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Candide’s Latest: Tuesday, September 5, 2006
9/11's Clock: All War, All the Time
It used to be a much better shield.

Canadians, particularly Québecers, are tiring of their prime minister acting like Britain’s Blair and Australia’s Howard—in lockstep with Bush—and looking for a debate on whether to pull their troops from Afghanistan: In a letter notifying Commons Speaker Peter Milliken of the debate request, Bloc House Leader Michel Gauthier says the Tories have strayed from Canada's historical position "of mediation and balance" and from the "major values of the Québécois and Canadian populations, which are, I am convinced by it, resolutely peaceful." But NATO forces in Afghanistan have problems of their own: their viability as an alliance may hinge on their success there, a success that has seemed increasingly elusive. The country is falling apart again. The Taliban is resurgent. And you know something is entirely awry when it’s left up to the United Nations to call for stepped up bombings: “Tom Koenigs, the UN’s special representative for Afghanistan, said Nato needed more troops and fewer restrictions on their freedom of manoeuvre,” the Financial Times reports. “In particular, he said there were “around 71 caveats”, which he argued were “too many and must be removed”.” Mr. Koenigs, a German, wants Germany’s 2,800 troops in Afghanistan to have unrestricted ranging and firepower. Those Germans are itching for battle: if it isn’t Lebanon, it’s Afghanistan ( Gdansk being, for once, off limits).

Another fatal day in the war on terror: From London’s Independent, Patrick Cockburn, the award-winning journalist and author who reported extensively from Iraq, Afghanistan and Jordan, explains how the “war on terror” has fuelled resentment of the West and brought new levels of death and destruction: “I have spent most of my time since 2001 in Afghanistan and Iraq. The reason for the rise of radical Islam is foreign occupation,” Cockburn writes. “ Iraq had a secular tradition. Fanatical Islamic groups made little headway under Saddam Hussein not only because he persecuted them but because they had little popular support. But the five million-strong Sunni community in Iraq almost entirely supported armed resistance to the US occupation. Fanatical Islamic groups were for the first time operating in a friendly environment. […]Across the Middle East secularist and nationalist regimes are being discredited by the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Most governments in the region are corrupt patronage machines backed by brutal security services. They are close to the US but have little influence over it. All are becoming unstable in a way not seen since the 1960s.” See the full piece…

War on terror collaterals: Mahmoud Habib was illegally held for three years at Guantanamo Bay as well as in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt (as part of the U.S. military’s network of rendering and torturing). Now that he’s been freed under the it-was-all-a-big-mistake scenario (he was freed in January), and returned to Australia, Habib is suing for wrongful detention. But his lawyers are also seeking all sorts of information about his detention. Australia, like the United States, has adopted other totalitarian ways and means in its “war on terror,” among which a set of secrecy laws that give the nation’s attorney general complete discretion over what to declare secret and off limits even to litigants. “The laws are broad, covering information relating to or affecting national security, or even a case involving a witness whose "mere presence" might be related to national security,” Australia’s The Age reports. “They have been used in criminal cases, but the court heard yesterday the Habib action would be the first civil suit to be affected.” There’s more: The attorney general signs the certificates of secrecy, but he’s also a defendant in the Habib case. Conflict of interest? Apparently not. Totalitarianism has its privileges. The Habib case had its preliminary hearing in Australian federal court today.

Martin Amis on a “festival of gullibility”: “Asked in a recent survey to explain their presence in Iraq, 85 per cent of American soldiers said that the “main mission” was “to retaliate for Saddam’s role” in the September 11 attacks. About two thirds of American civilians, it’s true, share that misapprehension; but it is implausible that frontline troops are so incuriously risking their lives. This near-consensus on the question cannot be due to ignorance. It comes from the same wishfulness that fortifies the majority belief among Muslims that September 11 was the work of Mossad. Although few Americans think that the Israelis did it, nearly half (42 per cent) think that the Americans did. This means that the average American is more distrustful of Washington than the average Pakistani (in Pakistan a mere 41 per cent consider that the attacks were not carried out by Arab terrorists — as against 59 per cent of Turks and Egyptians and 65 per cent of Indonesians).” See Amis’s full review of Lawrence Wright’s “The Looming Tower.

Preparations for Genocide: Sudan wants the African Union’s 7,000 peacekeepers out of Darfur. Sudan plans to replace them with troops of its own. It’s another catastrophe in the making, another breakdown in East Africa for the Bush administration to deal with, another case of showing up the administration’s utter incompetence in keeping the lid on a world gone to pot on its watch.

How Israel fosters “peace”: Bid for more settlements in occupied lands: “The Israeli authorities on Monday invited tenders for building nearly 700 new housing units in the occupied West Bank, in the largest settlement expansion push for the territory this year, AFP reports. “The Housing Ministry published advertisements in the press inviting the bids, with 348 houses to be constructed in Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, and 342 houses to be built in Beitar Eilit to the south of the Holy City.”

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