Archive | September 20th, 2014

Anthony Reuben, BBC journalist serving Israel


By Nureddin Sabir

Editor, Redress Information & Analysis

The BBC has crossed a new threshold in its pro-Israel propaganda. It has appointed a journalist with a solid, right-wing Zionist background who has produced one of the most distorted apologies for Israeli war crimes ever written in the corporation’s history.

The journalist in question, Anthony Reuben, is “Head of Statistics”, a role created in February, he claims in his Linkedin profile, specifically for him.

His background, according to the profile, includes an internship at the Jerusalem Post, a notoriously right-wing Israeli newspaper which is vocal in its support of Israel’s occupation.

Last month Reuben wrote an article headlinedCaution needed with Gaza casualty figures“. The article was published in the BBC website’s Middle East section, which is headed by the notorious Israel flag-waver, Raffi Berg (see BBC editor tells staff to be soft on Israel” and “BBC News website editor strikes again for Israel, among others).

Reuben wrote his article at a time when 1,948 Palestinians had been killed in Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, the majority of them men.

“An incredibly twisted use of statistics”

Using spurious reasoning, Reuben said the fact that more men than women had been killed proved that Israel’s attacks were not indiscriminate but were aimed only at fighting men.

Anthony Reuben

Anthony Reuben previously worked for the Jerusalem Post, a notoriously right-wing Israeli newspaper which is vocal in its support of Israel’s occupation

He wrote: “If the Israeli attacks had been ‘indiscriminate,’ as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women.”

But, as the Electronic Intifada website observes,

Reuben could have crunched the tragic statistics on Palestinian children killed by Israel in Gaza – 456 dead when his article was published on 8 August – in order to come to a more realistic conclusion on whether Israel’s attacks were indiscriminate or targeted solely at fighters. But he chose not to.

More children were killed than women – 237 women had been killed at that stage. What conclusions would the BBC’s “Head of Statistics” draw from that figure? That the children, like the men who were also killed in greater numbers than the women, were fighters too?

Large portions of Gaza were decimated by Israel during July and August, reduced to rubble. Towns were flattened, entire families wiped out, water sources destroyed and UN shelters bombed at night.

Furthermore, as the academic Jana Krause argues,

Assessing estimates on civilian versus combatant deaths requires understanding of civilian behaviour on the ground. A potential explanation other than combatant roles could be that families expect young men to be the first ones to leave shelters in order to care for hurt relatives, gather information, look after abandoned family homes or arrange food and water…

Nonetheless, as the Electronic Intifada says, “Anthony Reuben, a BBC journalist, used his position to try and spin the story that Israel was doing its best to wage a limited war. And the BBC let him.

It is, the Electronic Intifada adds, “an incredibly twisted use of statistics in an attempt to spin a story so it backs up the claims of the Israeli government, claims which were being visibly destroyed on television screens and social media on a daily basis”.

Drone footage reveals the shocking extent of the indiscriminate damage done to Gaza City by the Israeli Wehrmacht’s 50-day bombardment in July and August 2014

“An appalling piece of journalism

Reuben’s deliberate distortion prompted Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which deals with Palestine’s refugees, to condemn it as “an appalling piece of journalism”, according to the print version of the British magazine Private Eye.

For its part, UNRWA complained to the BBC about Reuben’s twisted interpretation of the death toll statistics, and this resulted in the offending sentence – “If the Israeli attacks had been ‘indiscriminate,’ as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women” – being removed from the article several days later.

Despite this, Reuben continues to write about Gaza for the publicly funded broadcaster. This month, he contributed to an online article titled Gaza crisis: toll of operations in Gaza,” and links to the distorted one he wrote in August.

Consequently, Palestine solidarity activists have written an open letter to the BBC’s director-general, Tony Hall, calling for Reuben’s removal from all reporting on Palestine.

What you can do

The letter is available on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s website for the public to sign and will be delivered on 29 September. It notes that the views which are apparent in the Jerusalem Post “appear to have seeped into Reuben’s reporting for the BBC. What is more, his writing for the BBC has been quoted approvingly in other right-wing Israeli press, including Times of Israel and Ynet.”

The letter calls on the BBC “to assure its audiences that Reuben will no longer be assigned to reporting on Palestine and Israel, as his impartiality and journalistic integrity on this subject cannot be guaranteed.”

Reuben, Berg and other Israel flag wavers are only one part of the the BBC’s problems. The BBC’s entire coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the problem.

Eight years ago the BBC’s governing body commissioned an independent report which concluded that BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “does not consistently constitute a full and fair account of the conflict but rather, in important respects, presents an incomplete and in that sense misleading picture”. The reasons for this have long been the subject of serious academic studies, the best known of which is Greg Philo’s and Mike Berry’s More Bad News from Israel.

Since the BBC’s independent report, however, matters have got worse, as we have highlighted on a number of occasions.

This is now a matter of grave public concern because not only is the BBC a publicly-funded news organisation, but it is also self-regulated, which means that it can more or less get away with anything.

It is past time to act.

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When Scots ruled chunks of England

Scottish and British flags

By Stuart Littlewood

The polling booths have opened on Scotland’s big day and the world is watching, mesmerised, to see which way they jump. It’s too close to call, we’re told.

But the Scots weren’t always so evenly split over their desire for freedom. I’m staring at my breakfast tray which commemorates the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 – the date indelibly etched on every Scotsman’s memory when Robert the Bruce trashed the English army of Edward II and won independence the hard way.

In my younger days when I lived and worked in Scotland, I was intrigued by an old iron plate fixed to the Midsteeple in Dumfries: “Edinburgh 72, Glasgow 74, London 330… Huntingdon 272”. Why Huntingdon, of all destinations in the south? No one seemed to know.

Huntingdon destination plate

Why Huntingdon? Old destination plate on Dumfries Midsteeple

Years later I found myself living in ancient Huntingdonshire, now incorporated into Cambridgeshire. Local memory only goes back to the 17th century and the exploits of Oliver Cromwell, who went to school in Huntingdon, became its MP and later represented Cambridge. He was perhaps the greatest of all freedom fighters in these islands.

But my breakfast tray points to another extraordinary story about the road to freedom from much earlier in our history. It shows the Bruce’s family tree back to King Malcolm and Saint Margaret, and the lineage includes the name “David, Earl of Huntingdon”. Who was he, and who were all the other earls of Huntingdon? The good folks of Huntingdon don’t seems to know.

It turns out to be an astonishing list – a rebellious teenager, a Norman crusader, two kings of Scotland and several other members of the royal House of Atholl including, some say, the legendary outlaw Robin Hood.

Waltheof, the Saxon earl of Huntingdon, was beheaded in 1076 for (allegedly) getting mixed up in the Rebellion of the Earls against William the Conqueror. A spooky account tells how the executioner took his swing while Waltheof was still offering up a last prayer. “Lead us not into temptation…” was as far as he got, but onlookers swore they heard the severed head continue: “…and deliver us from evil, amen.”

The son of Earl Siward of Northumbria, Waltheof should have inherited his father’s earldom in 1065, but being only 10 years old he was made earl of just the Middle Anglia part – Huntingdon and Northampton. Northumbria in those days extended a very long way south. A mere kid, he probably skipped the Battle of Hastings, which could explain why he escaped the ethnic cleansing that followed as Norman warlords spread across the country. He later became a resistance leader along with Hereward the Wake, but in the end had to surrender. After behaving himself for a while he was rewarded in 1072 with the whole of Northumbria, although his good fortune was due in large part to having married the Conqueror’s niece, Judith. Then came the rebellion. Some say Judith betrayed him, others insist it was a royal “stitch-up” to eliminate the last of the Anglo-Saxon nobility. Anyhow, Judith afterwards controlled the earldom.

Scottish rulers' family tree

History lesson from my breakfast tray

The story took a more respectable turn when their daughter, Maud, married one of the Conqueror’s henchmen, Simon de Senlis, son of Ranulf the Rich. When Simon died on crusade in 1111 Maud, although 36 and a single mother, was a very fine catch for somebody. That lucky man was King David I of Scotland in a match arranged by the then king of England, Henry I. Their marriage, in 1113, brought David the earldom of Huntingdon.

David at that time “shared” the throne of Scotland with his elder brother Alexander “the Fierce” but was unable to claim his inheritance, the southern half of Scotland. However, the brothers were close friends with King Henry, who had married their sister, Edith, and young David stayed at the English court learning Norman ways.

He became a travelling justice in Henry’s administration, and his retinue included a group of Norman knights who acted as his enforcers. In 1113, with Henry’s backing, David finally made his claim in Scotland stick. But he continued to spend most of his time in England until brother Alexander died in 1124.

As the new ruler of a united Scotland plus Cumbria, David took his enforcers north with him. They included de Brus (Bruce) and others whose family names would become famous. With the earldoms of Northumbria, Northampton and Huntingdon also in his pocket he remained immensely influential in England.

When Henry I died in 1135 David backed Henry’s daughter Matilda in the civil war against Stephen. She was, after all, his niece and the widow of the emperor of Germany, whom she had married at the tender age of eight. Family loyalty, however, put David on the losing side and he was defeated at the Battle of the Standard in 1138. But with his army still intact he remained in control of Carlisle where in 1149 he knighted his great-nephew, the future Henry II of England. In return, Henry acknowledged Scotland’s continued control over the northern counties of England.

King David, nicknamed “the Saint”, died in 1153 at Carlisle aged 72, a keen gardener to the end. He had outlived Maud who was 13 years his senior, but together they spawned a family that included a remarkable collection of characters. Of their four children, one of the boys was strangled at birth by his great-uncle and the other, Henry of Huntingdon, produced 10 offspring, including two future kings of Scotland, Malcolm IV and William I “the Lion”.

Was Robin Hood a ‘Huntingdon’?

Another of Henry of Huntingdon’s sons was David, third Earl of Huntingdon, a younger brother to Malcolm IV and William I. He was also Earl of Northumbria, Carlisle, Doncaster and Cambridge. With his wife Matilda de Kevelioc he too produced a prodigious number of children. The eldest of these, Robert Huntingdon, was mysteriously airbrushed from official history and “died young”, leaving some historians to speculate that this was the disinherited outlaw Robin Hood.

Ripping yarns often refer to Robin as the Earl of Huntingdon, but the truth is still a puzzle. If it’s true that Robin was a resistance leader against Prince John during Richard the Lionheart’s absence on crusade – 1190 to 1194 – he must have been born no later than about 1170. Earl David was 26 in 1170, so the timeline allows for Robin to have been his son, but not a product of the marriage bed. He didn’t wed Matilda until 1190.

The castle and southern powerbase demolished

Huntingdon Castle, rebuilt by William the Conqueror in 1068, was enlarged by David and Maud, who, we may suppose, were seen there from time to time until 1124 when David’s new responsibilities took them to Scotland. The castle was dismantled in 1174 by a furious Henry II after the revolt against him by his own family. Huntingdon had passed to David the third Earl after William the Lion (his brother) ascended the Scottish throne in 1165, but the castle was still held at the time by William, who had unwisely sided with the rebels. William was already in dispute with Henry over the earldom of Northumbria and as one of the leaders of an armed rebellion he was made to pay dearly.

When David died in 1219 the earldom passed to his son John then reverted to the English crown in 1237. An important Scottish powerbase in the south was removed and with it the remarkable influence of Scottish kings. Earl David and other members of the family are said to be buried at Saltre Abbey (present-day Sawtry, just north of Huntingdon), founded in 1147 by Simon de Senlis the younger, Maud’s son from her earlier marriage.

But that’s only the start of the story. The Huntingdon brood continued to make history hundreds of miles to the north. In 1290, when the legitimate line of William the Lion petered out, Earl David’s descendants were prime candidates for the Scottish throne.

One of his girls, Isobel of Huntingdon, married the fourth Lord of Annandale. Their grandson became King Robert I (Robert the Bruce).

One of his grand-daughters, Devorguilla Princess of Galloway, married John Balliol, founder of Balliol College, Oxford. This Balliol is not to be confused with their son, the younger John Balliol, who became king of Scotland in 1292 after a contest with 12 other claimants. Balliol’s claim was through Devorguilla, the daughter of Margaret of Huntingdon, Earl David’s eldest daughter. The other leading contender, de Brus (Bruce), sixth Lord of Annandale, was the son of Isobel, the second daughter of Earl David. He was one generation older and therefore “closer”.

If I were still living there [in Scotland] my heart would say “Yes” for independence and a total break from the political sewer that is Westminster, pinning all hopes on a cleaner, more focused government in Edinburgh.

In tricky situations like this it was customary to invite a foreign king to choose. The notorious bully, Edward “Longshanks”, King of England, was eager for supreme lordship over Scotland and seized his chance. He selected Balliol, then proceeded to make his life a misery… so much so that Balliol resigned the crown in 1296 and was locked in the Tower for his insolence. Scotland was again without a king and menaced by the English. The bloody struggle for independence began, led by William Wallace, as “Braveheart” audiences will remember.

In 1306, to make absolutely certain of the crown that should have been his father’s, the seventh Lord of Annandale, also known as Robert the Bruce, murdered his rival the Red Comyn, Guardian of Scotland, on the altar steps of Greyfriars Church in Dumfries, an offence for which he was excommunicated. But within weeks he was crowned King Robert I.

So enraged were Longshanks’s and Bruce’s enemies, the Comyns and the Balliols, that Bruce was forced into hiding in the wilds of Galloway and his family made to suffer. The men were executed and the ladies “caged”. Nearly every man’s hand was against him. How this great-great-grandson of David and Maud, with a small band of followers, turned the tables and ultimately triumphed at Bannockburn is the stuff of legend.

At least Scotland’s latest bid for freedom – or independence as some call it – is being made without battle-axe, longbow and schiltrom. If I were still living there my heart would say “Yes” for independence and a total break from the political sewer that is Westminster, pinning all hopes on a cleaner, more focused government in Edinburgh. But I doubt if they can really afford to leave the rotten, cankered Union “family” and pursue their dream. Today, as in the time of Wallace and Bruce, it is obvious that some powerful Scots still see it in their best interests to remain subservient to their southern neighbour.

What about that mysterious Midsteeple milepost? I came across a milestone on an ancient drovers’ road in the hills of Galloway, also pointing to Huntingdon, 300-odd miles away. A possible explanation is that the mid-Anglian town was a major destination for cattle drives from the north, and Huntingdon might well have been the Dodge City of those days – a wide open, rip-roaring cow town.

We know that vast herds were rested and fattened on the lush meadows nearby before meeting buyers up from London. Whether the cattle trade was established in medieval times is impossible to say, but the earls of Huntingdon with their huge landholdings north and south of the border were in a good position to push northern beef into the rich markets of the south.

Things turned sour between England and Scotland after 1286 and drovers from the north would have found the journey difficult and dangerous. Later, in the period 1500 to 1603 (the union of the crowns), no herd was safe from the notorious Border Reivers who raided across the “debatable lands” between Scotland and England. So, the biggest cattle drives were probably seen after 1603 until the arrival of the railways in the mid-1800s. Unfortunately, the cattle trade wasn’t a fixed and settled business with permanent buildings, so no records survive.

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A Morally Reprehensible Article Don’t Focus on Civilian Casualties


By Robert Goldich

Ed Note – Are the views expressed in this article shared by members of the United States Congress and Senate, for whom the author provided policy and legal analysis.

September 17, 2014 “ICH” – “War on the Rocks” – Civilian casualties are everywhere, in the press at least. You might be forgiven if you assumed, in this day and age, that civilian casualties are central to analysis of war, deciding whether or not to go to war, and how to wage war. We see this in the enormous amount of mainstream media coverage on civilian casualties anywhere that armed conflict takes place. This was highlighted recently in reports on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza and Hamas’ resistance to it. A huge number of column inches and air time are devoted to “human interest” stories about the civilians who have become casualties in this war, together with photographs and videos of people in hospitals or otherwise injured. There is rarely much, if any, political or military context in these stories. They are of the “oh, the horror of it all” genre of journalism. Lately, most of this coverage concentrates on those injured or killed by Israeli military action. While some people have attributed this to anti-Israel or anti-Semitic attitudes, I have no doubt that if the Israelis had suffered several hundred, or more than a thousand, dead civilians of their own, the same kind of reportage would have become pervasive in the Israeli media.
The problem is, we — that is, the world — pay far too much attention to civilian casualties, both in reporting about war and in thinking about war. Our fixation on civilian deaths and injuries is based on historical misconceptions, moral sloppiness, and an unwillingness to confront some inconvenient truths about the nature of war. There may be occasional practical objections to inflicting civilian casualties, but a blanket assumption that inflicting them is always wrong is highly suspect. Underneath most of the reflexive blanket condemnation of inflicting civilian casualties lies moral superficiality. By concentrating so much on civilian casualties, and assuming that the civilian costs of war are the most important aspects of war, we actually diminish our understanding of the phenomenon of war. We strip it of its most important aspects: why it is being fought, how it is being fought, why one side is winning and the other is losing, or why there is a stalemate.
Perhaps the most fundamental falsehood about civilian casualties is the belief that because civilians are not active combatants, they are merely onlookers who do not contribute to the war effort of a country, internal faction, or transnational movement. This is not the case. Civilians are almost never just bystanders. This is especially true in modern states with tightly integrated economies and participatory (whether democratic or authoritarian) political cultures, structures, and wartime mobilization efforts. Civilians work in war industries. They keep the civilian economy of a nation at war going. They provide necessary civil administration. Furthermore, no matter what their occupation, age, or sex, civilians provide a powerful social and psychological underpinning for combatants who claim to fight on their behalf. It is true that civilians rarely have a choice in whether or not they freely participate in such support, but that is irrelevant. The fact that German and Japanese civilians had no choice to support those two countries’ warmaking capability had nothing to do with the fact of providing such support, and the desire of the Allies to attack them because they did provide it. Whether or not these civilians were “legitimate” targets is a subject for legal or moral dispute; their contribution to the Axis war effort, however, is utterly indisputable.
In fact, the case of civilians in Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during World War II is very instructive. They made weapons and equipment for the Axis countries’ armed forces and kept the German and Japanese infrastructure working. When American and British strategic air bombardment campaigns attacked the German and Japanese homelands, and when American, British, and Soviet ground forces approached and then invaded Germany (and prepared to invade Japan, if necessary), the idea that they were fighting for their families and homes greatly animated the spirit of resistance among German and Japanese soldiers. It thus made perfect sense to attack German and Japanese cities, including residential areas, by strategic bombing. (There were also other reasons, unrelated to civilian participation in the Axis war efforts, for sustaining the strategic air campaign.) While the strategic air offensives against the Axis powers could not have won the war by themselves, there is no doubt that the attacks on civilians contributed markedly to the overall Allied victory. Those who decry the effectiveness of the strategic air campaign against Germany (there are few who question its significance in the war against Japan) tend to set an artificially high barrier for “success,” make arguments based almost entirely on hindsight, or have moral objections to the campaign which colors their operational analyses. This was particularly true of the oft-cited Strategic Bombing Survey which was undertaken right after the war.
It is even more dubious to criticize armies for causing civilian casualties in the course of attacking and defending urban areas. If civilians are in a town or city, the structures in which enemy soldiers have fighting positions cannot be bombarded with artillery or airpower — nor, for that matter, can either attackers or defenders even use small arms, crew-served weapons, or grenades and mortars — without putting civilians at risk. For instance, in February 1945, the U.S. Army lost 1,000 men killed and 5,600 wounded in the retaking of Manila from the Japanese. The Japanese lost 16,000 men killed. The Army’s official history of the re-conquest of the Philippines notes that an estimated 100,000 Filipino civilians lost their lives in Manila during the battle. Was the Army supposed to forego retaking Manila? Was it supposed to avoid using heavy weapons to mitigate civilian casualties, which would have greatly increased American casualties? The same was true in the Battle of Stalingrad. Retired Army Col. David Glantz, probably the greatest living authority on the Red Army of World War II in the West, and perhaps in the world, has estimated that at least 80,000 Soviet civilians died in the city during the battle. Was the Red Army supposed to refuse to fight the Wehrmacht because civilians might suffer? Did the Red Army have a short-term obligation to minimize its resistance to the invaders on Soviet soil rather than being concerned more about the long-term effort to halt the enemy and eventually occupy his homeland?
There is no question that there exist situations in which efforts should be made to avoid civilian casualties to varying degrees. One may involve counterinsurgency operations in which inflicting too much pain on civilians might make an insurgency stronger, or insurgencies in which the insurgents forbear inflicting civilian casualties to make their ultimate victory easier.   Country A allied with Country B against Country C may decide to minimize civilian casualties because it wishes to ally itself with against C when the war ends, or where it is in the interests of both A and C to reconstitute B’s economy and society when hostilities are over. And it is clear that civilian casualties inflicted out of pure sadism or based on ideologies of human inferiority, such as those perpetrated by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, are as militarily counterproductive as they are morally repulsive.
There are also constitutional issues, at least in a moral sense, when the United States and its government confront these matters. We have recently been told that President Bill Clinton did not order air attacks against Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s because he was concerned that several hundred civilian casualties might result. Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in discussing American military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world, since 9/11, repeatedly returned to the mantra of avoiding civilian casualties. Yet the world did not elect presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. The American people did. The president of the United States and the U.S. government generally have an obligation to defend and advance the interests of the United States by armed force where necessary. What happens to people in other countries is, or should be, less important. If the United States government is more concerned about foreign civilians — friendly, enemy, neutral — than achieving American strategic goals, then the United States government is failing in its obligation to the American people.
The judgment that civilian casualties should always be minimized, or so otherwise restricted as to compromise the success of military operations, involves an abdication of moral responsibility — the need to balance ends and means. Privileging means over ends all the time is as morally deficient as only considering ends and never means. The essence of morality is judgment, and this involves stepping up to the plate and making difficult decisions. The anti-civilian casualties attitude, no matter what the situation, consists of running away and hiding behind absolutes.
Some will say that I am endorsing or providing moral justification for the 9/11 attacks. It is true that Bin Laden justified his attack on the World Trade Center by claiming the civilians inside were pistons in America’s economic engine. But to focus on that is to miss the point of my argument. I am trying to shift the argument away from what is moral or immoral according to universal moral standards. According to their lights, al Qaeda was indeed taking the moral and strategically sound course. According to ours, it was not. Regardless of what one thinks about whether it was “fair” or “moral” for, say, al Qaeda to attack us on 9/11, we should frame our actions in terms of obtaining revenge and retribution—always useful things to be known for in international politics—and act with the underlying motivation that we do not want to live in the kind of world that al Qaeda does. Rather than going around in endlessly unresolvable circles about what is, or is not in accordance with eternally applicable moral standards, let us instead realize that in war and strategy where you stand depends entirely and completely on where you sit, and that universality is a pipe dream.
Finally, the Geneva Conventions are always raised in considering these matters. I am not a lawyer, international or otherwise. But what I have seen of the Conventions indicates to me that a scrupulous adherence to many of them would materially affect the ability of any nation or other political entity, or movement, to conduct military operations effectively. The Conventions wallow in an unrealistic distinction between “military” and “civilian” in terms of warmaking. If one questions that premise, then the Geneva Conventions become something to bypass, interpret in our favor, or ignore. Would this open American military personnel to actions taken against them by our enemies that violate the Geneva Conventions? Of course. But that has been the case anyway since 1945. In fact, the Conventions have largely been dead letters among our enemies since World War I, with the partial and peculiar exception of Nazi Germany. The Germans treated most American and British POWs reasonably well during World War II, because they were not considered subhuman untermenschen, in accord with Nazi racial views unlike the Soviet POWs, who were viewed as inferior and died in large numbers in German custody. The Japanese, as we know, paid scant attention to the Geneva Convention. If our enemies are not going to adhere to them, why should we always handicap our military operations by being scrupulous in doing so?
What to do? What follows below is what I would like to hear from the President of the United States when he or she has to order U.S. forces into action against a country. Let’s call it Ambarzagoomiland:
My fellow Americans, I am speaking to you tonight regarding the commitment of U.S. armed forces to halt and reverse the aggression of the Republic of Ambarzagoomiland against countries that are friends of the United States. The Ambarzagoomian subversion and invasion of its neighbors follows several years in which the government of Ambarzagoomiland has rejected all attempts by the international community and the United States to end its actions by peaceful means. In order to protect the strategic and economic interests of our country, I have therefore concluded there is no choice but to defeat the Ambarzagoomian forces, and insure that Ambarzagoomiland has no more potential to make war against its neighbors.
One thing should be clear. We intend to win. We will not settle for the status quo that exists now or existed before the war, that of a constantly threatening Ambarzagoomiland intimidating those countries that border it. Nor will we be deterred from attacking not only Ambarzagoomian military forces, but also the Ambarzagoomian economic and social infrastructure that supports Ambarzagoomian aggression. Furthermore, after years of repressive and autocratic rule, the Ambarzagoomian people support their country’s aggression. I will therefore not have American soldiers put at risk, or damage the ability of our armed forces to achieve victory, if Ambarzagoomiland hides its armies and war-making potential behind civilian shields. We will strike not only those Ambarzagoomians who fight, but also those who provide support for the fighting. We have restrained ourselves in such cases before and the result has been defeat. We will not do so again.
There can be little doubt that there would be worldwide condemnation of these words from what can only be called the usual suspects, but most of them would condemn the United States anyway. And many, if not most, Americans who would attack the president’s words would be against U.S. military action under almost any circumstances. But I have no doubt that the great majority of the American people — and they are the only people to whom the president, the U.S. military, and the U.S. government as a whole have any decisive obligation— would be very supportive of such presidential words. Many would suggest that in our current media-saturated age, particularly with videos and photographs, that the infliction of such civilian casualties would not be acceptable to the American people. This is questionable at best. There is arguably a major disconnect between the views of what have been called WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) elites, particularly those in the public policy establishment, and what the vast majority of Americans think about these matters. It may well be that a president, and administration, willing to directly and overtly bypass perceived elite views, and go to the masses, would find enormous support among that majority. And they count more than the elites. Much more. 
Robert L. Goldich retired from a 33-year career in the Congressional Research Service in 2005. He was the senior CRS military manpower analyst when he left. Bob is currently writing a book on conscription in history, from the first human civilizations to the present.

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It’s business as usual between the United States and I$raHell


The numbers may be shocking but it’s business as usual in that most venomous of love affairs, the United States-Israeli relationship.

In a recent post, we highlighted the shocking cost inflicted on the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip by Israel’s 50-day aggression.

Moreover, we’re all familiar with why nine months of waste-of-time talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority came to nothing in April this year. US Secretary of State John Kerry himself spelled it out in his “poof” statement, when he blamed Israel’s relentless building of squatter colonies and its failure to keep its promise to release Palestinian prisoners for the collapse of the talks.

We also know that the United States’s actions belie its words of displeasure with Israel’s criminal behaviour. We all remember that, despite its huffing and puffing, the US allowed Israel, in the midst of its recent Gaza onslaught, to tap a local US arms stockpile to resupply it with grenades and mortar rounds so that it continues to kill and maim Palestinian civilians – the overwhelming majority of casualties in Gaza were innocent civilians.

Now we learn that under cover of the smoking mirrors of peace talks and the smoke of the incinerated civilians of Gaza, the inexorable growth of the Jewish squatter colonies eating up what remains of Palestine has been accelerating at an unprecedented rate.

According to the Israeli news website Ynet, “Israel’s settler population in the West Bank increased by 2 per cent in the first half of the year… signalling robust growth in the settlements even while Israel was conducting peace talks with the Palestinians”.

It quoted the Yesha Council, the official umbrella group representing the more than 100 Jewish squatter colonies in the occupied West Bank, as saying that the squatter population “grew to 382,031 as of 30 June [2014], up 2 per cent from 374,469 on 31 December [2013]. The projected 4 per cent annual growth rate would be more than double Israel’s nationwide growth rate, according to official figures”.

Meanwhile, Washington’s slavish support of Israel continues as if that international pariah were a model law abiding state.

The World Tribune news website reports that the US Defence Department has awarded two contracts for fuel to the Israeli Luftwaffe and Heer, or army, guaranteeing fuel supplies to the Israeli Wehrmacht until December 2015.

“This is a fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for aviation turbine fuel for the country of Israel,” the Pentagon said.

According to World Tribune, on 1 September “the Pentagon awarded a USD 324.9 million contract to Valero Marketing and Supply Co. for the supply of jet fuel through November 2015…

The Pentagon also awarded a USD 45.6 million contract to Petromax for gasoline for the Israel army…”

Now Israel can rest assured that thanks to American taxpayers it will have plenty of fuel not only to continue its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, but also to murder and maim the occupied.

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Resistance versus Negotiation in Palestine: Fatah is Forcing The Palestinian Presidency to Choose “Peace with I$raHell”



Global Research

President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah movement, which he commands, have unleashed a media campaign against Hamas and the resistance. If pressure from the Palestinian public fails to stop the campaign, Abbas may achieve politically what Israel failed to achieve militarily: forcing the Palestinian presidency to choose peace with Israel over national reconciliation.

It appears that President Abbas has, indeed, prioritised peace with Israel . He has devised plans for resuming negotiations, and is still banking on American support for such talks. This is the only explanation for the current anti-Hamas media campaign.

Abbas sent his negotiators Saeb Erekat, Majed Faraj and Maen Erekat to Washington, where they met with US Secretary of State John Kerry a week ago last Wednesday. US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki described the more than two-hour meeting as constructive. Abbas then prepared to obtain an Arab mandate, which seems guaranteed in advance, for his plans from the 142nd session of the Arab foreign ministers conference, held in Cairo this week.

However, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power poured cold water over the Palestinian Authority (PA) presidents bid to obtain US backing for his plan, which he intends to put before the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly. The proposal would end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza within three years, during which period negotiations would resume within three months with the occupying power over its borders with the Palestinian state.

We dont think there are shortcuts or unilateral measures that can be taken at the United Nations or anyplace else that will bring about the outcome that the Palestinian people most seek, Power said in a press conference last week. To think that you can come to New York and secure what needs to be worked out on the ground is not realistic.

This clearly translates into an unequivocal US No. The Palestinian presidents new plan has run up against the same American wall that Palestinian negotiators have faced since negotiations were adopted as a strategic approach. The Zionist route remains the only way these negotiators can access the White House and the UN Security Council.

There can be only one explanation for this plan. It is in fulfilment of a Palestinian promise not to resist the occupation and to offer the occupying power the opportunity to agree to yet another futile round of negotiations. Such negotiations will give Israel the time it needs to turn the Givaot colony into a major settler city on the 4,000 dunams of Palestinian land that it has just seized by declaring it state land.

The purpose of this appropriation is to separate the Hebron and South Bethlehem governorates in the West Bank . It is also a means to deflect international humanitarian pressure in reaction to Israeli war crimes in Gaza , to evade Israel s obligations to the truce agreement with the resistance in Gaza , and to fuel internal Palestinian tensions until they reignite once more.

It was not Hamas or the resistance that described Abbass new plan as a spurious process. It was independent Palestinian figures who expressed their views in a statement read out by Mamdouh Al-Akr, general commissioner of the Independent Organisation of Human Rights, on 2 September in Ramallah. They called for an urgent meeting of the unified leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), in accordance with the Cairo agreement of 2011, so that it can serve as a frame of reference for the Palestinian will and take critical national decisions.

Activating the unified leadership framework of the PLO will put President Abbass call for a single Palestinian central authority, uniquely empowered to determine matters of war and peace, into its concrete national context. Only this context can confer legitimacy on a Palestinian leadership that does not derive its authority from resisting the occupation in all forms.

Moreover, the currently missing electoral legitimacy is no longer sufficient in and of itself to allow Palestinian decisions on war and peace to remain in the hands of a leadership that is the product of elections that were held with the approval of the occupation power and in the framework of agreements signed with it.

The Palestinian presidency has dropped the available option of resistance from the lexicon of its negotiating strategy, let alone the option of war, which is not available. The PA, in coordination with the occupations security apparatus, has become the security proxy for the occupying power, rather than an instrument to end the occupation and establish the state, as Palestinian analyst Hani Al-Masri wrote on 26 August.

As a result, the occupying power, alone, holds the keys to the decision of war, which it continues to repeat, and to the decision of peace, which it still refuses to take.

It appears that President Abbas is working against the tide of Palestinian public opinion, as voiced in a recent survey conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) in Ramallah. According to this poll, only 22 per cent of respondents supported a resumption of negotiations, while 53 per cent said they regarded resistance as the more effective way to realise the creation of a Palestinian state.

The results of the PCPSR poll contradict all the charges levelled by the president and Fatah against the resistance and Hamas. Of those polled, 79 per cent believe that the resistance emerged victorious from the recent war, while 86 per cent support the defensive use of rockets.

Respondents gave very low ratings to the performance of the Palestinian president, the PA, the national unity government and the PLO, while the approval rating for Hamas was 88 per cent.

What is the substance of this media campaign against Hamas? It ranges from blaming Hamas for prolonging the war and for the consequent loss of lives and material damage, to adopting the Israeli narrative regarding a Hamas-engineered coup attempt against the president in the West Bank and the existence of a shadow government in Gaza that prevents the national unity government from functioning.

Then there are the charges of keeping Fatah members under house arrest, of opening fire on civilians, and of selling emergency relief on the black market. On top of these come the accusation that Hamas has violated the law that defines the colours and dimensions of the flag.

President Abbass instructions to create a committee to hold a dialogue with Hamas to discuss the fate of the national unity government, as announced by Amin Maqboul, secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, does little to encourage optimism. The national unity government, national reconciliation, the Cairo agreement of 2011, the unified leadership framework that it stipulated, and the reactivation of the PLO, all stand at a crossroads.

This is because of the confrontation stirred by the systematic smear campaign that President Abbas and the Fatah movement are waging against Hamas and the resistance. The campaign has created a media smokescreen behind which the occupation authority can conceal its foot-dragging in carrying out its obligations under the truce agreement, which will probably be echoed in Israeli procrastination on continuing with truce talks due to be held in Cairo.

It should also be stressed that to accuse the resistance and Hamas of prolonging the war is to exonerate the occupation power of responsibility. The Israeli media was quick to capitalise on this, further proof of the extensive coverage the campaign has received.

Indeed, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev virtually reiterated it verbatim when he said that the Egyptian initiative was on the table from 15 July and that while the Arab League and Israel had approved the initiative, Hamas rejected it, only to turn around and agree to it a month later. If [Hamas] had agreed then to what it agrees to now it would have been possible to avoid all that bloodshed, he said.

The investigatory commission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council will most likely cite the presidents charges to strengthen the claims of the occupying power, as these charges would be regarded as testimony of a witness from the other side.

Abbas says that while the final toll from the most recent war in Gaza was 2,140 dead, if added to the number of dead in previous wars, and those who died during the period of the Shalit problem, the number would be 10,000 dead and wounded, in addition to the 35,000 homes that were totally or partially destroyed.

When Abbas says that it would have been possible to avert the human and material losses of the recent conflict he is effectively blaming the resistance, not the occupation, for the last war on Gaza and the two wars since 2008 that preceded it.

The spectre of discord once again hovers over Palestinian unity, with Palestinian opinion divided over a programme of negotiations versus a programme of resistance. This is the breach through which Arab and non-Arab axes penetrate into the Palestinian interior, deepening rather than mending Palestinian rifts.

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