by Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research, November 8, 2007 Online Journal
The US dollar is still officially the world's reserve currency, but it
cannot purchase the services of Brazilian super model Gisele Bundchen.
Gisele required the $30 million she earned during the first half of this
year to be paid in euros.
Gisele is not alone in her forecast of the dollar's fate. The First Post
(UK) reports that Jim Rogers, a former partner of billionaire George
Soros, is selling his home and all possessions in order to convert all his
wealth into Chinese yuan.
Meanwhile, American economists continue to preach that offshoring is good
for the US economy and that Bush's war spending is keeping the economy
going. The practitioners of supply and demand have yet to figure out that
the dollar's supply is sinking the dollar's price and along with it
The macho super patriots who support the Bush regime still haven't caught
on that US superpower status rests on the dollar being the reserve
currency, not on a military unable to occupy Baghdad. If the dollar were
not the world currency, the US would have to earn enough foreign
currencies to pay for its 737 oversees bases, an impossibility considering
America's $800 billion trade deficit.
When the dollar ceases to be the reserve currency, foreigners will cease
to finance the US trade and budget deficits, and the American Empire along
with its wars will disappear overnight. Perhaps Bush will be able to get a
World Bank loan, or maybe one from the "Chavez bank," to bring the troops
home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Foreign leaders, observing that offshoring and war are accelerating
America's relative economic decline, no longer treat the US with the
deference to which Washington is accustomed. Ecuador's president, Rafael
Correa, recently refused Washington's demand to renew the lease on the
Manta air base in Ecuador. He told Washington that the US could have a
base in Ecuador if Ecuador could have a military base in the US.
When Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez addressed the UN, he crossed himself
as he stood at the podium. Referring to President Bush, Chavez said,
"Yesterday the devil came here, and it smells of sulfur still today."
Bush, said Chavez, was standing "right here, talking as if he owned the
In his state of the nation message last year, Russian president Vladimir
Putin said that Bush's blathering about democracy was nothing but a cloak
for the pursuit of American self-interests at the expense of other
peoples. "We are aware what is going on in the world. Comrade wolf knows
whom to eat, and he eats without listening, and he's clearly not going to
listen to anyone." In May 2007, Putin criticized the neocon regime in
Washington for "disrespect for human life" and "claims to global
exclusiveness, just as it was in the time of the Third Reich."
Even America's British allies regard President Bush as a threat to world
peace and the second most dangerous man alive. Bush is edged out in polls
by Osama bin Laden, but is regarded as more dangerous than Iran's
demonized president and North Korea's Kim Jong-il.
President Bush has achieved his dismal world standing despite spending
$1.6 billion of hard-pressed Americans' tax money on public relations
between 2003 and 2006.
Clearly, America's leader and America's currency are poorly regarded. Is
there a solution?
Perhaps the answer lies in those 737 overseas bases. If those bases were
brought home and shared among the 50 states, each state would gain 15 new
Imagine what this would mean: The end of the housing slump. A reduction in
the trade deficit. And the end of the war on terror.
Who would dare attack a country with 15 new military bases in every state
in addition to the existing ones? Wherever a terrorist turned, he would
find himself surrounded by soldiers.
All of the dollars currently spent abroad to support 737 overseas bases
would be spent at home. Income for foreigners would become income for
Americans, and the trade deficit would shrink.
The impact of the 737 military base payrolls on the US economy would end
the housing crisis and bring back the 140,000 highly paid financial
services jobs, the loss of which this year has cost the US $42 billion in
consumer income. Foreclosures and bankruptcies would plummet.
If this isn't enough to turn the dollar around, President Bush's pledge
not to appoint an attorney general if Michael Mukasey is not confirmed
offers more promise. If the Democrats will defeat Mukasey's nomination,
there are other superfluous cabinet departments that can be closed down in
addition to the US Department of Torture and Indefinite Detention.
The American empire is being unwound on the battlefields of Iraq and
Afghanistan. The year is two months from being over, but already in 2007,
despite the touted "surge," deaths of US soldiers are the highest of any
year of the war.
The Taliban are the ones who are surging. They have taken control of a
third district in Western Afghanistan. Turkey and the Kurds are on the
verge of turning northern Iraq into a new war zone, another demonstration
of American impotence.
Bush's wars have endangered America's puppet regimes. Bush's Pakistani
puppet, Musharraf, is fighting for his life. By resorting to "emergency
rule" and oppressive measures, Musharraf has intensified his opposition.
When Musharraf falls, thanks to Bush, the Islamists will have nukes.
American generals used to say that the wars Bush started in the Middle
East would take 10 years to win. On Oct. 31, General John Abizaid, former
commander of US forces in the Middle East, put paid to that optimistic
forecast. Speaking at Carnegie Mellon University, Gen. Abizaid said it
would be 50 years before US troops can leave the Middle East.
There is no possibility of the US remaining in the Middle East for a half
century. The dollar and US power are already on their last legs,
unbeknownst to Democratic leaders Pelosi and Reid who are preparing yet
another blank check for Bush's latest request for $200 billion in
supplementary war funding.
There isn't any money with which to fund Bush's lost war. It will have to
be borrowed from China.
The Romans brought on their own demise, but it took them centuries. Bush
has finished America in a mere seven years.
Even as Gisele throws off the dollar's hegemony, Brazil, Venezuela,
Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Columbia are declaring
independence from the IMF and World Bank, instruments of US financial
hegemony, by creating their own development bank, thus bringing to an end
US suzerainty over South America.
An empire that has lost its backyard is finished.
Warning, this film could make you very angry
by Robert Fisk
Global Research, November 4, 2007 - The Independent - 2007-11-03
At university, we male students used to say that it was impossible to take
a beautiful young woman to the cinema and concentrate on the film. But in
Canada, I've at last proved this to be untrue. Familiar with the Middle
East and its abuses – and with the vicious policies of George Bush – we
both sat absorbed by Rendition, Gavin Hood's powerful, appalling testimony
of the torture of a "terrorist suspect" in an unidentified Arab capital
after he was shipped there by CIA thugs in Washington.
Why did an Arab "terrorist" telephone an Egyptian chemical engineer –
holder of a green card and living in Chicago with a pregnant American wife
while he was attending an international conference in Johannesburg? Did he
have knowledge of how to make bombs? (Unfortunately, yes – he was a
chemical engineer – but the phone calls were mistakenly made to his
He steps off his plane at Dulles International Airport and is immediately
shipped off on a CIA jet to what looks suspiciously like Morocco – where,
of course, the local cops don't pussyfoot about Queensberry rules during
interrogation. A CIA operative from the local US embassy – played by a
nervous Jake Gyllenhaal – has to witness the captive's torture while his
wife pleads with congressmen in Washington to find him.
The Arab interrogator – who starts with muttered questions to the naked
Egyptian in an underground prison – works his way up from beatings to a
"black hole", to the notorious "waterboarding" and then to electricity
charges through the captive's body. The senior Muhabarat questioner is, in
fact, played by an Israeli and was so good that when he demanded to know
how the al-Jazeera channel got exclusive footage of a suicide bombing
before his own cops, my companion and I burst into laughter.
Well, suffice it to say that the CIA guy turns soft, rightly believes the
Egyptian is innocent, forces his release by the local minister of
interior, while the senior interrogator loses his daughter in the suicide
bombing – there is a mind-numbing reversal of time sequences so that the
bomb explodes both at the start and at the end of the film – while Meryl
Streep as the catty, uncaring CIA boss is exposed for her wrong-doing. Not
Well, think again. For in Canada lives Maher Arar, a totally harmless
software engineer – originally from Damascus – who was picked up at JFK
airport in New York and underwent an almost identical "rendition" to the
fictional Egyptian in the movie. Suspected of being a member of al-Qa'ida
– the Canadian Mounties had a hand in passing on this nonsense to the FBI
– he was put on a CIA plane to Syria where he was held in an underground
prison and tortured. The Canadian government later awarded Arar $10m in
compensation and he received a public apology from Prime Minister Stephen
But Bush's thugs didn't get fazed like Streep's CIA boss. They still claim
that Arar is a "terrorist suspect"; which is why, when he testified to a
special US congressional meeting on 18 October, he had to appear on a
giant video screen in Washington. He's still, you see, not allowed to
enter the US. Personally, I'd stay in Canada – in case the FBI decided to
ship him back to Syria for another round of torture. But save for the US
congressmen – "let me personally give you what our government has not: an
apology," Democratic congressman Bill Delahunt said humbly – there hasn't
been a whimper from the Bush administration.
Even worse, it refused to reveal the "secret evidence" which it claimed it
had on Arar – until the Canadian press got its claws on these "secret"
papers and discovered they were hearsay evidence of an Arar visit to
Afghanistan from an Arab prisoner in Minneapolis, Mohamed Elzahabi, whose
brother, according to Arar, once repaired Arar's car in Montreal.
There was a lovely quote from America's Homeland Security secretary
Michael Chertoff and Alberto Gonzales, the US attorney general at the
time, that the evidence again Arar was "supported by information developed
by US law enforcement agencies". Don't you just love that word
"developed"? Doesn't it smell rotten? Doesn't it mean "fabricated"?
And what, one wonders, were Bush's toughs doing sending Arar off to Syria,
a country that they themselves claim to be a "terrorist" state which
supports "terrorist" organisations like Hizbollah. President Bush, it
seems, wants to threaten Damascus, but is happy to rely on his brutal
Syrian chums if they'll be obliging enough to plug in the electricity and
attach the wires in an underground prison on Washington's behalf.
But then again, what can you expect of a president whose nominee for
Alberto Gonzales's old job of attorney general, Michael Mukasey, tells
senators that he doesn't "know what is involved" in the near-drowning
"waterboarding" torture used by US forces during interrogations. "If
waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional," the luckless
Yes, and I suppose if electric shocks to the body constitute torture – if,
mind you – that would be unconstitutional. Right? The New York Times
readers at least spotted the immorality of Mukasey's remarks. A former US
assistant attorney asked "how the United States could hope to regain its
position as a respected world leader on the great issues of human rights
if its chief law enforcement officer cannot even bring himself to
acknowledge the undeniable verity that waterboarding constitutes
torture...". As another reader pointed out, "Like pornography, torture
doesn't require a definition."
Yet all is not lost for the torture lovers in America. Here's what
Republican senator Arlen Spector – a firm friend of Israel – had to say
about Mukasey's shameful remarks: "We're glad to see somebody who is
strong, with a strong record, take over this department."
So is truth stranger than fiction? Or is Hollywood waking up – after
Syriana and Munich – to the gross injustices of the Middle East and the
shameless and illegal policies of the US in the region? Go and see
Rendition – it will make you angry – and remember Arar. And you can take a
beautiful woman along to share your fury.
Immunity for wiretap assistance is right call
By Lee H. Hamilton (911 LIAR from the cover-up commission)
November 4, 2007
If the local fire company asked for your help putting out a neighbor's
blaze, you would not force the firefighters to justify their request. You
would just help, right? That's what the phone companies did when the Bush
administration asked them in secret for help with wiretaps to target
al-Qaida communications into and out of the country.
However, the president's warrantless wiretap program caused a furor when
it became public. The administration had circumvented the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act, raising many doubts about the legality and
even constitutionality of its wiretap program. The controversy prompted
class-action lawsuits against phone companies that cooperated with the
The Senate Intelligence Committee has reported out a bipartisan bill that
would bring this wiretap program back under the FISA statute and court
review. It would ensure the legality and robust congressional oversight so
lacking in the original program. It also would give the phone companies
immunity for their previous actions.
The committee made the right call. To the extent that companies helped the
government, they were acting out of a sense of patriotic duty and in the
belief that their actions were legal. Dragging them through litigation
would set a bad precedent. It would deter companies and private citizens
from helping in future emergencies when there is uncertainty or legal risk.
The help and cooperation of all our citizens are vital in combating the
threats we face today. Companies in various sectors of the economy are
going to have information that could save the lives of thousands of
Americans. When they respond in an emergency, at the call of our highest
elected officials and on assurances that what they are doing is legal,
they must be treated fairly. To do otherwise would put our security at
This is particularly true of communications companies. They are critical
to our intelligence and "early warning" against terrorist attacks. The
increasing complexity of communications technology has made the voluntary
cooperation of these companies vital.
Government actions require public review. Actions by private companies in
response to government requests also should place the burden of
accountability on the government. We should not expect private companies
to second-guess the propriety and legality of government requests. That is
the job of our public servants in the executive branch, the legislators
who oversee them, and ultimately the courts.
Unless Congress provides immunity, the clear message will be that private
citizens should help only when they are certain that all the government's
actions are legal. Given today's threats, that is too high a standard. We
should hold public officials accountable for their actions - and hold
harmless private citizens and companies when they respond to government
requests to help protect us.
Former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton is president and director of the Woodrow
Wilson International Center for Scholars and was co-chairman of the 9/11
commission. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org