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Army Sgt. Matthis Chiroux Refuses His Deployment to Iraq

Iraq Veteran Publicly Refuses to Deploy to Iraq in the halls of Congress

By Erin Thompson

Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, a 24-year-old who spent nearly five years serving in the U.S. Army, publicly refused his orders to deploy to Iraq today. Chiroux made the statement in the rotunda of the Cannon Building of the House of Representatives, just minutes after 8 members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War testified about the realities of the U.S. occupation of Iraq to members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Keywords: Analysis, Bronx, War & Peace, Resource Wars,

Chiroux, a student of political science in his first semester at Brooklyn College, received an honorable discharge last July after working as a photojournalist for the U.S. military in Japan, Europe, the Philippines and Afghanistan. In February Chiroux received notice that he must report to the U.S. Army in June to be deployed to Iraq.

Chiroux made the statement flanked by a dozen members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. “I would like to let Matthis and everyone here know that IVAW stands in support and solidarity with your decision, which I know is very difficult and very personal,” said IVAW Executive Director Kelly Dougherty. “IVAW’s strategy to end the occupation in Iraq is to encourage and organize resistance and opposition to this occupation from within the ranks and from the recent veterans.”

Statement:

“Good afternoon, my name is Sergeant Matthis Chiroux and I served as an army photo journalist until being honorably discharged last summer after over four years of service in Afghanistan and Europe and the Phillipines.

As an army journalist whose job it was to college and filter service members’ stories, I heard many a stomach-churning testimony of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes. Never again will I allow fear to silence me. Never again will I fail to stand. In February, I received a letter from the Army, ordering my return to active duty, with the purpose of mobilization in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Thanks in great part to the truths of war being fearlessly spoken by my fellow IVAW members, I stand before you today with the strength and clarity and resolve to declare the military and my government and the world that this soldier will not be deploying to Iraq.

This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal, and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate as I will surely be a party to war crimes. Furthermore, deployment and support of illegal war violates all of my core values as a human being. But in keeping with those values, I choose to remain in the United States to defend myself from charges brought by the Army, if they so wish to pursue them.

I refuse to participate in the Iraq occupation.”

Erin Thompson

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May 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Thoughtful, if gloomy Arab Israeli analysis

Israel won the wars, lost the peace

By Mark LeVine

Soldiers pay homage to Jews killed in the battle for Jerusalem during Israel’s
1948 war at a military cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem [GALLO/GETTY]


On a flight home from a lecture at the University of Arizona on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover, I happened to sit next to an elderly woman whose accent, along with the Hebrew prayer card in her hand, suggested she was Israeli.

Our conversation during the flight epitomised the obstacles that continue to block a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The woman was born in Poland and had lived through the Holocaust.

“Even 60 years later it’s like a dream you can’t believe,” she explained when I asked her if she had still been in Poland when the war began.

“You arrive and they send you immediately to the showers; you never knew which shower it was – to clean you up or gas you.”

After surviving Auschwitz, she was imprisoned in two more concentration camps, and then sent to a munitions factory in Germany later bombed by the Soviets.

“We were running through the streets alongside animals who escaped from the zoo next door when it was bombed. We were pulling the flesh off the burned animals because we were so hungry. It was like a barbecue.”

Somehow, she managed to survive these horrors, as well as one of the infamous “death marches” that preceded the war’s end, only to face a pogrom when she returned to her village in Poland in 1946. After these attacks, her remaining family fled Poland.

“Those who could, went to the United States, the rest went to Palestine.”

Israel’s collective identity

The woman’s story is almost surreal in its horror. But such stories have been seared into Israel’s collective identity. These memories are so powerful that even though few Israelis today lived through the Holocaust, they are a crucial reason why the possibility of peace with Palestinians remains so elusive.

It does not matter to the collective Israeli psyche that there has been a generation of peace with Egypt, a decade-and-a half with Jordan, and strong relations with Turkey and Morocco.

Nor does it matter that there is declared acceptance of Israel’s existence by most Arab states. When the subject of the peace process inevitably came up in our conversation, my companion asked me incredulously: “Do you think they [Arabs] will just let us live?”

This psychology has not just made peace hard for Israelis to believe in, but by reinforcing the Israeli/Jewish sense of besiegement it has helped ensure the futility of Palestinian resistance – especially violent opposition – against the occupation.

It has also enabled the use of “security” considerations to justify an occupation which has had little to do with security, and everything to do with cementing Jewish control over as much of Israel’s biblical heartland as possible.

Historical schizophrenia

Israeli border police visit the Yad Vashem
holocaust memorial in Jerusalem

But it is not only the collective memory of the Holocaust, along with the nature of Palestinian resistance to the occupation, that has helped produce a high level of fear and distrust in the Israeli psyche.

As important is the moral and historical schizophrenia which stem from the reality that Israel was born out of the displacement of 750,000 Palestinian Arabs.

It matters little that the overwhelming body of scholarship on the Palestinian refugee problem, much of it produced by Israeli scholars, accepts that Palestinians were made refugees by the deliberate actions of a Zionist/Israeli leadership.

Whether it was newly emptied Palestinian homes in Jaffa filled with Jewish refugees or national parks being established on the rubble of entire Galilee villages, the spectre of Palestine Lost so haunts Israel’s national psyche that it takes an unceasing process of willful forgetting to ensure the continued erasure of Palestinians from the Israeli landscape.

Despite all its accomplishments, its military and economic might, superpower patronage, and acceptance across most of the region, Israel’s sense of rootedness remains fragile.

So fragile, in fact, that to entertain the idea of culpability in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem – the “original sin” that made Israel’s establishment as an overwhelmingly Jewish majority state possible – would open a Pandora’s box of self-doubt and recrimination that would threaten its viability as a “democratic Jewish state” today.

Israel’s dilemma

Israel’s separation wall cuts a path through
Palestinian olive groves [GALLO/GETTY]

Other settler colonial societies have faced similar dilemmas. But while the successful “extermination” of the native populations of the United States (to use historian Benny Morris’s terminology) made possible an open and confident American nationalism, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine’s non-Jewish population was never completed.

The continued presence of millions of Palestinians within and next to Israel has made it very hard for Israelis to feel confident in their control of the land.

Today, the non-Jewish population of mandate Palestine has achieved a rough parity with the Jewish population. Potentially more threatening to the Jewish identity of the state, according to some Israeli scholars, is that within a generation Palestinian citizens of Israel will come perilously close to outnumbering their Jewish compatriots.

If and when that moment arrives, Israel’s existence as both a Jewish and democratic state will end.

Yet in a certain sense, the Jewish-but-democratic equation has always been a paradox imperfectly resolved. Even during the best of times, Israel has never been a fully democratic state, except for Jews of European descent.

Jews from Middle Eastern countries were excluded from the reins of political and economic power until relatively recently and have yet to achieve parity with Ashkenazis. Palestinian citizens lived under military rule until 1966; and though they have guaranteed equal political rights and can serve in the armed forces (which most Bedouin and Druze, but few Palestinians do), they remain legally and institutionally discriminated against.

Problematic democracy

IN VIDEO

Israel’s immigration issue

This is no more evident than the crucial issues of access to land and public resources, while suffering regular surveillance and harassment by Israel’s security services.

If Palestinian citizens do not live equally under the law, then Israel cannot accurately be referred to as the “Middle East’s only Western-style democracy”.

A more accurate description of Israel would be that it is an “ethnocracy,” a formally democratic state where ethnicity and religion legally determine the degree of access to the full benefits of citizenship.

The “democracy” description becomes more problematic when the reality of Israel’s de facto sovereignty over the Occupied Territories during the last 40 years is taken into account.

Since 1967, and even during the Oslo years (1993-2000), the Israeli government has controlled every major aspect of Palestinian life without granting the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza any political, civil, economic or cultural rights, effectively disenfranchising them for two generations.

One of the reasons for the failure of Oslo was that Israel retained almost full control over the Palestinian economy, borders, resources and security despite the establishment of a veneer of democracy with the Palestinian Authority and the Legislative Council.

The sheer inertia of the occupation’s massive institutional and geographical infrastructure, coupled with the gnawing fear that even if peace were possible today Israel would remain vulnerable to the demographic time bomb tomorrow, helps explain why Israel intensified rather than dismantled the infrastructure of the occupation.

It doubled the settler population, widely expanding the area of Palestinian land under its control while continuing to destroy the foundations of Palestinian agriculture by seizing land, uprooting countless trees, and destroying thousands of homes.

In the minds of many Israeli leaders, peace was ultimately a mirage that would vanish into renewed existential conflict the moment it was reached.

Inseparable

In depth

None of this should come as a surprise to Israelis or analysts of the conflict. A generation ago, Israeli geographer Meron Benvenisti warned Israelis (in his widely publicised 1987 West Bank Data Base Project report) that Israel and the Occupied Territories were already too intertwined geographically, economically and economically to ever separate them again.

As important as Benvenisti’s recognition of the depth of the Israeli occupation by the 1980s was his realisation that the goals of successive Israeli governments never included annexing the whole of the West Bank.

Rather, “the Israeli body-politic is precisely where it wants to stay. The present, fluid, amorphic situation is preferable and suits everybody. A better method than ‘annexation’ has been found to integrate and segregate at the same time: to integrate the territories for Israeli interests … and segregate the Palestinian population to avoid any burdens (citizenship, extension of Israeli welfare system, free political expression).”

These are among the most prescient words ever written about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and they reveal that half a decade before Oslo, Israel had already achieved its primary objectives in the settlement process. Israeli leaders had found a formula to maintain permanent control over the desired areas of the West Bank without fomenting overwhelming Palestinian opposition.

But if Israel’s negotiating strategy during Oslo mirrored the older strategy of drawing out negotiations until facts on the ground made Palestinian independence on any terms but Israel’s impossible, the reality is that in winning the war, Israel lost its chance for peace.

Viable Palestinian state?

The minimum requirements for establishing a viable Palestinian state – dismantling most of the settlement infrastructure to allow territorial contiguity in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), full Palestinian control over their economy, and (at the very least) an honest accounting of Israel’s role in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem – can no longer be met.

Quite simply, doing so would entail a far higher political, social and economic cost than would the continuation of the occupation, with its manageable level of violence.

This reality has cast a pall over the community of Israeli and Palestinian scholars who have devoted much of the last two decades trying to envision scenarios for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

A little over five years ago, at the height of the al-Aqsa intifada, most of my colleagues on both sides of the Green Line remained convinced that a two-state solution was the only viable solution to the conflict, even as many supported the principle of a bi-national state.

Today, the consensus is clearly that conditions for a two-state solution no longer exist. But at the same time a workable binational option seems equally implausible to envision in the near future.

“Maybe in 50-60 years,” one Palestinian colleague mused when I spoke to him recently; precisely when the demographic balance is tipped far in the Palestinians’ favour.

Imagining new scenarios

Question of the week

Now the conflict is entering its seventh decade, can it ever be resolved?

Send us your feedback…

For sure, the fraying of the multi-ethnic and religious fabrics of Lebanon and Iraq do not offer much hope for a shared Israel/Palestine.

Yet despite the odds, Palestinian and Israeli activists and scholars continue to imagine new scenarios for achieving peace, justice and democracy for both peoples.

Fifteen years after Shimon Peres announced the birth of a “New Middle East,” in which national borders and identities would matter less than cultural capital and economic ingenuity, perhaps the best anyone can hope for is what Israeli geographer Oren Yiftachel describes as a “gradual binationalism”.

This would then open up the space between the two and one-state solutions through a “reintegration of Israel-Palestine” – psychologically, as much as politically.

“Of course, this is an (almost) illusionary vision,” Yiftachel is the first to admit. “I am not optimistic, but I feel it is important to continue and air options that people can imagine, and not succumb to the gloom and doom path of ‘creeping apartheid’ in which we are walking.”

If the emerging generation of Israelis and Palestinians can begin to think outside the nationalist and religious framework that has doomed older generations to perpetual conflict, the vision of Yiftachel and his Israeli and Palestinian comrades could take root before the sheer weight of the occupation erodes whatever glimmer of hope for peaceful coexistence remains.

It is undoubtedly a long shot, but the alternative is violence on a scale that can no longer be managed by either side, with catastrophic results for Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East as a whole.

Mark LeVine is professor of history at the University of California Irvine and author or editor of half a dozen books dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and globalisation in the Middle East. He is also a contributing editor for Tikkun magazine.

Al Jazera

May 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

One Voice can change the US and the WORLD!!!

May 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Repugs “busy dying”… Peggy Noonan WSJ

The Democrats aren’t the ones falling apart, the Republicans are. The Democrats can see daylight ahead. For all their fractious fighting, they’re finally resolving their central drama. Hillary Clinton will leave, and Barack Obama will deliver a stirring acceptance speech. Then hand-to-hand in the general, where they see their guy triumphing. You see it when you talk to them: They’re busy being born.

[Pity Party]
Terry Shoffner
Clarke Reed

The Republicans? Busy dying. The brightest of them see no immediate light. They’re frozen, not like a deer in the headlights but a deer in the darkness, his ears stiff at the sound. Crunch. Twig. Hunting party.

The headline Wednesday on Drudge, from Politico, said, “Republicans Stunned by Loss in Mississippi.” It was about the eight-point drubbing the Democrat gave the Republican in the special House election. My first thought was: You have to be stupid to be stunned by that. Second thought: Most party leaders in Washington are stupid – detached, played out, stuck in the wisdom they learned when they were coming up, in ’78 or ’82 or ’94. Whatever they learned then, they think pertains now. In politics especially, the first lesson sticks. For Richard Nixon, everything came back to Alger Hiss.

They are also – Hill leaders, lobbyists, party speakers – successful, well-connected, busy and rich. They never guessed, back in ’86, how government would pay off! They didn’t know they’d stay! They came to make a difference and wound up with their butts in the butter. But affluence detaches, and in time skews thinking. It gives you the illusion you’re safe, and that everyone else is. A party can lose its gut this way.

Many are ambivalent, deep inside, about the decisions made the past seven years in the White House. But they’ve publicly supported it so long they think they . . . support it. They get confused. Late at night they toss and turn in the antique mahogany sleigh bed in the carpeted house in McLean and try to remember what it is they really do think, and what those thoughts imply.

And those are the bright ones. The rest are in Perpetual 1980: We have the country, the troops will rally in the fall.

“This was a real wakeup call for us,” someone named Robert M. Duncan, who is chairman of the Republican National Committee, told the New York Times. This was after Mississippi. “We can’t let the Democrats take our issues.” And those issues would be? “We can’t let them pretend to be conservatives,” he continued. Why not? Republicans pretend to be conservative every day.

The Bush White House, faced with the series of losses from 2005 through ’08, has long claimed the problem is Republicans on the Hill and running for office. They have scandals, bad personalities, don’t stand for anything. That’s why Republicans are losing: because they’re losers.

All true enough!

But this week a House Republican said publicly what many say privately, that there is another truth. “Members and pundits . . . fail to understand the deep seated antipathy toward the president, the war, gas prices, the economy, foreclosures,” said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia in a 20-page memo to House GOP leaders.

The party, Mr. Davis told me, is “an airplane flying right into a mountain.” Analyses of its predicament reflect an “investment in the Bush presidency,” but “the public has just moved so far past that.” “Our leaders go up to the second floor of the White House and they get a case of White House-itis.” Mr. Bush has left the party at a disadvantage in terms of communications: “He can’t articulate. The only asset we have now is the big microphone, and he swallowed it.” The party, said Mr. Davis, must admit its predicament, act independently of the White House, and force Democrats to define themselves. “They should have some ownership for what’s going on. They control the budget. They pay no price. . . . Obama has all happy talk, but it’s from 30,000 feet. Energy, immigration, what is he gonna do?”

* * *

Could the party pivot from the president? I spoke this week to Clarke Reed of Mississippi, one of the great architects of resurgent Republicanism in the South. When he started out, in the 1950s, there were no Republicans in his state. The solid south was solidly Democratic, and Sen. James O. Eastland was thumping the breast pocket of his suit, vowing that civil rights legislation would never leave it. “We’re going to build a two-party system in the south,” Mr. Reed said. He helped create “the illusion of Southern power” as a friend put it, with the creation of the Southern Republican Chairman’s Association. “If you build it they will come.” They did.

There are always “lots of excuses,” Mr. Reed said of the special-election loss. Poor candidate, local factors. “Having said all that,” he continued, “let’s just face it: It’s not a good time.” He meant to be a Republican. “They brought Cheney in, and that was a mistake.” He cited “a disenchantment with the generic Republican label, which we always thought was the Good Housekeeping seal.”

What’s behind it? “American people just won’t take a long war. Just – name me a war, even in a pro-military state like this. It’s overall disappointment. It’s national. No leadership, adrift. Things haven’t worked.” The future lies in rebuilding locally, not being “distracted” by Washington.

Is the Republican solid South over?

“Yeah. Oh yeah.” He said, “I eat lunch every day at Buck’s Cafe. Obama’s picture is all over the wall.”

How to come back? “The basic old conservative principles haven’t changed. We got distracted by Washington, we got distracted from having good county organizations.”

Should the party attempt to break with Mr. Bush? Mr. Reed said he supports the president. And then he said, simply, “We’re past that.”

We’re past that time.

Mr. Reed said he was “short-term pessimistic, long-term optimistic.” He has seen a lot of history. “After Goldwater in ’64 we said, ‘Let’s get practical.’ So we got ol’ Dick. We got through Watergate. Been through a lot. We’ve had success a long time.”

Throughout the interview this was a Reed refrain: “We got through that.” We got through Watergate and Vietnam and changes large and small.

He was holding high the flag, but his refrain implicitly compared the current moment to disaster.

What happens to the Republicans in 2008 will likely be dictated by what didn’t happen in 2005, and ’06, and ’07. The moment when the party could have broken, on principle, with the administration – over the thinking behind and the carrying out of the war, over immigration, spending and the size of government – has passed. What two years ago would have been honorable and wise will now look craven. They’re stuck.

Mr. Bush has squandered the hard-built paternity of 40 years. But so has the party, and so have its leaders. If they had pushed away for serious reasons, they could have separated the party’s fortunes from the president’s. This would have left a painfully broken party, but they wouldn’t be left with a ruined “brand,” as they all say, speaking the language of marketing. And they speak that language because they are marketers, not thinkers. Not serious about policy. Not serious about ideas. And not serious about leadership, only followership.

This is and will be the great challenge for John McCain: The Democratic argument, now being market tested by Obama Inc., that a McCain victory will yield nothing more or less than George Bush’s third term.

That is going to be powerful, and it is going to get out the vote. And not for Republicans.

PEGGY NOONAN

May 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Too Funny to Resist….

This is for all you O’reily fans out there….

May 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Barack answers Bush & McCain’s “appeasment” foolishness…

Once again, Barack tells it like it is. Continuing his campaign based on simple truths, he eviscerates both Bush and McCain for their recent remarks calling him and other Democrats “appeasers”.

May 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Senate Votes to Reverse FCC Decision Allowing Media Consolidation

Maybe things are ALREADY starting to get better.

The House and Senate appear to be growing spines. Might have something to do with the catastrophic prospects for all Repugs this fall.

_____________________________________________

Thursday night, the Senate cast a near-unanimous vote to reverse the Federal Communication Commission’s December 2007 decision to let media companies own both a major TV or radio station and a major daily newspaper in the same city.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who introduced the rarely used “resolution of disapproval,” said last night that “the FCC is supposed to be a referee for the media industry, but instead they’ve been cheerleaders in favor of more consolidation. … We already have too much concentration in the media.”

Senator Barack Obama added his support to the resolution saying, “I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to expeditiously pass the legislation.”

The Senate vote is good news for everyone who is fed up with a media system, that, in the words of Jon Stewart, is “hurting America” with propaganda pundits, embedded journalists, horse-race election coverage, and celebrity gossip posing as news. It reflects growing awareness — in Congress and with average Americans — of the perils of concentrated media ownership. Namely, insatiable profit pressures that gut newsrooms, replace labor-intensive investigative news with salacious, cheap-to-cover stories, and encourage the dumbing-down of the most pressing issues into 30-second sound bites and partisan shout-fests.

Media concentration is also central to the rise of extremists like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, who overwhelm the dial on conglomerates owned and run by businessmen with far-right politics.

Back in 2003, Senator Dorgan and then-Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) passed a similar resolution of disapproval to overturn the last effort by the Bush FCC to loosen ownership limits after 3 million Americans – both liberal and conservative – decried the FCC’s handout to the largest media companies. That resolution languished in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, and the proposed rules were later rejected by a federal court.

The “newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban” that the FCC is trying to get rid of has been in place since 1975. It keeps media outlets from merging already stripped-down local newsrooms in the name of “synergy” and protects diversity of viewpoints in the local press, something the Supreme Court has recognized is critical to the health of our democracy. Thursday’s vote sends a clear message to media executives and the FCC that further media consolidation will not be tolerated.

The resolution of disapproval now moves to the House, where it already has bipartisan support. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) is ready to push his companion bill in the House, or alternately simply adopt the Senate resolution if it will speed it to a floor vote and passage. Rep. Inslee says he will likely talk with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other House leadership next week about the fastest way to get the bill passed

President Bush has threatened to veto the measure. A statement from the White House yesterday called the FCC’s new rules the product of “extensive public comment and consultation” but failed to mention that only 1 percent of the public that testified at public hearings or sent letters to the FCC supported the administration’s position.

Typical of most Bush appointees, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin disregarded the will of the American people and granted another handout to the largest companies. A veto-proof majority in Congress supporting the resolution would stop Bush from doing the same.

The fight is far from over. But last night’s vote is a historic victory for the public interest over one of Washington’s most powerful lobbies.

Josh Silver

May 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Save the Country and the World – November 4

Video by: Ian Magruder

May 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yay California!!!!!

Not only cuz I live here but because our Supreme Court just struck down the last of the “Blue Laws”, the prohibition of same sex marriages. For you readers under 30, Blue Laws refers to laws that used to be in effect against businesses opening, or selling booze on Sunday. Obvious violation of the establishment clause, somehow they were tolerated. They may even still exist in some backward places, I’m not sure.

In any event, I consider the prohibition against same sex marriage to be a Blue Law. It’s only wrong according to the goddamned Bible. It makes absolutely no sense on any other level.

Anyway, SCREW BLUE LAWS! LONG LIVE EQUALITY AND FREEDOM!

pdf Decision

May 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A little sanity to season Middle East Madness…

As fighting flares up, Lebanese cannabis growers expect a bumper crop

For the cannabis-growing residents of eastern Lebanon, recent internecine fighting in the country has been a blessing, albeit one covered in hash resin and dollar signs.

To these villagers, gunshots and warfare are good for business, and the last three years have been far too quiet for their taste, leaving the authorities more than enough time and resources to come for their crops.

Peace and quiet frees the Lebanese Army to help local law enforcement combat the drug trade, especially in the summer, when soldiers and police are deployed to cannabis fields to rip and cut the flowering stalks of marijuana set for processing and export to Israel, Europe and beyond.

The army has signaled that it could step up its involvement to bring an end to fighting that broke out last week – the country’s worst internal clashes since the end of the civil war in 1990, which has left at least 54 people dead and scores more wounded.

The last time the cannabis farmers of Lebanon had such a bumper crop was during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when the security situation in the country brought anti-drug law enforcement to a halt. With fighting flaring up again in Lebanon, the farmers can expect another marijuana windfall, especially if the army is deployed in force throughout the country’s cities to quell the recent bloodshed.

Newspaper reports have stated that even in peacetime security forces are often wary of entering the cannabis growing areas, as many of the farmers and their security guards are heavily armed.

An investigation by the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat has found that over 25,000 acres of cannabis were planted in Lebanon this year, an amount that should yield an impressive amount of hashish for the area’s farmers.

A report compiled by the United States Government in 2003 praised Lebanon’s efforts to combat cannabis cultivation, as well as the Syrian government’s cooperation in fighting the drug trade.

Nonetheless, in spite of the profitability of the drug trade, little improvement has been seen recently in the quality of life of the estimated 180,000 residents of eastern Lebanon.

Haaretz

May 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment