16 December 2004

smoke and mirrors

Different targets, same tactics
The relevant facts about the oil for food programme were pushed to one side. James Dobbins, the former US ambassador to Afghanistan, wrote in the Washington Post: 'First, no American funds were stolen. Second, no UN funds were stolen. Third, the oil-for-food programme achieved its two objectives: providing food to the Iraqi people and preventing Saddam Hussein from rebuilding his military threat to the region.'

Then the Post published a story that the US was wire-tapping Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, in an operation to discover that he was secretly aiding Iran in hiding its nuclear weapons programme. In fact, ElBaradei was working with the Europeans in negotiating a resolution with the Iranians. It was this diplomacy that neoconservatives were seeking to discredit. Compliance with internationally monitored nuclear development of Iran isn't the objective of the neocons; they want regime change, Iraqredux.

The techniques of the permanent campaign, especially negative attacks, recently applied in the re-election contest, are being transferred seamlessly and shamelessly to international relations.

In part, the slash-and-smear campaign against Annan and ElBaradei is the Bush administration's effort to subjugate international civil servants and organisations to its central command. But this episode also reflects the rolling coup of the neocons as they struggle for power, position and policy in a second Bush term.

Just how bad can a smear campaign get? The US named Dolly Downer as ElBaradei's successor. Dolly Downer refused. Even the Howard govenrment will not sign up to this one.

Meanwhile, we have a new Bush doctrine to deal with the collapse in the US exchange rate and trade deficit.

Bush aims to cut deficits

President George W Bush pledged overnight to work with the US Congress to reduce the country's huge deficits and support a strong US dollar.
Bush said that in addition to the budget deficit, America suffers from a huge trade deficit.

"That's easy to resolve," Bush said. "People can buy more US products if they're worried about the trade deficit."

Bush's comments came a day after the government reported that America's trade deficit hit a monthly record of $US55.5 billion ($A73.42 billion) in October.

"The policy of my government is a strong-dollar policy," Bush said during an Oval Office meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"We're going to take this issue on seriously with the Congress," the president said, after Berlusconi raised concerns about the dollar's fall.

The Bush administration has controlled the US presidency, house and senate for 4 years. They have done nothing to cut the deficit in that time, despite their unprecedented power. The US is being governed by Rufus T Firefly.

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