Andrew Sparrow. Read here in Guardin UK
Sir Christopher Meyer is the most high-profile figure to give evidence so far. A former press secretary to John Major and UK ambassador in Washington from 1997 to 2003, he infuriated the government with his views about the Iraq war in his memoirs. Broadly in favour of the war, he also strongly criticised Tony Blair's failure to get more from the US in return for backing the invasion. Here we examine the key moments of his evidence.
"It has to be emphasised that regime change in Iraq was official US policy. It went back to the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, passed unanimously by the Senate, by an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives, and signed into law by Bill Clinton in October 1998. So regime change and, to quote the act, "to establish a programme to support a transition to democracy in Iraq", was an official American policy which George Bush inherited from Bill Clinton. The fact that Clinton did not do very much about it is neither here nor there."
Although the decision to invade Iraq is often depicted as one taken solely by Bush adminstration neocons, Meyer said the Bush regime was not an "aberration" and there was "more of a continuum with previous administrations" than either US party was willing to admit. While some blamed "the nutters" in the Bush administration for inventing the regime change policy, this was simply not true, he said.
"Crawford was a meeting at the president's ranch. I took no part in any of the discussions and for a large chunk of that time no adviser was there … when David Manning [Blair's then foreign policy adviser] comes before you he will tell you that he went there with Jonathan Powell [Blair's chief of staff] for a discussion of Arab/Israel and the intifada. It was at that meeting that there was a joint decision between Bush and Blair that Colin Powell should go to the region and get it sorted. I believe that after that the two men were alone in the ranch until dinner on the Saturday night when all the advisers, including myself, turned up. So I'm not entirely clear to this day … what degree of convergence was signed in blood at the Texas ranch."
Blair met Bush at Crawford in April 2002 and we know from a leaked Cabinet Office memo that Blair said "the UK would support military action to bring about regime change, provided that certain conditions were met". The three conditions were: efforts being made to construct an international coalition, the Arab/Israeli conflict being "quiescent", and the UN weapons inspection route being exhausted. But the precise nature of the understanding between the two men has never been revealed, prompting allegations that Blair made commitments in Texas that contradicted what he was saying in public.
"The real problem, which I did draw several times to the attention of London, was that the contingency military timetable had been decided before the UN inspectors went in under Hans Blix. So you found yourself in a situation in the autumn of 2002 where you could not synchronise the military timetable with the inspection timetable … the result of that was to turn resolution 1441 on its head. Because 1441 had been a challenge to Saddam Hussein, agreed unanimously, to prove his innocence. But because you could not synchronise the programmes … you had to short-circuit the inspection process by finding the notorious smoking gun … and we – the Americans, the British – have never really recovered from that, because, of course, there was no smoking gun."
This was one of the most damning points made by Meyer. After the UN security council unanimously passed resolution 1441 in November 2002, the high point of British efforts to secure an international consensus, Hans Blix's weapons inspectors were admitted back into Iraq. But by that stage the US military was preparing for war in January (although the invasion did not start until March). Blix never had time to complete the inspection process and Meyer implies that the process was therefore something of a charade.
"We could have achieved more by playing a tougher role … if, for example, at Crawford Tony Blair had said: "I want to help you, George, on this but I have to say, in all honesty, that I will not be able to take part in any military operation unless we have palpable progress on the peace process and we have absolute clarity on what happens in Iraq if it comes up." I think that would have changed the nature – it would not have led to a rupture – it would have changed the nature of American planning."
Another damning charge. Meyer said that Britain "failed miserably" to use its influence with Bush to achieve any progress in the Middle East. The allegation that post-invasion planning would have been better if Blair had made more of a fuss is particularly serious. "We underestimated the leverage at our disposal," said Meyer.
"I'm not trying to make a party political point here whatsoever, but quite often I think about this – I think what would Margaret Thatcher have done. And she would have insisted – I take her name in vain, for Pete's sake, I may be struck with a thunderbolt – I think she would have insisted on a coherent political and diplomatic strategy and she would have demanded the greatest clarity about what the heck happened if and when you removed Saddam Hussein."
Meyer's comments about Thatcher will revive suspicions among some Labour figures that he's really a Tory.
The day's key moments
Sir Christopher Meyer revealed that before Tony Blair visited George Bush at Crawford in March 2002, Blair's foreign policy adviser, David Manning, gave Meyer a "chunky set of instructions" that covered Iraq.
Meyer said: "I'm not trying to make a party political point here whatsoever, but quite often I think about this, what would Margaret Thatcher have done … I think she would have insisted on a coherent political and diplomatic strategy and she would have demanded the greatest clarity about what the heck happened if, and when, you removed Saddam Hussein."
1441. That refers to UN security council resolution 1441, the "final warning" passed by the UN in November 2002, saying that Iraq was in breach of previous resolutions relating to WMD and paving the way for the return of weapons inspectors to the country.
It was bad for Blair. Meyer's main complaint was that Blair did not do as much as he could to influence Bush, particularly in relation to the Middle East peace process and post-invasion planning
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The Dark Side of the ‘Special Relationship’ between Israel and the US
(Justin Raimondo is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (ISI, 2008), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996).
He is a contributing editor for The American Conservative, a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute, and an adjunct scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He writes frequently for Chronicles:A Magazine of American Culture.)
Read here for more
A silent battle has been raging right under our noses, a fierce underground struggle pitting the U.S. against one of its closest allies. For all its newsworthiness, the media has barely noticed the story – except when it surfaces, briefly, like a giant fin jutting above the waves. The aggressor in this war is the state of Israel, with the U.S., its sponsor and protector, playing defense. This is the dark side of the "special relationship" – a battle of spy vs. spy.
Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard – now serving a life sentence – stole secrets so vital that an attempt by the Israelis to get him pardoned was blocked by a massive protest from the intelligence and defense communities. Bill Clinton wanted to trade Pollard for Israeli concessions in the ongoing "peace process," and he was only prevented from doing so by a threat of mass resignations by the top leadership of the intelligence community.
The reason for their intransigence: among the material Pollard had been asked by his Israeli handlers to steal was the U.S. attack plan against the Soviet Union. According to Seymour Hersh, then-CIA director Bill Casey claimed Tel Aviv handed over the information to Moscow in exchange for relaxation of travel restrictions on Soviet Jews, who were then allowed to emigrate to Israel.
The Pollard case is emblematic – but it was just the beginning of a years-long effort by U.S. counterintelligence to rid themselves of the Israeli incubus. Law enforcement was – and presumably still is – convinced Pollard was very far from alone, and that a highly placed "mole" had provided him with key information. In his quest to procure very specific information, Pollard knew precisely which documents to look for – knowledge he couldn’t access without help from someone very high in government circles.
In addition, the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted a phone conversation between an Israeli intelligence officer and his boss in Tel Aviv, during which they discussed how to get hold of a letter by then-secretary of state Warren Christopher to Yasser Arafat. The Washington spy suggested they use "Mega," but his boss demurred: "This is not something we use Mega for," he averred.
The search for Mega and his underlings continues to this day, as U.S. counterintelligence attempts to rip up what appears to be a vast Israeli spy operation by its very deep roots.
That’s why they went after Ben Ami Kadish, who handed over U.S. secrets to Tel Aviv and shared a handler with Pollard, and why they indicted Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, two top officials of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group.
That’s why they were listening on the other end as Jane Harman promised an Israeli agent to intervene in the Rosen-Weissman case.
And now a new front has been opened up in this subterranean war with the arrest of Stewart David Nozette, a top U.S. scientist who worked for the Pentagon, had access to the most closely guarded nuclear secrets, and was the lead scientist in the search for water on the moon.
Nozette’s case is interesting because of his impressive resume: he held top positions with the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and NASA, and he served on the White House National Space Council under George H.W. Bush.
From 1989 until March 2006, he held "Q" clearance, which means he had access to "critical nuclear weapon design information" and vital information concerning 20 "special access programs" – secrets only a very few top government officials had knowledge of.
In other words, this wasn’t just some mid-level schmuck who wanted to sell out his country for cash: he was one of the big boys – the principal author of the Clementine biostatic radar experiment, which allowed U.S. scientists to discover water on the moon – a kind of J. Robert Oppenheimer figure, whose singular contributions to the U.S. space program and its military applications granted him security clearances available to a very select few.
The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint [.pdf] alleging espionage is terse, vague in parts, and brimming with implication. Taking their cues from the Department of Justice press release, most news reports state, "The complaint does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf committed any offense under U.S. laws," leaving out the last three words in the DOJ’s sentence: "in this case."
In this particular case, it’s true, prosecutors are going after Nozette for violations that occurred while they were reeling him in, with a federal agent pretending to be a Mossad officer offering him money (not very much, by the way) in exchange for secrets. The real question, however, is what caused them to zero in on Nozette?
A Washington Times piece cites Kenneth Piernick, a former senior FBI agent, who opined:
“He must have made some kind of attempt, which triggered the FBI’s interest in him. They cut in between him and whoever he was trying to work with and posed as an intelligence officer, agent, or courier to handle the issue, and then when he delivered what he intended to deliver to that person, his contact was likely an undercover FBI agent or [someone from] another U.S. intelligence service.”Yet Nozette may have made more than a mere "attempt." The affidavit alleges that, from 1998 to 2008, he served as a consultant to "an aerospace company wholly owned by the government of Israel," during which time "approximately once a month representatives of the aerospace company proposed questions, or taskings, to Nozette." He answered these questions, and, in return, received regular payments totaling $250,000.
This indicates the Feds had been on to Nozette for quite some time, and with good cause. The affidavit also notes that, at the beginning of this year, he traveled to "a different foreign country" in possession of two computer "thumb" drives, which seemed to have mysteriously disappeared upon his return some three weeks later. What was on the drives – and who were the recipients?
In 2007, federal authorities raided the offices of Nozette’s nonprofit company, the Alliance for Competitive Technology (ACT), purportedly because ACT, having procured several lucrative government contracts, had defrauded the federal government by overcharging.
The affidavit cites an anonymous colleague of Nozette who recalled the scientist said that if the U.S. government ever tried to put him in jail he would go to Israel or another foreign country and “tell them everything” he knows.
Perhaps the real reason for the raid, however, had to do with the FBI’s growing suspicion – if not certainty – he was funneling U.S. secrets to Tel Aviv. ACT is a curious creation, a "nonprofit" group that nevertheless generated over half a million dollars last year according to documents filed with the IRS, with over $150,000 in salary and benefits paid out to Nozette. But it wasn’t just about money. ACT’s mission statement reads like a spy’s dream come true:
"The Alliance for Competitive Technology … has been created to serve the national and public interest by conducting scientific research and educational activities aimed at expanding the utilization of National and Government Laboratory resources.In short: ACT is all about technology transfer – from the U.S. to Israel. This, as is well-known, is one of the favored activities of the Israeli intelligence services, which regularly pilfer the latest American technology (especially military applications) to such an extent that a General Accounting Office investigation once characterized the effort as "the most aggressive espionage operations against the U.S. of any U.S. ally."
The National Laboratories possess significant technology, technologists, and resources, of great potential value to growing U.S. industrial organizations, both small and large. Recent changes in national policy (the Stevenson-Wydler Act of 1986 and the NASA Technology Utilization Program) have sanctioned the pursuit of technology transfer from these organizations. However, the capabilities and resources present in National Laboratories are often difficult to access by small and medium sized organizations with limited resources.
ACT will research the best mechanisms to facilitate this transfer through focused research on technology transfer mechanisms, and educational and instructive programs on technology transfer from National Laboratories.
In addition, ACT will enable U.S. organizations to utilize the resources of National Laboratories through existing established mechanisms (e.g., the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Technology Affiliates Program).Transfer of commercially valuable technology is significantly enhanced by such direct support of private sector efforts."
ACT had contracts with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, Va., and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. It is hardly a leap of faith to conclude that vital data flowing from these projects was fed directly into the waiting maw of the Mossad.
Nozette was a key figure in developing and promoting the "Star Wars" ballistic missile defense system. His colleague in the "High Frontier" movement – and the official director of ACT – is one Klaus Heiss, like Nozette an enthusiast [.pdf] of space colonization (who also has some strong views on other subjects).
Contacted by an FBI agent masquerading as an Israeli intelligence agent, Nozette didn’t blink when told his lunch companion was from the Mossad: "Good," he said. "Happy to be of assistance." This was well before the issue of money was raised.
Later in the conversation, Nozette boasted of his top-level security clearances and the range and depth of his knowledge of U.S. secrets, adding, "I don’t get recruited by the Mossad every day. By the way, I knew this day would come." Questioned further by the undercover agent, Nozette said, "I thought I was working for you already. I mean, that’s what I always thought [the foreign company] was – just a front."
Which it no doubt was.
Nozette agreed to be a regular "asset," yet he clearly felt his position was increasingly precarious. He inquired about the right of return and raised the possibility that he might go to Israel. He wanted a passport as part of his payment, in addition to the few thousand dollars the FBI was putting in a post office "dead drop" for him on receipt of stolen secrets.
Well, then, so what? Don’t all nations, even allies, spy on each other? What’s the significance of this particular case
On the surface, our relationship with Israel is encompassed by the terms of the "special relationship," which has so far consisted of the U.S. giving unconditional support to Tel Aviv’s every action, no matter how brutal [.pdf] or contrary to our interests – and tolerating, to a large degree, its extensive covert operations on U.S. soil (or, at least, keeping quiet about them). On a deeper level, however, the tensions in this one-way love affair have frayed the specialness of the relationship almost to the breaking point.
This is not just due to the election of Barack Obama, who is widely perceived in Israel as being biased against the Jewish state. These tensions arose during Bush’s second term, when U.S. policy began to perceptibly tilt away from Tel Aviv.
A particularly telling blow to U.S.-Israeli relations was the decision by the U.S. to clamp down on visa requirements for Israelis entering the U.S.: potential visitors from Israel are now required to undergo an interview, restrictions on their length of stay have been extended, and admission to the U.S. is no longer assured.
In the secret world of spooks spying on one another, the U.S.-Israeli relationship is increasingly adversarial, while in the diplomatic-political realm, it has nearly reached the point of open hostilities.
This is thanks to the objective conditions that determine relations among nations: in the post-Cold War world, Israel necessarily became much less of an asset to the U.S. In the post-9/11 world, as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have so trenchantly pointed out, it is an outright liability.
Our self-sacrificial policy of unconditional support for Israel has earned us implacable enemies in the Arab world and granted our adversaries a priceless propaganda prize – and the growing awareness of this disability is something the Israelis no doubt find disturbing. The distortion of our foreign policy by the power of the Israel lobby is also being widely noted, and this is their real Achilles heel.
In this case, too, the Lobby will no doubt rush to exert their influence to downgrade Nozette’s crime and even depict him as an innocent victim of entrapment. Defenders of the AIPAC duo conjured a vast "anti-Semitic" conspiracy within the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI to explain the alleged persecution of Rosen and Weissman, and the same tactics are bound to be trotted out in this instance.
That is nonsense. The FBI didn’t just pick Nozette arbitrarily and conjure his crimes out of thin air. Their target was already deeply involved with the Israelis, and this is what brought him to their attention in the first place.
The nature and extent of Israeli spying in the U.S. is not a subject you’ll see the "mainstream" media very often touch with so much as a 10-foot pole, but when it does the results can be ominously disturbing. I, for one, haven’t forgotten Carl Cameron’s four-part series on Israeli spying in the U.S., broadcast by Fox News in December 2001.
According to Cameron, his sources in law enforcement told him the Israelis had been following the 9/11 hijackers and had foreknowledge of their plans but somehow neglected to tell us. And then there were those dancing Israelis, leaping for joy at the sight of the Twin Towers burning…
This is the dark side of the "special relationship," so dark that hardly anyone wants to acknowledge it, let alone consider its implications.
- Justin Raimondo
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
By Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat
Read here in Telegraph UK
Ahmadinejad showing papers during election.
It shows that his family's previous name was Jewish
(Photo courtesy of Telegraph UK)
A photograph of the Iranian president holding up his identity card during elections in March 2008 clearly shows his family has Jewish roots.
A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver.
The short note scrawled on the card suggests his family changed its name to Ahmadinejad when they converted to embrace Islam after his birth.
The Sabourjians traditionally hail from Aradan, Mr Ahmadinejad's birthplace, and the name derives from "weaver of the Sabour", the name for the Jewish Tallit shawl in Persia.
The name is even on the list of reserved names for Iranian Jews compiled by Iran's Ministry of the Interior.
Experts last night suggested Mr Ahmadinejad's track record for hate-filled attacks on Jews could be an overcompensation to hide his past.
Ali Nourizadeh, of the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, said:
"This aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's background explains a lot about him. Every family that converts into a different religion takes a new identity by condemning their old faith."By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections. He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society."A London-based expert on Iranian Jewry said that "jian" ending to the name specifically showed the family had been practising Jews.
"He has changed his name for religious reasons, or at least his parents had," said the Iranian-born Jew living in London. "Sabourjian is well known Jewish name in Iran."
A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London said it would not be drawn on Mr Ahmadinejad's background. "It's not something we'd talk about," said Ron Gidor, a spokesman.
The Iranian leader has not denied his name was changed when his family moved to Tehran in the 1950s. But he has never revealed what it was change from or directly addressed the reason for the switch.
Relatives have previously said a mixture of religious reasons and economic pressures forced his blacksmith father Ahmad to change when Mr Ahmadinejad was aged four.
The Iranian president grew up to be a qualified engineer with a doctorate in traffic management. He served in the Revolutionary Guards militia before going on to make his name in hardline politics in the capital.
During this year's presidential debate on television he was goaded to admit that his name had changed but he ignored the jibe.
However Mehdi Khazali, an internet blogger, who called for an investigation of Mr Ahmadinejad's roots was arrested this summer.
Mr Ahmadinejad has regularly levelled bitter criticism at Israel, questioned its right to exist and denied the Holocaust. British diplomats walked out of a UN meeting last month after the Iranian president denounced Israel's 'genocide, barbarism and racism.'
Mr Ahmadinejad has been consistently outspoken about the Nazi attempt to wipe out the Jewish race. "They have created a myth today that they call the massacre of Jews and they consider it a principle above God, religions and the prophets," he declared at a conference on the holocaust staged in Tehran in 2006.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Robert J. Elisberg
"Now is not the time for the president to dig in to a neutral posture," Paul Wolfowitz wrote last week in the Washington Post. "It is time to change course."
Oh, swell. Now he wants to change course.
Mind you, as an architect of the Iraq War, it's not like Mr. Wolfowitz's track record on advice for the Middle East is terribly dazzling.
His opinion here is not terribly surprising, though. The neocon wing of the Republican Party has rarely found a war it doesn't love to start (finishing, optional), most especially if they themselves don't have to risk fighting it. And now, it seems like most conservative Republicans have their trigger finger itching to start yet another Middle East war.
No, thanks. Been there, done that.
In his op-ed, Mr. Wolfowitz chose two comparisons (noting only quietly at the very end that "no two situations are identical.").
The first was the1986 Philippine elections when Ronald Reagan initially made a cautious statement (exactly as President Obama has done...), and only later declared that there had been fraud. Never mind that the Philippines is one of our longtime allies with whom (unlike Iran) we have actual diplomatic ties. And never mind that whatever happened there would not destabilize the entire world - let alone neighboring Mindanao. And never mind what overturned events was that Philippine President Fernando Marcos had two reform leaders arrested, which brought a national protest that forced him to flee the country three days later.
Yes, that's so much like Iran...
His other "comparison" - and one uses that word advisedly - was when George Bush (the first) spoke out against a coup attempt in the Soviet Union in 1991. After he too was initially non-committal and cautious. Exactly like President Obama. Later, Bush took the "bold" step of condemning the coup. Yes, honest, this is the comparison Paul Wolfowitz is trying to draw.
Noteworthy though is that Mr. Wolfowitz stops right there and leaves out the other involvement Mr. Bush 41 also made in 1991. That's when he challenged Iraqis to stage a coup and "to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside." The result of these empty words of false encouragement was that the uprising was defenseless, and Saddam Hussein ordered mass killings that have been estimated in the range of up to 230,000.
Shocking, I know, that Paul Wolfowitz ignored this "comparison" in American presidential intervention. Especially given that as far as comparisons go, Iraq is next door to Iran. It was just an oversight, I'm sure...
Of course, pretty much all the right-wing Republican voices who want the president to involve himself in Iran have ignored this recent history, as well. Instead, they prefer words that will either - 1) be empty with no substance behind them and put millions of Iranians at risk, or 2) get us involved in yet another Middle East war.
It is this very same, empty belligerence that John McCain has been ratcheting, including on his new-found Twitter account. (Republican discovery of Twitter misses the point that when your messages are limited to 140 characters, so is the depth of your thought.)
"Mass peaceful demonstrations in Iran today," he tweeted, "let's support them & stand up for democracy & freedom! President & his Admin should do the same."
Mind you, it's not remotely clear what "standing up" actually would accomplish - or means - but it is an admonition he's fallen in love with. "It's our duty to stand up for people who are struggling for freedom," he quoted to C-Span. "We should stand up for them," he told Fox News. "The way we stood up for the Polish workers in Gdansk, the way we stood up for the people of then Czechoslovakia..."
...and the way we stood up for Iraqis in 1991 with empty, meaningless words before they were mass murdered? But then, John McCain has a record of being reckless here. After all, we can't forget his singing, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," during his failed presidential candidacy. At least we now know what America avoided by not having his experienced leadership during this time of grave diplomatic delicacy.
This is all the same hubris and ignorance that got us involved in Iraq. That's why Iranian experts have near-unanimously applauded President Obama's handling of the situation - because they actually understand the perspective.
They know that what is happening in Iran right now is far deeper than protesting a vote. It's a political/religious battle that goes back to the Muslim Brotherhood formed in Egypt in 1928 - and to many hundreds of years of conflict. As Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former Middle Eastern specialist in the C.I.A., wrote in Sunday's New York Times:
"Yet in the current demonstrations we are witnessing not just the end of the first stage of the Iranian democratic experiment, but the collapse of the structural underpinnings of the entire Islamic approach to modern political self-rule....Westerners would do well to understand the magnitude of what is transpiring in the Islamic Republic."
"Standing up" for the reform candidate Mr. Moussavi would get him painted as an American puppet, a disaster for reformers. It could even be the one thing that unites Iran. Further, despite whatever rigging existed, President Ahmadinejad may still have won the election, just that the rigging guaranteed a bigger margin. And if Ahmadinejad did, indeed, win - or stays in power, regardless - this is the Iranian administration we will need to deal with to lessen their nuclear threat. Most importantly, though, as anyone who understand Iran knows, its president doesn't have authority - that rests with the Supreme Leader. So, imposing ourselves for a figurehead while spiting the actual sovereign is as dangerous and counterproductive as anything imaginable towards an unstable nuclear power.
And President Obama understands all this. And has been widely praised by those who understand the situation. For goodness sake, even George Will called the right-wing criticism, "foolish".
"The people on the streets know full well what the American attitude toward the regime is. And they don't need that reinforced."
And the reality is, that Mr. Obama did speak out early, contrary to the fake-talking points of the neocons and far right Republicans.
"We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust action against the Iranian people," the president stated last week. "The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights." ("Stands"!) "If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion."
That is as blunt a statement as any that Ronald Reagan made towards the Philippines, or George Bush (the first) made towards the Soviet Union. And it was far more diplomatic and thoughtful than what Mr. Bush (the first) said to Iraqis before they got mass murdered.
Yet still the neocons want more, insist the president isn't saying anything, isn't doing anything.
It's irresponsibly dangerous. As when the right-wing Charles Krauthammer wrote in the Washington Post: "And where is our president? Afraid of "meddling."
Amazingly, there is Mr. Krauthammer, in his own words, admonishing the president to actually "meddle." Meddle in a centuries-old religious conflict of a nuclear power. The same meddling that got us mired in the disaster of Iraq.
Meddling! They want meddling! Enough already. We've seen the result of "meddling." Which is why the far right has long-since lost its credibility for giving any advice. But still they give it.
"He's been timid and passive more than I would like," said Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC).
Apparently, more "meddling" would be to Mr. Graham's liking. That belligerent "Bring it on!" swagger than George W. Bush managed so well.
These right-wing voices just love war, as long as they don't have to fight it. Just love sending young Americans to die, to salve their posturing ego and failed politics. Just love the idea to "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." Perhaps that would be aggressive enough for them all, calling for more active meddling in Iran.
Been there, done that. The results are right across Iran's border in Iraq.
What all these loud, empty, aggressive voices ignore is that a president who measures his public statements thoughtfully is not inherently silent under the surface, which keeps the channels open for creating real change. Any one of these war-mongering voices who thinks that all Barack Obama is doing about Iran is making public statements is either naïve or disingenuous.
And yet Barack Obama makes his public statements - as he did again on Tuesday, strongly. But makes them responsibly. Because words can't be empty when they matter most. A responsible President speaks to improve conditions, not inflame them. Not meddle. Not posture. Not paint us into war.
Happily, there are far more voices who understand this. And understand history, not just posturing for political air time. And happily, these include the more moderate of Republicans, as well.
During the presidential election, Barack Obama was roundly chastised by this same right wing and by Mr. McCain for his supposed "naivety" in saying he'd sit down with Iran without preconditions. Yet now, on Sunday, Republican Richard Lugar, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, one the country's experts, told CNN that the United States and Iran should "sit down." Even amid all the Iranian upheaval, even though the government "is shooting people...beating people," host John King asked, if Iran called tomorrow, should the U.S. "sit down with them?" And Sen. Lugar again repeated his answer - "Yes."
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
GAZA, June 16 (Reuters) - Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are being "treated more like animals than human beings", former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said on Tuesday.
On a visit to the enclave, he condemned Israel's January bombardment of Gaza and its continuing trade blockade, which he said forbids even children's toys.
"I understand that even paper and crayons are treated as a security hazard," he told Gazans at a local United Nations office. "I sought an explanation of this when I met with Israeli officials and I received none, because there is no explanation."
Carter, 84, has spent far more years as a human rights activist than he did in the White House from 1977 to 1981. He is easily the most outspoken former U.S. president on the Middle East conflict, and seen by many Israelis as a harsh critic.
He ignored a U.S. government ban on dealings with Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas and had talks with its leaders.
Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza in 2007 when Hamas took control after routing rival Fatah forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, who favours a peace deal with Israel. In late December, Israeli forces bombed then invaded Gaza, devastating its already battered infrastructure.
Since then, Israel has blocked imports of steel, cement and other goods to the population of 1.5 million Palestinians, saying Hamas could use many items for military purposes.
Carter, a Democrat, said he had seen for himself there had been almost no reconstruction in Gaza over the past five months.
"Never before in history has a large community like this been savaged by bombs and missiles and then been deprived of the means to repair itself," he said
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Jon Rapoport (LA Democrat Examiner)
It has been nothing short of remarkable to witness what appears to be a very strong and close relationship between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. These formerly bitter rivals, during the 2008 Democratic Primaries, are now joined at the hip regarding the current administration's foreign relations initiatives. It seems like ancient history, but one only has to recall back to just over a year ago, when things were not quite as chipper between these two very notable figures.
Remember the Clinton Campaign’s use of the infamous “3 a.m.” commercial, which attempted to question the qualification and experience level of then Senator Obama? Or former President Bill Clinton’s controversial remarks regarding Jesse Jackson winning of the '84 and '88 South Carolina Primary, in which Clinton seemingly tried to claim that the victories of both Jackson and Obama were for the same exact reasons.
What about the famous “shame on you” speech delivered by then Senator Clinton regarding a health care mailer distributed by the Obama Campaign shortly before the Ohio Primary? The list goes on and on regarding the bitter sniping that took place throughout the campaign from the Clinton Camp towards the Obama Camp.
For his part, Sen. Obama repeated claims that Sen. Clinton was not always truthful and forthright regarding her record during the campaign. Obama also continually questioned Clinton's explanations regarding her authorization vote for the Iraq War.
“You know I opposed this war in Iraq from the start. But one of my opponents [Clinton] is trying to rewrite history,” said Obama while campaigning in early 2008.
After the bitter and seemingly unending primary, the resolution of the long standing Florida and Michigan Primaries controversy and the conclusion of the pursuit for Superdelegates, Sen. Obama finally came away the winner.
To her credit, Sen. Clinton quickly accepted the defeat and subsequently became a fervent advocate for the future President. Her most stirring and notable speech took place on the second night of the Democratic National Convention last August in Denver. From that point on, Sen. Clinton made it abundantly clear that the proper move for her 18 million supporters was to vote for Sen. Obama in the November election. Many of these supporters were still unhappy because Sen. Obama declined to offer Sen. Clinton the opportunity to be his running mate, instead selecting Sen. Joe Biden.
It turned out that President Obama had another prominent and public role in mind for Sen. Clinton. The role of Secretary of State, the chief international representative and spokesperson for the United States Government.
Sunday, while appearing on ABC's “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Mrs. Clinton explained her rationale for accepting the President's offer.
“Ultimately, it came down to my feeling that, number one, when your president asks you to do something for your country, you really need a good reason not to do it. Number two, if I had won and I had asked him to please help me serve our country, I would have hoped he would say yes. And, finally, I looked around our world and I thought, you know, we are in just so many deep holes that everybody had better grab a shovel and start digging out.”
Since Mrs. Clinton assumed her position, it is quite safe to say that her views have been in lock step with that of the President. The most notable example of this is the administration's belief that Israel should halt further expansion of settlements into the West Bank, while simultaneously articulating the United States unwavering support for the state of Israel.
Mrs. Clinton has also been front and center with President Obama during their recent trip to Egypt and their earlier participation in April's G20 Summit in London. In fact, there's very telling photos of the two receiving a private tour of the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo.
Stateside, there is also a very unique photo of the two of them conversing outdoors at a White House picnic table. Either they are Academy Award winning actors, or they just happen to get along very well despite their past differences.
The brilliance of the President's decision to appoint Mrs. Clinton is twofold:
First, in terms of experience, knowledge of the key issues and relationships with foreign governments, particularly in the Middle East, Mrs. Clinton compares favorably to any other potential candidate for this position.
Second, the union of these two Democratic Party Goliaths has almost completely unified the party and it has eliminated any bitterness associated with the primary campaign.
As for the “3 a.m.” commercial, Mrs. Clinton explained her current feelings regarding if the President is able to handle a “middle of the night” crisis, during Sunday's ABC interview.
“Absolutely, and you know, the President, in his public actions and demeanor, and certainly in private with me and with the national security team, has been strong, thoughtful, decisive. I think he's doing a terrific job. And it's an honor to serve with him.”
Thursday, January 29, 2009
By Michael Collins Piper
THE POWERFUL JEWISH LOBBY in Washington is already issuing marching orders to President-elect Barack Obama.
One of the most influential voices of the lobby has published an array of “working papers” designed to tell the president how he must maintain the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel, increase pressure on a variety of Arab and Muslim states that are perceived as dangers to Israel, and generally assure that Israel’s interests will always be first and foremost in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, not only in the Middle East but around the globe.
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a particularly vocal force in the Jewish lobby, published an entire edition of its Journal of International Security Affairs (dated fall 2008), sending the official word to Obama.
JINSA was founded by one Stephen Bryen who—along with a host of other well known names connected to JINSA—was once investigated by the FBI on charges of espionage for Israel.
A variety of articles in the journal addressing “Middle East Policy and the Next President” and “Iran, Iraq and Beyond,” make it clear that JINSA—best known as a nest of the infamous “neo-conservatives” who misdirected U.S. foreign policy during the outgoing Bush administration, sparking the war in Iraq and continuing to clamor for action against Iran—wants Obama to pursue Bush-style policies.
AIPAC is particularly obsessed with using U.S. military and economic power to force Arab and Muslim nations to “reform” from within. Talk of “democracy” flows freely within AIPAC’s assorted essays, demanding that Israel’s neighbors conform to the Western version of democracy.
But when the Palestinian people voted the Hamas movement into power in the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza strip, AIPAC and other elements in the Jewish lobby immediately began calling for the United States to reject that freely elected government.
Now, of course, Hamas is largely only in control of the beleaguered Gaza—which many refer to as “ghetto”— and the Palestinian statehood movement has been eviscerated, at least for now. This makes AIPAC and the lobby for Israel quite happy, for Israel has long encouraged U.S. policies—and helped create conditions—that have the effect of “divide and conquer” in the Arab and Muslim world.
Israel is not like any other nation in the world, in that it seems to thrive best (and enjoys the benefits of) having its neighbors quarreling among themselves and rent within. Other nations prefer neighbors that are peaceful and internally secure. Israel wants its neighbors in chaos, because this prevents them from waging war against Israel, either individually or united.
And although in the wake of the debacle in Iraq, which led many Israelis and their allies in the United States to suddenly proclaim that the Iraq war should never have been waged, the fact is that Israel and its U.S.-based agents-in-place were the prime movers behind that war and it was Israeli intelligence that was providing what critics now recognize was the “bad intelligence” that led the Bush administration to “mistakenly” conclude that Iraq was working toward an assembly of nuclear weapons to rival that of Israel.
The Israelis and their American spokesmen evidently now believe that if they tell the “big lie” often enough—the lie that Israel’s interests played no part in orchestrating the debacle in Iraq—that it will make Americans forget that Israel was the foremost advocate of the war in the first place.
However, the evisceration of Iraq by the United States is part and parcel of a long-standing Israeli national security policy aimed toward “balkanizing” the Muslim world.
Yet, AIPAC, in its journal, is now working to perpetuate the myth of Iraqi nuclear weapons and suggesting that Iraq’s weapons were transported into Syria, another nation which has been on the “wish list for war” of Israel and its lobby in America. And AIPAC makes it clear that the destruction of Iran’s nuclear development program is a “must.”
AIPAC is not the only Israeli lobby unit sending the message to the new president. Commentary magazine, long affiliated with the American Jewish Committee, has—in recent issues—been trumpeting a similar bellicose refrain directed at Obama.
The editorial director of the Jewish lobby journal is John Podhoretz, a longtime close personal and political associate of the ubiquitous William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard magazine, which is the most infamous voice of the neo-conservative, hard-line pro-Israel elements operating in the media, in the think tanks, and in official policy making and national security and intelligence circles in Washington.
Their fathers, Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, are two of the founding fathers of the neoconservative network, both Trotskyite Marxists who announced their “conversion” to conservatism during the latter days of the Cold War, banging the drum for intensified U.S. support for Israel.
A complete overview of the neo-conservative power structure and its rather bizarre origins in the days when American Jewish communists like Kristol and Podhoretz turned on the Soviet Union when then- Soviet chief Josef Stalin began moving against Jewish and Zionist elements inside Russia can be found in The High Priests of War and The Judas Goats, two works by this author.
Whether President Obama intends real change, as he promised, or whether he will advance the Israeli agenda (which saw its power expand exponentially in the Republican administration of George W. Bush) remains to be seen. But “the lobby” is making its voice heard and Obama knows that he better not ignore it.
Thus Sprach Barack: Pouring Acid on Gaza's Wounds
by Chris Floyd
Yesterday, we wrote of our eager anticipation of Barack Obama's long-suppressed opinion on the mass slaughter in Gaza. As we all know, the most eloquent, forthright and morally concerned orator of the age kept a demure silence on this subject for weeks, because, he said, "we have only one president at a time," who alone should speak about foreign policy.
Of course, that didn't keep the morally concerned orator from speaking freely on almost every other aspect of foreign policy -- Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, etc.
But consistency, as they say, is the hobgoblin of small minds, and the brain of the new president -- who has set the world aflame with rhetoric that has never been heard in Washington before, soaring phrases of penetrating uniqueness about freedom, hope, peace, and the enduring greatness of the American people -- is famously large.
Anyway, we have waited, and at last Obama has spoken. Here's what he had to say today, while welcoming Hillary Clinton to the State Department and appointing Establishment grandee George Mitchell as his special envoy to the Middle East:
Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel's security. And we will always support Israel's right to defend itself against legitimate threats. For years, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens. No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people, nor should the international community, and neither should the Palestinian people themselves, whose interests are only set back by acts of terror.There you have it. The invasion of Gaza -- which began after Israel broke the ceasefire, launched provocative and deadly raids inside Gaza, and had also tightened its death-grip blockade to a level quite legitimately comparable to the Warsaw Ghetto -- was actually the fault of (wait for it, wait for it).... the Palestinians. Thus sprach Barack.
To be a genuine party to peace, the quartet has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel's right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements. Going forward, the outline for a durable cease-fire is clear: Hamas must end its rocket fire; Israel will complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza; the United States and our partners will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot rearm.
Yesterday I spoke to President Mubarak and expressed my appreciation for the important role that Egypt played in achieving a cease-fire. And we look forward to Egypt's continued leadership and partnership in laying a foundation for a broader peace through a commitment to end smuggling from within its borders."
But do let's be fair. The new president also feels the pain of the Palestinians in Gaza. He feels it so much that he is going to ensure that any reconstruction in Gaza is controlled by the kleptocracy known as the Palestinian Authority -- the same faction that tried -- with American and Israeli backing -- to overthrow the legitimate, democratically elected government of Palestine, instigating a vicious civil war that, lo and behold, left Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation weak and splintered. Now hear the words of the Compassionate One:
Now, just as the terror of rocket fire aimed at innocent Israelis is intolerable, so, too, is a future without hope for the Palestinians. I was deeply concerned by the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent days and by the substantial suffering and humanitarian needs in Gaza. Our hearts go out to Palestinian civilians who are in need of immediate food, clean water, and basic medical care, and who've faced suffocating poverty for far too long.At every point, the control of the "Palestinian Authority" -- which means, of course, the Israeli government -- is stressed. Even Obama's dramatic call to open the crossings that Israel has imposed on the open-air prison of Gaza, where many thousands of people have been living in refugee camps for 60 years, and where the entire 1.5 million-strong population is kept stateless and imprisoned, is carefully hedged: the crossings will require "an appropriate monitoring regime" -- i.e., the same regime that has been monitoring the crossings for years on end: the Israeli government. Of course, the PA -- the former insurgent group that has turned itself into the Judenrat of the occupation, doing the Israeli government's dirty work for them -- is to be cut in on the action, along with unspecified "international participation." Of course, the recent deadly attack on UN buildings in Gaza has given us yet another in a long string of demonstrations of how Israel treats "international participation" within its domains and targeted territories.
Now we must extend a hand of opportunity to those who seek peace. As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza's border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating.
Relief efforts must be able to reach innocent Palestinians who depend on them. The United States will fully support an international donor's conference to seek short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term reconstruction for the Palestinian economy. This assistance will be provided to and guided by the Palestinian Authority.
Now we can see why Obama kept silent on Gaza while Bush was still in the White House: because he held precisely the same views as Bush on the subject. There is nothing in Obama's statement that could not have been said -- or was not actually said -- by Bush. You couldn't slide a piece of onion-skin paper between the stances of the two men on Gaza.
Meanwhile, Professor As'ad AbuKhalil, the "Angry Arab," takes an equally dim view of today's developments:
Well, it took two longs days before Obama dispelled any notions of a change in US Middle East policy. For some reasons, many Arabs and many American leftists I know (you know yourselves) have wanted to believe so bad that Obama will deviate from the Zionist path of US foreign policy. I knew that it would be a matter of weeks that he would prove me right, but I did not know that he would prove me right in a matter of hours. His speech on the Middle East today could have easily been written by Benjamin Netanyahu....AbuKhalil also points us to this analysis of Obama's chosen partner in Middle East peace, the man who was in fact the first foreign leader the new president called upon taking office: Palestinian "president" Mahmoud Abbas. (The quote are required because Abbas' term has actually ended, but he is still somehow president of a rump Palestinian Authority.) From The National:
Obama's speech was quite something. It was like sprinkling sulfuric acid on the wounds of the children in Gaza--those who survived the Israeli terrorist festival of butchery and massacres. His remarks leave you with the impression that there are two sets of problems in the holy land: that there was terrorism against civilians in "southern Israel" and then there is some undefined civilian suffering in Gaza from some undefined natural disaster--an earthquake or hurricane.... He then followed the Zionist line that all aid should pass through the transparent gangs in Ramallah--but that is important because Fatah has a very long record of integrity, transparency, merit, and high ethical standards--along with collaboration with Israel.
The reasons for Abbas’s demise are few, and they predate the Israeli attack on Gaza: he long ago placed all of his eggs in the Israeli-American basket. Acting as if his chickens had already hatched, his inability to deliver any tangible achievement has instead meant they came home to roost with a vengeance.This then is the broken reed upon which Obama proposes to build "a lasting peace in the Middle East." An unconstitutional, totally compromised puppet leader rejected by his people, whom he disdains.
Key to this is Abbas’s relationship to his people: simply put, it never existed. Arafat saw the Palestinians as the ace in the deck to be played when all else failed, and understood that his leverage with outside actors derived from their conviction that he represented the Palestinian people. If he consistently failed or refused to properly mobilise this primary resource, he at least always held it in reserve.
Abbas has by contrast been an inveterate elitist, who seems to have regarded the Palestinian population as an obstacle to be overcome so that the game of nations could proceed – there are after all only so many seats at the table where great statesmen like George Bush and Ehud Olmert together create the contours of a new Middle East....
Cursed with exceptional self-regard, Abbas has always shown disinterest in the opinions of others. From the moment he convinced himself of the sincerity of Bush’s visions, which put the onus on the Palestinians to prove they qualify for membership in the human race and are worthy of being spoken to by Tsipi Livni and Condoleezza Rice, there was no turning back. Henceforth the Palestinian security forces would point their weapons exclusively at their own people, and only Saeb Erakat would be aimed at Israel. At the United Nations, once a primary arena for the Palestinian struggle, Abbas’s emissary Riad Mansour was too busy drafting a resolution declaring Hamas a terrorist entity to deal with more trivial Palestinian concerns. It was simply impossible to steer Abbas towards a change of course, let alone a national dialogue that could produce a genuine strategy.
By the expiration of his presidency on January 9, his constitutional status had become the least of his problems. Each and every one of his policies had failed. In the West Bank, settlement expansion was proceeding at an unprecedented pace while the Wall neared final completion, rendering talk of a two-state settlement all but moot.
After Hamas triumphed in the 2006 parliamentary elections, Abbas’s ceaseless scheming to remove the Islamists from office and overturn the election’s results – characteristically in active partnership with outside forces rather than the Palestinian electorate – was a veritable carnival of folly and incompetence. When Hamas acted first in 2007, it took the Islamists only several days to dispose of those few forces still prepared to fight for Mohammed Dahlan [the PA's ruthless "security" enforcer and much-beloved Washington favorite].
What, wasn't Ahmad Chalabi available?
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Read here for more on The Guardian (UK) and here and here and here
CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY
SUPPORTED BY THE UNITED STATES
While Palestinian Children are being Massacred by US taxpayer-funded Israeli war-planes, Obama is Enjoying Golf in Hawaii
The United States late Saturday BLOCKED approval of a UN Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and expressing serious concern at the escalation of violence following Israel’s ground attack in Gaza, council diplomats said.
The UN protested at a "complete absence of accountability" for the escalating number of civilian deaths in Gaza, saying "the rule of the gun" had taken over.
Obama Gagged by the Powerful Israeli-Jewish Lobby Groups and Staff Within his Transition Team
(Note: Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Israel Emanuel, is an Israeli and holds a dual citizenship) -read here and here for more
THE refusal of the US president-elect, Barack Obama, to comment on the Gaza conflict had disappointed Arab leaders, the Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said yesterday. Mr Maliki said that Mr Obama's silence on Gaza contrasted with his willingness to comment on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last November.
Israel rejects stationing of international monitors at border crossing as also any international force in the area.
UN General Assembly chief Miguel d'Escoto has criticized the Security Council for its inability to curb Israel's "monstrosity" in Gaza. D'escoto criticized the UN Security Council for not showing enough tenacity in ending Gazans suffering in the wake of the weeklong Israeli offensive in the coastal strip.
Doctors in Gaza said more than 40 people died, including children, in what appears to be the biggest single loss of life of the campaign when Israeli bombs hit al-Fakhora school, in Jabaliya refugee camp, while it was packed with hundreds of people who had fled the fighting.
Most of those killed were in the school playground and in the street, and the dead and injured lay in pools of blood. Pictures on Palestinian TV showed walls heavily marked by shrapnel and bloodstains, and shoes and shredded clothes scattered on the ground. Windows were blown out.
Hours before, three young men who were cousins died when the Israelis bombed Asma elementary school in Gaza City. They were among 400 people who had sought shelter there after fleeing their homes in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza.
Abed Sultan, 20, a student, and his cousins, Rawhi and Hussein Sultan, labourers aged 22, died.
Abed Sultan's father, Samir, said the bodies were so mangled that he could not tell his son from the cousins. "We came to the school when the Israelis warned us to leave," he said. "We hoped it would be safe. We were 20 in one room. We had no electricity, no blankets, no food. Suddenly we heard a bomb that shook the school. Windows smashed. Children started to scream. A relative came and told me one of my sons was killed. I found my son's body with his two cousins. They were cut into pieces by the shell."
The UN was particularly incensed over targeting of the schools, because Israeli forces knew they were packed with families as they had ordered them to get out of their homes with leaflet drops and loudspeakers. It said it had identified the schools as refugee centres to the Israeli military and provided GPS coordinates.
Israel accused Hamas of using civilians as cover, and said the Islamist group could stop the assault on Gaza by ending its rocket attacks on Israel.
The Palestinian authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, last night delivered an impassioned plea to the UN security council to act immediately to stop the Israeli operation, which he described as a "catastrophe" for his people. Israel has agreed a "humanitarian corridor" to allow Palestinians to get essential goods.
The rising casualty toll, more than 640 Palestinians killed since the assault began 12 days ago, gave fresh impetus to diplomatic efforts. The White House offered its first hint of concern at Israel's actions by calling on it to avoid civilian deaths. The president-elect, Barack Obama, broke his silence by saying he was "deeply concerned" about civilian casualties on both sides. He said he would have "plenty to say" about the crisis after his swearing in.
Gordon Brown said the Middle East was facing its "darkest moment yet" but hoped a ceasefire could be arranged soon.
The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency, John Ging, said three shells landed at the perimeter of the school. "It was entirely inevitable if artillery shells landed in that area there would be a high number of casualties," he said.
He said UN staff vetted those Palestinians who sought shelter at the school. "So far we've NOT had violations by militants of our facilities," he said, though responding to questions he accepted there had been clashes between Hamas and the Israeli army in the area.
Earlier in the day, Ging visited Gaza's hospital and was shocked at the scale of civilian casualties. "What you have in this hospital is the consequences of political failure and the complete absence of any accountability for actions that are being taken. It's the rule of the gun now, and it has to stop," he said.
At least 12 of one family, seven children aged from one to 12, three women and two men, were killed in an air strike on their house in Gaza City. Nine others were believed trapped.
Rejecting Israeli claims there is no humanitarian crisis, Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), asserted, "The idea there is not a humanitarian crisis is absurd . . . it is appalling for anyone to say there is not."
UNRWA closed 20 health centres, although its staff are doing their best to aid the injured. UNRWA and the World Food Programme have suspended ration distribution, leaving 1.1 million people without basic foodstuffs. Mr Gunness criticised the Security Council for not adopting a ceasefire resolution. "Innocent people in Gaza have suffered enough."
Friday, January 02, 2009
"The evil only exists because the good remain silent."
President-Elect Obama Golfing in his Deafing Silence in Hawaii ....
Meanwhile in Gaza
- EGYPT Complicit in the Bombing of Gaza: As the Palestinian death toll approaches 400, much of popular anger throughout the Arab world has been directed at Egypt – seen by many as complicit in the Israeli campaign."Israel would not have hit Gaza like this without a green light from Egypt," Hamdi Hassan, MP for the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition movement, told IPS. "The Egyptian government allowed this assault on Gaza in hopes of finishing off Hamas." Read here for more
- United States President George W. Bush supports Israel's operation in Gaza. During the conversation, Bush backed Israel's demand that a ceasefire with Hamas take effect only after the rocket fire at Israeli communities end. Read here for more
- As the war in the Gaza Strip rages on, protests continue all across the world. In the United States alone, over 100 protests have already been organized against the attacks, from a small rally in Salt Lake City to much larger rallies along the east coast. Among the largest was in Dearborn, Michigan, where thousands of protesters braved freezing cold temperatures in a rally organized by the Congress of Arab-American Organizations. As has been the case since the war began, the real President-elect (Barack Obama) has remained silent on the situation. What was he doing today instead of commenting on the hundreds of people killed in the Gaza Strip? According to the Associated Press, he was getting his picture taken with a nine-month-old. Read here for more
- President-elect Obama conveniently remains silent on the current hostilities (for now) and has thus deferred to President Bush. Earlier this summer he endorsed Israel's right to defend itself against Qassam rockets by stating, "If someone were sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do anything to stop it." One wonders, however, if President elect Obama's principles of safety, dignity and self defense apply to Palestinians as well? If Obama and President Bush's daughters were forced to suspend their emergency hospital operations due to fuel shortages, beg for 300 essential medicines, drink contaminated water that causes malnutrition and anemia in children, eat bread made of animal feed, and renounce electricity because their main power plant was forced to shut down, what would they do? By continuing to vocally defend Israel as the only advocate and partner of peace while perpetually blaming Palestinians as the sole aggressor, the United States recklessly obfuscates the reality of an Israeli blitzkrieg that repeatedly bombards a beleaguered Palestinian refugee population with an inordinately superior and sophisticated military might. Read here for more
- As Israel nails shut the coffin that is Gaza under a siege that has lasted nearly three years, steadily intensifying so that malnutrition rates rival those of sub-Saharan Africa, sewage runs raw in the streets and pollutes the ocean, homes are still being bulldozed to super-add collective punishment upon collective punishment; men, women and children are still being sniped at and killed; children are deafened by continuing sonic booms, the vast majority of them suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and many of that majority have no ambition other than becoming “martyrs,” Israel in mid-December denied entry to Richard Falk, UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on the occupied territories. It is Dr. Falk's responsibility to report to the UN on conditions in the occupied territories. Israel is blocking him from carrying out this job. He not only describes Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, but calls for immediate protective action “to offset the persisting and wide-ranging violations of the fundamental human right to life.” He also calls for an International Criminal Court investigation to “determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.” Many others, Jewish and not Jewish (including Israeli Jews ) have charged Israel with violations of international law and war crimes in Gaza. As Falk himself noted in his statement about Gaza to the UN, the Secretary General of the UN, the President of the General Assembly, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have all condemned Israel for its monstrous siege. Christopher Hedges writes that Falk told him Israel’s siege has unleashed “an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe that each day poses the entire 1.5 million [population] Gazans to an unspeakable ordeal, to a struggle to survive . . . This is an increasingly precarious condition. A recent study reports that 46 per cent of all Gazan children suffer from acute anemia. There are reports that the sonic booms associated with Israeli overflights have caused widespread deafness, especially among children. Gazan children need thousands of hearing aids. Malnutrition is extremely high in a number of different dimensions and affects 75 per cent of Gazans. There are widespread mental disorders… Over 50 per cent of Gazan children under the age of 12 have been found to have no will to live." Read here for more
- Hamas missiles could reach Israel's nuclear facility at Dimona. Rocket attacks from Gaza have forced Israelis to flee in ever greater numbers and military chiefs have been shaken by the size and sophistication of the militant group’s arsenal. the rockets fired by Hamas in the current fighting have flown farther and been more accurate than weapons used by the group in the past, the officials said. Some have flown nearly two dozen miles, destroying buildings in the southern Israeli cities of Ashdod and Beersheba. Read here for more
QUOTE: "..There is another reason why this attack has beenallowed to occur:
The complicity and silence of the international community.Israel cannot and would not act against the will of its economic allies in Europe or its military allies in the US.
Israel may be pulling the trigger ending hundreds, perhaps even thousands of lives this week, but it is the apathy of the world and the inhumane tolerance of Palestinian suffering which allows this to occur.
'The evil only exists because the good remain silent'
- Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi
Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative
29 December 2008
The Israeli campaign of 'death from above' began around 11 am, on Saturday morning, the 27th of December, and stretched straight through the night into this morning.
The massacre continues Sunday as I write these words.
The bloodiest single day in Palestine since the War of 1967 is far from over following on Israel's promised that this is 'only the beginning' of their campaign of state terror.
At least 290 people have been murdered thus far, but the body count continues to rise at a dramatic pace as more mutilated bodies are pulled from the rubble, previous victims succumb to their wounds and new casualties are created by the minute.
What has and is occurring is nothing short of a war crime, yet the Israeli public relations machine is in full-swing, churning out lies by the minute.
Once and for all it is time to expose the myths that they have created.
1. Israelis have claimed to have ended the occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005.
While Israel has indeed removed the settlements from the tiny coastal Strip, they have in no way ended the occupation. They remained in control of the borders, the airspace and the waterways of Gaza, and have carried out frequent raids and targeted assassinations since the disengagement.
Furthermore, since 2006 Israel has imposed a comprehensive siege on the Strip.
For over two years, Gazans have lived on the edge of starvation and without the most basic necessities of human life, such as cooking or heating oil and basic medications.
This siege has already caused a humanitarian catastrophe which has only been exacerbated by the dramatic increase in Israeli military aggression.2. Israel claims that Hamas violated the cease-fire and pulled out of it unilaterally.
Hamas indeed respected their side of the ceasefire, except on those occasions early on when Israel carried out major offensives in the West Bank.
In the last two months, the ceasefire broke down with Israelis killing several Palestinians and resulting in the response of Hamas. In other words, Hamas has not carried out an unprovoked attack throughout the period of the cease-fire.
Israel, however, did not live up to any of its obligations of ending the siege and allowing vital humanitarian aid to resume in Gaza. Rather than the average of 450 trucks per day being allowed across the border, on the best days, only eighty have been allowed in - with the border remaining hermetically sealed 70% of the time.
Throughout the supposed 'cease-fire' Gazans have been forced to live like animals, with a total of 262 dying due to the inaccessibility of proper medical care.
Now after hundreds dead and counting, it is Israel who refuses to re-enter talks over a cease-fire. They are not intent on securing peace as they claim; it is more and more clear that they are seeking regime change - whatever the cost.3. Israel claims to be pursuing peace with 'peaceful Palestinians'.
Before the on-going massacre in the Gaza Strip, and throughout the entirety of the Annapolis Peace Process, Israel has continued and even intensified its occupation of the West Bank. In 2008, settlement expansion increased by a factor of 38, a further 4,950 Palestinians were arrested - mostly from the West Bank, and checkpoints rose from 521 to 699.
Furthermore, since the onset of the peace talks, Israel has killed 546 Palestinians, among them 76 children. These gruesome statistics are set to rise dramatically now, but previous Israeli transgressions should not be forgotten amidst this most recent horror.
Only this morning, Israel shot and killed a young peaceful protester in the West Bank village of Nihlin, and has injured dozens more over the last few hours. It is certain that they will continue to employ deadly force at non-violent demonstrations and we expect a sizable body count in the West Bank as a result. If Israel is in fact pursuing peace with 'good Palestinians', who are they talking about?4. Israel is acting in self-defense.
It is difficult to claim self defense in a confrontation which they themselves have sparked, but they are doing it anyway. Self-defense is reactionary, while the actions of Israel over the last two days have been clearly premeditated.
Not only did the Israeli press widely report the ongoing public relations campaign being undertaken by Israel to prepare Israeli and international public opinion for the attack, but Israel has also reportedly tried to convince the Palestinians that an attack was not coming by briefly opening crossings and reporting future meetings on the topic.
They did so to insure that casualties would be maximized and that the citizens of Gaza would be unprepared for their impending slaughter.
It is also misleading to claim self-defense in a conflict with such an overwhelming asymmetry of power.
Israel is the largest military force in the region, and the fifth largest in the world.
Furthermore, they are the fourth largest exporter of arms and have a military industrial complex rivaling that of the United States.
In other words, Israel has always had a comprehensive monopoly over the use of force, and much like its super power ally, Israel uses war as an advertising showcase of its many instruments of death.5. Israel claims to have struck military targets only.
Even while image after image of dead and mutilated women and children flash across our televisions, Israel brazenly claims that their munitions expertly struck only military installations. We know this to be false as many other civilian sites have been hit by airstrikes including a hospital and mosque.
In the most densely populated area on the planet, tons upon tons of explosives have been dropped. The first estimates of injured are in the thousands. Israel will claim that these are merely 'collateral damage' or accidental deaths. The sheer ridiculousness and inhumanity of such a claim should sicken the world community.6. Israel claims that it is attacking Hamas and not the Palestinian people.
First and foremost, missiles do not differentiate people by their political affiliation; they simply kill everyone in their path. Israel knows this, and so do Palestinians. What Israel also knows, but is not saying public ally, is how much their recent actions will actually strengthen Hamas - whose message of resistance and revenge is being echoed by the angry and grieving.
The targets of the strike, police and not Hamas militants, give us some clue as to Israel's mistaken intention. They are hoping to create anarchy in the Strip by removing the pillar of law and order.7. Israel claims that Palestinians are the source of violence.
Let us be clear and unequivocal. The occupation of Palestine since the War of 1967 has been and remains the root of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
Violence can be ended with the occupation and the granting of Palestine's national and human rights. Hamas does not control the West Bank and yet we remain occupied, our rights violated and our children killed.With these myths understood, let us ponder the real reasons behind these airstrikes; what we find may be even more disgusting than the act itself.
The leaders Israel are holding press conferences, dressed in black, with sleeves rolled up.
'It's time to fight', they say, 'but it won't be easy.'
To prove just how hard it is, Livni, Olmert and Barak did not even wear make-up to the press conference, and Barak has ended his presidential campaign to focus on the Gaza campaign. What heroes...what leaders...
We all know the truth: the suspension of the electioneering is exactly that - electioneering.
Like John McCain's suspension of his presidential campaign to return to Washington to 'deal with' the financial crisis, this act is little more than a publicity stunt.
The candidates have to appear 'tough enough to lead', and there is seemingly no better way of doing that than bathing in Palestinian blood.
'Look at me,' Livni says in her black suit and unkempt hair, 'I am a warrior. I am strong enough to pull the trigger. Don't you feel more confident about voting for me, now that you know I am as ruthless as Bibi Netanyahu?'
I do not know which is more disturbing, her and Barak, or the constituency they are trying to please.
In the end, this will in no way improve the security of the average Israeli; in fact it can be expected to get much worse in the coming days as the massacre could presumably provoke a new generation of suicide bombers.
It will not undermine Hamas either, and it will not result in the three fools, Barak, Livni and Olmert, looking 'tough'.
Their misguided political venture will likely blow up in their faces as did the brutally similar 2006 invasion of Lebanon.
In closing, there is another reason - beyond the internal politics of Israel - why this attack has been allowed to occur: the complicity and silence of the international community.
Israel cannot and would not act against the will of its economic allies in Europe or its military allies in the US. Israel may be pulling the trigger ending hundreds, perhaps even thousands of lives this week, but it is the apathy of the world and the inhumane tolerance of Palestinian suffering which allows this to occur.
'The evil only exists because the good remain silent'