No Justice on Memorial Day

Here is a great Washington Post photo of Bush strutting at the White House as he receives visitors from the Rolling Thunder veterans motorcycle group.

It is obscene how the same politicians who send Americans to die in unnecessary wars are treated like heroes on Memorial Day.

One would hope that this day, above all others, would be a time for condemning those whose lies and failures resulted in thousands of their fellow citizens being killed.

I am puzzled how Vietnam Veterans could have anything but utter disdain for politicians, considering how they were sacrificed for the convenience of LBJ and Nixon.

Instead, the Rolling Thunder crew proudly presented Bush with one of their leather jackets. Bush told them: “I want to thank you and all your comrades for being so patriotic and loving our country as much as you do.”

The Post article on the Rolling Thunder riders has evoked a tidal wave of comments, including comments from veterans furious to see Bush being treated like a hero by their fellow soldiers.

Libertarian Party Nominates Bob Barr for President

After 6 ballots, the Libertarian Party national convention has nominated former Congressman Bob Barr. Barr has turned around on many major issues since leaving congress. He now favors:

— Ending the Iraq War, withdrawal of all American troops from all foreign countries.

— Ending the federal War on Drugs.

— Repealing the Defense of Marriage Amendment, which he had authored.

— Repeal of the PATRIOT Act and Real ID.

Building a Case for Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Sites

Amid renewed speculation after President Bush’s Knesset speech last week that he may yet order an attack on Iran before he leaves office, particularly if Sen. Obama should win the November elections, it appears that the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) is preparing the case for why an attack — either by the U.S. or Israel — on Tehran’s nuclear facilities might not be as calamitous as most analysts, including top Pentagon brass, believe. WINEP, of course, was founded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and has acted as an integral part of the so-called Israel Lobby since its launch.

The case is previewed in an article by Yossi Melman that appeared in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz Thursday. It consists mainly of an interview of WINEP’s Patrick Clawson, co-author with another WINEP analyst, Michael Eisenstadt, of an upcoming paper entitled “The Last Resort.” Clawson concludes that fears about possible Iranian retaliation are exaggerated and that, in fact, “Iran’s options for responding are limited and weak.”

To Helena Cobban, the estimable Middle East analyst whose blog,, is widely read here in Washington and in the region, the paper smacks of “cakewalk” all over again. Cobban, who also works with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and who just published a new book entitled Re-Engage! America and the World After Bush, critiques the argument here. I would note that I received alarmed e-mail messages from three experts in the region — one Israeli and two Arabs — that referred me to the Haaretz article and suggested, like Cobban, that it could mark the launch of a new propaganda effort.

Meanwhile, Gen. David Petraeus, in his confirmation hearings Thursday, offered the latest official Pentagon view of Iran, repeating Sec. Gates’ recent remarks about needing to gain “leverage” with Tehran to engage it in a serious way diplomatically. (Last year, Gates and Rice were talking about not want to engage Iran as a “supplicant;” this year, it’s all about “leverage.”)

Here’s the view of Adm. Fallon’s replacement of Centcom commander:

“Iran continues to be a destabilizing influence in the region. It persists in its non-transparent pursuit of nuclear technology and continues to fund, train and arm dangerous militia organizations.

“Iran’s activities have been particularly harmful in Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan. In each location, Tehran has to varying degrees fueled proxy wars, in an effort to increase its influence and pursue its regional ambitions.

“Even as we work with leaders in the region, to help protect our partners from Iranian intimidation or coercion, however, we must also explore policies that, over the long term, offer the possibility of more constructive relations, if that is possible.

“Together with regional and global partners, we need to seek ways to encourage Iran to respect the integrity of other states, to embrace non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and to contribute to regional stability rather than regional instability.”

That’s from Petraeus’ prepared testimony which must have been cleared by Adm. Mullen and Sec. Gates. In answers to questions, he expressed doubt about the usefulness of new rounds of negotiations with Tehran under current circumstances.

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

Exclusive Interview: John Cusack on Antiwar Radio

Another Antiwar Radio exclusive!

Actor, writer and producer John Cusack discusses his new satire War Inc., which opens Friday, May 23rd, in New York and Los Angeles, his outrage at the criminality of modern American war profiteers, the need for a grassroots bumrush of the first showings to guarantee national distribution, some critics’ complaints that the movie “hits too close to home,” the great journalists whose work has inspired him, the socialization of the costs of all these private armies onto the American tax payer, the outsourcing of interrogation, the betrayals of the Democrats, the banality of evil, the short-changing of the troops while private mercenaries cash in and militarism in the movies.

Listen now.

Policy Forum Dead, Too?

Another hard-line neo-conservative group — and one that received a nearly $80,000 grant from the Pentagon just last September — may also have died. In fact, its effective demise may actually have preceded the the grant’s approval by the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Eric Edelman.

I’m referring to the Policy Forum on International Security Affairs (aka the Policy Forum on International Security Issues) headed by Devon Gaffney Cross, the sister of Frank Gaffney, the ultra-hawkish president of the Center for Security Policy, and a member of the Defense Policy Board since 2001. She launched the organization in London shortly after 9/11 to help improve British and European public opinion about the Bush administration’s “global war on terror” by hosting off-the-record meetings at exclusive London clubs and posh Parisian restaurants between selected reporters from influential publications and senior U.S. defense officials and prominent neo-cons outside the administration. I have posted on the Policy Forum’s activities and relationships with other groups at last year’s Prague Democracy and Security Conference here and here, and its funding by Edelman’s office here.

Unlike PNAC’s, the Policy Forum’s website ( is still visible on the Internet, although it hasn’t been updated for about nine months now, despite its self-described mission not only to “create an open channel of dialogue between those who create the international news and those who report it,” but also “to expand our original mission beyond the narrow confines of the journalistic community, and to engage with the wider European community [by] reaching out to the active, curious and engaged public…”

It turns out that, according to the ICC Directory of UK Companies, the Policy Forum, which was officially incorporated in the UK on December 18, 2003, initiated its dissolution on March 11, 2007, ten days after its “managing director,” German real estate magnate Zacharias Gertler, resigned his position. It filed its first dissolution on November 12, 2007 — just two months after it was awarded the non-competitive contract by Edelman’s office ”for technical support and consulting services for public liaison and media outreach services in support of the diplomacy mission including addressing and informing European and Middle Eastern audiences on the challenges facing U.S. National Security policies” — and its final dissolution on March 25 this year. This raises an obvious question: why did the Pentagon award a non-competitive contract to an entity that was in the process of dissolving itself?

Now, there is evidence that the Policy Forum is also incorporated in the State of New York, where Cross, whose husband is president of the New York Jets organization, has her primary residence. According to, an organization known as “Policy Forum on International Security (c/o Devon Cross)” — described as a “charitable organization” involved in “housing development, construction, and management” — gained tax-exempt status in New York in September, 2006. So it may be that the Pentagon contracted with the New York-based Policy Forum and not the London-based Policy Forum, but, given the small size of the contract, we would have to file an FOIA request to find out.

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

On Cuba, McCain is Definitely Not a Realist

For those who continue to believe that John McCain’s realist advisers exercise real influence on his foreign-policy positions, the latest piece of contrary evidence was provided by the candidate today in Miami where he served red meat, hot and steaming, to the hard-liners who have made so much progress in promoting democratic change on the island over the last 48 years. His speech came less than a week after the Council on Foreign Relations, the Mecca of foreign-policy realism, released a major report on U.S.-Latin American relations that called for unilaterally relaxing sanctions imposed by Bush on travel and remittances “with the aim of lifting the embargo against Cuba.”

In any event, the speech offered no hint of difference between McCain’s policy proposals and those pursued by Bush. He belittled the transition from Fidel to Raul Castro as meaningless and declared that the embargo should remain intact until Havana releases “all political prisoners unconditionally”, [legalizes] political parties, labor unions, and free media, and [schedules] internationally monitored elections.”

He attacked Obama for, like the CFR, proposing to ease the embargo and for “want[ing] to sit down unconditionally for a presidential meeting with Raul Castro,” a step which McCain said “would send the worst possible signal to Cuba’s dictators — there is no need to undertake fundamental reforms, they can simply wait for a unilateral change in U.S. policy.”

He also insisted that maintaining the embargo would be “just one element of a broader approach” on Cuba that would include providing “more material assistance and moral support…, and increase Radio and TV Marti and other means to communicate directly with the Cuban people.”

“My Justice Department would vigorously prosecute Cuban officials implicated in the murder of Americans, drug trafficking and other crimes. While our Cuba policy will not always be in accord with that of our hemispheric and European partners, my administration will begin an active dialogue with them to develop a plan for post Castro Cuba, a plan that will spark rapid change and a new awakening in that country.”

Of course, you expect this kind of thing from a Republican in south Florida, but it’s interesting to note that, when McCain was still a maverick eight years ago, he was the only Republican candidate who said he would be willing to engage Fidel Castro in a ‘’step-by-step reciprocal” process of easing sanctions in exchange for political and economic reforms. He repeatedly cited the process that led to the normalization of relations with Vietnam as a model.

Now, however, consistent with the Bush approach of posing sweeping preconditions to any negotiation process, McCain appears more than eager to pander to the most hard-line sectors of the Cuban-American community.

Hillary and Obama are addressing Cuban-American audiences in Florida later this week.

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.