Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 27, 2005

Feet of Clay

As I was traveling by train these last days, I had a chance to finish the newest book by Peter Scholl-Latour: "Giant on Clay Feet".

Scholl-Latour is a German author, an Arabist and TV correspondent now 82 years old. He reported on three wars from Vietnam, from Korea, Algeria and countless other conflicts.

His books are bestsellers in Germany. There is some information in English on his previous book, "Superpower in Quicksand". Unfortunately the only one translated to English seems to be "Death in the Rice Fields", an eyewitness account on three wars in Vietnam.

What makes Scholl-Latour's books attractive, is his personal knowledge of actors and places.

Just as one example, he was the only western journalist to accompany Ayatollah Khomeni, who he criticize, to Tehran in 1979. Unsure of his treatment on arrival, Khomeni entrusted Scholl-Latour to carry his handwritten version of the new Iranian constitution.

For his new book he visited the U.S., North Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.

  • In a discussion with Senator McCain they agree on the inability of a superpower to win an asymmetric war.
  • He talks with, often unnamed, officials in Phnom Penh and other places and is concluding that the power is with the military and Kim Jong Il is just a puppet the generals play.
  • In Vietnam he interviews General Giap who calls the war on Iraq "an unjustified war of aggression", denies to directly comment on it, but then recalls the battle of Dien Bien Phu and how a determined people can beat any occupation force.
  • In Iraq he has meetings with al-Hakim and Ayatollah al-Mudarissi, who will be the successor of Sistani.

Some of Scholl-Latour's conclusions:

  • Any attack on North Korea by the U.S., China or South Korea will end in a quagmire. There is no chance to win against a completely indoctrinated people and a military prepared for guerrilla resistance. In the current conflict the generals are determined to hand the U.S. a huge loss of face.
  • The Shia and their leader Sistani have outplayed the U.S. proconsuls by demanding the elections the U.S. propaganda of democracy set out. They may well build an axis from Persia to Lebanon to Bahrain.
  • The U.S. military is a "Thalassocrathic" force. It's carriers are dreadnoughts. There is no way it can every win a fight against a determined asymmetric land force.
  • Unlike in other wars, the  U.S. forces in Iraq are completely insulated from the local population. Though they have a lot of comfort, which does not really help their fighting spirit, the distance from the population and the inability to vent through alcohol, love or other human means leads to dangerous psychic crisis.
  • The "human factor" in the U.S. leadership just isn´t there. Like Russia with Gorbatschow, who lost the Sowjet empire in just a few years, the U.S. is only a few presidential acts away from a loss of its status and role in the world.
  • The U.S. and "the west" has no understanding for the dynamic and power of the social and religious movements in the Middle East. It acts weaken the traditional moderate forces of Islam.

In the eyes of this man, who has seen it all, the prophecy of Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar will again come true. The empire giant of gold and steel has feet made of clay which will break. The giant will fall.

Posted by b on December 27, 2005 at 22:13 UTC | Permalink


Indeed b,

Pentagon has yet to ban contractors from using forced labor

Kiddnapping, then torture, then domestic wiretapping, and now Slavery? I'm agog. What's next, cannibalism?

I'd love to see the text of the contractors representatives to the proposed prohibition.

We're hairy and horny and ready to shack/
We don't care if you're yellow or black/
Just take off your clothes and lie down on your back/
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys/
We're the Cops of the World

--Phil Ochs, writing a generation ago

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2005 0:43 utc | 1

Fuck it, the above story is behind a spam/snoopwall, below is the first part;you can use Bugmenot to get the rest...

U.S. stalls on human trafficking
Pentagon has yet to ban contractors from using forced labor

By Cam Simpson
Washington Bureau
Published December 27, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Three years ago, President Bush declared that he had "zero tolerance" for trafficking in humans by the government's overseas contractors, and two years ago Congress mandated a similar policy.

But notwithstanding the president's statement and the congressional edict, the Defense Department has yet to adopt a policy to bar human trafficking.

A proposal prohibiting defense contractor involvement in human trafficking for forced prostitution and labor was drafted by the Pentagon last summer, but five defense lobbying groups oppose key provisions and a final policy still appears to be months away, according to those involved and Defense Department records.

The lobbying groups opposing the plan say they're in favor of the idea in principle, but said they believe that implementing key portions of it overseas is unrealistic. They represent thousands of firms, including some of the industry's biggest names, such as DynCorp International and Halliburton subsidiary KBR, both of which have been linked to trafficking-related concerns.

Lining up on the opposite side of the defense industry are some human-trafficking experts who say significant aspects of the Pentagon's proposed policy might actually do more harm than good unless they're changed. These experts have told the Pentagon that the policy would merely formalize practices that have allowed contractors working overseas to escape punishment for involvement in trafficking, the records show.

The long-awaited debate inside the Pentagon on how to implement presidential and congressional directives on human trafficking is unfolding just as countertrafficking advocates in Congress are running into resistance. A bill reauthorizing the nation's efforts against trafficking for the next two years was overwhelmingly passed by the House this month, but only after a provision creating a trafficking watchdog at the Pentagon was stripped from the measure at the insistence of defense-friendly lawmakers, according to congressional records and officials. The Senate passed the bill last week.

Delay seen as weakness

The Pentagon's delay in tackling the issue, the perceived weakness of its proposed policy and the recent setbacks in Congress have some criticizing the Pentagon for not taking the issue seriously enough.

"Ultimately, what we really hope to see is resources and leadership on this issue from the Pentagon," said Sarah Mendelson, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a national security think tank in Washington. She also had called for creation of an internal Pentagon watchdog after investigating the military's links to sex trafficking in the Balkans.

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), author of the original legislation targeting human trafficking, said there seems to be an institutional lethargy on the issue at the Pentagon below the most senior levels. He said he was concerned that the Pentagon's overseas-contractor proposal might not be tough enough and that the delays in developing it could mean more people "were being exploited while they were sharpening their pencils."

But he pledged to maintain aggressive oversight of the plan.

`We're addressing the issue'

Glenn Flood, a Pentagon spokesman, said he did not know why it has taken so long to develop a proposal but said, "From our point of view, we're addressing the issue."

An official more directly involved with the effort to draft a formal policy barring contractors from involvement in trafficking said it might not be ready until April, at least in part because of concerns raised by the defense contractors.

Bush declared zero tolerance for involvement in human trafficking by federal employees and contractors in a National Security Presidential Directive he signed in December 2002 after media reports detailing the alleged involvement of DynCorp employees in buying women and girls as sex slaves in Bosnia during the U.S. military's deployment there in the late 1990s.

Ultimately, the company fired eight employees for their alleged involvement in sex trafficking and illegal arms deals.

In 2003, Smith followed Bush's decree with legislation ordering federal agencies to include anti-trafficking provisions in all contracts. The bill covered trafficking for forced prostitution and forced labor and applied to overseas contractors and their subcontractors.

But it wasn't until last summer that the Pentagon issued a proposed policy to enforce the 2003 law and Bush's December 2002 directive.

The proposal drew a strong response from five defense-contractor-lobbying groups within the umbrella Council of Defense and Space Industries Associations: the Contract Services Association, the Professional Services Council, the National Defense Industrial Association, the American Shipbuilding Association and the Electronic Industries Alliance.

The response's first target was a provision requiring contractors to police their overseas subcontractors for human trafficking.


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2005 0:55 utc | 2

@uncle It's really not that difficult to get a handle on the response. The defense contractors don't want to implement anything remotely like this because it may inhibit their ability to make money. That is whether or not there is any trafficking and lets face it endangering profits is the new treason in today's whitehouse.

So they will get this sensible and by all accounts mild measure and create an extreme example with it then use that to bludgeon the grifters passing as legislators in congress. Not that aforesaid grifters need bludgeoning but they do need cover with the voters to justify their immoral stance on this issue.

So if I was stuck with trying to argue against this bill I would start off with something like "Candy-bars forbidden for our troops in harm's way!
Yes the interferring political correctness of liberal legislators is prepared to deny US troops access to candy."

"The purported excuse for this deliberate attempt to undermine our heroes morale? A badly mis-named piece of legislation called the "Stop Human Trafficking Bill" an admirable goal but it's hard to see how denying our troops to much needed 'energy restoring nutrition' can possibly stop human trafficking. It's time for these so called liberals to get serious and start helping instead of hindering."

Put it out like that with a few more appeals to right thinking sheeple's emotions, fears and prejudices and this bill is as dead as a dodo.

None of what I wrote was a lie and yet none of it was exactly true either. However the situation with candy bars can be traced back to this unfortunate little 'fact'.

"At least 15,000 children from Mali are thought to be in the neighbouring Ivory Coast, producing cocoa for almost half of the world's chocolate."

I'm sure that somewhere in the legislation will be a clause telling quatermasters and supply depots not to buy any product that may have utilized forced labour in it's manufacture or transportation. That means no more chocolate on base. Ergo no candy for the troops.

These alleged 'Public watchdogs' can knock out a dozen beat-ups like that before breakfast.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 28 2005 3:00 utc | 3

US Islamic group files FOIA request on radiation monitoring

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2005 3:25 utc | 4

All of this stuff is so insane that you have to wonder about the rationality of not just point scoring politicians but also the civil servants who are meant to be giving accurate advice.

There is just no way that you can safely protect a large society to the point where it is 100% safe from all forms of attack including previously unknown types by previously unknown groups of people. Well before you have even got close to 50%; citizens rights and freedoms will have been savaged to the point where far more harm will have been done to citizens than are likely to be effected by a terrorist attack.

Blind Freddy can see the best way to fix this, pity george w bush can't. If bugger all people in the world are pissed at you then having people want to blow you up is an unlikely occurence.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 28 2005 5:26 utc | 5

This report from Capitol Hill Blue doesn't really tell us anything new, but supplies some useful context. As always, caveat lector in view of some anonymously sourced assertions.

It seems to me that the unspoken goal of the data collection is to permit extortion. Right now this means, above all, the extortion of consent (and seems to be failing miserably), but further along we can confidently expect internet scamming to pass from its present "Nigerian money trap" level, to a more aggressive form armed with "privileged knowledge" of private e-mail, financial, and commercial transactions.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 28 2005 6:34 utc | 6

I lifted this from Juan Coles comments section:

At 1:18 PM, Clive of the Islands said...

"The guerillas are winning the war against US forces" frames the "myth" incompletely.
Iraq is a Pyrric victory. The military is necessary but not sufficient to "win" Iraq. (Although how do you define "winning"?)
If winning means "are US forces succeeding in providing security for the ordinary Iraqi (and semi-permanent control of Iraq for George Bush and for US corporate investors)", then clearly the US military is NOT winning and arguably can never win.
Rather, Iraq has demonstrated the limits of American military power.
America can invade any country and overthrow any government but cannot "win" the asymmetrical warfare that may now follow given the Iraq example. (The future course of Afghanistan will be interesting to watch, too. The resurgence of drug production and the "free" election of warlords are hardly reasuring of comprehensive "American victory").
Whether the American military can be "defeated in the field" seems largely irrelevant as the insurgency needs only to sustain chaos to not lose. Chaos in turn goads the American military into losing Iraqi (and world) hearts and minds by collective punishment of innocent civilians with indiscriminate aerial mass killings. Eventually, surely Sistani will demand an American exit on unfavorable-to-American terms. Chaos also traps the American military in Iraq until US political opinion forces a military withdrawal before US corporate control can be made certain.
The "myth" is not so much the "guerillas are winning the war against US forces" as it is the myth that "US military can win" with the rebuttal that Iraq is a mess that cannot be "won" by military means alone or perhaps at all.
The key point in framing the discussion as above is that "winning" needs to be explicitly defined in a series of fall-back goals and related to the various means (both military and non-military) of achieving these goals.
Much of the public debate is next to useless because the core goals of controlling Iraq's oil and dominating their corporates as an indirect means of making their so-called democracy irrelevant is rarely discussed openly and fully.

says it better than I could

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 28 2005 10:16 utc | 7

And a Guardian oped adds this:

The Afghanistan war of 2001 taught the wrong lessons. The US assumed this was the model of how a small, special forces-dominated campaign, using local proxies and calling in gunships or airstrikes, would sweep away opposition. But all Afghanistan showed was how an outside power could intervene in a finely balanced civil war. The one-eyed Mullah Omar's great escape on his motorbike was a warning that the God's-eye view can miss the human detail.

The problem for the US today is that Leviathan has shot his wad. Iraq revealed the hubris of the imperial geostrategy. One small nation can tie down a superpower. Air and space supremacy do not give command on the ground. People can't be terrorised into identification with America. The US has proved able to destroy massively - but not create, or even control. Afghanistan and Iraq lie in ruins, yet the occupiers cower behind concrete mountains.

The spin machine is on full tilt to represent Iraq as a success. Peters, in New Glory: Expanding America's Supremacy, asserts: "Our country is a force for good without precedent"; and Barnett, in Blueprint, says: "The US military is a force for global good that ... has no equal." Both offer ambitious plans for how the US is going to remake the third world in its image. There is a violent hysteria to the boasts. The narcissism of a decade earlier has given way to an extrovert rage at those who have resisted America's will since 2001. Both urge utter ruthlessness in crushing resistance. In November 2004, Peters told Fox News that in Falluja "the best outcome, frankly, is if they're all killed".

Posted by: b | Dec 28 2005 13:41 utc | 8

Ken Lay speaks!


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2005 14:15 utc | 9


I have no doubt that the repukes are abusing the power of this spying to pressure and blackmail members of congress, etc. to do what they want. I wish someone would have the courage to admit they had been blackmailed...but of course it could be costly to them personally, and it seems that no one cares about the greater good anymore.

whether that story is true or not, we know it's true b/c "Homeland" aka gestapo security was used to track the dems in Texas during the redistricting fracas.

I wish I had a modem. sigh. maybe today.

looking back over this year, it was a strange three months for electronics...first my old computer, then my new one, then my car's electrical system, then my new computer (again), then my cell phone, then my modem.

I'm afraid to operate a mechanical pencil. I might lose all the electricity in my house...

one more strike for my new computer and it gets replaced. I have never had a lemon mac before, but this one may be my first.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 28 2005 18:58 utc | 10


It only figures that god would be on Kens side, shoulda known. And how is it that god has come to represent such poor choice of character? Anytime I hear an evocation of god I wanna run like hell.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 28 2005 20:25 utc | 11

I question everything these people do, because nothing they do, nothing, is done that does not further their power and control:

Chiefs Demoted in Pentagon Succession Line

Having sd that does anyone got any ideas on what this move is about other than the above?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2005 23:55 utc | 12

@fauxreal it may not be your equipment. I have moved to an area where a stable power supply in times of peak demand is problematic. The thing that made me realise that power was a problem was the numbers of puta's that have crashed beyond redemption a dedicated stable power supply (UPS) on each puta costs a great deal of money so most ppl don't bother.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 29 2005 1:08 utc | 13

Ken Lay's "wave of truth" - fabulous! And Ken already using the "I know nothing" defence, lately popularized by Manuel, the abused waiter in Faulty Towers (see under "N" for "Nothing").

Richard Causey's trial starts Jan 30. Apparently he's done a deal and he's gonna spill.

Posted by: Dismal Science | Dec 29 2005 17:01 utc | 14

Black ops: Burn the bodies, dodge the legal questions of course, this too could be a WP planted story for the Diocletian's Problem-Reaction-Solution where hero's of the neoclap, SET EM UP AND KNOCK-EM DOWN. None the less, either way, it's a mind fuck.

"The more we do to you, the less you believe we are doing it"- Joseph Mengele

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 30 2005 5:11 utc | 15

Debs- these are different problems, but all within three or so months time. Right now I can glom off someone else's connection via my airport. I hope they stay online for a while.

Only one of these things had to do with my modem. But I'll have a faster, better connection for less money whenever the new one shows up.

Unkka- re that forced labor issue- didn't Ashcroft also deny the right to sue in the U.S....I can't go back and find all the info right now (see above), but it was because a subsidiary or the big Halliburton itself had used forced labor and hired local military or militia to enforce the forced labor at the point of a gun, and ppl were shot and wounded for trying to leave the work site. I cannot remember the place, but I wouldn't be surprised to find it's sop for the halliburton sobs.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 30 2005 5:40 utc | 16

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