"As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever." - Reagan, January 20, 1981

"In Vietnam, we tried and failed in a just cause. No More Vietnams can mean we will not try again. It should mean we will not fail again." - from No More Vietnams by Richard Nixon

Monday, April 19, 2010

Iran's Nuclear Weapons program began in 1986 or 1987 - Spies and Former allies

There are 3 solid sources for my estimate

1. A CIA mole inside the Revolutionary Guard

Kahlili started working as a computer specialist in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) shortly after the 1979 revolution. But when a childhood friend and his younger brother and sister were executed in Evin prison two years later, he decided to become a spy.

Throughout his double life, he sent letters to his CIA handlers and received coded messages from them hidden in the text of radio broadcasts.

In 1985, he told his handlers that Iranian spies in Iraq and Europe had learned that Saddam Hussein was buying equipment on the black market for a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

“Ayatollah Khomeini won’t let it go unanswered,” Kahlili’s bosses in the Revolutionary Guard told him.

One year later, Iran signed a “consulting” agreement with Pakistani nuclear bomb designer A.Q. Khan, whose network provided them with uranium enrichment centrifuges and bomb designs.

“I am appalled that the information I passed on did not help the US government to prevent Iran from expanding its power,” Kahlili said. “IRGC commander Mohsen Rezai asked permission from Khomeini to develop nuclear weapons. That was one of the most significant bits of news I passed on.”


2. Pakistani documents authored by arch WMD proliferator and Pakistan's atomic Godfather AQ Khan

The father of Pakistan's nuclear-weapons program has written an official account that details an Iranian attempt to buy atomic bombs from Pakistan at the end of the 1980s and also conflicts with the Pakistani government's assertion that bombmaker Abdul Qadeer Khan proliferated nuclear know-how without government approval.

Khan states in documents obtained by The Washington Post that in lieu of weapons, Pakistan gave Iran bomb-related drawings, parts for centrifuges to purify uranium and a secret worldwide list of suppliers. Iran's centrifuges, which are viewed as building blocks for a nuclear arsenal, are largely based on models and designs obtained from Pakistan.

...

Khan's 11-page narrative, prepared in 2004 during his initial house arrest, states that "at no time did I seriously believe that they [Iranians] were capable of mastering the technology." But Western intelligence officials say his assistance was meaningful and trace its roots to a deal reached in 1987.

Pakistan has said little about that deal. Iran later told international inspectors that a Pakistani "network" in 1987 offered a host of centrifuge-related specifications and equipment, and turned over a document detailing how to shape enriched uranium for use in a bomb.

Pakistan's intelligence service sought to explain the cooperation partly by noting that "due to religious and ideological affinity, Pakistanis had great affection for Iran." But Khan also cited Iran's promise of financial aid, as well as the government's ambition of forever thwarting Western pressure on both countries.

"It was a deal worth almost $10 billion that had been offered by Iran," Khan wrote.

Khan's account and related documents were shared with The Post by former British journalist Simon Henderson, now a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The intelligence service's summary said Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, a former army chief of staff who was arguably Pakistan's most influential figure, was "in favour of very close cooperation [with Iran] in the nuclear field in lieu of financial assistance promised to him toward Pakistan's defense budget."

Khan's written statement to Henderson states that after Shamkhani's arrival in Islamabad on a government plane, he told the chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff committee that "he had come ... to collect the promised nuclear bombs."

When the chairman, Adm. Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey, proposed to discuss other matters first and then "see how Pakistan could assist the Iranians in their nuclear program," Shamkhani reportedly became irate, Khan wrote. He reminded Sirohey that "first Gen. Zia [ul Haq, the Pakistani president until 1988] and then Gen. Beg had promised assistance and nuclear weapons and he had specifically come to collect the same."

Although Pakistan exploded no nuclear bombs until 1998, the U.S. intelligence community concluded it had the capability to make weapons by 1986.

Shamkhani, a founding leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, was long active in the country's nuclear program, according to U.S. officials. A longtime defense minister and presidential candidate in 2001, he now runs a Tehran think tank.

Khan said that after hearing Shamkhani's demand for three finished weapons, Sirohey demurred and that other ministers backed him up. But Beg pressed then-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her top military aide "to honour [Beg's] ... commitment," Khan wrote.

Under pressure, the aide asked Khan to "get components of two old [P-1] discarded machines and pack them into boxes with 2 sets of drawings," which were passed to Iran through an intermediary, he said. P-1 is the designation for the centrifuge model used in Pakistan.


3. An investigation report supporting an indictment Argentina filed against Iran for terrorist attacks - the report detailing former Argentine regimes' of the 1980s dealings with Iran regarding the Iranian nuclear and missile programs

The report identifies three distinct agreements reached between Argentina and Iran in 1987-88. The first involved help in converting a nuclear reactor in Tehran so that it could use 20%-enriched uranium (ie, low-grade uranium that cannot be used for weapons production) and indicates that it included the shipment of the 20%-enriched uranium to Iran. The second and third agreements were for technical assistance, including components, for the building of pilot plants for uranium-dioxide conversion and fuel fabrication.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Khomeini's treatment of women and children - not much has changed

It hard to overstate how disgusting Khomeini's policies towards the Iranian people were.

To give an example of sick he is, consider a letter from a girl sent to her friend in 1981 before she committed suicide

NRB: A very riveting part of the book was your description of Roya, a girl arrested, sent to Evin Prison, and tortured because she was falsely accused of being part of an opposition group. Here is a portion of her letter to you before she hung herself:

“I wish I was one of those girls who were lucky enough to go in front of the firing squad. They took everything from me in that prison. I have nothing left…When I was in solitary confinement these filthy, evil men would come to my cell…not even animals would do what they did. They raped me, but it was more than rape. When they were through they kicked me in the back as hard as they could, threw me down next to the toilet…They would make us hold one leg up for a long time. If you got tired, they would lash you on the tired leg. Some would faint from the pain and bleeding. They cut my arm with a knife and told me that they would cut my throat the next time if I did not confess. The next day they sent me to a small dark room where another guard raped me. This was the routine.”


It also fits his disregard for the wellbeing of children

During the eight year Iran-Iraq war, Tehran very quickly learned its army was no match for Iraq’s. When Iraqi minefields began claiming Iranian soldiers, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini concocted a scheme to reduce these losses. He encouraged Iranian children to volunteer for a special force known as the Basiji. Lightly armed but more often unarmed to avoid the loss of weapons, the Basiji were trained to form human waves to march through Iraqi minefields towards the enemy. This process—through the sheer loss of numbers of children—eventually cleared a minefield, providing Iran’s professional soldiers an unencumbered approach route to Iraqi defenses.

Most of these children were illiterate and from poor families in the countryside. Often, their only asset prior to enthusiastically sacrificing their lives was a plastic key given to each young martyr—told by his Basiji trainer, it was to open the gates of paradise in the afterlife.

Khomeini ordered 500,000 plastic keys from Taiwan for this purpose. During the war, he sent 450,000 children to the front. This “man of the cloth” undoubtedly found it more wasteful to have ordered 50,000 extra keys than to have ordered tens of thousands of innocent children to their deaths.

Islamic extremist logic came into play during the war when some believers became concerned the childrens’ bodies were either being vaporized by the mines or body parts were being strewn about the battlefield. Not to be deterred by these concerns, the logic applied was the children were instructed to wrap themselves in blankets beforehand so their bodies would remain intact!




Not much has changed overtime, as "A defecting member of the infamous Basij militia" told British Channel 4 in December 2009

"I'm in complete turmoil all the time. I spent more than twenty years raised like this, and before me a household of martyrs. I keep thinking, which is right? What I’ve chosen now, or the path they've taken.

"We are a prominent religious family - always there on the frontline, always with memories of war, frontline and revolution. Since these events I keep thinking, who is right?"

...

"We had received orders a matter of months before that there is jurisprudence, that there is the jurisprudence of the Imam Zaman, (the 12th Imam, who is expected to return like a Messiah) whose incarnation is Ayatollah Khamenei, and that he had announced that for the advancement and development of Islam and the development of the revolution no-one could be more effective than Mr. Ahmadinejad.

"Therefore the order came that Mr Khamenei has him in mind, that Mr Khamenei has Mr Ahmadinejad in mind for the presidency and so he must be announced as the winner.

"It's he who is best suited to this revolution, order and Velayat Faqih (Iranian system of Islamic jurisdiction)"

...

"The foundations of Islam and the foundations of Shi'ism and Velayat are such that we have accepted the Velayat. When the Velayat has an opinion, everyone's opinion must follow, because if it's outside of this there is no place for you. You're an outsider.

"He [Khamenei] makes his announcement and it is translated this in the form of advice and discussion.

"Everything has a hierarchy. It doesn't call for Mr Khamenei to come and directly make an announcement to the soldiers, when I say soldier, I, or we, saw ourselves as soldiers of the Imam Zaman.

"He doesn't need to come and make his announcement to the forces directly, he expresses his opinion and according to the hierarchical system, the news will reach those who need to hear it.

...

Arrest orders

"The command was to arrest as many 12-18 year olds as possible and bring them back.

"They said this group caused the most trouble so the idea was not to give them any opportunity to congregate.

Many were arrested.

"Again, several locations had been prepared to take them and keep them there.

Sound of screams

"They had some containers ready. They had arrested some youngsters and were asking them their age and were separating them accordingly.

"Over 18s went into to one container and the under 18s into the several other containers. The number of children under the age of 18 was greater. They filled three or four containers of some 25 people in each.

"I saw all this and passed them on my way into the main courtyard building to see my relative. I greeted him and other friends.

"Then we heard noise from the yard. We thought it must be the youngsters making trouble. We went there and saw there was no-one, just the forces. The sound came from the containers.

"The sound of screams and pleading and crying. We didn't understand what was going on.

"They were pleading: ‘We're sorry, please, we regret our actions’. Or screams, or crying. We were confused. I couldn't believe that they would want to do such a thing: to rape."

Sexual violence

"This is such a heavy burden, my head hurts. But you're a woman. I'm sure you understand. Can you give me some time?

"It's as if it's replaying in front of me.

"The faces, the screams are with me every moment. It's not something you can forget or separate yourself from.

"They were pleading, they were crying, they wanted help.

"There were two men of the Sepah and they came forward as we approached.

"We asked what all the noise was about. They said "Nothing, this is Fath Al Moin (aid to victory).

"We said: 'What do you mean, what are you doing? Who's in there?'

"Because they were Basij from the provinces we didn't know them. We asked: ‘What's happening, why are they crying?’

"As we pursued the matter the confrontation got worse and they said 'You have no right to enter.' My relative said: 'What do you mean? I'm one of the leaders here. You can't tell me I have no right.'

"And it really was so, but they didn't allow us entry. We were all responsible and we clashed. After a few minutes a vehicle came into the courtyard.

"Someone must have alerted the others that we were trying to prevent them from achieving what they set out to do, the Fath Al Moin.

"They had come for us to prevent the scene from deteriorating. They said our superior had summoned us.

"They said: 'Let's go. He wants to speak to you.' When we got there he was visibly furious, very frustrated. He didn't speak.

"They said: "Let's go. Haji wants to speak to you." My relative was furious and very frustrated.

"He was very angry. When we got there he said: ‘What is this? Sexual abuse is a serious crime. Who gave this order? Who authorised this?

"Haji calmly replied with a smile: ‘This is Fath Al Moin. It's a worthy deed. There's nothing wrong with it. Why are you complaining?'

"When he said this Haji thought it would calm my relative down to know this. But the opposite happened, he became more upset. He raised his voice saying: 'What do you mean it's not a crime?'

"What do you mean it's not a recognised crime? That it's a good deed? Haji saw that he had lost control and said: ‘What's the big deal? Nothing's happened. What is the issue here?'

"My relative said again: 'What do you mean what's the big deal? Is there anything more filthy than this, more ugly than this? With children, these are children, they haven't done anything. They're from our own home town.'

"Haji saw that he couldn't control him, that he wanted to return to the base and stop what was going on.

"He said: 'You can stay here for now. Tomorrow we'll have a meeting about it, we can discuss it and see what the issue is.'

"I insisted on staying with him. But Haji said: 'You go and rest and we'll get him home. You go, the driver will take you home and wait there. We'll call you.'

"They dropped me home and my relative stayed there."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vietnam in 1956: Elections vs. "Elections" - The politics of a Communist lie

Every time I take a class on Vietnam, the leftists always point to a planned referendum in 1956 that the US and South Vietnam refused to take part in and claim that we, the western democracies, refused to allow a Vietnamese reunification through the democratic process and that violence was the only course of action for the "Vietnamese people".

I've always known there was something fishy about this story, especially since i knew my share about the war and about the propaganda and brutality of the communists. Well, in his classic thorough style, President Nixon provided the best response to this ludicrous story that I know of in his indispensable 1985 history "No More Vietnams". I couldn't have asked for more

When the two leaders are compared side-by-side, the suggestion that Ho would have outpolled Diem head-to-head seems ridiculous. Yet during the war, many critics of the American effort to save South Vietnam argued this very point. They said that the Geneva Declaration of 1954 legally bound Diem's government and the United States to unify the two halves of Vietnam through elections and that Ho would have inevitably come out the winner. They were wrong on both counts.

The text of the Geneva Declaration about elections was not legally binding to the United States or South Vietnam. Nine countries gathered at the conference and produced six unilateral declarations, three bilateral cease-fire agreements, and unsigned declaration. The cease-fire agreements alone were binding for signatories; the provision concerning reunification elections appeared in the separate final declaration. Only four of the nine states attending committed themselves to the declaration's terms. The United States did not join in it. South Vietnam, which was not even present in Geneva, retained its freedom of action by issuing a formal statement disavowing the declaration. North Vietnam also did not associate itself with with the declaration. Very simply, it had no legal force.

Nor did any of the participants expect elections to occur. The Geneva Conference was intended not to establish peace for all time through the ballot box but rather to create a partition of Vietnam similar to the of Korea. Partition was formally treated as a temporary expedient, but all major participants expected it to be permanent. Whatever their words about elections, their actions revealed their intent: They established two governments, allowed for two separate military forces, and arranged for the movement of refugees between the zones. It would have been senseless to go through all this trouble in 1954 only to turn around and undo it after elections in 1956.

The whole idea was wildly unrealistic in any case. Reunification was supposedly to be decided by free elections. Because elections would not be free in North Vietnam, South Vietnam could legitimately object to holding them. A stalemate was inevitable. North Vietnam understood this. After the conference, its delegate, Pham Van Dong, told a reporter, "You know as well as I do that there won't be elections."

When the time came to discuss elections in 1956, Diem refused to participate, and the United States supported him. We were not afraid of holding elections in Vietnam, provided they were held under the conditions of genuine freedom that the Geneva Declaration called for. But we knew that those conditions would exist only in South Vietnam, and this sentiment was bipartisan. Senator Kennedy said that neither the United States nor South Vietnam should be party to an election "obviously subverted and stacked in advance." After spending two years crushing every vestige of freedom in North Vietnam, Hanoi's leaders would never have allowed internationally supervised free elections to decide their fate. Following later consultations, even the Soviet Union agreed that a plebiscite was unfeasible.

North Vietnam, with a cynicism appalling even for Ho, briefly pressed the issue. But balloting conducted in Viet Minh territory in 1946 revealed just what they had in mind for 1956. Ho never permitted any suspense about the outcome. In order to secure the participation of other political parties, he openly guaranteed the leaders of one party that they would win twenty parliamentary seats and those of another that they would take fifty. The returns themselves made Diem's elections look like a model of good government. Ho received 169,222 votes in Hanoi, a city with a population of only 119,000. That amounted to 140 percent of the vote, if every person regardless of age cast a ballot.

Ho's distaste for uncontrolled elections had not abated by 1956. Pham Van Dong told a reporter how Ho expected the elections to run. There would have to be a multiparty contest in South Vietnam, but the ballot in North Vietnam, where the people were "united," would have only the Communist party on it. This would have made the election a sure thing for Hanoi, because North Vietnam contained 55 percent of the total Vietnamese population. An election that guaranteed victory was the only kind Ho ever would accept.

Many in the American antiwar movement claimed that Ho would have defeated Diem in a fair contest. They argued that even President Eisenhower conceded this point in his memoirs. Tge passage they always cited reads: "I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly 80 percent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Bao Dai." Those who conclude from this quotation that Ho would have won any election overlook two facts. The Geneva-sponsored election was to be help not at the time of the fighting, by wat Eisenhower meant 1954, but rather in 1956. And Ho's opponent would have been not a hapless French puppet, Bao Dai, but a popular anti-French nationalist, President Diem.

Ho would not have fared well in a fair election. In 1954, one out of every thirteen North Vietnamese fled the country rather than live under his rule. His so-called land-reform program had convulsed the country, produced severe food shortages, and sparked major peasant revolts that began in Ho's home home province and spread into at least two others. General Giap later admitted thatin putting down the unrest, his government killed 50,000 people. By 1956, Ho was hardly the man to head up a ticker. Diem, whose populatity was then peaking, would have won decisively. There was only one reason why North Vietnam's leaders, like those of any other communist country, never would have dared to hold genuinely free elections: They knew that they would lose.

For the United States to have forces South Vietnam to hold elections blatantly stacked to guarantee a Communist victory would have been legally absurd, strategically senseless, and morally ludicrous.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The events leading to the Iran-Iraq war

It may surprise many that Saddam is only mentioned on 1 page of the Shah's 1980 autobiography. it states:

During the Algiers oil conference in 1975, I spoke at length with Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq [He was actually vice president at that time, but by then he had all the power in the regime anyway]. We agreed to bury our differences and succeeded in ending the misunderstandings which colonialist influences had maintained between us.

President Hussein agreed to negotiate the question of the River Chatt-El-Arab [more commonly spelled Shatt al-Arab] according to international law. As in the case of the Arax River, the waters were divided midway between Iraq and Iran. All our land disputes were also settled.

In Principle, I told President Hussein that the happiness and prosperity of Iraq were important to the security of iran.


A little bit more history of this waterway and the dispute can be heard here


The mullahs took over the Iran four years later. Enter the Iraqi version of Khomeini, Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr. Former CIA agent Bob Baer wrote
Ayatollah Sadr ... is perhaps as responsible as Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini for modern, resurgent Shi'a Islam. Sadr founded the Da'wa Party, a violent, secretive organization committed to the creation of an Iraqi Shi'a Islamic republic ... In 1979, Sadr and the Da'wa took the side of the Iranian revolution, sparking demonstrations and unrest across Iraq. After Sadr's Da'wa attempted to assassinate Hussein's longtime foreign minister Tariq Aziz on April 1, 1980, Saddam ... executed Sadr


On his end, according to a 2008 book by Ronen Bergman, Saddam
initiated a broad plan to "liberate" part of Khuzestan, a city in western Iran, and to install a new Iranian government under the patronage of the exiled Shah [not likely, it seemed to be the work of a network of his former military officers, the Shah was too sick in July 1980 to be participating in something this big]. The attempted rebellion was set for July 10, 1980, but the plan was discovered by Khomeini's intelligence and crushed with great brutality. Most of the 250 conspirators who were arrested were executed.


[UPDATE 4/29/10]: Ken Timmerman interviewed then-President of Iran Bani-Sadr, who made more revelations about this event

Sometimes called the "Noget Coup," the plotters belonged to groups still faithful to Shahpour Bakhtiar and the former head of the Shah's Army, General Gholam Ali Oveissi, who organized the coup attempt from their exile in Iraq. Six hundred pro-Bakhtiar officers were arrested at a meeting at the Noget Air base, outside the city of Hamadan, including 270 officers from the only regular Army division then stationed in Khuzistan. Twenty-five pilots were also involved in the conspiracy. Khomeini decreed they all be executed for their opposition to the Islamic regime, but Bani Sadr opposed his decision. Using procedural ruses in the Courts, he managed to delay the executions until the war broke out, at which point he freed most of the officers on condition they returned to active duty (27).

"Before the war broke out, we had unveiled eight major cells, all linked through a central organization. The largest was in the Air Force, but others were active at Army bases in Tehran itself, as well as in Kermanshah, Khuzistan, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan - all along the Iraqi border. Their mission was to paralyze the Army and the Air Force once Iraq launched its attack. It was not a coup d'etat, but an organized Iraqi attack."

The former President claims that the first clue to the conspiracy was discovered by the alert Captain of the Presidential Guard, who received a manuscript letter threatening the regime. Comparing the handwriting to Army files, he traced the letter to a non-commissioned officer named Heydari of the Airmobile helicopter commandos, and gradually unearthed Heydari's co-conspirators.

"The problem was that we didn't know when they intended to act. But we did know that their plan was to give the appearance of a coup d'etat to restore the Shah, while the real aim was to provide a pretext to cover the Iraqi invasion. According to the information we received, the conspirators had set up a military camp in Sulimanieh and planned to ignite a Kurdish revolt and organize demonstrations throughout Iran. Their strategy was simple: internal disorders would first disperse Iranian military forces, so that on the very first day of the Iraqi attack Saddam could occupy the whole Western part of the country."

As Bani Sadr launched his discreet investigation, the details began to check out. A rebel training camp was soon identified near the Iraqi city of Sulimanieh (and destroyed by the Iranian Air Force on the first day of the war), while the Kurdish revolt that was to spearhead the campaign of nationwide unrest erupted in July. As for the Iranian Army division in Khuzistan - the first province the Iraqis attacked - Bani Sadr discovered to his dismay that only 28 tanks (out of a total of 159) were in working order. Only 7 field guns remained. All the rest had been sabotaged.

"Once we had verified our information we took measures to keep the Iraqi plan from coming off. We hit the Kurds hard in July and in September and arrested the plotters. We reorganized the Air Force. By the time of the invasion, all but our ground forces were ready. Still, if Saddam had concentrated his forces in Khuzistan, where we were weakest, there is nothing we could have done to stop him. His big mistake was opening hostilities along the entire border" (28).

But the handwritten letter that eventually led the way to the conspirators was not all. Bani Sadr says he received detailed information on the Iraqi invasion plans from his Foreign Minister, Sadegh Ghotsadegh, who in turn said he had bought the information for $200,000 from someone in Latin America.

"Latin America? It simply didn't make sense. Shortly after receiving this information from Ghotsadegh, our Ambassador to Moscow, Dr Mokri, returned to Tehran to give me the same information. I asked him the source. He said it came from friends in the CNRS in France (a State-sponsored social sciences think tank). I said that was ridiculous. Then a few weeks later, the Soviet Ambassador, Vinogradov, came to see me and I asked him if he wasn't the one behind the whole story. He gave a little laugh, but wouldn't say. "Well instead of making us pay $200,000," I said, "you could have simply given us this information for free."

Bani Sadr's account confirms the Iraqis' worst suspicions: not only did the USSR betray Iraq by not living up to existing weapons contracts, it made active contributions to Iranian military intelligence.

The result was that at the beginning of the war, the Iranian Air force flew a sortie rate that astonished most observers, and certainly took the Iraqis by surprise. In a series of lighting air attacks which Iraqi planning had simply failed to predict, Iran totally destroyed Iraq's oil terminals at Khor al-Amaya and Mina al-Bakr, dealing a blow to Iraq's oil export capacity that would take years to repair. Meanwhile, major naval battles during the first ten days of the war sank a large number of Iraqi vessels and blocked Iraq's access to the Gulf. The Iraqi intelligence failure was devastating. ...

One of the most haunting ironies of the Noget coup would only become apparent many years later. Shahpour Bakhtiar's liason agent with the conspirators in Iran, a private businessman who had thrown his fortune and organization talents into the fray, would enter the international spotlight under different circumstances in November 1986. His name was Manucher Ghorbanifar.


I don't know if Khomeini ever went into the topic in great detail (the invasion seems to have caught him by surprise - his first public reaction was to get on the radio and announce that "Nothing important has happened!"), but Saddam was interrogated on the topic by the FBI while in American custody in 2004.
Hussein was asked whether the decision to go to war against Iran in September, 1980 was based on threats from Iran or whether the war was a means of reclaiming Arab/Iraqi territory, specifically the Shatt-al-Arab Waterway. Hussein stated, "We consider the war as having started on September 4, not September 22, as the Iranians state." Hussein then provided an example of a farmer who is your neighbor next door. Hussein prefers to use farming/rural examples as they have special meaning to him. One day, the neighbor's son beats up your son. The next day, the neighbor's son bothers your cows. Subsequently, the neighbor's son damages your farmland by disturbing the irrigation system. If all these things have occurred, eventually, after enough incidents, you approach your neighbor, tell him each transgression by event and ask him to stop. Usually, a warning or approach to the neighbor is enough to stop this behavior. With Iran, however, this approach by Iraq did not work. Iran, in Hussein's opinion, was in violation of the 1975 "Algiers Agreement" concerning the waterway. Furthermore, Iran was also deemed to have interfered in Iraqi politics, also a violation of the treaty. In Hussein's opinion, this left Iraq no choice but Derive to fight. Thereafter, Iraq fought the war and sacrificed so that interference by Iran in Iraq would end.

Hussein provided some thoughts about the mindset of the Iranian leadership, specifically Ayatollah Khomeini, and the Iranian decision to fight the war. When Khomeini came to power in 1979, he had two things which "interfered" with his mind. One, he was a religious fanatic who thought all leaders were like the Shah of Iran, a person easily toppled. Khomeini thought since he removed the Shah so easily he could do the same elsewhere including Iraq. Second, Khomeini had a "complex" about leaving/being kicked out of Iraq previously in the late 1970s. Khomeini, exiled from Iran, had been a "guest" of Iraq who was "given shelter" in Najaf. While there, he began speaking out against the Shah and the Iranian government. Khomeini, in Hussein's opinion, was not respecting the written agreement (Algiers Agreement) between Iraq and Iran and was interfering in internal Iranian affairs. The Iraqi government informed Khomeini of their position. They also told him "you are our guest, no one can ask you to leave or for you to be handed over." The Shah had, in fact, tried to get Hussein to turn over Khomeini to Iran. In Arab culture, one can not "give up" a guest.

Khomeini refused to cease his activities against the Shah and the Iranian government. Khomeini stated that if his practices were against Iraqi policy, he would leave. Thereafter, he attempted to depart to Kuwait but was refused entry. Iraq allowed him to return for three or four days and complied with his request for assistance in traveling to another country. Khomeini then traveled to Paris, France.

Hussein stated he does not regret Iraq's treatment of Khomeini. When asked whether Khomeini ignored the gratitude of Iraq upon return from Kuwait, a step which could have resulted in Iraq's refusal to admit him and subsequent transfer to Iran, Hussein stated, "No. It would not have changed the situation. The people did not want the Shah." Khomeini became a symbol for the people of Iran after departing Iraq because of his age and because he had been "kicked out" of Iran. Hussein only stated "maybe" when questioned whether Ayatollah Sayyid Mohammad Sadr, a prominent Shia cleric executed in Iraq in 1980, may have been such a symbol. Hussein added he himself was a symbol as one could find pictures of Hussein inside houses and elsewhere in Iraq.

Khomeini believed the Shia population in southern Iraq would follow him, especially during the war with Iraq. But, according to Hussein, "They did not welcome him." In fact, the Shia remained loyal to Iraq and fought the Iranians.

Hussein acknowledged that the Iranian military in 1980 was weak and "lacked leadership" as most of the high-ranking officers had been removed upon change of the Iranian leadership from the Shah to Khomeini. This, however, did not impact on the decision to engage in war with Iran at that moment. Hussein stated, "If the Shah's army still existed, we would have defeated them in the first month." Under Khomeini, despite lacking leadership, the Iranian military, including the army and the Revolutionary Guard, "advanced in thousands" against Iraqi forces. The Iraqi army fought bravely, especially at the borders.

Hussein was asked whether assassination attempts against Iraqi government officials prior to the conflict, allegedly at the hands of Iranian-backed groups, including Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and Minister of Culture and Information Latif Nayyif Jasim, affected the decision to go to war with Iran. Hussein stated there were "540 assaults" on Iraq by Iran before the war. 249 of these "assaults" included air incursions or raids. Iraq presented this information to the United Nations. Iran blocked the Shatt-al-Arab Waterway and sank Iraqi and foreign ships. Before September 29, 1980, Iran bombed Iraqi oil refineries in Basra and other cities in southern Iraq. The assassination attempts against Aziz and Jasim, and others, were among the many incidents leading up to war with Iran.

[These event were shown in an Iraq-slanted documentary

The slant is obvious.]

When asked the objective of the war, Hussein replied, "Ask Iran. They began the war. I have explained all the reasons for the war before." Upon repeating the question, Hussein stated the objective was "to have Iran not interfere in our internal affairs." Hussein repeated some information previously provided including the fact that he believed Iran violated the treaty of 1975 (Algiers Agreement) . Iran occupied the entire Shatt-al-Arab Waterway, while the agreement stated their right to only half. Iran did not respond to diplomatic communications regarding these facts.


This is Saddam's account, meaning that it is probably, purposely incomplete.

BBC asked an Iraqi and Iranian veteran for their thoughts. This is what they believed to the reasons for the war:

Khaled Annakshabandi, former officer, Iraqi special forces

I was an officer in the Iraqi army in the Maghaweer - special forces - and I took part in the battles of Sheeb and Teeb and al-Fakka on the border.
I was injured in the leg by a mine blast, and have been disabled since then. I have six brothers - four of us were officers in the Iraqi army.

Who bears responsibility for starting this war?

In my view the war was caused by Iran, despite my intense hatred of Saddam Hussein.

In 1980 my brother Nizar, who was a colonel at the time serving in an Iraqi unit stationed at the border with Iran, told us of skirmishes on the border, and said that Iran was bombing the border villages on the Iraqi side.

He also said that he expected war to break out. My friends from the village of Mandali in the Diala province on the border also said that they had to leave because of Iranian artillery fire, and that was all before the war formally started.
The most significant reason for the outbreak of war was Ayatollah Khomeini and his statements about exporting the revolution, based on his ideological belief in the rule of the clerics.

Even though Iran is responsible for the outbreak of war, Saddam's way of dealing with it was wrong.

He reacted strongly, despite advice to the contrary from all the military leadership and politicians at the time, who advised him to take defensive positions and mobilise reinforcements.


Mohammad Sadeq Javadi-Hesar fought as a soldier in the Iranian army for most of the war

I was a university student in Mashhad, Iran, when the war broke out. I joined the war effort with a group of friends.


Who bears responsibility for starting this war?

No independent official authority has yet issued a verdict about who actually started the war.

But the evidence shows that the Iraqi army did it.

In the run-up to the war, there were random hostilities and battles on the borders between the two countries.

Saddam Hussein claimed Iraq was engaged in the war because of "Iran's interventions". But it is known that the war started officially with an Iraqi air raid.

The Baathist regime in Iraq under Saddam's government had some territorial and legal claims over Iran and was always looking for an opportunity to regain its "trampled rights".

With the chaos in Iran after the Islamic Revolution the civil and military systems were damaged.

Saddam felt that this was a good opportunity to capitalise and at least capture some part of Iran, specifically the Khuzestan province.

I think his international supporters who felt hurt by the Islamic Revolution were influential in provoking him to attack Iran.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Passing of a Cold War Hero: Polish Freedom Fighter Lech Kaczynski

Rest In Peace, friend

To many Poles, Lech Kaczynski, who has died in a plane crash at the age of 60, was the epitome of steadfastness. He was a dedicated Catholic and staunch advocate of moral clarity in public life.

But to others, his socially conservative opinions were out of step with a modern Poland.

It was acting where he first found fame, when as a child he starred with his twin brother Jaroslaw in a popular film, “The Two Who Stole The Moon.”

But it was not acting that became his true vocation. Living under the repressive system of communism, Kaczynski decided to devote his life to politics by joining the ranks of the democratic opposition. He completed his higher education at the faculty of law and administration at the University of Warsaw and defended his doctoral dissertation in labor law in 1980.

When in December 1981 the communist regime declared martial law to crack down on the pro-democracy movement, Kaczynski was among those interned for his involvement in the Solidarity organization, where he served as an adviser to a strike committee. He spent almost one year in an internment camp.

As soon as he was released, he returned to Solidarity and resumed his underground struggle against the draconian restrictions on civil liberties.

In 1989, Kaczynski participated in the peaceful negotiations between the weakening regime and the democratic opposition known as “the round table talks,” which eventually triggered the slow demise of the communist system.



Overview of the Solidarity union in Poland

Thursday, April 8, 2010

US did not give chemical weapons to Saddam - Favored myth of America's enemies is crushed by Zakaria, right to Iranian regime's face

I dont know how I missed it, it happened over a year ago on CNN:

MARANDI: ... I think that, if we look back in my own personal history, I was a volunteer in the Iraq-Iran War when Iraq invaded Iran. And I survived two chemical attacks by the Iraqi regime.

And those chemical weapons were provided to Iraq's -- to Saddam Hussein -- by the European Union countries and the United States. They provided...

ZAKARIA: You know that that's not true.

MARANDI: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) technology.

ZAKARIA: And you..

MARANDI: And I think that if...

ZAKARIA: You hesitated there, Professor Marandi, because you know it is not true that the United States provided any...

MARANDI: But the technology and the support...

ZAKARIA: You're trying to come up with some way to formulate it that you...

MARANDI: No, the United States did provide Saddam Hussein with support.

ZAKARIA: With agricultural credits. They did not provide them with chemical weapons.

MARANDI: Come on, Fareed. You know that the United States did back Saddam -- you know that the United States did back Saddam Hussein, that they supported him both directly...

ZAKARIA: I may -- I said very clearly it provided agricultural credits. Though that's not chemical weapons. These are two separate things.



If the regime's (payed, secret) agents themselves can't effectively argue the regime's own anti-American grievances, then it's probably all bullshit.

The only other thing I know of that we gave to Saddam during the 80s was intelligence on Iran, such as satellite photos, and some helicopter parts.

Former Secretary of State Schultz discussed the Reagan administration's policy toward Iraq and Iran with CNN's Christiane Amanpour a few months earlier


As a matter of fact, according to Gholam Reza Afkhami's mammoth biography of the Shah - SAVAK, Iran's intelligence service during the Shah's reign, "as early as 1976," had been advising the Shah "that Iraq was building and stockpiling chemical and biological weapons." And according to former Romanian spy chief Ion Mihai Pacepa, those weapons were given to Saddam by the Soviet Union and the program was run by Soviet Gen. Yevgeny Primakov in the 1970s.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The 1970s: The Age of Terror - The Communists' Proxy War Offensive Against The Western Bloc - Part 1: Intro

The beginning of the communist terrorism offensive of the 1970s that rocked the United States, Western Europe and their allies actually started on June 2, 1967 during a visit of the Shah of Iran to West Berlin

The shooting depicted at the end of this movie scene served as the justification for an increasingly radical West German left-wing protest movement's turn to terrorism, soon to be followed by movements across Europe. What was not known at the time, and remained unknown until 2009, was that the West German police officer who shot the student protestor in 1967 was, in fact, an agent of the Communist East German Stasi.

Having forgotten that the Nazis were leftists

At one [of the protests], the willowy provincial pastor's daughter Gudrun Ensslin declaimed: "This is the generation of Auschwitz - you can't reason with them! They have weapons and we haven't. We must arm ourselves too."
Ensslin was a dope-smoking anti-nuclear protester with serial boyfriends who had given away an illegitimate child for adoption. She had already starred in a soft porn movie when she fell under the spell of Andreas Baader, the son of a gifted historian who'd gone missing on the Eastern Front in 1945.
Good-looking, with his sunglasses and black leather jackets, Baader had been thrown out of school and failed at a succession of jobs; he had eked out a living as a male model, supplemented by robbing customers in the lavatories of gay bars and stealing cars. Like Ensslin, he too had an illegitimate daughter - and was also a drug-fuelled fantasist.
Inevitably, Baader and Ensslin became lovers, with ever-larger quantities of amphetamines and LSD expanding their revolutionary fantasies.
In early 1968 Baader and Ensslin burned down a large Frankfurt department store as a symbol of consumer capitalism. They got the idea from a fire in a Belgian store in which 251 people had died. It was the opening salvo in their terroristic rampage.


Meanwhile,
In the [Soviet provoked] Six-Day War, Israel humiliated two of the Soviet Union's Arab client states, Egypt and Syria. A couple of months later, the head of Soviet foreign intelligence, Gen. Alexander Sakharovsky, landed in Bucharest. According to him, the Kremlin had charged the KGB to "repair the prestige" of "our Arab friends" by helping them organize terrorist operations that would humiliate Israel. The main KGB asset in this joint venture was a "devoted Marxist-Leninist"--Yasser Arafat, co-founder of Fatah, the Palestinian military force.

Gen. Sakharovsky asked ... Romanian intelligence to help the KGB bringing Arafat and some of his fedayeen fighters secretly to the Soviet Union via Romania, in order for them to be indoctrinated and trained. During that same year, the Soviets maneuvered to have Arafat named chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organizaiton, with public help from Egypt's ruler, Gamal Abdel Nasser.


"Before I defected to America from Romania," wrote Ion Mihai Pacepa, "leaving my post as chief of Romanian intelligence, I was responsible for giving Arafat about $200,000 in laundered cash every month throughout the 1970s. I also sent two cargo planes to Beirut a week, stuffed with uniforms and supplies. Other Soviet bloc states did much the same. Terrorism has been extremely profitable for Arafat."

In 1972, Pacepa
was given the KGB's "personal file" on Arafat. was given the KGB's "personal file" on Arafat. He was an Egyptian bourgeois turned into a devoted Marxist by KGB foreign intelligence. The KGB had trained him at its Balashikha special-ops school east of Moscow and in the mid-1960s decided to groom him as the future PLO leader. First, the KGB destroyed the official records of Arafat's birth in Cairo, replacing them with fictitious documents saying that he had been born in Jerusalem and was therefore a Palestinian by birth.
The KGB's disinformation department then went to work on Arafat's four-page tract called "Falastinuna" (Our Palestine), turning it into a 48-page monthly magazine for the Palestinian terrorist organization al-Fatah. Arafat had headed al-Fatah since 1957. The KGB distributed it throughout the Arab world and in West Germany, which in those days played host to many Palestinian students. The KGB was adept at magazine publication and distribution; it had many similar periodicals in various languages for its front organizations in Western Europe, like the World Peace Council and the World Federation of Trade Unions.
Next, the KGB gave Arafat an ideology and an image, just as it did for loyal Communists in our international front organizations. High-minded idealism held no mass-appeal in the Arab world, so the KGB remolded Arafat as a rabid anti-Zionist. They also selected a "personal hero" for him -- the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, the man who visited Auschwitz in the late 1930s and reproached the Germans for not having killed even more Jews. In 1985 Arafat paid homage to the mufti, saying he was "proud no end" to be walking in his footsteps.
...
In 1969 the KGB asked Arafat to declare war on American "imperial-Zionism" during the first summit of the Black Terrorist International, a neo-Fascist pro-Palestine organization financed by the KGB and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi. It appealed to him so much, Arafat later claimed to have invented the imperial-Zionist battle cry. But in fact, "imperial-Zionism" was a Moscow invention, a modern adaptation of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and long a favorite tool of Russian intelligence to foment ethnic hatred. The KGB always regarded anti-Semitism plus anti-imperialism as a rich source of anti-Americanism.
The KGB file on Arafat also said that in the Arab world only people who were truly good at deception could achieve high status. We Romanians were directed to help Arafat improve "his extraordinary talent for deceiving." The KGB chief of foreign intelligence, General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, ordered us to provide cover for Arafat's terror operations, while at the same time building up his international image.


Back in Germany, Baader and Ensslin were "[c]aptured within days" of their 1968 shop burning stunt.

[T]he duo turned their trial into a piece of radical theatre, drawing support from liberals everywhere. Their defence team included lawyer Horst Mahler, a radical who was himself under a suspended sentence for public disorder offences and who soon afterwards joined Baader's revolutionary gang.
The arsonists received three years' imprisonment but were released after 14 months, pending an appeal.
Baader and Ensslin celebrated by injecting themselves with liquefied opium and settled into a free flat provided for them by a radical student union.
When they lost their appeal, they fled to France and Italy, where they were feted by Leftist sympathisers such as U.S. playwright Tennessee Williams.
Eventually they sneaked back to West Berlin, where the duo latched onto Ulrike Meinhof, a prominent Leftwing journalist who was soon competing with Ensslin for Baader's attentions, lapping up the foul-mouthed abuse he hurled at both men and women.
Ensslin proclaimed an 11th Commandment: 'Thou must kill', and the group called itself the Red Army Faction. Their second outing as terrorists was as futile as the first. Attempting to buy guns, they were stopped by police, and Baader was arrested and returned to serve his original sentence, but before long he escaped.
Now they decided they needed professional training. In June 1970, Baader, Ensslin, Mahler and Meinhof surfaced at a Palestinian guerilla base outside Amman, Jordan. Tough Algerian and Palestinians were not impressed.
Instructed how to prime a Russian grenade, Meinhof pulled the pin without realising she had to throw it. Catastrophe was narrowly averted when someone grabbed the fizzing grenade from her and hurled it away.
The budding terrorists fired so many rounds wildly from AK-47s that the PLO rationed the bullets. The angry Germans protested by sunbathing naked on the roof of their quarters.


Aided by contacts in the Stasi, the East German secret police, the group were smuggled back to Berlin. Using BMWs - soon dubbed "Baader-Meinhof-Wagons" - they sped along the autobahns high on drink and drugs. They raided three banks, although Meinhof with characteristic incompetence overlooked steel boxes containing vast sums as she scooped up modest amounts from the tellers' drawers.
Meinhof used the money to acquire arms while Baader and Ensslin sought young recruits, for the original band had dwindled to a dozen or so. There was one unlikely source: the insane.
A radical psychiatrist at Heidelberg university had formed a socialist collective among those he was treating. Baader and Ensslin visited the university and recruited 12 under the slogan "Crazies to arms".
Their ranks replenished, the Red Army Faction mounted bomb attacks across the country. A car bomb gravely injured the wife of a judge. Gun battles resulted in the first death in July 1971 when police chased a BMW that had gone through a checkpoint, forced it to stop and were shot at by the couple who got out. They returned fire and killed a 20-year-old hairdresser who had followed her boyfriend into terrorism.
The terrorists murdered an American lieutenant-colonel and wounded 13 others in an attack on a U.S. barracks in Frankfurt. Police headquarters and publishers were bombed.


According to the Wall Street Journal, "Court cases in West Germany in the 1990s established that members of the Red Army Faction were granted free passage to other countries in the 1970s and refuge in East Germany in the 1980s. But the current investigation and documents from Stasi archives suggest far deeper involvement - that members of the Red Army Faction were not only harboured by the Stasi but methodically trained in sophisticated techniques of bombing and murder."


In the United States, the Anti-Vietnam War movement took a radicle new turn after the election of the staunch anti-communist Richard Nixon as President. In 1969, a violent group of communists branched off of the already radical SDS to form the terrorist Weather Underground Organization. Their aim was to end American involvement in Vietnam and overthrow capitalism through the use of violence and mass murder (even on genocidal proportions). In order to do this, they had to seek foreign help


The former FBI informant on the Weather Underground seen in the documentary video excerpt, Larry Grathwohl, elaborated on the activities of the "Weathermen" in a March 12, 2009 speech:

I remember the Sunday morning in January of 1970 when it was obvious to me that the three FBI agents were upset. They wanted to know when the bombings of the Detroit Police Officers Building and the 13th precinct would take place and which members of the Weather Underground would be assigned to do it. Bill Ayers had debriefed me regarding every aspect of the plans we had developed before telling me I was being reassigned to Madison. Bill’s two major requirements were that the bombs go off at the same time and that the greatest number of police officers would be killed or injured. Both bombs were to contain fence staples or roofing nails to ensure this effect. Bill Ayers didn’t care if innocent people were also killed or injured. Bill had even gone so far as to tell us that the bomb at the 13th precinct should be placed on a window ledge. Both bombs were set four days later than originally planned but both also failed to detonate due to failures in the timing devices.
I wouldn’t see Bill Ayers again until February of 1970 in Buffalo when I returned from a day of obtaining death certificates for use in creating phony ID’s for fellow members of my new cell of Weatherman terrorists. As soon as we had all assembled, Bill began a criticism session of myself and my associates for having spent too much time preparing for actions (bombings) and not doing anything. He reminded us of the commitment all of us had made to the overthrow of the U.S. government at the National Council Meeting in Flint the previous December and how our inactivity was harming the Cubans, the Vietnamese and the Chinese. Bill went on to describe how Bernardine Dorhn, a Weather Underground central committee member and considered the leader of the Weather Underground, had to plan and commit the bombing of the Park Station in San Francisco. This bomb contained fence staples and was placed on a window ledge during a shift change ensuring the presence of the greatest number of police officers and the greatest possibility of death and injury. Several Police Officers were injured and one, Sergeant McDonnell, was killed by fence staples used in the bomb. He was in the hospital for two days before he succumbed to his injuries.
At the National Council Meeting which took place in Flint, Michigan, in late December of 1969, Bernardine Dorhn had praised mass murderer Charles Manson and said, “The Weatherman is about a communist revolution to destroy the white racist’s society and establish a democratic centralist’s government”. Furthermore, Bernadine wanted everyone at the council meeting to, “bring the war home and off (kill) their parents”.
One other historical fact that demands mention is the explosion of the Weatherman bomb factory in Greenwich Village in February of 1970. The bombs being built for use at an Army dance at the Ft. Dix Army Base on a Saturday night contained roofing nails for the shrapnel effect, and if the bombs hadn’t prematurely detonated, killing three Weathermen, the effect would have been devastating.
...
In April of 2008, I noticed not only that the media were failing to report on the Park Station bombing, but were repeating the claim that the Weather Underground was just an anti-war group. I had a copy of the Weather Underground Prairie Fire manifesto, dedicated in part to convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan. He had assassinated Robert Kennedy, the leading anti-war candidate in 1968. The Weather Underground was not anti-war; it was pro-war. In fact, it waged war on the United States, in close consultation with foreign enemies of the U.S. in such places as Hanoi and Havana.
...
In an article published in the New York Times [on 9/11/01], Bill stated his only regret was that he believed the Weather Underground hadn’t done enough. Bombing the Pentagon, the Capitol, and police stations wasn’t enough?


As the documentary also stated, the Cubans were lending their supporting the Weathermen terrorists by way of mutual connections to a violent separatist terror group in Canada. As the Weathermen's terror campaign started in the United States, the terrorists in Canada plunged that nation "into it's worst crisis since the Second World War".

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Shah of Iran discusses "The axes of Communist penetration in Africa" in his book



In his extraordinary 1980 autobiography - written in exile after his 2500 year old kingdom was overthrown and the fanatical tyrant Khomeini imposed a reign of terror in an illegitimate regime known as the "Islamic Republic of Iran" - the late Shah of Iran discussed what he saw as an "axes of Communist penetration in Africa" in the 1970s:

Iran, which is only separated from Africa by Arabian Peninsula, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean, was concerned to see communist penetration into Africa along three axes: The first, going from Libya toward Chad, the Sudan, and Somalia, is the Mediterranean-Red Sea-Indian Ocean axis; the second aims to link the Mediterranean to the Atlantic by land; and third cuts Africa in two from Angola to Mozambique. The axes of Communist Penetration in Africa are real dividing lines. Both the longitudinal and transverse axes sever the African continent. This penetration is a vast strategic movement which threatens to destabilize the whole of Africa.Tomorrow what is called Black Africa could become Red Africa. (In an effort to thwart such actions, I [the Shah] had dreamed of contributing financially to a modern railway line linking the east and west of Aftica.)


It's noteworthy that Ronald Reagan felt the same way, as expressed in a speech at the 1978 Conservative Political Action Conference and a 1983 interview with the New York Daily News.

They were right, of course.

African Cardinal Blames Socialism for Corruption
Thursday, 29 Oct 2009 07:39 AM
By: Edward Pentin

A top African cardinal blames government corruption in Africa mostly on socialism.

Speaking to Newsmax at the end of a three-week Vatican synod on Africa last week, Cardinal Wilfred Fox Napier, the archbishop of Durban, said Africa’s traditions such as those of tribal chiefs could be partly to blame for government corruption but that “it has much more to do with the socialist ideology.”

Poor governance has more “to do with the influence of socialism and communism, where the party becomes supreme,” Napier said.

In contrast to such regimes, he said the traditional system of tribal chiefs is more democratic. Chiefs “are seen to have almost divine right to their position, but the chiefs exercise it, I would say, quite democratically because they have their councillors who would have quite an influence on the way the chiefs would behave towards their people.”

Many African countries developed their own brand of socialism in the 1960s, as it represented a break from colonization and imperial ruling tradition. African identity and socialism then became an effective combination in ending the era of old imperial regimes. South Africa’s ruling ANC party played a role in the African socialist movement.

But most socialist African regimes did not deliver on the promises of self-sufficiency, prosperity, and equality, leading to growing disillusionment with socialism on the continent. Some socialist leaders, such as Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, were lauded for fostering peace, but economically, he brought Tanzania to its knees.

Cardinal Napier welcomed the fact that the 244 bishops at the synod debated issues of governance, and that many African church leaders reported improvements in democracy on the continent. However, he said dictatorships often are replaced with ruling parties that believe they had a right to rule indefinitely.

“Whereas we had presidents in the past for life, now we have parties considering themselves to be in power for life,” he said. “We’re already seeing that in our South African situation where the governing party calls itself the ‘ruling party’ — an indication that they have a right to tell people how to live or how they want to run the country rather than listening to what the people are saying and the way they want the country run.”