Friday, October 12, 2007

World's future hinges on peace between faiths, Islamic scholars tell Pope

Inayat Bunglawala: The Challenge of Muhammad

Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent and Martin Hodgson
Thursday October 11, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians, Islamic scholars told the Pope today.

In a letter addressed directly to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, 138 prominent Muslim scholars said that finding common ground between the world's biggest two religions was not "simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue".

The letter, which is entitled A Common Word between Us and You, says: "Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world's population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians."

The 29-page document argues that the basis for this understanding can be found in the common principles of the religions: "Love of the one God, and love of the neighbour".
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shifting Targets: The Administration’s plan for Iran.

Annals of National Security
Shifting Targets
The Administration’s plan for Iran.
by Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker
October 8, 2007

In a series of public statements in recent months, President Bush and members of his Administration have redefined the war in Iraq, to an increasing degree, as a strategic battle between the United States and Iran. “Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people,” Bush told the national convention of the American Legion in August. “The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased. . . . The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And, until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops.” He then concluded, to applause, “I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.”

The President’s position, and its corollary—that, if many of America’s problems in Iraq are the responsibility of Tehran, then the solution to them is to confront the Iranians—have taken firm hold in the Administration. This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to former officials and government consultants. The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism. Read entire article

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Iraq Divided: Why they fight

September 28, 2007 5:11 p.m. PT


The fact that the Senate on Wednesday voted in favor of a measure -- albeit a non-binding one -- that would divide Iraq into sectarian regions shows how out of touch our well-meaning lawmakers are with what Iraqis, who make up what President Bush repeatedly refers to as a sovereign, democratic nation, want.

Fortunately, there are those who know the hearts of Iraqis, such as Raed Jarrar, a political analyst and consultant to the D.C.-based American Friends Service Committee's Iraq Program. In a recent piece he co-wrote for, Jarrar said that those defining the civil war within Iraq as a religious conflict alone miss the point. Iraq's war is over control of the country and its energy supplies, not over Allah.

Jarrar writes, the "Bush administration, with the support of Congress, has taken the same side as Iran's hardliners and the same side as the Sunni fundamentalist group called al-Qaida in Iraq. All are working ... against the wishes of a majority of Iraqis." Indeed, a poll conducted by Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland show that the majority of Iraqis (61 percent) want a stronger central government, a wish supported even by Kurds, who already have their own region.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

'A Coup Has Occurred'

By Daniel Ellsberg
September 26, 2007 (Text of a speech delivered September 20, 2007)

Editor’s Note: Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming war with Iran and the loss of liberty in the United States at an American University symposium on Sept. 20. Below is an edited transcript of Ellsberg’s remarkable speech:

I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.

If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.

Will there be anything left for NSA to increase its surveillance of us? … They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not. But if they’re not now they will be after another 9/11.

Read the entire transcript