro, where South Asian civilization was born some 5,000 years ago, and from there he drove in a long, dusty convoy of cars to this ancestral village of Ms. Bhutto’s, where senior leaders of both their parties met briefly to condole and discuss the way forward.

Mr. Sharif has already said his party would boycott the polls, scheduled for next month. Aboard the plane to Moenjodaro, he said he hoped Ms. Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party would join the boycott.

The party was noncommittal. Farhatullah Babar, a party spokesman, said it was too early for his organization to make a decision about whether to go ahead and contest the elections. The party’s executive council is scheduled to meet Sunday afternoon to discuss its future plans, including “how the party will be led and by whom,” he said.

If Ms. Bhutto’s party does forge ahead with elections, it is unclear whether Mr. Sharif will be persuaded to drop the boycott and join the race. A Peoples Party spokeswoman, Sherry Rehman, said both parties shared the same goal: the restoration of democracy. “We had a very good meeting,” she said Saturday evening. “They were very deeply aggrieved by our loss. They said it’s their loss.”

As they say, developing…

Update: More in depth analysis from The Pakistan Policy Blog, Dave @ The Beav and Cernig @ The Newshoggers.

Update 2: The Pakistani Spectator makes note of the obvious parallel between the Kennedys and the Bhuttos.

Update 3: Bloomberg News updates its report from earlier today:

The [PPP] will name Bhutto’s successor tomorrow and may also decide on whether to participate in the elections or call for postponement, AAJ television channel reported, citing Bhutto’s widower Asif Ali Zardari. Bhutto has named a successor in her will, Zardari said.

Update 4: Sylvia @ Problem Chylde has compiled an exhaustive, must read collection of Bhutto-related links, including this unfortunate post from Moe @ Jezebel (yes, Jezebel *sigh*):

So, was Musharraf, who’d just grudgingly conceded to share power with Bhutto and give up his army leadership position, behind the hit? That’s what conspiracy theorists inside my kitchen seem to believe. But then you’ve gotta wonder how he did it. Did Mr. Enemy of Terrorism Musharraf contract out a suicide bomber from Al Qaeda Inc.? Or does the Pakistani Army have a top-secret suicide unit, and if so, what do you have to do to get yourself enlisted in that? Josh Foust, of Registan.net and “That’s So Jane’s!” columns of yore says the theory doesn’t make sense. “She works much better as an opponent than as a martyr” for Musharraf, he claims. CNN seems to be focused on the question of what happens next: will they invoke military rule? (Isn’t that what you would do?)

Ok, I don’t expect Foreign Affairs or Le Monde diplomatique to opine on Paris Hilton’s recent inheritance trouble. Methinks the folks @ Gawker Media should avoid attempts at serious foreign policy analysis (note: ZOMG Bhutto was gettin’ teh FAT!!111 doesn’t cut it) and stick to their area of expertise, ie, insubstantial celebrity panty-sniffing. To quote Ilyka Damen, “SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Slacker Friday: NIE Miscellania

by matttbastard

It’s back and lazier than ever! Alas, this (long belated) edition will have to be the slackest motherfucker ever, since yours truly just got called into work early. Mea culpa–sometimes meatworld obligations have to trump blogging.

(h/t Dave @ The Beav, who also provides a transcript of Olbermann’s incindiary commentary)

Despite some recent assertions that military action against Iran is no longer an option, or that certain “moderate” officials are successfully pushing back against the hawks in the White House, Matthew Rothschild thinks war is still the #1 plan for the administration:

The 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy says point-blank that “we face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran.”

And its discussion of this challenge is not limited to the issues of Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

“As important as are these nuclear issues, the United States has broader concerns regarding Iran,” the document states. “The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom. The nuclear issue and our other concerns can ultimately be resolved only if the Iranian regime makes the strategic decision to change these policies, open up its political system, and afford freedom to its people. This is the ultimate goal of U.S. policy.”

The United States won’t be able to attain that goal while Ahmedinejad is in power, and beyond that, while the mullahs are in power.

In essence, the National Security Strategy commits the United States to regime change in Iran.

And Congress, thanks to that resolution Hillary Clinton signed on to, has already designated Iran as an enemy at war with the United States, since it states that Iran is waging a “proxy war” against our forces in Iraq.

It very well may be that the intelligence agencies and the Pentagon convinced the propaganda peddlers in the White House that they can’t make the sale on Iran’s nuclear threat. Instead, they’ll hype—in fact, they’re already hyping—Iran’s role in Iraq.

Case in point: see this frame-shifting dispatch from citizen propagandist Bill Roggio, which also serves as evidence of Dan Bartlett’s recent admission re: the relationship between the Bushies and winger bloggers in action:

I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.

Elsewhere: John “Surrender is not an option” Bolton exposes the ‘flaws’ in the NIE (shorter: “Buy my book or teh terrorists win!”); Dan Froomkin rounds up the many, many Iran-related lies that have been peddled by the Bush administration. (h/t Godammitkitty @ Bread and Roses).

Finally, check out this must-read Tomgram from Dilip Hiro (h/t verbana-19) on how the USian empire, as Tom Engelhardt puts it in his as-per-usual link-laden introduction, “now finds itself on the losing end of an ever more humiliating zero-sum game with a relatively minor power.”

Happy Friday!

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Quote Of The Day: Cautious Notes

by matttbastard

On a theoretical level, one may be willing to minimize the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran due to Israel’s and America’s deterrent power, and willing to accept Iran’s regional influence under the protection of a nuclear umbrella. I think there are reasonable arguments in defense of both propositions.

But on a very practical level, there are three reasons why Iran’s mastering of the nuclear fuel enrichment cycle while remaining non-compliant with the NPT poses real threats to regional and global stability. To begin with, it further de-legitimzes the NPT at a time when it has already been severely destabilized. (Yes, the US-India deal contributes to this process.) Second, it has already caused a rush on the nuclear bank, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Morocco and Libya already declaring their intentions to go nuclear within the next 15-20 years. (Keep a close watch on Turkey, which for the time being has had trouble finding a seismically safe location for its declared nuclear ambitions.) That process could be reversed with a NPT-based resolution to the Iran standoff. It’s unstoppable in the absence of one. Third, it will likely push Israel to shed even more of its posture of nuclear ambiguity than what Ehud Olmert revealed in apparently off the cuff remarks earlier this year, which would only accelerate the aforementioned regional race for nuclear capacities.

In other words, it’s a good thing that Cheney and his gang’s nonsense have been revealed for the Iraq redux they are. But that doesn’t diminish the need to deal very carefully with the very real dangers presented by an Iranian nuclear program outside the auspices of the NPT. One of the strongest arguments often made against the Iraq War, both in the run up and the aftermath, was that it was a needless distraction from North Korea and Iran, two countries whose nuclear ambitions were further advanced and more determined. Nothing about the catastrophic nature of the Iraq War diminishes the argument, as demonstrated by North Korea’s newfound nuclear status. The NIE confirms that Iran has proven more cautious than North Korea, but it doesn’t say anything about what happens next.

Judah @ Headline Junky, Hold The NIE Euphoria

h/t Kevin Drum

Related: Reese Erlich:

The real dispute between the United States and Iran has little to do with Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons. The Bush administration declared Iran to be part of the “axis of evil” and has been pursuing a policy of “regime change,” a euphemism for the U.S. overthrow of an internationally recognized government. The United States has adopted different tactical positions, sometimes calling for tightening sanctions, other times threatening military strikes. But the long-term goal is installing a friendly regime.

Let’s say Iran stopped all nuclear programs tomorrow, which was verified by international inspectors. The United States could start a new campaign based on its current claim that Iran is “the most active sponsor of state terrorism” in the world.25 Iran could give terrorist groups chemical weapons. Iran has missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv and U.S. military bases in the Middle East. Iran presents an immediate danger because of its support for terrorism. Time for regime change.

Is Iran currently developing nuclear weapons? No. Could it do so sometime in the future? Sure. According to the [IAEA Director General Mohamed] ElBaradei, some 49 countries “now know how to make nuclear arms,” including Japan, South Korea, and other U.S. allies. Neither the United States nor the UN Security Council can militarily prevent each of those countries from making a bomb, said ElBaradei. “We are relying primarily on the continued good intentions of these countries, intentions which are in turn based on their sense of security….”26

The only way to insure Iran doesn’t make nuclear weapons is to devise a political, not a military solution. If the people of Iran have a government that truly represents them, and the United States ceases its hostility and negotiates in good faith, Iran won’t see a need to develop nuclear weapons.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

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PSA: Speak Out For Nuclear Disarmament

by matttbastard

From Steven Staples @ Ceasefire.ca:

November 22, 2007

Dear friend,

Canada’s voting record at the UN on crucial anti-nuclear weapons resolutions indicates an alarming shift away from Canada’s traditional role as a supporter of disarmament.

Yesterday, the Toronto Star published [an article] written by Anthony Salloum, program director of the Rideau Institute (Ceasefire.ca’s parent).

Anthony outlines what happened at the UN and why we should be concerned about the direction the government is heading.

If you have not done so already, please send your letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, urging the government to support nuclear disarmament.

Best wishes,

signature_in_blue_-_first_name_only_-_clean.jpg stevenstapleswithcaption.jpg

speak_out_for_nuclear_disarmament_-_small_button.jpg

Dear Minister Bernier,

I write to express my concern that Canada recently abstained from voting on an important resolution at the United Nations calling on Nuclear Weapons States to lower the operating status of nuclear weapons. Fortunately, that resolution passed even without Canadian support.

I urge you to redouble Canada’s efforts towards nuclear disarmament, by supporting global initiatives that aim to lessen the risk of nuclear use, such as working to develop a treaty prohibiting these dangerous weapons.

With 27,000 nuclear weapons still remaining on the planet, Canada must not relent in working towards a safer, nuclear-free world.

I await your reply.

Your name here

h/t Alison @ Creekside.

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