1. Protest war, lose your property?
On July 17th, The White House quietly announced an Executive Order entitled “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.” Among other developments, it gives Bush the power to “block” the property of people in the US found to “pose a significant risk of committing” an act of violence which might undermine “political reform in Iraq.”
The terms “significant threat” and “act of violence” are unclear. If you attend a demonstration against Bush’s definition of “political reform in Iraq” would that count? How about writing an angry letter to the editor?
The vague language also includes outlawing “the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.” What if you donate to an anti-war group which, outside of your knowledge, has been blacklisted by the government? Does that mean that your property can be “blocked”?
Similar to the Patriot Act, the potential implications are staggering.
2. Market meltdown
Economic fallout from the subprime mortgage market collapse has extended further, with prominent investment company Bear Stearns admitting last week that two of its hedge funds, once valued at $1.6 billion, are now of “very little value.”
Meanwhile, the prestigious Bank for International Settlements released a statement warning that the global economy could be facing a Great Depression, and that the dollar in particular “remains vulnerable to a sudden loss of private sector confidence.”
Fasten your seatbelts.
3. Escalating US military operations in Pakistan
Following 911, the Bush administration propped up Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf as a key ally in the “war on terror,” spending billions of dollars on Pakistan’s military while ignoring Musharraf’s support for the Taliban. Those days might be over. Just last week, the White House announced US military forces could be deployed to strike “actionable targets” in the country — with or without Musharraf’s permission.
The Bush administration threatened to bomb Pakistan “back to the Stone Age” in 2001 if it didn’t deal with the Taliban, but Musharraf has so far been able to convince the US that if his administration falls, then Pakistan will be ruled by Islamists. As a former CIA officer recently told National Public Radio, “I’ve heard Gen. Musharraf … tell American presidents that if you don’t support me, the next person will be the ‘bearded ones’.”
But Musharraf faces growing domestic opposition for his strong-arm tactics, and while last week’s brutal storming of the Lal Masjid Mosque in Islamabad may have won bonus points in Washington, it only served to further alienate the Pakistani people.
In other words, US military action in Pakistan will most likely destabilize the Musharraf government, and may in fact push Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal into the hands of a government of “bearded ones.”
4. Loose nukes
It was recently reported that the US had quietly removed 130 of its nuclear warheads from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. That still leaves over 350 US warheads across Europe, but the question remains: what happened to the Ramstein nukes? The Pentagon and German Defense Ministry aren’t talking, and it can’t necessarily be assumed that the warheads have been destroyed. Shuffled to some different country with less stringent weapons controls or hidden away for use in future conflicts perhaps — who knows.
Meanwhile, in late June, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to fund by $66 million the production of even more nuclear warheads.
5. VP Arnie?
Schwarzenegger visited his hometown of Graz, Austria in late June, ostensibly to attend the birthday party of a friend. The warm welcome he received was quite a change from two years ago, when tensions flared with town elders over his position on the death penalty and failure to stop an execution in California. The war of words escalated until Schwarzenegger requested that Graz remove his name from a local sports stadium, and in a move reminiscent of high school crushes, he returned a ring which city officials had given him.
This time around, however, Schwarzenegger was conciliatory and local politicians clamored for photo ops — effectively sweeping bad blood under the carpet. How convenient, and how necessary, for Schwarzenegger and any ambitions he may have for 2008.
6. Cutting off Iraq’s water supply
For years, the Turkish government has tried to get international funding to build a dam across the Tigris River. The potential impact on villagers and the environment has stalled the project, and both Iraq and Syria have expressed concern that the proposed Ilisu dam could give Turkey power over their water supply.
European entities considering funding the project have received strong public pressure to back out, and if they do, China appears only too happy to step in and help build the dam.
Meanwhile, an estimated 250,000 Turkish troops are amassed near Northern Iraq and just this week, the Prime Minister of Turkey threatened to invade the country.
Long story short, Turkey and China are increasingly likely to assume a major role in both Iraq and Syria. Doesn’t bode well for the Bush’s administration’s plans.
7. GPS losing its way
The US monopoly over satellite navigation systems appears to be drawing to a close. The Global Positioning System (GPS) has enabled civilians to find their destinations and the military to coordinate troop movements and detect nuclear detonations, but the US system will soon face international competition. Global Navigation Satellite Systems are being developed by Europe, China and India while a Russian system may be operational as early as 2009 — another challenge to US hegemony on the international stage.
8. New Russian arms race?
This month, Russia pulled out of the Treaty for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, established in 1990 to reduce the number of conventional weapons (such as tanks and combat aircraft) in Europe. Russia’s move signals the latest salvo in a power struggle between European leaders and Russian President Putin, who is dead set against the establishment of new US military bases and anti-missile systems in eastern Europe and central Asia. But if Russia is not convinced to rejoin the arms Treaty, then by the end of the year it can establish weapons arsenals without NATO inspections and Putin may begin pulling out of other international arms agreements, as Bush has done. Could be the start of a new global arms race.
9. Murdoch’s megalomania
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has his sights on Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, among others, and owner of stock market indicators such as the Dow Jones industrial average. Murdoch’s News Corp already controls an outrageous number of newspapers, magazines, TV networks, cable channels and film studios across the world and as Business Week observed in 2004: Murdoch “is not shy about using his media outlets to pursue agendas, whether they’re politically conservative causes or his own business interests.”
For example, the UK’s Guardian pointed out that every single one of Murdoch’s 175 newspapers across the globe parroted his pro-war views before the invasion of Iraq.
News Corp offered $5 billion for Dow Jones, the board of directors gave its approval and as early as next week a final decision will be reached. If successful, Murdoch’s power in the US will expand even further.
10. “Bring it on” Iran
The Senate recently voted 97-0 in favor of hawk Joe Lieberman’s Amendment effectively blaming Iran for complicity in the death of American soldiers; it’s worth noting that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton sided with Lieberman on the vote. Meanwhile, a third US aircraft carrier is on its way towards Iran and the UK’s Guardian quoted a “well-placed Washington source” as saying “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.”
So the drumbeat of impending doom continues, along with warnings of upcoming false flag events — a new Gulf of Tonkin or 911 — timed before Congress votes on Defense Appropriations in September.