Aug 252014
 

The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Sinclair Lewis once opined that if fascism ever comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. I was reminded of that comment when a good friend of mine recently wrote a letter to her local newspaper in Augusta Georgia decrying the killing of nearly two thousand Palestinian civilians in Gaza, describing the deaths as part of “the systemic erosion of the rule of law in our nation and across the globe” since 9/11. A devout Christian, she concluded how from her perspective “The world, it seems, has lost its moral compass.”

Unlike many letter writers, my friend has the life experience to back up her opinion, having served twenty-seven years as a United States Army lawyer, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Much of her most recent work has involved the cases of Guantanamo detainees.

It would have been reasonable to assume that my friend’s letter would elicit a variety of responses, and one might have expected that there would be at least some agreement that a world in which killing and wars have become the norm is an unwelcome aberration. But it was not so. Out of the more than one hundred comments the vast majority were violently and caustically opposed to the principle that Israel and the United States have not exactly been role models for a peaceful world. Many of the comments were both personally insulting and, frequently, highly offensive. Some of the remarks clearly came from military veterans while others had a Christian context.

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Aug 042014
 

Differentiating between Zionism and Judaism requires recognition of certain basic facts. To begin with, Theodor Herzl (the founder of Zionism) was an atheist whose personal awareness of Jewishness appears to have been awakened during the 1894 trial, wrongful conviction, and imprisonment on Devil’s Island of Alfred Dreyfus, a French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent accused of spying for Germany. In his diaries, Herzl makes no secret of his intention to use Jewish suffering as a means of furthering Zionist ideology. His vision for a Jewish state had nothing to do with “ … I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers and they shall possess it” (Jeremiah 30:3). Herzl actually considered various other locations such as Uganda and Argentina for his Zionist state and his view of Zionism and Judaism was more akin to that of Chaim Chassas who in 1943 in the Zionist newspaper, Ha’Arutz, said:

“Zionism and Judaism is not one thing but two different things. And of course two contradicting one another. Zionism starts at the place where Judaism is destroyed … one thing is certain, Zionism is not a continuation or healing of wounded Judaism, but rather an uprooting.”

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Jul 232014
 

The US Empire’s Three Regional Axes of Power in the Middle East

Empires are not easy to sustain given the multiple enemies that they provoke: at the international level (imperial rivals and emerging new powers), at the national level (national resistance movements, unreliable clients and untrustworthy ‘Sepoy’ armies) and at the local level (boycotts, sabotage and strikes).

Imperial difficulties are multiplied when an empire is in economic decline, (loss of market shares with growing debt), facing domestic unrest as the economic costs to the taxpayers exceed the returns by a substantial margin; and when the political elite is internally divided between ‘militarists’ and ‘free market’ advocates.

The US Empire today is in the midst of a long-term decline, during which it has suffered a series of costly defeats. In addition, Washington has assumed long-term burdensome commitments to allies who have imposed their own ambitions of seeking ‘mini empires’ (Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia).

The US White House has increasingly adopted a military definition of ‘imperial leadership’ at the expense of reconfiguring imperial relations to accommodate potential new political and economic partners.

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Apr 212014
 

When Stephen Colbert looks at people he doesn’t see skin color. He treats everyone equally because everyone is equally white to him. In the same way, Joseph Kahn, foreign editor of the New York Times, sees no difference between Israelis and Palestinians. When it comes to covering the U.S. – supervised talks between the two neighbors, the Times treats both sides with scrupulously fair equality, Kahn insists.

Of course Colbert’s “color blindness” is a joke, meant to remind us that it’s absurd to treat the historically powerful and powerless as if they were equal. But when the Times’ editor insists on his even-handedness he is apparently dead serious.

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, at least, the Times is still the flagship of the U.S. mass media, charting the course that most others follow. Even if the Israelis were all white and the Palestinians all black, our mass media would remain strictly color blind. How else could they achieve their constant goal of neutrality, the key to objective reporting?

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Feb 262014
 

Fake Peace Process, Real War Process

We Americans have funny notions about foreign aid. Recent polls show that, on average, we believe 28% of the federal budget is eaten up by it, and that, in a time of austerity, this gigantic bite of the budget should be cut back to 10%. In actual fact, barely 1% of the federal budget goes to foreign aid of any kind.

In this case, however, truth is at least as strange as fiction. Consider that the top recipient of U.S. foreign aid over the past three decades isn’t some impoverished land filled with starving kids, but a wealthy nation with a per-head gross domestic product on par with the European Union average, and higher than that of Italy, Spain, or South Korea.

Consider also that this top recipient of such aid — nearly all of it military since 2008 — has been busily engaged in what looks like a nineteenth-century-style colonization project. In the late 1940s, our beneficiary expelled some 700,000 indigenous people from the land it was claiming.  In 1967, our client seized some contiguous pieces of real estate and ever since has been colonizing these territories with nearly 650,000 of its own people. It has divided the conquered lands with myriad checkpoints and roads accessible only to the colonizers and is building a 440-mile wall around (and cutting into) the conquered territory, creating a geography of control that violates international law.

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Dec 042013
 

If you want to understand the U.S.-Iran controversy, know this: It is not about nuclear weapons.

You’re thinking: Of course it’s about nuclear weapons. Everyone says so.

Well, not everyone does. But it isn’t a numbers game. As William O. Beeman points out in the Huffington Post,

There is a strange irony in President Obama’s announcement of the temporary agreement. He mentioned the term “nuclear weapon” multiple times in his announcement, implying that Iran was on a path to develop such a weapon. One wonders if he actually believes this or if his repeated implied accusation was a rhetorical device designed to placate his hard-line critics.

The president must know by this time that there is no evidence that Iran has or ever had a nuclear weapons program. Every relevant intelligence agency in the world has verified this fact for more than a decade. Two U.S. National Intelligence Estimates that were made public in 2007 and 2011 underscored this. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also consistently asserted that Iran has not diverted any nuclear material for any military purpose.

Even Israeli intelligence analysts agree that Iran is “not a danger” to Israel.

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Dec 022013
 

This is not merely a fight between Israel and the US. Nor is it only a fight between the White House and Congress. It is also a battle between intellectual titans.

On the one side there are the two renowned professors, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. On the other, the towering international intellectual Noam Chomsky.

It’s all about whether the dog wags the tail or the tail wags the dog.

Six years ago the two professors shocked the US (and Israel) when they published a book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, in which they asserted that the foreign policy of the United States of America, at least in the Middle East, is practically controlled by the state of Israel.

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Oct 162013
 

The Dictator of Dogma

Bill Maher is simply an enemy of justice and a purveyor of oppression. Saying (writing) this publicly is a provocation of contempt from all the liberals in the room, yet it needs to be—desperately needs to be—said. Reality is refreshing. The corporate media has torn us away from it for so long that we might have forgotten this most fundamental fact, yet we must keep in mind the dire consequence of too little fresh air in this proverbial room: we suffocate in our own hot air.

In order to, within a reasonable space, adequately address and explicate the myriad ways in which the bloviating Bill Maher’s boiling breath brings us, all of us, closer to suffocation—in order to cover what I called the “Brobdingnagian breadth of Bill’s bigotry”—I had originally planned to publish this (admittedly long) article in two parts. However, as is often the case, the more one digs, the more one cannot help but come across more and more dirt.

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Apr 242013
 

The United States government has been at war for eleven years. The US military destroyed Iraq, leaving the country and millions of lives in ruins and releasing sectarian blood-letting that had been kept in check by the secular Saddam Hussein government. On any given day in “liberated” Iraq, the death toll is as high as during the height of the US attempted occupation.

In Afghanistan eleven years of US attempted occupation has had no more success than a decade of Soviet occupation. The Afghans are still not worn down despite more than two decades of war with the two superpowers. Like the Soviets, the Americans have managed to kill many women, children, and village elders, but precious few warriors. In place of the Soviet puppet government there is Washington’s puppet government. That is the only change, and Washington’s puppet is no more secure than the Soviet one was.

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Apr 012013
 

Haaretz piece reveals Syrian conflict is direct punitive result of Assad defying West, obstructing US-Israeli attack on Iran.

Haaretz has recently published an exceptionally revealing article, confirming that the Brooking Institution’s “Which Path to Persia?” report - a plan for the undermining and destruction of Iran – had indeed been set in motion, and that the current Syrian conflict is a direct result of Syria and Iran defying the West and disrupting what was to be a coup de grâce delivered to Tehran.

The article is titled, “Assad’s Israeli friend,” appears at first to be a ham-handed attempt to portray Syrian President Bashar Al Assad as somehow allied with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Instead, it actually reveals that Israel had attempted to execute verbatim, the strategies prescribed in the Brookings Institution’s “Which Path to Persia?” report, where Israel was to lure Syria away from Iran ahead of a US-Israeli strike and subsequent war with Tehran.

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