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Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Michael Deaver

Michael Deaver died over the weekend. All the obituarities miss out an important part of his career. As most members know, most of my pages appear near the top of Google searches. Not so, with Deaver. My page is nowhere to be found. Deaver was being protected by those who control Google and Wikipedia. What is it that the ruling elite do not want you to know about Deaver? It is the following:

Michael Deaver co-founded the public relations company, Deaver and Hannaford in 1975. The company "booked Reagan's public appearances, research and sell his radio program, and ghost-write his syndicated column." Peter Dale Scott claims that "all this was arranged with an eye to Reagan's presidential aspirations, which Deaver and Hannaford helped organize from the outset". In 1977 Deaver and Hannaford registered with the Justice Department as foreign agents receiving $5,000 a month from the government of Taiwan. It also received $11,000 a month from a group called Amigos del Pais (Friends of the Country) in Guatemala. The head of Amigos del Pais was Roberto Alejos Arzu. He was the principal organizer of Guatemala's "Reagan for President" organization. Arzu was a CIA asset who in 1960 allowed his plantation to be used to train Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs invasion.Peter Dale Scott has argued that Deaver began raising money for Ronald Reagan and his presidential campaign from some of his Guatemalan clients. This included Amigos del Pais. One BBC report estimated that this money amounted to around ten million dollars. Francisco Villgarán Kramer claimed that several members of this organization were "directly linked with organized terror".

Deaver and Hannaford also began to get work from military dictatorships that wanted to improve its image in Washington. According to Jonathan Marshall, Deaver was also connected to Mario Sandoval Alarcon and John K. Singlaub of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). In the book, The Iran-Contra Connection (1987) he wrote: "The activities of Singlaub and Sandoval chiefly involved three WACL countries, Guatemala, Argentina, and Taiwan, that would later emerge as prominent backers of the contras.... these three countries shared one lobbying firm, that of Deaver and Hannaford."

In December, 1979, John K. Singlaub had a meeting with Guatemalan President Fernando Romeo Lucas García. According to someone who was at this meeting Singlaub told Garcia: "Mr. Reagan recognizes that a good deal of dirty work has to be done". On his return, Singlaub called for "sympathetic understanding of the death squads". Another one of Deaver's clients was Argentina's military junta. A regime that had murdered up to 15,000 of its political opponents. Deaver arranged for José Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, the economy minister, to visit the United States. In one of Reagan's radio broadcasts, he claimed "that in the process of bringing stability to a terrorized nation of 25 million, a small number, were caught in the cross-fire, amongst them a few innocents".

Peter Dale Scott argues that funds from military dictatorships "helped pay for the Deaver and Hannaford offices, which became Reagan's initial campaign headquarters in Beverly Hills and his Washington office." This resulted in Ronald Reagan developing the catch-phrase: "No more Taiwans, no more Vietnams, no more betrayals." He also argued that if he was elected as president he "would re-establish official relations between the United States Government and Taiwan".

What Deaver's clients, Guatemala, Taiwan and Argentina wanted most of all were American armaments. Under President Jimmy Carter, arms sales to Taiwan had been reduced for diplomatic reasons, and had been completely cut off to Guatemala and Argentina because of human rights violations. An article published in Time Magazine (8th September, 1980) claimed that Deaver was playing an important role in Reagan's campaign, whereas people like Campaign Director William J. Casey were outsiders have "valuable experience but exercise less influence over the candidate."

During the campaign Ronald Reagan was informed that Jimmy Carter was attempting to negotiate a deal with Iran to get the American hostages released. This was disastrous news for the Reagan campaign. If Carter got the hostages out before the election, the public perception of the man might change and he might be elected for a second-term. As Deaver later told the New York Times: "One of the things we had concluded early on was that a Reagan victory would be nearly impossible if the hostages were released before the election... There is no doubt in my mind that the euphoria of a hostage release would have rolled over the land like a tidal wave. Carter would have been a hero, and many of the complaints against him forgotten. He would have won."

According to Barbara Honegger, a researcher and policy analyst with the 1980 Reagan/Bush campaign, William J. Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections. Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.

On 22nd September, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran. The Iranian government was now in desperate need of spare parts and equipment for its armed forces. Jimmy Carter proposed that the US would be willing to hand over supplies in return for the hostages. Once again, the Central Intelligence Agency leaked this information to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. This attempted deal was also passed to the media. On 11th October, the Washington Post reported rumors of a “secret deal that would see the hostages released in exchange for the American made military spare parts Iran needs to continue its fight against Iraq”. A couple of days before the election Barry Goldwater was reported as saying that he had information that “two air force C-5 transports were being loaded with spare parts for Iran”. This was not true. However, this publicity had made it impossible for Carter to do a deal. Ronald Reagan on the other hand, had promised the Iranian government that he would arrange for them to get all the arms they needed in exchange for the hostages.

According to Mansur Rafizadeh, the former U.S. station chief of SAVAK, the Iranian secret police, CIA agents had persuaded Khomeini not to release the American hostages until Reagan was sworn in. In fact, they were released twenty minutes after his inaugural address. Reagan appointed William J. Casey as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In this position he was able to arrange the delivery of arms to Iran. These were delivered via Israel. By the end of 1982 all Regan’s promises to Iran had been made. With the deal completed, Iran was free to resort to acts of terrorism against the United States. In 1983, Iranian-backed terrorists blew up 241 marines in the CIA Middle-East headquarters.

West Ham Player Ratings

Mark Noble was clearly the highest rated player for Saturday’s game (8.9). Upson also did well with 7.9. Every player except for Jonathan Spector got a rating over 6. He suffered from a very low score from the Observer which uses a club fan to do the ratings. Indra Morris is clearly not a fan of Spector.

The average rankings definitely appear to be a guide to team selection. In the first game against Manchester City the two lowest ranked players, Boa Morte and Bowyer were dropped for the second game against Birmingham City.

It would seem that the lowest ranked player for the Birmingham game, Jonathan Spector will be replaced for the game against Wigan. The other one in danger is Bobby Zamora. Over the two games he has a average rating of 5.7. The only other team member who has played in both games and has a lower rating than Zamora is Spector with 5.5. There must be a very good chance that Dean Ashton will replace Zamora for Saturday’s game.

The journalists seem to be united in their assessment of the players and the team against Birmingham. Everyone seemed to agree that Mark Noble was the best player on the pitch. Upson was the second best according to 10 of the 11 assessors. The vast majority agreed with the referee’s decision to give a penalty. Everyone accepted that West Ham clearly outclassed Birmingham. The only worry is that this says more about Birmingham than it does about West Ham. Unfortunately, few reporters spent much on the game preferring to concentrate on Curbishley’s comments about the bad press the club had been getting.

I think the most important thing to take from the game was that it was achieved without Fredrik Ljungberg, Scott Parker, Dean Ashton and Julien Faubert. What is more, Kieron Dyer, and to a lesser extent, Craig Bellamy, are not yet 100% fit.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Alan Curbishley and Birmingham City

The important question is will Curbishley learn from his mistakes. If you look at the complete player rankings of the game against Manchester City it would seem that Bowyer and Boa Morte will be replaced for the game against Birmingham.

I am convinced that Bowyer will be dropped but I am not sure that the same will happen to Boa Morte. Remember, it was not too long ago that Curbishley made it clear he thought he was worth £6m. He will find it difficult to accept he has made a serious mistake and Boa Morte will feature (probably as a substitute for sometime yet). At his best he is indeed a fine player. However, he seems to have lost his confidence and has only shown flashes of his Fulham form in West Ham games.

I think a bigger problem concerns a centre-back partnership. As far as I am concerned, Upton is far too slow and Ferdinand makes too many mistakes. However, Upton has the Boa Morte problem, Curbishley paid a lot of money for him. Is he brave enough to drop him.

I would much prefer Collins and Gabbidon in the team. The defence looked much better with Collins in the side during the last 10 games of the season. Gabbidon was also an impressive defender in the first season in the Premiership. True, he had problems last year, but that was linked to match-fitness. Collins and Gabbidon have also developed a good partnership playing for Wales. They did extremely well against a very good Czech attack in the summer.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Alan Curbishley

I think the most interesting aspect of the various newspaper/website articles on the Manchester City game concerned the performance of Alan Curbishley. You can see a collection of these comments here:

Several commentators pointed to the strange decision in the 62 minute to switch Etherington to full-back. This not only severely reduced the crosses from the left but also allowed Onuoha, Man City’s right-back, to join in attacks and this resulted in the second goal with both Etherington and Zamora, failing to get in a tackle against him.

As Martin Samuel said in The Times, “Eriksson out-thought everybody on Saturday, including, most importantly, Alan Curbishley, his opposite number. From the start, West Ham struggled to get to grips with the breadth of the Swede’s game plan and by the second half Curbishley was so confused that he moved his best player, Matthew Etherington, to left back to accommodate Dean Ashton, negating his only chance of winning the match.”

What was even more revealing was Curbishley’s response to questions about his tactics after the game: “I didn’t do anything about the way they were going to shape up before the game and I moved too many people around in the second half. Etherington went from wide left to left back, Bobby Zamora started up front and went left, Freddie Ljungberg started on the right then went left and Craig Bellamy started in the middle then went right. I was just trying to get a spark and perhaps it would have been best left alone.”

Curbishley comes close to admitting to his tactical ineptitude but he can’t quite go the whole way. This is significant because it is only when you are willing to fully accept your mistakes that you can really improve as a manager. (The same is true of whatever job that you do.) To do that you need to be confident in your true abilities. I suspect that at the current time Curbishley is unable to do that and that is going to be a serious problem for West Ham over the coming months.

Monday, 13 August 2007

West Ham Player Assessment

Football fans have an opinion on every player. As the various football forums show, fans disagree with great intensity about individual performances. This is reflected when people pick their team for the next match.

Is it possible to rate players in an objective way? I don’t think so. Judgement on players is emotional as well as intellectual. I know that I give some players the benefit of the doubt whereas others find it difficult to convince me of their merits. This is partly because of the way they play the game. I have always liked players who give their all in games. Another important factor concerns individual skill. I always favour players who look up and make accurate passes. This is why I always had difficulty giving Reo-Coker the benefit of the doubt.

I believe it is impossible for any one individual to assess players completely objectively. However, it is possible to get a fair estimation of someone’s performance by taking into account a reasonable number of assessments. Therefore, this season, I will be collecting together comments and rankings of every player’s performance in every match. This will enable people to use this data to make judgements on the performance of individual players.

Currently I am using the assessment of 12 different websites and newspapers. If you watch every West Ham game and are willing to join in this experiment, contact me via the forum.

There is no doubt that there was general agreement about individual performances against Man City. Green was rated as the top performer with an average of 7.1. It was also clear who had the two worse ratings: Boa Morte (4.1) and Bowyer (4.4).

Some players had a wide variety of different ratings. For example, Anton Ferdinand obtained scores that went from 3 to 7. Zamora also divided the commentators with a range from 3 to 6. Anyway, you can see the full list here: