Ten Years After Powell’s U.N. Speech
Old Hands Are Ready for More Blood
Tho' Colin Powell's speech to the UN later became notorious, still, truth easily becomes irrelevant in the process of going to war. Also obscured is the normalcy of enemies. We excerpt two 2013 articles of Feb 5 from (1) N. Solomon on propaganda (founder of the Institute for Public Accuracy) and (2) The Guardian on Tehran's land boom.
by Norman Solomon and The GuardianTop officials engage in decision-making on war that gives democracy short shrift. For the public, crucial information that bears on the wisdom of warfare remains opaque or out of sight. Public candor and policy introspection remain in short supply.
After Gen. Colin Powell's speech to the UN, fawning praise was profuse across the USA’s mainline media spectrum, including the nation’s reputedly great newspapers. The Washington Post declared that after Powell’s U.N. presentation “it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.”
Jim Hoagland, a Post foreign-policy specialist concluded: “To continue to say that the Bush administration has not made its case, you must now believe that Colin Powell lied in the most serious statement he will ever make, or was taken in by manufactured evidence."
Assumptions about U.S. prerogatives also went largely unquestioned. The U.S. media embraced the notion that the United Nations could only be “relevant” by bending to Washington’s wishes. A combination of cooked intelligence and geopolitical arrogance, served up to rapturous reviews at home, set the stage for what was to come.
Nineteen months after the speech, in mid-September 2004, Powell made a terse public acknowledgment. “I think it’s unlikely that we will find any stockpiles,” he said. But no gingerly climb-down could mitigate the bloodshed that continued in Iraq.
The new secretary of state, John Kerry -- like the one he just replaced, Hillary Clinton -- voted for the Iraq war resolution in the Senate, nearly four months before Powell went to the U.N. Security Council. Kerry prefaced his vote for war by saying that “according to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons.” Since then, Kerry has said that he would have voted for the war resolution even if he’d known that Iraq actually had no weapons of mass destruction.
After jumping onto ghastly bandwagons for one war after another, the nation’s media establishment is available to do it again. So is the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. So is the new secretary of state. They’re old hands, dripping with blood. They have not had enough.
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JJS: Wouldn’t it be great if politicians could settle their differences without involving the people? While the US gets Americans ready to bombard Iran, life in Iran goes on as it does everywhere, with the majority paying the few for a place to live.
Tehran Landlords and Tenants Lock Horns in Heat of Land Boom
As a result of domestic and foreign factors, including international sanctions imposed on Iran. the rial has lost more than 60% of its value since December 2011, Exacerbated by its currency in freefall and high inflation, the Irani capital of 12.2 million is in the grip of soaring rents.
Affluent Iranians, seeking a safe investment for their savings, are buying up urban property almost as fast as gold, further accelerating the already breakneck speed of construction. Speculators scour desirable neighbourhoods for lucrative parcels of land, and in north Tehran, apartment buildings no more than a decade old are often torn down to make room for luxurious high-rises catering to the rising standards of wealthy urbanites. In a stagnating economy where real estate is one of the few sectors moving, it is not unusual for property to change hands several times a year.
The housing sector has seen the success of countless get-rich-quick schemes, but is a source of existential stress for locals trying to stay afloat in the deteriorating economic climate. Building sales have had a devastating impact on evicted renters, whose returned deposits are worth just a third of what they were a year ago.
The rental of an average flat demands a deposit of around $6,000 (£3,800) – a small fortune in a country where the average worker earns less than $200 a month. With Iran's annual inflation rate at 27.4%, property hunters must scramble for new leases to prevent the value of their original deposits from depreciating even further. Reasonably priced housing is a rare commodity and a single listing can generate more than 40 phone calls from interested parties.
Unfamiliarity with industry practices and lack of economic perspective can also create financial problems for landlords, some of whom are just as cash-strapped as those renting their properties. A year ago, 66-year-old pensioner Reza drew up a two-year contract for the young couple renting his one-bedroom flat in a large west Tehran housing complex. With inflation devaluing the rent and deposit amount by roughly 50% in the past 12 months, the contract has become uncompetitive at a time when Reza's own living expenses have doubled. "Everything is getting more expensive and I'm expected to survive on [$130] a month," he says.
To read more
JJS: While many think of them as housing booms, actually they’re location booms. Now they are painful for the majority only because they have to pay an absentee owner for a site and whatever is built upon it. But if instead residents and businesses paid their community, as via a land tax or land use fee or land dues, and if government paid a dividend back to residents, then no matter how high the value of lots rose, the size of these dividends would rise with them. After a while of having to pay land dues, speculators would get the point and quit bidding up the price of parcels.
Another benefit is that owners having to pay ongoing land dues would tend to put all locations to best use, which would attract investment and create employment. The economy would boom and the boom would include everyone. As people prosper and feel satisfied, it becomes harder for politicians to bamboozle them into war.
Because this geonomic system of land dues in and rent dividends back out is fair, it spreads a deeper and stronger understanding of morality, and that too militates against war fever. If America embraced geonomic policy, it could the lead the world in a completely different direction, away from war, to peace and prosperity.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .
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