Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Good News, Maybe: Consumer Confidence Down Again

The BBC headline says it all: US consumer confidence down again. The accompanying article is a bit confusing and chock-full o' spin, as in:
Consumer confidence in the US has fallen for the second month in a row, the latest figures show.
"Consumers are still quite confident despite recent increases in unemployment claims and rising prices at the gas [petrol] pump," said Ms Franco.
All this because
The consumer confidence index for March dropped two points to 102.4, down from a revised 104.4 in February, said the New York-based Conference Board.
Call me when it hits 50.

Why is this potentially good news? I don't know; maybe it isn't. But I've been reading conservatives again, and this week Paul Craig Roberts (who served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan, was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and was a Contributing Editor of National Review) began his column for CounterPunch this way:
Pray For the Collapse of the Dollar
Now why would we want to do that? More to the point, why would a conservative economist want to do that? In Roberts' words:
The US desperately needs to escape from Iraq before America is sucked into a wider conflict that will necessitate a draft. Once the Bush administration has created so much instability in the Middle East that a rising Islamic revolution is afoot, the stakes will be too high for the US to be able to withdraw.

What might save America from further neoconservative miscalculations is the collapse of the US dollar. A country dependent on foreign financing, as is the US, cannot fight wars that its foreign bankers do not approve. I suspect America's foreign bankers would let the US fight itself into a deep hole before pulling the plug. It is the best way the world has of getting rid of us.
It's strange that he should say that, because I've also been reading Scott Ritter's newest piece at Aljazeera. Ritter has been right about too many things lately to be ignored [not that I would want to ignore him, but there are those who do!] and he has written:
Late last year, in the aftermath of the 2004 Presidential election, I was contacted by someone close to the Bush administration about the situation in Iraq.

There was a growing concern inside the Bush administration, this source said, about the direction the occupation was going.

The Bush administration was keen on achieving some semblance of stability in Iraq before June 2005, I was told.

When I asked why that date, the source dropped the bombshell: because that was when the Pentagon was told to be prepared to launch a massive aerial attack against Iran, Iraq's neighbour to the east, in order to destroy the Iranian nuclear programme.

Why June 2005?, I asked. 'The Israelis are concerned that if the Iranians get their nuclear enrichment programme up and running, then there will be no way to stop the Iranians from getting a nuclear weapon. June 2005 is seen as the decisive date.'

To be clear, the source did not say that President Bush had approved plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, as has been widely reported.

The President had reviewed plans being prepared by the Pentagon to have the military capability in place by June 2005 for such an attack, if the President ordered.

But when Secretary of State Condi Rice told America's European allies in February 2005, in response to press reports about a pending June 2005 American attack against Iran, she said that 'the question [of a military strike] is simply not on the agenda at this point -- we have diplomatic means to do this.'

President Bush himself followed up on Rice's statement by stating that 'This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.' He quickly added, 'Having said that, all options are on the table.'
I urge you to read the whole article but in any case, Ritter concludes:
based upon history, precedent, and personalities, the intent of the United States regarding Iran is crystal clear: the Bush administration intends to bomb Iran.

Whether this attack takes place in June 2005, when the Pentagon has been instructed to be ready, or at a later date, once all other preparations have been made, is really the only question that remains to be answered.

That, and whether the journalists who populate the mainstream American media will continue to sleepwalk on their way to facilitating yet another disaster in the Middle East.
And of course there's also the question implied by Paul Craig Roberts: What about if the economy implodes before the attack on Iran? Would that prevent an attack or would it simply make it more vicious?