Friday, July 20, 2012

“High inflation. Instability. Insecurity. Probably significant isolation for the United States in the world scene,” Brzezinski says. “Can you name me any significant country that’s going to be in that war together on our side?

Brzezinski to Newsmax: 

War With Iran Could Last Years, 

Devastate Global Economy

                            Wednesday, 18 Jul 2012 05:30 PM
                       By Todd Beamon and Kathleen Walter

Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warns Newsmax.TV that a confrontation with Iran would be disastrous for the United States, lasting for years and possibly devastating America's economy.

“A war in the Middle East, in the present context, may last for years,” Brzezinski, who served in the Carter White House, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “And the economic consequences of it are going to be devastating for the average American.

“High inflation. Instability. Insecurity. Probably significant isolation for the United States in the world scene,” Brzezinski says. “Can you name me any significant country that’s going to be in that war together on our side?

“That’s something no one can afford to ignore,” Brzezinski adds.

Brzezinski's warning comes as Iran apparently is ramping up tensions in the region. On Wednesday, a bus carrying Israeli youth exploded in a Bulgarian resort, killing at least six people and wounding 27, police and hospital officials said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it "an Iranian terror attack" and promised a tough response.

Syria, meanwhile, a close ally of Iran's, appears on the brink of collapse as fighting engulfs Damascus. On Monday, a bomb killed the chief of its security operations — a devastating strike that indicates a serious weakening in the security around President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

As the U.S. fortifies its presence in the Persian Gulf in preparation for a possible showdown with Tehran over its nuclear arsenal and its threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, Brzezinski paints a frightening picture of how the U.S. would be affected by yet another war in the Middle East.

“Rushing to war is not a wise course of action,” he says. “You can always start a war, and you know pretty much what happens when you start it. But you don’t know how long it will last, what its consequences will be – and they will be certainly very costly for the United States.”

Iran recently renewed its threats to close the Strait of Hormuz unless sanctions against it were revoked. Tehran has repeatedly threatened to close the vital oil-shipping channel, through which 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil exports travel, in retaliation for sanctions placed on its oil exports by Western nations.

“We would open it by force — and we have the power to do it, and I’m fairly confident we would do it,” says Brzezinski, who now is Robert Osgood Professor of American Foreign Policy at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.. His latest book, released in January, is Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power.

“But let’s not be simple-minded about it. We can open it up, but you can be absolutely certain that the costs of oil will skyrocket because it will still be a dangerous passage.

“In effect, the American taxpayer should be ready to pay $5 to $10 a gallon for the pleasure of having a war in the Strait of Hormuz,” Brzezinski explains. “This is another reason why it’s a wise course of action to be prudent and patient. Time’s on our side.”

He concurs with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Iran probably will not have a nuclear weapon for “at least three years or so” — but, regardless, a Tehran with such arsenals is a major game-changer in the region.

“I think some concern is justified, but hysteria and exaggeration are not. Certainly, a nuclear-armed Iran introduces a whole new destabilizing reality into the Middle East.

“On the other hand, several years are several years. A lot can change in several years, including the regime which, if there is no confrontation with the West, is likely to be much more vulnerable to internal pressures for change.

“So we have to take this into account and not rush to war,” he says.

While many world leaders express concerns privately that Iran could make pre-emptive strikes against Israel and the U.S., Brzezinski said the chances of that, right now, are “close to zero.”

“First, their delivery systems are very inefficient — and probably most of them vulnerable to elimination in the course of any attack. And, secondly, one thing you can say about the Iranian regime, it’s not very attractive.”

Then, in a suggestive nod at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Brzezinski adds: “It shoots its mouth off. It says extreme things, which are actually costly to Iran, but it’s not suicidal.”

Diplomacy is clearly the best weapon of choice now, Brzezinski says.

“A great deal depends on how accommodating the Iranians are in the negotiations — but a great deal also depends on how intelligent we are in the negotiations,” he says. “If the negotiations are designed to humiliate Iran and to put it in some sort of separate box, confining it to a status totally different from all the other signatories of the nonproliferation treaty, then we probably will not get an agreement.”

And he says he would urge President Barack Obama to continue down this road.

“I will advise him to stay on course. Not to be intimidated. Not to be rushed. Time is on our side.

“We don’t have to reach an agreement by some finite date,” Brzezinski adds. “We can take a few months. That’s better than going to war.”

Brzezinski also says in his exclusive Newsmax interview:
  • Any international response to Iran would, essentially, fall to the United States. “Let’s not kid ourselves. When people talk about taking on Iran by force, they really mean the United States.”
  • As U.S. involvement in Iraq nears its 10th year, Brzezinski still opposes it. “We have now an Iraq which is much more vulnerable to Iranian pressure. Saddam Hussein was an odious dictator, but he was also a very effective opponent of Iran. He was also a very effective opponent of al-Qaida. We now have an Iraq that’s unstable.”
  • Despite the “War on Terror,” al-Qaida remains a world threat: “We have managed to decimate its leadership. We have deprived it of an open and secure base, which it had in Afghanistan. We have fragmented it. But at the same time, it is still a dangerous and painful reality that segments of al-Qaida, cells of al-Qaida now operate in different parts of the world.”
  • The United States, and other countries, remain vulnerable to a terrorist attack. “We have had nine years or more, 10 years since 9/11. Not one significant terrorist act in the United States. We have had terrorist acts in Great Britain. We have had it in other parts of the world — Spain, certainly the Middle East — not in the United States.”
  • The United States must take another approach in Syria, rather than demanding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down to end the bloodshed there. “Let’s stop sort of waving the sword and making these threats unless we’re prepared to deliver. I don’t approve of the notion that we should be announcing who should step down from the position of a head of a state unless we are seriously prepared to remove that person. But if we are not, if we are being prudent and careful, then let’s also be careful with how we talk.”
Editor's Note: See these other exclusive Newsmax stories:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

So we can get insinuations for the "evilness of Iran" from a major German Newspaper equally as well as we can get it from an American politically agenda(ed) rag

Targeting IsraelisIndications Point to Iran in Bulgarian Bombing

An image taken from a surveillance camera purporting to show the suicide bomber who attacked a bus full of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria on Wednesday.Zoom
AP/ Bulgarian Interior Ministry

An image taken from a surveillance camera purporting to show the suicide bomber who attacked a bus full of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria on Wednesday.

The attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria is a nightmare for Israeli security officials. For months, terrorists have been trying to strike at Israeli targets abroad -- and have now finally succeeded. It is thought to be part of the country's shadowy war with Iran and Hezbollah.

It is thought BY WHOM?  If I wanted idle speculation such as this, I could read the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page ... "it is thought" my ass

The suicide bomber was wearing plaid Bermuda shorts, a bright blue T-shirt, baseball cap, sunglasses and long hair. It was the perfect disguise; the young man looked just like a normal tourist. Oh Dear God in Heaven, we can't have terrorists looking like "normal tourists," now, can we?  What in the hell is a "normal tourist supposed to look like ... sounds like a slob, here.  For more than an hour on Wednesday afternoon, he lingered in the parking lot of the airport in Burgas, the Black Sea coastal town in Bulgaria, according to video taken by surveillance cameras. When 44 Israeli tourists climbed onto a bus at 5:30 p.m. on their way to a beach-front hotel, the imposter boarded as well.
Just seconds later, an explosion ripped through the bus as the attacker detonated an explosive he had likely hidden in his backpack. Six Israelis, the Bulgarian bus driver and the perpetrator died in the attack. Dozens of Israelis were injured, some of them seriously.

Initial indications, according to the reconstruction carried out by Israeli authorities flown in to investigate the attack, appear to point to the involvement of Iran and its allies, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah. Investigators believe that the attackers specifically targeted Israelis traveling abroad, following a pattern similar to several other terror attacks and attempted bombings in previous months. The date of the attack has also aroused suspicion. Wednesday was the 18th anniversary of the attack on a Jewish cultural center in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires in which 85 people were killed. Argentina believes Argentina is a country, defined by man made borders ... Argentina is a man-made construct .... Argentina DOES NOT THINK ... Argentinian police, or whatever investigative agency tasked with looking into the bombinb PERHAPS thinks this, or perhaps they just say it, or perhaps they just believe it because it is a convenient thing to believe and feeds into a world wide agenda to make Iran out to be the muthah of all evils that Iran and Hezbollah were behind that assault and has issued an international arrest warrant for Iran's former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

An additional clue to the Wednesday bombing is provided by the fact that Western documents were found on the attacker -- often an indicator of Iranian or Hezbollah involvement  Western documents indicate Iranian or Hezbollah involvement?  What would Iranian or Hezbollahian documents have suggested?. Investigators found a forged Michigan drivers license on the corpse of the suicide bomber, Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said on Thursday. DNA tests are currently being undertaken in an attempt to identify the attacker.

Targeting Israelis Overseas

It would likely come as no surprise to Israeli security were it determined that he came from either Iran or Lebanon  OF COURSE it would come to no surprise!  This is what they want to believe, and I can promise you, when you WANT to believe something, you can find all sorts of ways to convince yourself that what you believe IS. Intelligence officials in both Israel and abroad believe that recent months have seen an increase in attempts to stage terror attacks targeting Israelis traveling overseas WAIT a minute ... they BELIEVE that recent months have seen (months don't see) an increase in ATTEMPTS to stage terror attacks targeting ... Doesn't anybody keep statistics of these things?  Shouldn't we have some solid evidence, or some numbers (which could easily be fudged or even forged). Evidence indicates that most of those attempts were steered from Iran or from the southern suburbs of Beirut, where Hezbollah is based  Just what evidence are we talking about here?  More Michigan driver's licenses?.

In 2012 alone, terrorists made several (several? is this the complete list below?  Because the list looks suspiciously like FIVE attempts) attempts to target Israelis.

  • In January, authorities in Azerbaijan arrested two locals who, together with an Iranian agent, were planning to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in Baku and the senior rabbi of the city's Jewish community.
  • In February, the wife of an employee of the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi was injured when a bomb attached to her car exploded. On the same day, a similar attack was prevented in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. The double attack came on the fourth anniversary of the death of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in a February 2008 bomb attack in the Syrian capital of Damascus One can be reasonably sure that the Israelis have murdered members of Hezbollah on just about any day of the year ... any such attacks will always coincide with the date of some Israeli political assassination. Hezbollah has blamed Israel for being behind the attack  (But, Israel ALWAYS blames Hezbollah (a political organization that originally Israel supported, as an oppositionto Kadaffi).
  • Just two days later, a plot aimed at the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok was uncovered when several explosions went off just a few blocks away. The first blast, likely the result of carelessness, damaged the terror team's hideout. Iranian papers and money was later found in the house (What? No western documents? No Michigan drivers licenses?). Two of the three attackers, all of whom were Iranian citizens, were captured (Does it occur to the murdering rapacious Israeli Defense Force that murdering Palestinians alone is a way to enourage what are known as "lone wolf" terrorists who get no state support?  Probably not.  It doesn't occur to the US military, the White House, the House of Representatives of the Senate that the murder of innocent civilians that the US routinely commits (war crimes) are going to induce highly motivated individuals into acts of revenge). One managed to escape.
  • On July 2, it was revealed that the Kenyan secret service arrested two Iranians who ultimately led them to a location where they had hidden explosives. The two men are suspected of having planned attacks on a vacation resort frequented by Israelis. They had enough explosives to destroy a mid-sized hotel, according to Kenyan officials (But were their actions supported or sanctioned by the Iranian government?  Again ... see "lone wolf" theory of terrorists).
  • On July 14, Cypriot police arrested a 24-year-old Lebanese citizen following a tip-off from the Israeli secret service agency Mossad. The man was carrying a Swedish passport that was likely forged (Likely forged?  As in you mean they haven't had enough time to uncover whether or not it is a forgery or a bona fide pass port). According to Cypriot media reports, officials believe that the man had been planning a rocket attack on an airplane belonging to the Israeli airline Arkia (Which is NOT to say at all that the Iranian government is behind the actions ... in fact, quite the contrary ... as this report has made clear .... none of these people who have committed the acts of terror (I still think bombing civilian areas with hospitals and schools qualify as acts of terror - state sponsored terror - of course, Israel, and ESPECIALLY the US do such things routinely ... we call it ... fighting terrorism (note especially, "terrorism" as a tactic, can not in and of itself fight back ... what we call fighting terrorism is actually killing people, most of whom are not guilty of any capital crime, or, quite likely, any crime at all).
Israel, for its part, has not shied away from engaging in the proxy conflict. It is thought that the country is behind several deadly attacks in Tehran in recent years targeting nuclear scientists. Officially, Israel has made no comment, but behind the scenes some have boasted that the "long arm of Mossad has reached Tehran."  (This sure sounds like this so call "proxy conflict" is a one way thing ... when it comes to one state committing acts of terror against the other ... so, when your own government won't fight to defend its people, what that governments individuals to do?  What they are to do are matters of individual choice and consciousness)

The Israeli reaction to the attack in Burgas was prompt. First, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blustered about the threat of retaliation against "Iran's terror." Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was more cautious, saying the country would, among other things, file a diplomatic initiative at the United Nations for Hezbollah to be placed on the list of international terrorist organizations. Israel would seem eager to defuse concerns that it might use the attack in Burgas as an excuse to make a first strike on Iran's nuclear program well, at least the proper terms are being used here:  Iran's nuclear program ... and NOT Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program ... which according to the IEAE does not exist!.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak discouraged criticism of Israeli intelligence services over their inability to stop the attack. The fact that the experts did not predict the bombing was a "mishap," not "negligence," he said (We did a similar thing in the US, as the W Bush (Cheney) administration fought like crazed animals to keep out of the public eye an analysis saying "Bin Laden Set to Strike US".

"The world is big and full of places where these people act," he added. "The success of our intelligence and of others has been great, but there are days that are painful, and yesterday was one such day."

David Böcking assisted in compiling this report

Undercover liars with cameras shouldn't get to destroy political candidates with impunity.

July 16, 2012Op-Ed, 520 words

When I was six, I began putting together a massive collection of comic books. Batman implanted a concept in my mind, introduced me to a paradigm as to how the world is set up: that there are oppressors, there are the oppressed, and there are those who step up to defend the oppressed. This resonated with me so much that throughout the rest of my childhood, I gravitated toward any book that reflected that paradigm—Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Autobiography of Malcolm X…even…The Catcher in the Rye.

On Being Sentenced to 17 Years in Prison

In Your Eyes, I’m a Terrorist


In the name of God the most gracious the most merciful.
Exactly four years ago this month I was finishing my work shift at a local hospital. As I was walking to my car I was approached by two federal agents. They said that I had a choice to make: I could do things the easy way, or I could do them the hard way. The “easy” way…was that I would become an informant for the government, and if I did so I would never see the inside of a courtroom or a prison cell. As for the hard way, this is it. Here I am, having spent the majority of the four years since then in a solitary cell the size of a small closet, in which I am locked down for 23 hours each day. The FBI and these prosecutors worked very hard…to put me in that cell, keep me there, put me on trial, and finally to have me stand here before you today to be sentenced to even more time in a cell.
In the weeks leading up to this moment, many people have offered suggestions as to what I should say to you. Some said I should plead for mercy in hopes of a light sentence, while others suggested I would be hit hard either way. But what I want to do is just talk about myself for a few minutes.
When I refused to become an informant, the government responded by charging me with the “crime” of supporting the mujahideen fighting the occupation of Muslim countries around the world. Or as they like to call them, “terrorists.” I wasn’t born in a Muslim country, though. I was born and raised right here in America and this angers many people: how is it that I can be an American and believe the things I believe, take the positions I take? Everything a man is exposed to in his environment becomes an ingredient that shapes his outlook, and I’m no different. So, in more ways than one, it’s because of America that I am who I am.
When I was six, I began putting together a massive collection of comic books. Batman implanted a concept in my mind, introduced me to a paradigm as to how the world is set up: that there are oppressors, there are the oppressed, and there are those who step up to defend the oppressed. This resonated with me so much that throughout the rest of my childhood, I gravitated toward any book that reflected that paradigm—Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Autobiography of Malcolm X…even…The Catcher in the Rye.
By the time I began high school and took a real history class, I was learning just how real that paradigm is in the world. I learned about the Native Americans and what befell them at the hands of European settlers…[and] how the descendents of those European settlers were in turn oppressed under the tyranny of King George III.
I read about Paul Revere, Tom Paine, and how Americans began an armed insurgency against British forces—an insurgency we now celebrate as the American Revolutionary War.…I learned about Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, John Brown, and the fight against slavery in this country. I learned about Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, and the struggles of the labor unions, working class, and poor. I learned about Anne Frank, the Nazis, and how they persecuted minorities and imprisoned dissidents. I learned about Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and the civil rights struggle.
I learned about Ho Chi Minh, and how the Vietnamese fought for decades to liberate themselves from one invader after another. I learned about Nelson Mandela and the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Everything I learned in those years confirmed what I was beginning to learn when I was six: that throughout history, there has been a constant struggle between the oppressed and their oppressors. With each struggle I learned about, I found myself consistently siding with the oppressed, and consistently respecting those who stepped up to defend them—regardless of nationality, regardless of religion. And I never threw my class notes away. As I stand here speaking, they are in a neat pile in my bedroom closet at home.
From all the historical figures I learned about, one stood out above the rest. I was impressed by many things about Malcolm X, but above all, I was fascinated by the idea of transformation, his transformation. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie “X” by Spike Lee…the Malcolm at the beginning is different from the Malcolm at the end. He starts off as an illiterate criminal, but ends up a husband, a father, a protective and eloquent leader for his people, a disciplined Muslim performing the hajjin Makkah, and finally, a martyr. Malcolm’s life taught me that Islam is not something inherited; it’s not a culture or ethnicity. It’s a way of life, a state of mind anyone can choose no matter where they come from or how they were raised.
This led me to look deeper into Islam, and I was hooked. I was just a teenager, but Islam answered the question that the greatest scientific minds were clueless about…: what is the purpose of life? Why do we exist in this Universe? But it also answered the question of how we’re supposed to exist. And since there’s no hierarchy or priesthood, I could directly and immediately begin digging into the texts of the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, to begin the journey of understanding what this was all about, the implications of Islam for me as a human being, as an individual, for the people around me, for the world; and the more I learned, the more I valued Islam like a piece of gold. This was when I was a teen, but even today…I stand here before you, and everyone else in this courtroom, as a very proud Muslim.
With that, my attention turned to what was happening to other Muslims in different parts of the world. And everywhere I looked, I saw the “powers that be” trying to destroy what I loved. I learned what the Soviets had done to the Muslims of Afghanistan. I learned what the Serbs had done to the Muslims of Bosnia…what the Russians were doing to the Muslims of Chechnya…what Israel had done in Lebanon—and what it continues to do in Palestine—with the full backing of the United States. And I learned what America itself was doing to Muslims. I learned about the Gulf war, and the depleted uranium bombs that killed thousands and caused cancer rates to skyrocket across Iraq.
I learned about the American-led sanctions that prevented food, medicine, and medical equipment from entering Iraq, and how—according to the United Nations—over half a million children perished as a result. I remember a clip from a “60 Minutes” interview of Madeleine Albright where she expressed her view that these dead children were “worth it.” I watched on Sept. 11 as a group of people felt driven to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings from their outrage at the deaths of these children. I watched as America then attacked and invaded Iraq directly. I saw the effects of “Shock and Awe”…the children in hospital wards with shrapnel from American missiles sticking out of their foreheads….
I learned about the town of Haditha, where 24 Muslims—including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women, and even toddlers—were shot up and blown up in their bedclothes as they slept by U.S. Marines. I learned about Abeer al-Janabi, a 14-year old Iraqi girl gang-raped by five American soldiers, who then shot her and her family in the head, then set fire to their corpses. I just want to point out, as you can see, Muslim women don’t even show their hair to unrelated men. So try to imagine this young girl from a conservative village with her dress torn off, being sexually assaulted by not one, not two, not three, not four, but five soldiers. Even today, as I sit in my jail cell, I read about the drone strikes which continue to kill Muslims daily in places like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Just last month, we all heard about the 17 Afghan Muslims—mostly mothers and their kids—shot to death by an American soldier, who also set fire to their corpses.
These are just the stories that make it to the headlines, but one of the first concepts I learned in Islam is that of loyalty, of brotherhood—that each Muslim woman is my sister, each man is my brother, and together, we are one large body who must protect each other.…I couldn’t see these things beings done to my brothers and sisters—including by America—and remain neutral. My sympathy for the oppressed continued, but was now more personal, as was my respect for those defending them.
I mentioned Paul Revere—when he went on his midnight ride, it was for the purpose of warning the people that the British were marching to Lexington to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock, then on to Concord to confiscate the weapons stored there by the Minutemen. By the time they got to Concord, they found the Minutemen waiting for them, weapons in hand. They fired at the British, fought them, and beat them. From that battle came the American Revolution. There’s an Arabic word to describe what those Minutemen did that day. That word is: JIHAD,and this is what my trial was about.
All those videos and translations and…bickering over “Oh, he translated this paragraph” and “Oh, he edited that sentence,” and all those exhibits revolved around a single issue: Muslims who were defending themselves against American soldiers doing to them exactly what the British did to America. It was made crystal clear at trial that I never, ever plotted to “kill Americans”….The government’s own witnesses contradicted this claim, and we put expert after expert up on that stand, who spent hours dissecting my every written word, who explained my beliefs. Further, when I was free, the government sent an undercover agent to prod me into one of their little “terror plots,” but I refused…. Mysteriously, however, the jury never heard this.
So, this trial was not about my position on Muslims killing American civilians. It was about my position on Americans killing Muslim civilians, which is that Muslims should defend their lands from foreign invaders—Soviets, Americans, or Martians. This is what I believe…and what I will always believe. This is not terrorism, and it’s not extremism. It’s what the arrows on that seal above your head represent: defense of the homeland. So, I disagree with my lawyers when they say that you don’t have to agree with my beliefs—no. Anyone with common sense and humanity has no choice but to agree with me. If someone breaks into your home to rob you and harm your family, logic dictates that you do whatever it takes to expel that invader from your home.
But when that home is a Muslim land, and that invader is the U.S. military, for some reason the standards suddenly change. Common sense is renamed “terrorism” and the people defending themselves…become “the terrorists” who are “killing Americans.” The mentality that America was victimized with when British soldiers walked these streets two and a half centuries ago is the same mentality Muslims are victimized by as American soldiers walk their streets today. It’s the mentality of colonialism.
When Sergeant Bales shot those Afghans to death last month, all of the focus in the media was on him—his life, his stress, his PTSD, the mortgage on his home—as if he was the victim. Very little sympathy was expressed for the people he actually killed, as if…they’re not humans. Unfortunately, this mentality trickles down to everyone in society, whether or not they realize it. Even with my lawyers, it took nearly two years of discussing, explaining and clarifying before they were finally able to think outside the box and at least ostensibly accept the logic in what I was saying. Two years! If it took that long for people so intelligent, whose job it is to defend me, to de-program themselves, then to throw me in front of a randomly selected jury under the premise that they’re my “impartial peers,” I mean, come on. I wasn’t tried before a jury of my peers because with the mentality gripping America today, I have no peers. Counting on this fact, the government prosecuted me—not because they needed to, but simply because they could.
I learned one more thing in history class: America has historically supported the most unjust policies against its minorities…only to look back later and ask: “what were we thinking?” Slavery, Jim Crow, the internment of the Japanese during World War II—each was widely accepted by American society, each…defended by the Supreme Court. But as time passed and America changed, both people and courts looked back and asked, “What were we thinking?” Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist by the South African government, and given a life sentence. But time passed, the world changed, they realized how oppressive their policies were…and they released him from prison. He even became president. So, everything is subjective—even this whole business of “terrorism” and who is a “terrorist.” It all depends on the time and place and who the superpower happens to be at the moment.
In your eyes, I’m a terrorist, and it’s perfectly reasonable that I be standing here in an orange jumpsuit. But one day, America will change and people will recognize this day for what it is. They will look at how hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed and maimed by the U.S. military in foreign countries, yet somehow I’m the one going to prison for “conspiring to kill and maim” in those countries—because I support themujahideen defending those people. They will look back on how the government spent millions of dollars to imprison me as a “terrorist,” yet if we were to somehow bring Abeer al-Janabi back to life in the moment she was being gang-raped by your soldiers, to put her on that witness stand and ask her who the “terrorists” are, she sure wouldn’t be pointing at me.
The government says that I was obsessed with violence, obsessed with “killing Americans.” But, as a Muslim living in these times, I cannot think of a lie more ironic.

Tarek Mehanna, a 29-year-old American
who holds a doctorate in pharmacology,

was convicted of supporting al-Qaeda by

translating their documents into English

and expressing “sympathetic views”

toward them, and of conspiring to murder

U.S. soldiers in Iraq. He read this

statement to Judge George A. O’Toole

during his sentencing on April 12, 2012.

The Age of Disruptive Climate Change, and its impact on the supply of food, is a major source of modern-day uprisings, toppling governments around the world.

Global Warming, Grain Prices and Food Speculators

Climate and the Food Crisis 


The Age of Disruptive Climate Change, and its impact on the supply of food, is a major source of modern-day uprisings, toppling governments around the world.
The United States is “the breadbasket of the world,” and the largest exporter of corn, soybeans, and wheat, accounting for one in every three tonnes of staple grains that feed the world. Over the past month, futures prices for corn and wheat are up approximately 50%. The culprit behind this abnormal pricing behaviour is a major drought that is scorching one-half the breadbasket of America. The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared on July 11 that more than 1,000 counties in 26 states are natural-disaster areas, the biggest such declaration ever!
According to The Economist, The End of Cheap Food (Dec. 2007), by the end of 2007, when high grain prices sparked riots in 48 countries, the magazine’s food-price index reached its highest point since originating in 1845. Alarmingly, as of today, corn is back to those same 2007 peak prices, wheat is rapidly approaching the same high levels, and soybeans are at multi-year highs, but the U.S. drought has only begun… maybe. Thankfully, rice, which feeds one-half of the world, is still moderating at its midpoint of the past 5-years… so far… and here’s hoping commodity speculators, with their penchant for riding the contrails of rising grain prices, do not drive the price of rice up as well. Without a doubt, Goldman Sachs is eyeballing this wager.
Food shortages and high food prices pose a huge potential strain for worldwide governments and tottering capitalist socio-economic systems. According to Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist with the UN Food & Agriculture Organization (Rome), “The world looks to the U.S. as the safest source of supply… Everyone watches the U.S. because they can rely on it. Without it, the world would starve.”
The phenomenon of people rioting in the streets to protest lack of food at affordable prices is as old as recorded history, e.g., Emperor Cicero’s (106-43 BC) house, on Palatine Hill overlooking the Forum, was attacked by angry mobs over food shortages. In France grain crops failed two years in a row, 1788-89, and the price of bread shot up to 88% of the average 18thcentury worker’s wages, preceding the start of the French Revolution. And, in 2007-08 a worldwide price surge of grains triggered riots in streets around the world, causing numerous deaths and leading to toppled governments.
The Arab Spring uprisings of last year brought to surface political and economic issues, but, behind the scenes, climate stress played as big a role. The warning behind Syria’s disruptive climate change, i.e., drought, is chilling. Syrian farmlands north and east of the Euphrates River are the breadbasket of the Middle East, and up to 60% of Syria’s land experienced one of the worst droughts on record from 2006-11. In the northeast and the south, nearly 75% suffered total crop failure. Herders in the northeast lost 85% of their livestock. According to the UN, 800,000 Syrians had their livelihoods totally wiped out, moving to the cities to find work or into refugee camps. Furthermore, the drought pushed three million Syrians into extreme poverty.  As of January 2012, Abeer Etefa of the World Food Programme, states, “Food inflation in Syria remains the main issue for citizens.”  And, it is believed to be one of the major causes of domestic unrest.
With the current fragile state of worldwide economic conditions, the upshot of rapidly rising food prices and/or food shortages may turn the world upside down, and shake it, because much of the Western world is already on life support, addicted to low interest rates, with a “steady-as-she-goes” very tempered economic recovery, and a high-wire balancing act to support uncomfortable levels of debt. The tenuousness of the economic situation takes one’s breath away! Any major imbalances in this quiescent economic tinderbox could be a dagger to the heart of the status quo, causing unprecedented rioting in the streets, which is already a an indeterminate trend in the great metropolises.
Capitalist nation-states are already under more financial duress than at any time since the Great Depression; however, today is different than the 1930s, it is the developed nations that are under water with debt ratios higher than in the 1930s. This is the reverse of the situation in the 1930s when undeveloped nations were most at risk. Thus, the countries that normally weather the storm the best are the weakest. Can Western Civilization handle rapidly increasing food prices, possibly accompanied by street riots, and with severely weakened socio-economic conditions?
The good news is a grain shortage, standing alone, will not develop into an uncontrollable inflationary spiral because the contribution of “agflation” on core PCE Indexes (Personal Consumption Expenditures) are more modest than one might expect, affecting a very limited range of final goods (Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of NY, Nov. 2008.) However, price increases of food components are brutally severe for individual householders the world over, and herein lays the big problem, like in Syria. According to a landmark study, the World Development Report 2011, Henk-Jan Brinkman and Cullen S. Hendrix, Food Insecurity and Conflict, Aug. 2010,  “Food insecurity is both cause and a consequence of political violence.”
There is direct evidence that disruptive climate change caused the political fires that burned across North Africa one year ago, i.e., the Arab Spring, and it was kindled in Russia. Extreme drought triggered wildfires and destroyed one-third of the Russia’s wheat harvest. Russia refused to export the rest of its harvest. Markets panicked and food prices shot up.
“Definitely, it is one of the causes of the Arab Spring,” says Shenggen Fan, director-general of the International Food Policy Research Institute. It is increasingly clear that the climate models that predicted the countries surrounding the Mediterranean would start to dry out are correct (Human-Caused Climate Change Already a Major Factor in more Frequent Mediterranean Droughts, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”), Oct. 27, 2011.)
Meanwhile, today in the United States, NOAA says, as of June 2012, “… the 12-month period from July 2011 to June 2012 was the warmest on record since recordkeeping began in 1895.” And, to make matters even worse, Central and Eastern Canada’s drought is “baking crops,” says David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, who goes on to comment, “… it’s almost as if the atmosphere has forgotten how to rain,” And, Michael Oppenheimer, professor of Geosciences at Princeton University states, “What we are seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like.”
These concerns with global warming are poppycock according to one leading Republican, Rick Santorum, who tersely informed Rush Limbaugh in an interview in June 2011, “… global warming is ‘patently absurd’ and ‘junk science’.”  Leading Right Wing mouthpieces like Ann Coulter claim climate researchers are “cult members,” who practice deception. As for Mitt Romney, while holding one finger up in the air, testing the direction of the latest polling breeze, he claims, on the one hand, he’s not sure “if humans are causing climate change,” but on the other hand, he is not a “denier of climate science.” Talk about a safe bet! Talking out of both sides of his mouth, which climate science does he refer to?
It is patently disturbing that anybody would deny climate change with 97% of scientists saying man-made climate change is real, according to the National Academy of Sciences, after posing the question to 1,372 scientists (USA Today, June 2010.)  Considering the fact that three percent are not onboard, it prompts one to wonder if these three percent are the scientists Rick consults and Mitt refers to when he says he is not a “denier of climate science,” which, come to think about it, could go either way. Thus, Romney has safely straddled the fence for himself while the Santorums and Coulters of the world do the heavy lifting for powerful Right Wing proponents of global warming.
Contrary to American politicians’ positions on global warming, including several former Republican presidential candidates who recommend ‘gutting’ the EPA, Yale University’s list of the world’s greenest nations demonstrates sensible/sober/prudent politics at work, “… countries that are attentive to good environmental management have good business management as well.” For example, the Scandinavian countries have made investment in environmental business an important part of their economic base. The largest solar power company is in Norway, which country is No. 3 on the Yale University list. The United States is No. 39, behind Costa Rica and several Eastern European countries as well as Japan, Germany, and the UK all of which rank much better than the U.S. And, even though the U.S. has a stellar reputation for invention, it does not have the political heart to overcome a deathly addiction to hydrocarbons, the likely source of today’s drought conditions.
What a strange paradox, indeed, that the United States of America built interstate highways connecting every corner of the country, measuring 3000×1500 miles, but yet, it does not even consider construction of solar panels or wind turbines along the same right-of-ways, producing electricity for every community from Maine to California.
There is no doubt about disruptive climate change ravishing crops, which is especially obvious to Americans witnessing it firsthand in the heartland. According to Marco Lagi, New England Complex Systems Institute (“NECSI”) Cambridge, MA (Technology Review, MIT, August, 2011), he claims to have discovered the single factor that triggers riots around the world: The Price of Food! The evidence comes from two sources: The first is data gathered by the United Nations that plots the price of food against time, the so-called food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. The second is the date of riots around the world, whatever the cause. Lagi’s work proves the old maxim: Society is three square meals away from anarchy. 
December 13, 2011, four days before Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia, starting the Arab Spring riots, the NECSI contacted the U.S. government, warning that global food prices were about to cross the threshold they had identified as the tipping point when almost anything can trigger riots. The NECSI study was presented, by invitation, at the World Economic Forum in Davos and featured as one of the top 10 discoveries in science in 2011 by Wired Magazine. Interestingly, Lagi and colleagues have isolated two serious predominate causes for out-of-control food prices, in addition to normal supply and demand: (1) deregulation of commodities, resulting in speculators who can control unlimited purchase contracts and (2) conversion of corn into ethanol. Here we go again… the deregulation quandary… the predominate theme of the Right Wing and a favorite of Mitt Romney, popping up every time trouble brews, similar to the 2007-08 financial meltdown and the direct connection between that travesty and the U.S. Congress’s deregulation (killing) the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which act kept commercial banks out of speculative securities for over 60 years.
Yes, disruptive climate change is the “fons et origo” or “source and origin” of uprisings. In this regard, it is fascinating, and horribly frightening, how the political Right Wing continues to support policies, by ignoring the ravages of global warming, that inevitably bite back at society, and the biggest bite, or carnage, will likely be global warming itself, caused by hydrocarbons in the atmosphere from oil & gas and coal. In this same vein, one of the most alarming results of manmade global warming, other than drought conditions devastating the breadbaskets of the world, is the fact that the world’s glaciers are melting like ice cream cones in July (See: The Extreme Ice Nexus, Z Magazine, Vol. 25, No.6, June 2012.)
With grain prices cranking up once again, and with commodity speculation wide open, blessed by deregulation, providing for unlimited purchase contracts that conforms to manipulated control of pricing, theGreat Betting Game on Grains will most likely result in food riots, leading to blood in the streets, and as certain as the riots are expected in many underdeveloped countries of the world, a North American Springis not entirely out of the question.
Robert Hunziker earned an MA in economic history at DePaul University. He lives in Los Angeles.