Sunday, October 29, 2006

Nothing could be more offensive! On St Andrews University’s invitation to ex-president Khatami

Mr Khatami, a former president of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1997-2005) has been invited to St Andrews University on October 31 to receive an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws in recognition of his ‘efforts to encourage interfaith dialogue’.

Giving a theocrat a degree in secular law and doing so ‘considering global tensions relating to… faiths’ that incidentally he and his regime have been instrumental in creating is like giving PW Botha or FW De Klerk honorary degrees in race relations in recognition of their efforts to encourage inter-race dialogue!

Nothing could be more offensive, not only to those of us who have fled or lost loved ones to this vile regime but also to the innumerable who have lost lives and limbs to Islamists everywhere.

But there is more. In its attempt to dispel any illusion that it is organising student protests against this action as reported in media outlets [it is the National Union of Students, we and others who are doing so], the University of St Andrews Students’ Association’s statement blatantly and shamelessly defends Khatami and his presidency.

It asserts that Mr Khatami was never the ‘highest ranking political or judicial authority in the land, and held minimal influence...’ Clearly, this is untrue. Saying so is a deliberate attempt at whitewashing his role in the crimes of the Islamic regime of Iran. Power sharing mechanisms in a government, however dictatorial, do not mean that the executive role lacks power.

One case in point is the April 1997 German court’s verdict that found the then president responsible for the September 1992 assassinations of opposition leaders in Berlin. The court found that the killings had been ordered by a ‘Committee for Special Operations’ whose members included the Leader (Khamenei), the president, the Minister of Information and Security and other security officials.

In the past week, too, Argentine prosecutors have issued warrants for a former president for directing Hezbollah to carry out the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds.

And today, there are reports of two Iranian exiles, Safa Einollahi, 29, and Ali Ebrahimi, 34, who have lodged complaints under the 1988 Criminal Justice Act against Khatami for his accountability in the atrocities and tortures they endured as political prisoners.

Far from the rosy picture often portrayed in the Western media, Khatami’s presidency has been anything but.

During his bloody rule, over 1,300 people were executed, including sweet 16 year old Atefeh Rajabi for ‘acts incompatible with chastity’; 27 people were stoned to death or sentenced to die by stoning, 18 of them women; student and other demonstrations were crushed and their leaders arrested or killed; Ahmad Batebi was given a death sentence for holding up a bloody t-shirt; an opposition activist in Kurdistan, Showaneh Qaderi, was shot and his body dragged through the streets; Arezoo Siabi Shahrivar was arrested along with up to 14 other women, at a ceremony commemorating the 1988 “prison massacre” in Evin prison, Tehran, in which thousands of political prisoners were executed. In detention she was suspended from the ceiling, beaten with a wire cable and sexually abused. Journalists and webloggers were detained; papers were shut down; the Canadian journalist, Zahra Kazemi was tortured and murdered in prison; the murders of two political activists and three writers – a case known in Iran as the “Serial Murders” took place; hundreds of labour activists were arrested and tortured and on and on.

Only in a topsy turvy world can a president who oversaw such murder and mayhem not be deemed accountable...

And it was not only his eight years as president that Khatami is accountable for. In the 1980s in the Majlis, Khatami was known as an active member of the Line of the Imam, the dominant grouping within a party set up via Khomeini’s decree and most closely identified with Khomeini’s policies, including his theory of velayat-e faqih, or absolute clerical supremacy in government. Mr Khatami was appointed the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and was the chief censor in film, media, arts and culture. As a member of the Supreme Council on Cultural Revolution, Khatami played an important role in purging dissidents from universities and educational centres. Moreover, he was the director of cultural affairs in the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces and the head of the War Propaganda Headquarters for years. Today, too, he remains a member of several organs of the Islamic regime.

Absurdly, though, whilst being declared powerless, Khatami is also always lauded as a reformer; the St Andrews Students’ Association's statement asserts that he "strove for moderation and liberalisation whilst in office". This is a contradiction in terms.

One cannot have minimal influence and be a reformer at the same time. Moreover, reforms have a specific meaning in our world – changes, particularly in law, which improve the lot of the population at large. Again, this was never the case. In fact, Khatami and his ‘reformist’ faction were merely attempts by the regime to put forward a more palatable face in order to prolong its life given the explosive situation in Iran.


In the face of escalating protests and opposition to Khatami’s visit, the university persists in its decision to confer an honorary degree upon him and in its rewriting of contemporary history. A spokesperson for the university has said the decision to invite Khatami was based on his “vision and willingness to change”. At least Chancellor Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democratic leader, has pulled out from presenting the degree before it turns into a scandal for him.

But this is not enough.

Far from honouring him with a degree, Khatami should be arrested for his crimes against the people of Iran.

On Tuesday, we will be there at St Andrews to remind the world that we will not allow it to forget what has taken and is taking place in Iran. We ask students and professors alike, along with concerned and outraged people everywhere to join us in preventing a centre of science from being transformed into a bastion of reaction.

And on this note, it is apt to end with Khatami’s own words at Harvard University this past September when questioned about the execution of gays in Iran:

We’re at a university, the cradle of science, so we can speak of it scientifically...In all schools of thought and in all religions there is punishment and punishment is not a form of violence...Punishment is seen as a response to violence or deviance in society and if there is no punishment in a society a society cannot run effectively…’

And that is Khatami’s unchanged vision pure and simple..Maryam Namazie

Renegade Eye Addendum: In addition see Protest against Mohammad Khatami's visit to Britain!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Israel admits the Use of Banned Weaponry

By the first week of the July War, Doctors and Human rights demanded that Israel should stop using Phosphoric bombs (UN prohibited weaponry) while in the war the IDF staff and Olmert's government members "gave their word" that they are just hitting Hezbollah with non-banned weapons. The US congress blocked the attempt of transforming Cluster bombs to banned weaponry. Lebanon currently (in the South) is a grave guard for unexploded cluster bombs of over 1.2 million, of which over 80% were littered and scattered in the last three days of the war. Already over 181 Lebanese civilian were wounded/killed post-war due to cluster bombs and after the rain, the Lebanese army anticipates that it would require at least two years to clean the bulk of cluster bombs.
As for me, I have been extensively busy going to the South and checking on the wounded who need daily attention. One of our reports gave a scary number and an anticipation (which came true regarding cluster bombs) that they will not detonate under rain which would make city of Tyre threatened that the cluster bombs would be pushed by the rain towards the inside of the city. Aita el Shaab (a village in the South) will be totally demolished because the Israeli destroyed 90% of the village, our members have been assisting the refugees in camps while we all slept in tents under heavy rains (actually half of the tents broke down). Our members mostly have been active with pulling kids out of the trauma or anger of the war (unlike what Israel teaches its children to send hatred messages written on missiles to our children). All of our progress reports have been issued here.The Article below taken from here.
Israel admits using deadly incendiary during summer war
Army 'made use of phosphorous shells'
Rym Ghazal

BEIRUT: Israel acknowledged on Sunday that it had used the white phosphorous bombs in South Lebanon during the summer war, partially confirming Lebanese allegations for the first time. The Jewish state also said its almost daily violations of Lebanon's airspace would continue in order to monitor what it claimed was ongoing weapons smuggling to Hizbullah.

"The [Israeli military] made use of phosphorous shells during the war against Hizbullah in attacks against military targets in open ground," Minister for Government and Parliamentary Relations Yakov Edery told lawmakers last week, the Haaretz daily said Sunday.

Media reports on Israel's use of phosphorous bombs during the 34-day war in Lebanon continue to emerge, as cases of severely burned victims pile up at hospitals across the South.

As the war was raging, the Lebanese government accused Israel of dropping phosphorous bombs and until the announcement by Edery, who was speaking on behalf of Defense Minister Amir Peretz, there were no confirmed reports.

"The Israeli Army holds phosphorous munitions in different forms," Haaretz quoted Edery as saying. However, he did not specify where or against what types of targets the phosphorous bombs were used.
Edery said international law does not ban the use of such weapons. However, many international human rights groups, including the Red Cross, have pushed for them to be outlawed.

"Under international law, the use of white phosphorous (WP) as an incendiary would fall under Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, which prohibits use of incendiaries to attack civilians or military targets in civilian areas," Human Rights Watch (HRW) representative in Lebanon Nadim Houry told The Daily Star.
Houry added that it is generally acceptable to use WP not as an offensive weapon, but to provide illumination or to produce smoke for concealment.

Houry added that although Israel is "not party" to the protocol, many of the rules in Protocol III are accepted international standards.

"I would say this is a case where international law may be lagging behind international public opinion," he said.

White phosphorous is a translucent wax-like substance with a pungent smell that, once ignited, creates intense heat and smoke.

"White phosphorous ammunition can have a devastating effect if it is used in the anti-personnel role," said Houry.

In addition to the toxicity of the smoke, burning fragments can stick to the skin and clothing to cause severe burns, and fragments of phosphorous can become buried in wounds.

"The fact that white phosphorous was used is certainly worrisome to Human Rights Watch, and it is incumbent upon Israel to give more information on when, where, why and how it was used, rather than just saying it was used against military targets in open areas. This is not sufficient to assess whether it has indeed spared civilians harm," said Houry.

There have been numerous accusations of Israeli forces using phosphorous against civilians. This was especially true during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the 1993 shelling of villages in the South.
Also on Sunday, Peretz said Israel would continue its controversial overflights. He said they were necessary because Hizbullah was still receiving smuggled arms.

"The Lebanese government is falling short of carrying out its commitment under UN Security Council Resolution 1701," the Defense Ministry quoted Peretz as telling the weekly Cabinet meeting. "Increasing intelligence indicates a growing effort to pass weapons into Lebanon.
"As long as these attempts continue, the legitimacy of our flights over Lebanon increases," Peretz added. "As long as Resolution 1701 is not carried out, we have no intention of stopping the flights over Lebanon."
Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh said Lebanon is "committed to 1701" and all the violations have been by Israel.

"Israel continues to violate, defy the international community and cause tension in the area but accuses Lebanon of violations," he said.
Israel continued to carry out flights over Lebanese territory on Sunday, with reports of "heavy" activity over the towns of Nabatieh, Marjayoun and Khiam.

The flights have been increasingly criticized by the international community, with France, which currently heads the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, warning last Friday that it might use force the violations. - With agencies.Marxist From Lebanon

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Two Sides of the Same Coin

A 21st century worthy of human beings is difficult to envision when our lives, our rights, our children, cities, schools and homes – are caught in the crossfire in a war of terrorists.

On the one hand, we are faced with US-led militarism. Iraq is a model for what the USA represents for the 21st century. No claims of weapons of mass destruction, liberation from dictatorship, a defence of rights and a war on terror can conceal its real nature. In
Iraq, it is stripped naked and bare. But that is only one part of 21st century reality. The other pole of international terrorism in the world today - political Islam - is no better. It hangs the likes of sweet 16 year old Atefeh Rajabi for 'acts incompatible with chastity', stones Maryam Ayoubi for adultery, throws acid in the faces of those who refuse to veil, and places bombs on buses and in trains in crowded city centres. While this movement makes many claims as the USA does in order to legitimise its barbarity -from people's liberation, resistance, to rights - they are only claims to dupe and legitimise. It cares as much for the liberation of the people of Palestine and Iraq as the USA does - not more, not less.

Both will indiscriminately maim and slaughter the very people they claim to defend. Both in fact target civilians.

For you and me, in practical terms - notwithstanding the differences - the USA and political Islam are two sides of one coin. They have the same agenda, the same vision, the same infinite capacity for violence, the same reliance on religion and reaction, the same need for hegemony and profitmaking. They represent the same new bleak world order for 21st century humanity. They would both turn this world into another Iraq if they could.

But only if.

This is where we - The Third Camp - come in. Only civilised humanity can defend its own interests and push back reaction. This is our historical task.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

American Fascism?

I was invited and I accepted to join the blog discussion group Further Left Forum. I have enjoyed the discussions, and the diversity of the team members. My first day as a member, I became involved in a discussion about whether the USA is fascist. I'm writing this post, because I've had the discussion about what is fascism several times.

This document has been appearing at several left/liberal sites.

14 Points of Fascism

The author of this article compared the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet and identified 14 characteristics common to those fascist regimes. Below each of these points is a collection of news articles dating from the start of the Bush presidency divided into topics relating to each of these 14 points of fascism.

1.) Powerful and Continuing Nationalism:: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2.) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc

3.) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4.) Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5.) Rampant Sexism: The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6.) Controlled Mass Media: Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7.) Obsession with National Security: Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8.) Religion and Government are Intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9.) Corporate Power is Protected: The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10.) Labor Power is Suppressed: Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11.) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12.) Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13.) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14.) Fraudulent Elections: Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

The hatred towards George Bush43 is visceral. From A for Abu Ghraib to Z for zealotry, there are legitimate reasons not to like Bush and company. The conservatives who post here, are often more critical of him, than liberals. All this doesn't mean the US is fascist.

The reason it is so important to me, is because it's a serious question of strategy and tactics. If I believe Bush is a politician I personally dislike and disagree with, is different than how I would relate to him in a fascist society.

Leon Trotsky wrote a pamphlet calledFASCISM
What It Is and How To Fight It
. It was written in 1944, in response to what is called "third period Stalinism". It was Stalin's ultra-left period, where social-democrats were labeled social-fascist and the enemy. That policy curtailed communists uniting with social-democrats to stop Hitler. By mislabeling social-democrats as fascist, it allowed Hitler to gain power. By mislabeling Bush fascist, you will not win your political program under a bourgeois democracy.

I think when liberals today call Bush fascist, they are actually supporting the Democratic Party, with extreme rhetoric. If you believe the US is a fascist country, I have to ask some questions. Are you armed and underground? Is your blog shut down? Do you leave your house at night? If Bush is a fascist, what is Bill Clinton? Do you expect to be arrested for your views?

Back to Trotsky, "When a state turns fascist, it does not mean only that the forms and methods of government are changed in accordance the patterns set by Mussolini -- the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role -- but it means first of all for the most part that the workers' organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat. Therein precisely is the gist of fascism...."RENEGADE EYE

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Nina Hartley: Socialist, Feminist Porn Actress

As a secular Jew, ""I'm proud of my heritage's intellectual history and its empathy with the persecuted. But I'm no Zionist. Politically, I'm left-wing. I want everyone to have a job, everyone to have food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education. Utopia might be communist but in the meantime we have to have socialism. I want everyone to have a piece".

I mentioned at the introduction to my previous post, that I was going to post about a leftist pornography actress. I'm talking about an icon in the business Nina Hartley. Her parents were in the communist party, and her father was blacklisted from jobs. Her parents later became involved with Buddhism. They are now socialist and pacifist. Her grandfather was one of the lawyers involved in the "Scottsboro Boys" murder trial in Alabama in 1931.

Since 1984 she has acted, directed and produced over 400 films, covering several types of sexuality besides vanilla sexuality.

Nina has been involved, as a spokesperson, for the adult entertainment industry. She is articulate and passionate about free speech issues. Her fights have taken her to speaking to state legislatures, and national TV shows as Oprah. Her views are pro-sexuality feminist.

For many years she was married in a menage-a-trois arrangement, having both a husband and a wife. Now she is married to Ira Levine (AKA Ernest Green in bondage movies).

Nina is a registered nurse (RN), who graduated from Berkeley summa cum laude.

Nina was arrested once, for what I believe was some type of obscenity offense in Las Vegas. It was seen as a violation of free speech. Nina's defense was led by the ultraleftist Trotskyist Spartacist League, who made "Free Nina" a national issue.

Nina has a website with forums at Nina.RENEGADE EYE

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Will a coup in Iraq follow the US elections?

I was originally going to post, about a socialist porno actress, until I found this article at World Socialist Web Site, the most read socialist site online. I thought it was worthy of discussion.

By James Cogan
5 October 2006

Another comment has appeared in the American press foreshadowing a move by the Bush administration to remove the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. In an opinion piece in the October 2 Washington Post, the newspaper’s deputy editorial editor Jackson Diehl strongly suggested that Washington may dispense with Maliki’s regime shortly after the November 7 US congressional elections.

Diehl’s column on Monday is part of a series of articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post that have the flavour of planted stories by the White House and Pentagon to condition public opinion for a US-organised coup in Baghdad. A relentless campaign is being conducted to portray Maliki’s government as incapable of controlling the Shiite militias involved in the country’s escalating sectarian civil war.

Diehl reported that the “central question for discussion” was whether Washington could rely on Maliki to “stabilise the country” or whether it was “necessary to override the new political system and mount some sort of intervention, led by the United States and perhaps other governments, to force the necessary deals” between rival Shiite and Sunni organisations.

Diehl left little doubt as to the answer. He damned Maliki for “still resisting forceful steps against Shiite militias” and because “negotiations with Sunni insurgents have gone nowhere”. Following the US elections, he wrote, the debate “should take centre stage”.

As an “explicit signal” of the anti-Maliki sentiment in Washington, Diehl cited the September 19 press conference held by former Republican secretary of state James Baker and Democrat powerbroker Lee H. Hamilton, who heads the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which is examining “options” for American policy in Iraq. Hamilton said the “government of Iraq needs to show its own citizens soon, and the citizens of the United States, that it is deserving of continued support”. Maliki, Hamilton warned, had until “the end of this year”.

On September 29, the US ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, delivered a similar threat, declaring Maliki only had “a window of a couple of months” to act against the two largest Shiite militias—the Mahdi Army connected to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the Badr Organisation of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The Sadrists and SCIRI are the two largest factions within Maliki’s government. Khalilzad told journalists: “They both need to be brought down.”

The Washington Post has published two reports in the past week citing the views of unnamed US military officers that the “lack of strong Iraqi political leadership” was preventing the new Iraqi military from either replacing the American troops fighting the Sunni-based insurgency or being used to crush the Shiite militias. A US army battalion commander told the newspaper: “You fix the government, you fix the problem”.

The open threats against the Iraqi government underscore the fraudulent character of the Bush administration’s claims to be establishing “democracy” in Iraq. From the outset, Washington’s aim was to create a pliable client state that would open Iraq’s vast oil and gas reserves to US-based energy conglomerates and allow its territory to be used for permanent US military bases. The White House operates with open contempt for any notion that Iraq is a sovereign state.

Behind the undisguised hostility toward Maliki is the view that his government has exacerbated the difficulties facing the US occupation. The elections in January have been followed by civil war and rising levels of anti-US attacks. US plans for Maliki to head a government of national unity, to reconcile alienated Sunni parties and divide the armed resistance, are in tatters. Over 3,000 Iraqis are being killed each month and large parts of the country, including much of Baghdad, have been plunged into utter chaos.

This catastrophe has intensified the hatred toward the American military presence. A recent poll found that 92 percent of Sunnis support attacks on US forces. Significantly, 62 percent of Shiites, who make up more than 60 percent of the population, now agree with armed struggle against the occupation. In January, just 41 percent of Shiites expressed support for insurgent activity.

Over recent months, both Shiite and Sunni guerillas have stepped up their military campaigns to drive out the occupation forces. Insurgents are carrying out 700 to 800 attacks against US targets every week. Last month, 73 American soldiers were killed and well over 650 wounded. Eight more soldiers were killed in Baghdad on Monday alone.

Maliki’s government is widely regarded by Iraqis as a powerless and corrupt US puppet. The ruling coalition of Shiite parties has failed to live up to its election promises to demand the withdrawal of American troops and improve the nightmarish social conditions.

The New York Times reported on September 27 that even Moqtada al-Sadr is now viewed by many Shiites as “too accommodating” to the US. After ending an armed uprising by the Mahdi Army against US forces in 2004, Sadr promised that his movement would not stop seeking to end the occupation. Instead, the Sadrists have become the largest bloc in Maliki’s government and hold ministries in his cabinet.

The Bush administration is rapidly coming to the conclusion that the Maliki government is incapable of carrying out its demands above all for a crackdown on the Shiite militias. The consensus in Washington is that brutal repression must be carried out in Shiite working class districts of Baghdad and Basra—no different from that carried out in the past by the Baathist regime.

American hostility to Maliki is magnified by US preparations for military aggression against Iran. All the main Shiite parties in the government have close connections with Iran. In his efforts to bolster local support for his government, Maliki incurred displeasure by criticising the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Diehl’s column is another indication that behind the scenes the Bush administration has issued a blunt ultimatum to the Maliki government to follow orders, in particular carry out a bloodbath against its own Shiite base of support, or face the consequences.

The conditions for a coup have already been created. Thousands of extra US troops have been deployed into Baghdad over the past several months, along with Iraqi army units that American commanders consider to be reliable. Candidates to head a government of “national salvation”—that is, a military dictatorship—range from figures such as former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi to senior officers of the US-created Iraqi army.

Last Friday night, the US military pressured Maliki to order an unprecedented curfew in Baghdad. All daytime movement was banned on the streets for 48 hours. The pretext was an alleged plot by Sunni insurgents to attack the heavily fortified Green Zone. Given the tenor of the discussion in Washington, however, it could just as well have been a rehearsal for shutting down the city while “regime change” takes place.