Archive | January 14th, 2017

THE STRATEGIC FUNCTIONS OF U.S. AID TO ISRAHELL

NOVANEWS

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THE STRATEGIC FUNCTIONS OF U.S. AID TO ISRAEL

By Stephen Zunes

Dr. Zunes is an assistant professor in the Department of Politics at the University of San Francisco.

Since 1992, the U.S. has offered Israel an additional $2 billion annually in loan guarantees. Congressional researchers have disclosed that between 1974 and 1989, $16.4 billion in U.S. military loans were converted to grants and that this was the understanding from the beginning. Indeed, all past U.S. loans to Israel have eventually been forgiven by Congress, which has undoubtedly helped Israel’s often-touted claim that they have never defaulted on a U.S. government loan. U.S. policy since 1984 has been that economic assistance to Israel must equal or exceed Israel’s annual debt repayment to the United States. Unlike other countries, which receive aid in quarterly installments, aid to Israel since 1982 has been given in a lump sum at the beginning of the fiscal year, leaving the U.S. government to borrow from future revenues. Israel even lends some of this money back through U.S. treasury bills and collects the additional interest.

In addition, there is the more than $1.5 billion in private U.S. funds that go to Israel annually in the form of $1 billion in private tax-deductible donations and $500 million in Israeli bonds. The ability of Americans to make what amounts to tax-deductible contributions to a foreign government, made possible through a number of Jewish charities, does not exist with any other country. Nor do these figures include short- and long-term commercial loans from U.S. banks, which have been as high as $1 billion annually in recent years.

Total U.S. aid to Israel is approximately one-third of the American foreign-aid budget, even though Israel comprises just .001 percent of the world’s population and already has one of the world’s higher per capita incomes. Indeed, Israel’s GNP is higher than the combined GNP of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. With a per capita income of about $14,000, Israel ranks as the sixteenth wealthiest country in the world; Israelis enjoy a higher per capita income than oil-rich Saudi Arabia and are only slightly less well-off than most Western European countries.

AID does not term economic aid to Israel as development assistance, but instead uses the term “economic support funding.” Given Israel’s relative prosperity, U.S. aid to Israel is becoming increasingly controversial. In 1994, Yossi Beilen, deputy foreign minister of Israel and a Knesset member, told the Women’s International Zionist organization, “If our economic situation is better than in many of your countries, how can we go on asking for your charity?” ❑


 U.S. Aid to Israel: What U.S. Taxpayer Should Know

by Tom Malthaner

This morning as I was walking down Shuhada Street in Hebron, I saw graffiti marking the newly painted storefronts and awnings. Although three months past schedule and 100 percent over budget, the renovation of Shuhada Street was finally completed this week. The project manager said the reason for the delay and cost overruns was the sabotage of the project by the Israeli settlers of the Beit Hadassah settlement complex in Hebron. They broke the street lights, stoned project workers, shot out the windows of bulldozers and other heavy equipment with pellet guns, broke paving stones before they were laid and now have defaced again the homes and shops of Palestinians with graffiti. The settlers did not want Shuhada St. opened to Palestinian traffic as was agreed to under Oslo 2. This renovation project is paid for by USAID funds and it makes me angry that my tax dollars have paid for improvements that have been destroyed by the settlers.

Most Americans are not aware how much of their tax revenue our government sends to Israel. For the fiscal year ending in September 30, 1997, the U.S. has given Israel $6.72 billion: $6.194 billion falls under Israel’s foreign aid allotment and $526 million comes from agencies such as the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Information Agency and the Pentagon. The $6.72 billion figure does not include loan guarantees and annual compound interest totalling $3.122 billion the U.S. pays on money borrowed to give to Israel. It does not include the cost to U.S. taxpayers of IRS tax exemptions that donors can claim when they donate money to Israeli charities. (Donors claim approximately $1 billion in Federal tax deductions annually. This ultimately costs other U.S. tax payers $280 million to $390 million.)

When grant, loans, interest and tax deductions are added together for the fiscal year ending in September 30, 1997, our special relationship with Israel cost U.S. taxpayers over $10 billion.

Since 1949 the U.S. has given Israel a total of $83.205 billion. The interest costs borne by U.S. tax payers on behalf of Israel are $49.937 billion, thus making the total amount of aid given to Israel since 1949 $133.132 billion. This may mean that U.S. government has given more federal aid to the average Israeli citizen in a given year than it has given to the average American citizen.

I am angry when I see Israeli settlers from Hebron destroy improvements made to Shuhada Street with my tax money. Also, it angers me that my government is giving over $10 billion to a country that is more prosperous than most of the other countries in the world and uses much of its money for strengthening its military and the oppression of the Palestinian people. ❑

“U.S. Aid to Israel: Interpreting the ‘Strategic Relationship”‘

by Stephen Zunes

“The U.S. aid relationship with Israel is unlike any other in the world,” said Stephen Zunes during a January 26 CPAP presentation. “In sheer volume, the amount is the most generous foreign aid program ever between any two countries,” added Zunes, associate professor of Politics and chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco.

He explored the strategic reasoning behind the aid, asserting that it parallels the “needs of American arms exporters” and the role “Israel could play in advancing U.S. strategic interests in the region.”

Although Israel is an “advanced, industrialized, technologically sophisticated country,” it “receives more U.S. aid per capita annually than the total annual [Gross Domestic Product] per capita of several Arab states.” Approximately a third of the entire U.S. foreign aid budget goes to Israel, “even though Israel comprises just…one-thousandth of the world’s total population, and already has one of the world’s higher per capita incomes.”

U.S. government officials argue that this money is necessary for “moral” reasons-some even say that Israel is a “democracy battling for its very survival.” If that were the real reason, however, aid should have been highest during Israel’s early years, and would have declined as Israel grew stronger. Yet “the pattern…has been just the opposite.” According to Zunes, “99 percent of all U.S. aid to Israel took place after the June 1967 war, when Israel found itself more powerful than any combination of Arab armies….”

The U.S. supports Israel’s dominance so it can serve as “a surrogate for American interests in this vital strategic region.” “Israel has helped defeat radical nationalist movements” and has been a “testing ground for U.S. made weaponry.” Moreover, the intelligence agencies of both countries have “collaborated,” and “Israel has funneled U.S. arms to third countries that the U.S. [could] not send arms to directly,…Iike South Africa, like the Contras, Guatemala under the military junta, [and] Iran.” Zunes cited an Israeli analyst who said: “‘It’s like Israel has just become another federal agency when it’s convenient to use and you want something done quietly.”‘ Although the strategic relationship between the United States and the Gulf Arab states in the region has been strengthening in recent years, these states “do not have the political stability, the technological sophistication, [or] the number of higher-trained armed forces personnel” as does Israel.

Matti Peled, former Israeli major general and Knesset member, told Zunes that he and most Israeli generals believe this aid is “little more than an American subsidy to U.S. arms manufacturers,” considering that the majority of military aid to Israel is used to buy weapons from the U.S. Moreover, arms to Israel create more demand for weaponry in Arab states. According to Zunes, “the Israelis announced back in 1991 that they supported the idea of a freeze in Middle East arms transfers, yet it was the United States that rejected it.”

In the fall of 1993-when many had high hopes for peace-78 senators wrote to former President Bill Clinton insisting that aid to Israel remain “at current levels.” Their “only reason” was the “massive procurement of sophisticated arms by Arab states.” The letter neglected to mention that 80 percent of those arms to Arab countries came from the U.S. “I’m not denying for a moment the power of AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], the pro-Israel lobby,” and other similar groups, Zunes said. Yet the “Aerospace Industry Association which promotes these massive arms shipments…is even more influential.” This association has given two times more money to campaigns than all of the pro-Israel groups combined. Its “force on Capitol Hill, in terms of lobbying, surpasses that of even AIPAC.” Zunes asserted that the “general thrust of U.S. policy would be pretty much the same even if AIPAC didn’t exist. We didn’t need a pro-Indonesia lobby to support Indonesia in its savage repression of East Timor all these years.” This is a complex issue, and Zunes said that he did not want to be “conspiratorial,” but he asked the audience to imagine what “Palestinian industriousness, Israeli technology, and Arabian oil money…would do to transform the Middle East…. [W]hat would that mean to American arms manufacturers? Oil companies? Pentagon planners?”

“An increasing number of Israelis are pointing out” that these funds are not in Israel’s best interest. Quoting Peled, Zunes said, “this aid pushes Israel ‘toward a posture of callous intransigence’ in terms of the peace process.” Moreover, for every dollar the U.S. sends in arms aid, Israel must spend two to three dollars to train people to use the weaponry, to buy parts, and in other ways make use of the aid. Even “main-stream Israeli economists are saying [it] is very harmful to the country’s future.”

The Israeli paper Yediot Aharonot described Israel as “‘the godfather’s messenger’ since [Israel] undertake[s] the ‘dirty work’ of a godfather who ‘always tries to appear to be the owner of some large, respectable business.”‘ Israeli satirist B. Michael refers to U.S. aid this way: “‘My master gives me food to eat and I bite those whom he tells me to bite. It’s called strategic cooperation.” ‘To challenge this strategic relationship, one cannot focus solely on the Israeli lobby but must also examine these “broader forces as well.” “Until we tackle this issue head-on,” it will be “very difficult to win” in other areas relating to Palestine.

“The results” of the short-term thinking behind U.S. policy “are tragic,” not just for the “immediate victims” but “eventually [for] Israel itself” and “American interests in the region.” The U.S. is sending enormous amounts of aid to the Middle East, and yet “we are less secure than ever”-both in terms of U.S. interests abroad and for individual Americans. Zunes referred to a “growing and increasing hostility [of] the average Arab toward the United States.” In the long term, said Zunes, “peace and stability and cooperation with the vast Arab world is far more important for U.S. interests than this alliance with Israel.”

This is not only an issue for those who are working for Palestinian rights, but it also “jeopardizes the entire agenda of those of us concerned about human rights, concerned about arms control, concerned about international law.” Zunes sees significant potential in “building a broad-based movement around it.”

The above text is based on remarks, delivered on. 26 January, 2001 by Stephen Zunes – Associate Professor of Politics and Chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at San Francisco University. ❑

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The Hidden History of the Balfour Declaration

NOVANEWS
By John Cornelius

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IN THIS article the author relates what he believes to be the true story of how the British government came to issue what has come to be known as the Balfour Declaration.

The Balfour Declaration took the form of a letter, dated Nov. 2, 1917, from Arthur Balfour, foreign secretary of the British government, to Lord Walter Rothschild, head of the organization of British Zionists. This letter promised that the British government would work to bring about “a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.” (See box.)

I have written three earlier articles in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, on this subject, and my views have evolved with the passage of time.1,2,3 What has not changed is my belief in a British-Zionist trade whereby the Zionists assisted in bringing America into the war and, in return, the British promised them Palestine.

Among the things that have changed is my concept of the timing of the agreement. The earliest article contained a chronology showing that the British received a plain-language copy of the Zimmermann telegram (ZT) a few days after it was sent, encoded, from Berlin to Washington, on Jan. 16, 1917, and that the first formal meeting between British Zionists and the British government took place on Feb. 7, 1917. It now appears that the basic agreement was made several months before that time and what was betrayed to the British was not the text of the ZT, but rather the code in which it was sent.

Autumn 1916

The story can begin about halfway through the First World War, in the autumn of 1916. We will examine three components of the situation at that time: the military and naval positions and the status of British Zionist negotiations.

On land, the war began in August 1914 with the German army facing enemies on two fronts. In accordance with a long-standing plan, the Schlieffen plan, Germany attacked France first, hoping for a quick victory there, after which it could turn its full attention to the Russian front. Events did not work out that way. The Germans did advance, through Belgium, deep into France, but they did not succeed in enveloping Paris from the west, as had been the intention. By the end of 1914 a sort of stalemate had developed. A year and a half later the location of the front had not changed greatly, and a continuous line of trenches ran from the Swiss border almost to the North Sea. Both sides mounted offensives from time to time, with heavy loss of life, but the location of the front changed by only a few miles.

The Germans fared better on the Russian front, but that does not concern us here.

By the middle of 1916 the French army was largely exhausted, and the next big Allied offensive was undertaken primarily by the British. The battle of the Somme began on July 1, 1916 and was one of the bloodiest in history. The British suffered 60,000 casualties (19,000 dead) on the first day alone. Total casualties were over a million, more or less equally divided between the two sides. The location of the front shifted by a few miles.

Well before the battle ended, the British must have concluded that they would not be able to drive the Germans out of France by frontal assault.

At sea, the situation was delicate. Early in the war, on Nov. 3, 1914, Britain had declared the whole of the North Sea a theater of war and instituted an illegal blockade of the adjoining neutral coasts and ports. The purpose of the blockade was to starve Germany into submission. The American government protested but took no action.4

On Feb. 4, 1915 the German ambassador informed the American government that from Feb.18 a counter blockade would be in force, and the territorial waters of Great Britain and Ireland, including the whole of the English Channel, were declared a war area.

On May 7, 1915 the British liner Lusitania, traveling from New York to Liverpool, was struck off the Irish coast by a single torpedo, which provoked a much larger secondary explosion. The ship sank quickly, with the loss of almost 1,200 lives, 128 of them American.

There was strong American reaction to the sinking of the Lusitania, both popular and diplomatic, and the U.S. came close to breaking off diplomatic relations with Germany. A meeting between the German ambassador and President Woodrow Wilson on June 2 had the effect of calming matters for a time, but an exchange of diplomatic notes occurred. The second American note, of June 10, led to the resignation of the American secretary of state, William Jennings Bryan, who believed that neutrality required that American citizens be forbidden from traveling on ships bearing the flag of any belligerent nation. And, in fact, Americans could perfectly well have traveled on American, Dutch, or Scandinavian vessels.

Although there had been no settlement of the Lusitania case, feeling died down for a time. Then on Aug. 19, 1915 the British passenger steamer Arabic was sunk off the coast of Ireland, with the loss of two American lives. Once again the possibility of war between the U.S. and Germany loomed. In this case, however, Germany revealed that, following the Lusitania sinking, German submarine commanders had been ordered not to sink liners without warning, and apologized and offered compensation. Although the Lusitania matter still was not settled, following the Arabic apology German-American relations remained tranquil for several months.

The next cloud on the horizon was the “Sussex incident.” On March 24, 1916 the French trans-channel steamer Sussex was reported torpedoed and sunk in the English Channel, with the loss of several American lives. There seems to be some question as to whether the Sussex was in fact torpedoed and sunk at all, but in any case, the American government issued an ultimatum, and the German government was forced to acknowledge that the Sussex had been sunk by a German submarine and to agree that henceforth German submarines would abide by the rules of “cruiser warfare,” a severe restriction which seriously handicapped the submarine as a strategic weapon.

Throughout the war, there were two schools of thought within the German government. One held that the submarine was a major strategic weapon, with the potential of winning the war for Germany. The other held that the continued use of submarines against merchant shipping would lead to continual incidents and ultimately bring America into the war on the side of the Allies, and that therefore the use of submarines against merchant shipping was against Germany’s interest. By the fall of 1916 this issue had not been resolved.

British-Zionist negotiations date back at least to 1903. In that year the sixth Zionist congress took place in Basel. It is referred to as the “Uganda” congress because it dealt with an offer by the British government to make available land in Uganda for Jewish settlement. The offer was seriously considered and was, in fact, approved by a majority of the delegates, but the debate proved to be very divisive, and ultimately the offer was not taken up.

During that period Arthur Balfour was British prime minister, and the Zionists had retained the London law firm of Lloyd George, Roberts and Co. This firm was chosen because one of the partners, David Lloyd George, was an MP and thus in touch with Foreign Office thinking.5 Both Balfour and Lloyd George must have given serious thought at that time to the question of what the British government and the Zionists could do for each other.

That Balfour continued to think about this is shown by his statement at what Chaim Weizmann calls their second meeting in 1915 (the first was in 1906): “You know, I was thinking of that conversation of ours, and I believe that after the guns stop firing you may get your Jerusalem.”6

British-Zionist negotiations date back at least to l903.

On the other hand, in her 1983 book, Dear Lord Rothschild, Rothschild’s niece, Miriam Rothschild, states that Balfour and Weizmann had met on several occasions between 1905 and 1915 and had established an excellent rapport.7

In any case, it would seem that a pattern of British-Zionist negotiations, and in particular of Balfour-Weizmann negotiations, had been established well before the fall of 1916.

It is interesting to note that the Encyclopedia Britannica states that Balfour succeeded Winston Churchill as first lord of the admiralty in May 1915, whereas in Trial and Error Weizmann states that in March 1916 he was summoned to the British admiralty in connection with a chemical process he had developed and was subsequently brought into the presence of “the First Lord of the Admiralty, who was at that time Mr. Winston Churchill.”

Whatever the truth of the timing may be, Weizmann established a pattern of frequent visits to the admiralty, ostensibly in connection with his chemical process, but which would also have provided the opportunity for frequent, prolonged and secret negotiations between Weizmann and Balfour.

What Happened Next

Once it became clear, in the fall of 1916, that the battle of the Somme would not result in the German army’s being forced out of France, the British, with their resources approaching exhaustion, had to consider what to do next.

Herbert Asquith, who had been prime minister since 1908, had begun, reluctantly, to consider a negotiated peace, but negotiations with the Zionists, through Weizmann and Balfour, provided another option for Britain, although not for Asquith. That option was the possibility of a formal, but secret, alliance between the Zionists and the Monarchy, whereby the British Monarchy would undertake to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine and the Zionists would undertake to help bring America into the war on the side of the Allies, thus assuring an Al-lied victory. An agreement with a British government would certainly be necessary, but British governments come and go, and a commitment from something less ephemeral than a British government would have been required by the Zionists.

It is proposed that such a secret agreement took place. There seems to be no way to date it accurately, but it seems likely to have occurred sometime in October 1916.

Once a formal agreement was in place, the next step was to arrange for several changes in personnel—on both the British and the German sides.

  • The first change was in the leadership of Room 40, the name given the British codebreaking organization. Room 40 was destined to play a key role in the vast deception to follow, and it was necessary to have a trusted actor at its head. Room 40 was first set up in the fall of 1914 under the direction of Alfred Ewing, who retained that position until October 1916. At that time Ewing was replaced by Captain Reginald Hall, director of naval intelligence. Balfour found a suitable position for Ewing in academia. See “Five Books,” p. 47.
  • In Germany, Gottlieb von Jagow, who had been foreign minister since 1913, resigned in November 1916 over the issue of unrestricted submarine warfare, which he opposed. Speaking of the situation in Berlin at that time, the then German ambassador to the U.S. stated, “the unrestricted submarine campaign was only made possible by the resignation of Herr von Jagow, who was the chief opponent of the submarine campaign,” and “as long as Herr von Jagow remained secretary of state, a breach with the United States was regarded as impossible.”8
  • Von Jagow was replaced by Arthur Zimmermann, undersecretary for foreign affairs since 1911. Before 1914, Berlin was the center of Zionist activity, and in 1912 the organization which was to become the Technion, or Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa had placed itself under the protection of Germany, and Zimmermann had arranged with the Turkish government for the purchase of land and the erection of a building.9 Zimmermann clearly enjoyed good relations with German Zionists and was thus susceptible to Zionist influence.
  • In November 1916, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected to a second term as U.S. president with the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” It was understood that Wilson’s aim was to bring about a negotiated end to the war without victory for either side.
  • In early December 1916, a political crisis, probably engineered, occurred in Britain, and Herbert Asquith, who had been prime minister since 1908, was forced to resign. The denouement came on Dec. 6, 1916. That afternoon King George V summoned several prominent political figures, including Balfour and Lloyd George, to a conference at Buckingham Palace. Later that same evening, Balfour received a small political delegation, which proposed that the difficult political situation could be resolved with Lloyd George as prime minister, provided Balfour would agree to accept the position of foreign minister, which he did.10
  • Lloyd George then quickly imposed a war dictatorship, and direction of the war was entrusted to a “War Cabinet” of five members, including himself as prime minister and Balfour as foreign minister. Mark Sykes was named secretary.

At that point, all necessary changes in personnel had been accomplished.

  • On Dec. 18, 1916, the American ambassador to Britain conveyed an “offer of peace” on behalf of the Central Powers to the Allies.
  • On the following day, David Lloyd George, in his first speech to Parliament as prime minister, heaped scorn on the peace proposal and vowed that Britain and its allies would fight on until victory.

In retrospect, it seems clear that this speech was a bluff and was meant to goad the Germans into resuming unrestricted submarine warfare.

That this was indeed the case is indicated by a series of messages from the U.S. ambassador to Britain, Walter Page, to President Wilson and the secretary of state, written in June 1917.11 These messages make it clear that Britain was on the verge of financial collapse, and that only American support could avert disaster.” These messages were made public only in 1925 and are, in my opinion, too little known.

  • On Jan. 9, 1917 the German government made the fateful decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare at the beginning of the following month.
  • Date unknown—What would come to be known as the Zimmermann telegram was concocted in London. My source for this information is a letter to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, written in response to my first (1997) article, by author Russell Warren Howe.12 Howe stated that he had been taught at Cambridge that the ZT was “concocted in London to encourage Washington to join the Allies against the Central Powers.” My first reaction to this letter was doubt—because Zimmermann subsequently accepted responsibility for the ZT. But of course he had to, because he was responsible, even if the idea came from someone else.
  • Date unknown, possibly before the previous two entries—The key to German code 7500 (in which the ZT was to be sent) was provided to Room 40 by an informant. Howe states that Britain broke code 7500 (he calls it 0075) “a few weeks before the ZT.” By “broke,” he presumably means “acquired.”
  • Date unknown—One Herr von Kemnitz, an East Asia expert in the German foreign office and presumably a Zionist agent, presented Zimmermann with the text of a proposed telegram, the ZT, that he had supposedly drafted but had more likely received from London.13 Against the opposition of some of his colleagues, he persuaded Foreign Minister Zimmermann to send it.
  • On Jan. 16, 1917, two telegrams were sent sequentially, by cable, from Foreign Minister Zimmermann, in Berlin, to the German ambassador in Washington, Count Bernstorff. The first, which both Zimmermann and Bernstorff considered to be by far the more important, informed Bernstorff of the decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare on Feb. 1, 1917, and gave him instructions on when and how to inform the American government. The second was what has come to be known as the Zimmermann telegram. (See box on facing page.) This second telegram was relayed to the German Embassy in Mexico City on Jan. 19, 1917.
  • The British intercepted the ZT on the day it was sent and promptly decoded it.

It should be noted that Zimmermann sent the ZT on his own authority. Neither the Kaiser nor Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg knew anything of it until it was made public in America.

After seeing these cables, Bernstorff attempted to have the German government rescind the unrestricted submarine warfare decision, but was unsuccessful.

  • Jan. 31, 1917—Bernstorff informed the U.S. government that unrestricted submarine warfare would commence the following day.
  • Feb. 3, 1917—The U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Germany, and Bernstorff was told to leave the U.S.
  • Feb. 7, 1917—The secretary of the War Cabinet, Mark Sykes, met with Weizmann and other Zionist leaders in London, in what is widely, but incorrectly, believed to have been the first contact between the British government and the Zionists during the war. It is doubtful that Sykes himself had any knowledge of the October 1916 British-Zionist agreement.
  • Feb. 14, 1917—Bernstorff left New York on the Danish steamer Friedrich VIII to return to Germany. Safe conduct had been granted by the British.
  • Feb. 16, 1917—The Friedrich VIII entered Halifax, Nova Scotia harbor. Bernstorff remained incommunicado for almost two weeks.
  • Feb. 26, 1917—The State Department received a telegram from the American ambassador in London containing the plain language text of the ZT.
  • Feb. 27, 1917—Friedrich VIII permitted to sail from Halifax.
  • March 1, 1917 —Text of ZT published in U.S.
  • March 15, 1917—Czar Nicholas II abdicated, following the first of two 1917 revolutions in Russia. A provisional government was formed, later headed by Alexander Kerensky. Democracy appeared to have taken hold in Russia.
  • April 2, 1917—President Wilson addressed Congress. He spoke of the “wonderful and heartening” events in Russia, stated that “the world needs to be made safe for democracy,” and asked Congress to declare war on Germany.
  • April 6, 1917—Congress declared war on Germany.
  • Aug. 6, 1917—Zimmermann replaced as foreign minister in Germany.
  • Early November 1917—The Bolshevik revolution took place in Russia. The promise of democracy disappeared. The ex-Czar and his family were subsequently put to death. Kerensky was removed from power but came to no harm.
  • Nov. 2, 1917—Arthur Balfour sent a letter, including what has come to be known as the Balfour Declaration (BD), to Lord Walter Rothschild. For a number of years it was not known that the BD took this form. Lord Balfour’s obituary in The New York Times of March 20,1930 stated that the BD was the text of a speech delivered by Balfour on Nov. 4, 1917. See box p. 44.
  • March 8, 1918—Weizmann had a private and secret audience with King George V. According to Weizmann’s account in Trial and Error, the meeting consisted of an exchange of pleasantries, and one must wonder whether the meeting did not have some unstated purpose. One wonders, for example, if Weizmann did not emerge from the meeting in possession of a document signed by the King of England, possibly committing to more than did the BD.
  • Nov. 11, 1918-World War I ended.

Five Books: How the Betrayal of German Code 7500 to the British Was Covered Up

To establish that German Code 7500 was obtained by the British in 1917 by means other than codebreaking, it is instructive briefly to review five publications. These will be examined in the order in which they were published, which—because book three was first published classified and later declassified—is different from the order in which they were made public.

Our first book is The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page by Burton J. Hendrick.14Walter Page was a long-time (since 1881) friend of President Woodrow Wilson and was appointed by him to be U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, serving from 1913 until his death in 1918.

Volumes I and II of this three-volume work have a common index and were both published in 1922. Volume III deals largely with Page’s correspondence with President Wilson and Secretary of State Robert Lansing and was published in 1925, after Wilson’s death. It is important to remember that these volumes were written not by Page himself, who died in 1918—less than two months after the end of World War I—but by his biographer, Hendrick, who assembled the letters from many sources. We are concerned here only with Volume III.

Hendrick relates that in late February 1917 Balfour personally handed Page a copy of the document which has come to be known as the Zimmermann telegram. This document can be found in the box at right, and is referred to there as ZT-2. It is the version of the telegram that was forwarded by the German Embassy in Washington to the German Embassy in Mexico City on Jan. 19, 1917. Balfour stated that the telegram had not been obtained in Washington but had been bought in Mexico City.

Two other versions of the Zimmermann telegram may also be found in the box at right. These are ZT-1, the original telegram as cabled from Berlin to Washington on Jan. 16, 1917, and what we may call ZT-Hendrick. ZT-Hendrick appears nowhere else than in Hendrick’s book. It seems to be something the British gave Page, with an indication that it was an early, partial, decipherment of ZT-2 made sometime before Page was given the completely deciphered version. It is evident, however, that ZT-Hendrick is derived from ZT-1, not ZT-2.

ZT-1 and ZT-2 are, of course, English translations of German originals. There is no German original of ZT-H.

Some people in the U.S. government must have learned in early 1917 that ZT-1 and ZT-2 were sent encrypted in two different and unrelated codes. This did not become public knowledge, however, until F&M (see Book 3, below) was declassified in 1965.

It is difficult to see how the national interest was served by hiding from public knowledge for 48 years the simple fact that ZT-1 and ZT-2 were encrypted in different codes.

It was fortunate for the British that Page died when he did in 1918. Page was clearly an anglophile and eagerly accepted everything Balfour told him. Nevertheless, had he learned that the two versions of the ZT had been sent in different codes and that ZT-Hendrick could only have been derived from ZT-1, he would surely have realized that he had been deceived.

The second book is Arthur James Balfour by Lord Balfour’s niece, Blanche Dugdale, published in two volumes in 1936 (London) and 1937 (NY).15 This is a lengthy work, covering Lord Balfour’s entire life and political career. We are concerned here only with Chapter 10 of the second volume, in which the following significant paragraphs appear. The year referred to is 1917.

Ever since the middle of January, however, a piece of information had been in the possession of the British Government, which would move, if anything could, the vast populations behind the Atlantic seaboard States, who still read of the European War with as much detachment as if it had been raging on the moon. This was the famous telegram from Zimmermann, the German Foreign Minister, to the German Minister in Mexico, instructing him, if and when the United States should enter the War on the Allied side, to propose to Mexico an alliance which would restore to her, when peace came, her “lost territories in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.”

The method by which this information had reached the British Intelligence Service made it impossible for some time to communicate it to the United States Government. Therefore for over a month Balfour read his dispatches from Washington of the slow wakening of the American will to war, but could do nothing to hasten the process. Till—at last—information about the Mexican plot reached London through channels which enabled the Intelligence Service to cover up the traces of how it had first been got.

This appears to open the possibility that the British government obtained either the Zimmermann telegram or the code in which it was sent from an informant, rather than by code-breaking, and in any case indicates that the British possessed the full text of ZT-1 shortly after it was sent.

The third work to be examined is a U.S. Army Signal Corps Bulletin, The Zimmermann Telegram of January 16, 1917 and its Cryptographic Background, by William F. Friedman and Charles J. Mendelsohn (F&M).16 This work was published, classified, in 1937 and was declassified in 1965. The senior author was born Wolfe Friedmann in Kishinev, Russia in 1891 and ultimately became known as the Father of American Cryptanalysis.

Friedman and Mendelsohn (F&M) undertake to determine how the British were able to intercept the Zimmermann telegram and how they were able to decipher it.

They reveal that the ZT (ZT-1) was first transmitted by submarine cable from Berlin to the German ambassador in Washington, Count Bernstorff, on Jan. 16, 1917, encrypted in German code 7500, and that Bernstorff then relayed it (ZT-2) as a Western Union telegram encrypted in German code 13042, to the German legation in Mexico City on Jan. 19. Two different codes were used because the German legation in Mexico did not possess code 7500, and the ZT had to be relayed to them in an older and less secure code.

The texts of the two versions of the ZT, the Berlin-to-Washington (7500) version and the Washington-to-Mexico City (13042) version, were identical, but they had different preambles. The preamble of the 7500 version was “For your Excellency’s personal information and to be forwarded to the Imperial Minister in Mexico by a safe route.” The preamble of the 13042 version was simply “The foreign office telegraphs on January 16.” (See “Three Versions” box on previous page.)

Code 7500 was a new and difficult code, only recently delivered by submarine to the U.S., and it is the professional judgment of F&M that the British would have been able to make, at best, a very rudimentary decipherment of the ZT by the time they made the verbatim text of the ZT available to the U.S.

F&M’s explanation of how the British obtained the text of the ZT is that, after making a meager beginning in deciphering the 7500 version, they were able to obtain a copy of the 13042 version, after which decipherment was soon accomplished. This fails to explain, however, how the British were able to obtain the text of the preamble of the 7500 version of the ZT, which they did.

The more likely explanation of how the British were able to obtain a verbatim copy of the original 7500 version of the ZT is that, at the time the ZT was sent, the British already possessed the key to that code.

Although F&M reproduce the Dugdale quotation given above, they are remiss in having failed even to consider the obvious possibility that the British might have obtained the text of ZT-1 (or code 7500) through an informant rather than by code-breaking. The possibility must be considered that this failure was by design rather than through oversight.

The fourth book to be considered is The Zimmermann Telegram, by Barbara Tuchman.17 This work first appeared in 1958, and a second edition appeared in 1966, i.e., after F&M was declassified in 1965.

The first edition of Tuchman’s book states that the British picked up the encoded ZT by wireless on Jan. 16, 1917, and found it to be in code 13042, which was related to codes the British already had deciphered. They were thus able, in short order, to produce a nearly complete copy of the decoded ZT.

In fact, the ZT was transmitted by cable, not radio, and encrypted in code 7500, not 13042.

Normally, the second edition of a book provides an opportunity, and also the duty, for the author to correct errors in the first edition. That did not happen with this book. The text is unchanged, but a “Preface to New Edition” has been added. In it, Tuchman reports the declassification of F&M and acknowledges that it “appears to modify my account”—a gross understatement. She acknowledges having been aware of the existence of F&M and acknowledges having been in contact with Friedman but professes to have been unaware of the content of the book.

The heart of Tuchman’s book is the de-tailed story in Chapter 1 of how the British deciphered the ZT in code 13042 on Jan. 16, 1917. A reading of F&M makes it clear that this story is false. It is conceivable that Tuchman believed this story when she first wrote it, but it is not possible that she still believed it when the second edition of her book was issued. It is the belief of this writer that Tuchman fabricated a false story of how the British obtained the text of the ZT in order to conceal the fact that they obtained it by betrayal rather than by codebreaking.

It is remarkable that Tuchman’s book continues to be read and believed more than 30 years after hard evidence has become available that the story is false.

The fifth and final book on our list is The Codebreakers, by David Kahn, published in 1967.18 This a lengthy work of 26 chapters and over 1,000 pages. We are interested primarily in Chapter 9, entitled “Room 40.” About half of that chapter is devoted to the ZT. A second edition appeared in 1996, but it does not alter Chapter 9.

Kahn’s explanation of how the British were able to decipher the ZT in code 7500 (which, like Tuchman but unlike F&M, he calls 0075) is that “somehow” the British obtained enough material in code 7500 to make a start at breaking it. Kahn quotes an incomplete version of the ZT as being what the British were able to produce. This same incomplete version is referred to by F&M as the “Hendrick version,” of which they say: “When all is said and done, the decipherment of the 7500 version of the Zimmermann telegram, even to the degree given in the Hendrick version, approaches the unbelievable.” Note that, unlike Kahn, who is a writer on cryptography, F&M were professional cryptographers.

One’s confidence in Kahn is eroded by the fact that, in discussing the question of why, after the ZT was made public, Zimmermann admitted authorship of it, Kahn states, “to this day no one knows why Zimmermann admitted it” (p. 297). This is disingenuous. Anyone who has looked into the matter knows exactly why he admitted it. The Germans were as much taken by surprise by the publication of the ZT as anyone else and wanted to know if it was genuine. Zimmermann was called on to testify before the Reichstag and had no choice but to admit it.

As an aside, note that Room 40 was the name given to the cryptoanalytic bureau set up in the British admiralty early in the war under the direction of Sir Alfred Ewing. Kahn reveals that Ewing remained the head of Room 40 from the fall of 1914 until October 1916, when he returned to academia, whence he had come. His departure was facilitated by Lord Balfour, and his replacement was Captain Reginald Hall, R.N., director of naval intelligence. We may infer that at this time British-Zionist negotiations were well under way and that Room 40’s role was being broadened from cracking German codes to include pretending to crack German code 7500.

We have examined our five books one-by-one. Let us now relate them to each other.

It is the unproven belief of the present writer that German code 7500, in which the original ZT was sent in January 1917, was obtained by a Zionist agent inside the German government, possibly either by means of photography or a photographic memory, and provided to the British government.

The second book cited, by Blanche Dugdale, is consistent with this belief in that it contains a veiled hint that the British might have obtained the plain language text of the ZT by means other than codebreaking, whereas the three following books totally ignore this possibility. Interestingly, the other three books give different, and incompatible, stories of how the British did obtain the text of the ZT.

It is clear that the authors of books three, four and five were acquainted with each other.

Since it was the first of these three books, F&M, of course, make no mention of Tuchman or Kahn.

In her “Preface to New Edition,” written after the declassification of F&M, Tuchman acknowledges having known of the existence of F&M, though not its content, and having spoken to Friedman. (There was no mention of either of these facts in the first edition.) Also in the same preface, Tuchman states that decipherment of code 7500 (which she calls 0075) will be analyzed in Kahn’s, at that time forthcoming, book. This implies contact between them.

Interestingly, Kahn makes no mention of Tuchman, nor does her name appear in the index, although Kahn’s account of the historical circumstance of the ZT seems to be largely borrowed from her book. Kahn does, however, mention Friedman. In the preface to The Codebreakers. Kahn mysteriously thanks Friedman for “a gift made in 1947, upon my graduation from high school, that was a major step in my cryptographic education.” One wonders if that “gift” might not have been the secret of how the British first obtained German code 7500 and of the need to protect that secret in perpetuity.

“Services Rendered”

In his seminal work, Arab Awakening (1938), George Antonius points out that in early 1917 three major obstacles stood in the way of Zionist efforts to obtain a commitment from the British government in support of their goals in Palestine.19First was the bargain concluded in 1915 with Sharif Husain of Arabia for an independent Arab state whose territory included Pales-tine. Second was the Sykes-Picot agreement, dividing the Middle East between Britain and France and placing the Holy Land under some sort of international administration. And third was the hostility toward political Zionism of an influential group of British Jews.

Antonius then continues:

“Undeterred, however, by those obstacles, Mr. Lloyd George appointed Sir Mark Sykes to open negotiations with the Zionists. What his motives were in wishing to come to an understanding with the Zionist leaders, and what the considerations were which induced the British Government eventually to issue the Balfour Declaration are questions to which the answers have been obscured by a smoke-screen of legend and propaganda. It is alleged, for instance, that the Jews used their financial and political influence to bring the United States into the War on the side of the Entente and that the Balfour Declaration was a reward for actual services rendered. All published evidence goes to disprove that allegation, and one can only infer either that it does not rest on any foundation or, if it does, that the services rendered by international Jewry in that connection were of so occult a nature that they have hitherto escaped the scrutiny of all the historians of America’s intervention.”

The initial meeting between Sykes and the Zionists took place on Feb. 7, 1917, and we can now see why the “services rendered” toward bringing America into the war have hitherto escaped the scrutiny of all the historians of America’s intervention. One would expect that Zionist actions aimed at bringing America into the war would have taken place sometime after the first British-Zionist meeting, but the first acknowledged contact between the British Government and Zionists was the Sykes meeting of Feb. 7, 1917. Yet by that time the Zionist contributions toward bringing America into the war already had largely been accomplished, although it is likely that Sykes himself was unaware of that.

The Balfour-Weizmann agreement of October 1916 was and remains entirely secret.

The Sykes meeting served as a sort of decoy.

In the few months between these two events, the following had taken place:

  • The civilian head of codebreaking “Room 40” in London had been replaced by the director of Naval Intelligence.
  • Von Jagow, who had served since 1913, was replaced by Zimmermann as German foreign secretary.
  • Asquith, who had served as British prime minister since 1908, was removed from power, and a new War Cabinet was formed, in which Lloyd George was prime minister and Balfour foreign minister—both friends of Zionism since 1903.
  • The key to German code 7500 was betrayed to Room 40.
  • A draft of the ZT was concocted in London and presented to Zimmermann by one of his subordinates in Berlin.
  • The ZT was transmitted by cable from Berlin to Washington on Jan. 16, 1917. It was copied by Room 40 and promptly de-coded. Note that this is incompatible with Tuchman’s story but entirely consistent with Dugdale’s account.

Thus, by the time of the Sykes-Zionist meeting of Feb. 7, 1917, the Zionist part of the bargain had been accomplished, and America was as good as at war. All that remained was for the British to find the best time and method for revealing the contents of the ZT to President Wilson and for him to convince Congress and the American people to go to war.

References:
  1. Cornelius, John. “The Balfour Declaration and the Zimmermann Note,” The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs), Aug./Sept. 1997.
  2. Cornelius, John. “Answering Critics of the Theory that Balfour Declaration Was Payoff for Zionist Services in WWI,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Sept. 1998.
  3. Cornelius, John. “Palestine, the Balfour Declaration, and Why America Entered the Great War,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Oct./Nov. 1999.
  4. Bernstorff, Count Johann Heinrich. My Three Years in America, New York: Scribner’s, 1920.
  5. Dugdale, Mrs. Edgar. The Balfour Declaration-Origins and Background, London: The Jewish Agency for Palestine, 1940, pp. 15-16.
  6. Weizmann, Chaim. Trial and Error, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1949, p. 152.
  7. Rothschild, Miriam. Dear Lord Rothschild, Glenside, Pa.: Balaban Publishers, 1983, p. 341.
  8. Bernstorff, pp.310-311.
  9. Weizmann, p. 143.
  10. Dugdale, Blanche. Arthur James Balfour, NY, Putnam’s, 1937, Vol. II, pp. 127-9.
  11. Hendrick, Burton J. The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, NY, Doubleday, Page & Co., 1925, Vol. III, Chap 14.
  12. Howe, Russell Warren. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Letters to the Editor, Jan./Feb. 1998, p. 110.
  13. Link, Arthur S., Wilson, Vol. 5, Princeton, NJ, 1965, Princeton University Press, pp 433-5.
  14. Hendrick, Vol. III.
  15. Dugdale, Arthur James Balfour, Vol. II.
  16. Friedman, William F. and Mendelsohn, Charles J. The Zimmermann Telegram of January 16, 1917 and its Cryptographic Background, Laguna Hills, CA: Aegean Park Press, 1994.
  17. Tuchman, Barbara W. The Zimmermann Telegram. New York: Ballantine Books, 1958, 1966.
  18. Kahn, David. The Codebreakers. New York: Macmillan, 1967, 1996
  19. Antonius, George. The Arab Awakening. Philadelphia, NY: Lippencott, 1939.

 

Three Versions of the Zimmermann Telegram

ZT-I as sent in code 7500 from Berlin to Washington on Jan. 16, 1917
Source: German Hearings

Telegram No. 158.

Strictly confidential.

For your Excellency’s exclusively personal information and transmission to the Imperial Minister at Mexico by safe hands:

Telegram No. 1.

Absolutely confidential.

To be personally deciphered.

It is our purpose on the 1st of February to commence the unrestricted U-boat war. The attempt will be made to keep America neutral in spite of it all.

In case we should not be successful in this, we propose Mexico an alliance upon the following terms: Joint conduct of war. Joint conclusion of peace. Ample financial support and an agreement on our part that Mexico shall gain back by conquest the territory lost by her at a prior period in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Arrangement as to detail is entrusted to your Excellency.

Your Excellency will make the above known to the President in strict confidence at the moment that war breaks out with the United States, and you will add the suggestion that Japan be requested to take part at once and that he simultaneously mediate between ourselves and Japan.

Please inform the President that the unrestricted use of our U-boats now offers the prospect of forcing England to sue for peace in the course of a few months.

Confirm receipt.

ZIMMERMANN

ZT-2 as sent in code 13042 from Washington to Mexico City on Jan. 19, 1917

Source: Friedman and Mendelsohn, translated from the German version

The Foreign Office wires (telegraphiert) January 16:

No. I.

Absolutely confidential.

To be personally deciphered.

It is our purpose on the 1st of February to commence the unrestricted U-boat war. The attempt will be made to keep America neutral in spite of it all.

In case we should not be successful in this, we propose Mexico an alliance upon the following terms: Joint conduct of war. Joint conclusion of peace. Ample financial support and an agreement on our part that Mexico shall gain back by conquest the territory lost by her at a prior period in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Arrangement as to detail is entrusted to your Excellency.

Your Excellency will make the above known to the President in strict confidence at the moment that war breaks out with the United States, and you will add the suggestion that Japan be requested to take part at once and that he simultaneously mediate between ourselves and Japan.

Please inform the President that the unrestricted use of our U-boats now offers the prospect of forcing England to sue for peace in the course of a few months.

Confirm receipt.

ZIMMERMANN

ZT-Hendrick, date unknown

Source: Hendrick found among Ambassador Page’s papers

Zimmermann to Bernstorff for Eckhardt W. 158.

I6th January, 1917

Most secret for your Excellency’s personal information and to be handed on to the Imperial Minister in ? Mexico with Tel. No. 1…by a safe route.

We purpose to begin on 1st February unrestricted submarine warfare. In doing so, however, we shall endeavor to keep America neutral….? If we do not (succeed in doing so) we propose to (? Mexico) an alliance upon the following basis:

(joint) conduct of the war

(joint) conclusion of peace

Your Excellency should for the present inform the President secretly (that we expect) war with the U.S.A. (possibly) (…Japan) and at the same time to negotiate between us and Japan…(indecipherable sentence meaning please tell the President) that…our submarines…will compel England to peace in a few months.

Acknowledge receipt.

ZIMMERMANN

SIDEBAR 2

Mr. Morgenthau Doesn’t Go to Istanbul

A little known historical incident took place in the spring of 1917, shortly after the U.S. entered World War I on the side of the Allies. President Woodrow Wilson devised a plan for bringing about an early end to the war by detaching Turkey from the Central Powers. To this end, he sent a mission to Europe, where it was to meet with representatives of Britain and France in Switzerland and then make its way to Turkey. The mission was headed by Henry Morgenthau, Sr., who had been American ambassador to Turkey from 1912 to 1915 and had many contacts there. This story is related in Chapter 17 of Chaim Weizmann’s 1949 autobiography, Trial and Error.

The American mission never arrived in Switzerland, let alone Turkey. In early June of 1917, Weizmann, who was then in London, received a cable from Louis Brandeis in the U.S., informing him of the mission and suggesting that he contact it. Weizmann immediately contacted members of the British government and learned the nature of the mission. Weizmann was concerned that the Morgenthau mission might result in the war ending with the Ottoman Empire still intact, eliminating the possibility of a Jewish state in Palestine.

A subsequent conference with Lord Balfour lead to Weizmann’s being sent as the official British representative to meet with the American mission and a French representative. This meeting took place at Gibraltar after the American mission disembarked at Cadiz on July 4, 1917.

Weizmann reports that he had no difficulty persuading Morgenthau to drop the whole matter, so instead of proceeding to Switzerland and Istanbul, Morgenthau went to Biarritz, in the South of France, where, he said, he would communicate with General Pershing and await further instructions from President Wilson.

The Morgenthau mission was apparently secret, for Weizmann says he does not know how the story got out. He also says that in 1922, when Congress was looking into the merits of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, a senator stated that the leaders of the Zionist movement were unworthy men and that Weizmann, in particular, had prolonged the war for two years by scuttling the Morgenthau mission.

Morgenthau seems to have shown more loyalty to Zionism than to his president or his country.

Interestingly, author Barbara Tuchman was Morgenthau’s granddaughter.—J.C.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on The Hidden History of the Balfour Declaration

Suddenly It’s Okay to Be pro-Israel and anti-Semitic

NOVANEWS
An anti-Trump sign at the Florida Capitol, Tallahassee, November 16, 2016
When friendship for Israel is judged solely on the basis of support for the occupation, Israel has no friends other than racists and nationalists.

Gideon Levy

All of a sudden it’s not so terrible to be anti-Semitic. Suddenly it’s excusable as long as you hate Muslims and Arabs and “love Israel.” The Jewish and Israeli right has issued a sweeping amnesty to anti-Semitic lovers of Israel – yes, there is such a thing, and they’re en route to taking power in the United States.
So now we know: Not just pornography but also anti-Semitism is a matter of geography and price. Right-wing American anti-Semites are no longer considered anti-Semites.

The definition has been updated: From now on, anti-Semites are only found on the left. Roger Waters, a courageous man of conscience without stain, is an anti-Semite. Steve Bannon, a declared racist and closet anti-Semite who has been appointed chief strategist in the Trump White House, is a friend of Israel.
Jewish and Israeli activists who left no stone unturned in their effort to discover signs of anti-Semitism, who viewed every parking ticket for an American Jew as an act of hate, who moved heaven and earth every time a Jew was robbed or a Jewish gravestone was cracked, are now whitewashing an anti-Semite. Suddenly they’re not convinced we’re talking about that particular disease.

Alan Dershowitz, one of the biggest propagandists in this field, has already come out in defense of the racist Bannon. In a Haaretz piece late last week, Dershowitz wrote that the man whose wife said he didn’t want their children to go to school with Jews isn’t anti-Semitic. “The claim was simply made by his former wife in a judicial proceeding, thus giving it no special weight,”  Dershowitz wrote, with specious logic.
After all, Dershowitz’s former research assistant, an Orthodox Jew who later worked with Bannon, assured him that he had seen no signs of anti-Semitism in Bannon. And suddenly that’s enough for Dershowitz. Suddenly it’s possible to separate racism from anti-Semitism.

Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, naturally hastened to join the party. Over the weekend, he said he expects to work with Bannon. And boy, does he expect to work with that racist. After all, they’ll agree about everything: that there’s no Palestinian people, that there’s no occupation, that the settlement of Yitzhar should remain forever, that leftists are traitors.
For Dermer – ambassador of the illegal outpost of Amona, friend of the Tea Party and boycotter of J Street; a man who if the bilateral relationship had been normal would have been declared persona non grata by the United States – the new appointments are like the dawn of a new day.

He’ll feel so at home with Frank Gaffney, another hater of Muslims who’s likely to receive a senior appointment in the new administration; he’ll be so happy working with Bannon. And Mike Huckabee is exactly his cup of tea. Dermer, after all, was given the Freedom Flame Award by the Center for Security Policy, a hate group that proudly flies the flag of Islamophobia.

These racists and their ilk are Israel’s best friends in the United States. They’re joined by the racists of the European right. If you discount the guilt feelings over the Holocaust, they’re the only friends Israel has left. When friendship for Israel is judged solely on the basis of support for the occupation, Israel has no friends other than racists and nationalists. That ought to have aroused great shame here: Tell us who your friends are and we’ll tell you who you are.

These racists love Israel because it’s carrying out their dreams: to oppress Arabs, to abuse Muslims, to dispossess them, expel them, kill them, demolish their houses, trample their honor. This bunch of trash would so dearly love to behave as we do.

But for now this is only possible in Israel, so it’s the light unto the nations in this field. What happened to the days when Jews in South Africa went to prison with Nelson Mandela? Nowadays Jewish activists in America support the new rulers – the racists and anti-Semites.

The Palestinian-American author Susan Abulhawa wrote on Facebook over the weekend: Palestinians are calling white nationalist Bannon an anti-Semite, while AIPAC and Dershowitz think he’s not such a bad guy. What more proof do you need that Zionism is a face of white supremacy, and ultimately antithetical to Judaism?

Last summer, Abulhawa was deported via the Allenby Bridge. And she’s right. The United States and Israel now share the same values – and woe to that sense of shame.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Suddenly It’s Okay to Be pro-Israel and anti-Semitic

Syrian army says Nazi regime bombs air base near Damascus

NOVANEWS

Nazi army missiles (benignly called rockets) hit Syrian military instillation near Damascus, far from Aleppo where the Russian supported war on ISIS finally seems to be winding down.  As Russian and Syrian forces increase pressure on ISIS and other Western supported “rebels”, Jewish Nazi regime has become more violent in its support for ISIS, and its admitted wish to overthrow its neighboring Assad Government.

Recall that Nazi regime took the Golan Heights from Syria by force in 1967. When asked about each subsequent attack, Reuters reports that, Israel either refuses to explain, or claims it is attacking Hamas or Hezballah activists in Syria.

 

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, SyriaComments Off on Syrian army says Nazi regime bombs air base near Damascus

Chomsky: The US Health System Is an “International Scandal” — and ACA Repeal Will Make It Worse

NOVANEWS

By C.J. Polychroniou, Truthout | Interview

(Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout; Adapted: Thomasjphotos)

(Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout; Adapted: Thomasjphotos)

Changes are coming to America’s health care system. Not long from now, the Affordable Care Act could be history. President-elect Donald Trump wants to repeal so-called Obamacare, although he is now urging Republicans to repeal and replace it at the same time. But replace it with what?

The political culture of the most powerful nation in the world is such that it vehemently defends the right of people to buy guns but opposes the right to free and decent health care for all its citizens. In all likelihood, the Trump health care plan will be one based on “free market principles.” Under such a plan, as Noam Chomsky notes in the exclusive interview for Truthout that follows, poor people are likely to suffer most. In other words, the scandalous nature of the US health care system is bound to become even more scandalous in the Trump era. Welcome back to the future.

C.J. Polychroniou: Trump and the Republicans are bent on doing away with Obamacare. Doesn’t the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) represent an improvement over what existed before? And, what would the Republicans replace it with?

Noam Chomsky: I perhaps should say, to begin, that I have always felt a little uncomfortable about the term “Obamacare.” Did anyone call Medicare “Johnsoncare?” Maybe wrongly, but it has seemed to me to have a tinge of Republican-style vulgar disparagement, maybe even of racism. But put that aside…. Yes, the ACA is a definite improvement over what came before — which is not a great compliment. The US health care system has long been an international scandal, with about twice the per capita expenses of other wealthy (OECD) countries and relatively poor outcomes. The ACA did, however, bring improvements, including insurance for tens of millions of people who lacked it, banning of refusal of insurance for people with prior disabilities, and other gains — and also, it appears to have led to a reduction in the increase of health care costs, though that is hard to determine precisely.

The House of Representatives, dominated by Republicans (with a minority of voters), has voted over 50 times in the past six years to repeal or weaken Obamacare, but they have yet to come up with anything like a coherent alternative. That is not too surprising. Since Obama’s election, the Republicans have been pretty much the party of NO. Chances are that they will now adopt a cynical [Paul] Ryan-style evasion, repeal and delay, to pretend to be honoring their fervent pledges while avoiding at least for a time the consequences of a possible major collapse of the health system and ballooning costs. It’s far from certain. It’s conceivable that they might patch together some kind of plan, or that the ultra-right and quite passionate “Freedom Caucus” may insist on instant repeal without a plan, damn the consequence for the budget, or, of course, for people.

One part of the health system that is likely to suffer is Medicaid, probably through block grants to states, which gives the Republican-run states opportunities to gut it. Medicaid only helps poor people who “don’t matter” and don’t vote Republican anyway. So [according to Republican logic], why should the rich pay taxes to maintain it?

Article 25 of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) states that the right to health care is indeed a human right. Yet, it is estimated that close to 30 million Americans remain uninsured even with the ACA in place. What are some of the key cultural, economic and political factors that make the US an outlier in the provision of free health care?

First, it is important to remember that the US does not accept the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — though in fact the UDHR was largely the initiative of Eleanor Roosevelt, who chaired the commission that drafted its articles, with quite broad international participation.

The UDHR has three components, which are of equal status: civil-political, socioeconomic and cultural rights. The US formally accepts the first of the three, though it has often violated its provisions. The US pretty much disregards the third. And to the point here, the US has officially and strongly condemned the second component, socioeconomic rights, including Article 25.

Opposition to Article 25 was particularly vehement in the Reagan and Bush 1 years. Paula Dobriansky, deputy assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs in these administrations, dismissed the “myth” that “‘economic and social rights constitute human rights,” as the UDHR declares. She was following the lead of Reagan’s UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, who ridiculed the myth as “little more than an empty vessel into which vague hopes and inchoate expectations can be poured.” Kirkpatrick thus joined Soviet Ambassador Andrei Vyshinsky, who agreed that it was a mere “collection of pious phrases.” The concepts of Article 25 are “preposterous” and even a “dangerous incitement,” according to Ambassador Morris Abram, the distinguished civil rights attorney who was US Representative to the UN Commission on Human Rights under Bush I, casting the sole veto of the UN Right to Development, which closely paraphrased Article 25 of the UDHR.The Bush 2 administration maintained the tradition by voting alone to reject a UN resolution on the right to food and the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (the resolution passed 52-1).

Rejection of Article 25, then, is a matter of principle. And also a matter of practice. In the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] ranking of social justice, the US is in 27th place out of 31, right above Greece, Chile, Mexico and Turkey. This is happening in the richest country in world history, with incomparable advantages. It was quite possibly already the richest region in the world in the 18th century.

In extenuation of the Reagan-Bush-Vyshinsky alliance on this matter, we should recognize that formal support for the UDHR is all too often divorced from practice.

US dismissal of the UDHR in principle and practice extends to other areas. Take labor rights. The US has failed to ratify the first principle of the International Labour Organization Convention, which endorses “Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise.” An editorial comment in the American Journal of International Law refers to this provision of the International Labour Organization Convention as “the untouchable treaty in American politics.” US rejection is guarded with such fervor, the report continues, that there has never even been any debate about the matter. The rejection of International Labour Organization Conventions contrasts dramatically with the fervor of Washington’s dedication to the highly protectionist elements of the misnamed “free trade agreements,” designed to guarantee monopoly pricing rights for corporations (“intellectual property rights”), on spurious grounds. In general, it would be more accurate to call these “investor rights agreements.”

Comparison of the attitude toward elementary rights of labor and extraordinary rights of private power tells us a good deal about the nature of American society.

Furthermore, US labor history is unusually violent. Hundreds of US workers were being killed by private and state security forces in strike actions, practices unknown in similar countries. In her history of American labor, Patricia Sexton — noting that there are no serious studies — reports an estimate of 700 strikers killed and thousands injured from 1877 to 1968, a figure which, she concludes, may “grossly understate the total casualties.” In comparison, one British striker was killed since 1911.

As struggles for freedom gained victories and violent means became less available, business turned to softer measures, such as the “scientific methods of strike breaking” that have become a leading industry. In much the same way, the overthrow of reformist governments by violence, once routine, has been displaced by “soft coups” such as the recent coup in Brazil, though the former options are still pursued when possible, as in Obama’s support for the Honduran military coup in 2009, in near isolation. Labor remains relatively weak in the US in comparison to similar societies. It is constantly battling even for survival as a significant organized force in the society, under particularly harsh attack since the Reagan years.

All of this is part of the background for the US departure in health care from the norm of the OECD, and even less privileged societies. But there are deeper reasons why the US is an “outlier” in health care and social justice generally. These trace back to unusual features of American history. Unlike other developed state capitalist industrial democracies, the political economy and social structure of the United States developed in a kind of tabula rasa. The expulsion or mass killing of Indigenous nations cleared the ground for the invading settlers, who had enormous resources and ample fertile lands at their disposal, and extraordinary security for reasons of geography and power. That led to the rise of a society of individual farmers, and also, thanks to slavery, substantial control of the product that fueled the industrial revolution: cotton, the foundation of manufacturing, banking, commerce, retail for both the US and Britain, and less directly, other European societies. Also relevant is the fact that the country has actually been at war for 500 years with little respite, a history that has created “the richest, most powerful¸ and ultimately most militarized nation in world history,” as scholar Walter Hixson has documented.

For similar reasons, American society lacked the traditional social stratification and autocratic political structure of Europe, and the various measures of social support that developed unevenly and erratically. There has been ample state intervention in the economy from the outset — dramatically in recent years — but without general support systems.

As a result, US society is, to an unusual extent, business-run, with a highly class-conscious business community dedicated to “the everlasting battle for the minds of men.” The business community is also set on containing or demolishing the “political power of the masses,” which it deems as a serious “hazard to industrialists” (to sample some of the rhetoric of the business press during the New Deal years, when the threat to the overwhelming dominance of business power seemed real).

Here is yet another anomaly about US health care: According to data by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US spends far more on health care than most other advanced nations, yet Americans have poor health outcomes and are plagued by chronic illnesses at higher rates than the citizens of other advanced nations. Why is that?

US health care costs are estimated to be about twice the OECD average, with rather poor outcomes by comparative standards. Infant mortality, for example, is higher in the US than in Cuba, Greece and the EU generally, according to CIA figures.

As for reasons, we can return to the more general question of social justice comparisons, but there are special reasons in the health care domain. To an unusual extent, the US health care system is privatized and unregulated. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not providing health care, and when they undertake the latter, it is likely not to be in the best interests of patients or to be efficient. Administrative costs are far greater in the private component of the health care system than in Medicare, which itself suffers by having to work through the private system.

Comparisons with other countries reveal much more bureaucracy and higher administrative costs in the US privatized system than elsewhere. One study of the US and Canada a decade ago, by medical researcher Steffie Woolhandler and associates, found enormous disparities, and concluded that “Reducing U.S. administrative costs to Canadian levels would save at least $209 billion annually, enough to fund universal coverage.” Another anomalous feature of the US system is the law banning the government from negotiating drug prices, which leads to highly inflated prices in the US as compared with other countries. That effect is magnified considerably by the extreme patent rights accorded to the pharmaceutical industry in “trade agreements,” enabling monopoly profits. In a profit-driven system, there are also incentives for expensive treatments rather than preventive care, as strikingly in Cuba, with remarkably efficient and effective health care.

Why aren’t Americans demanding — not simply expressing a preference for in survey polls — access to a universal health care system?

They are indeed expressing a preference, over a long period. Just to give one telling illustration, in the late Reagan years 70 percent of the adult population thought that health care should be a constitutional guarantee, and 40 percent thought it already was in the Constitution since it is such an obviously legitimate right. Poll results depend on wording and nuance, but they have quite consistently, over the years, shown strong and often large majority support for universal health care — often called “Canadian-style,” not because Canada necessarily has the best system, but because it is close by and observable. The early ACA proposals called for a “public option.” It was supported by almost two-thirds of the population, but was dropped without serious consideration, presumably as part of a compact with financial institutions. The legislative bar to government negotiation of drug prices was opposed by 85 percent, also disregarded — again, presumably, to prevent opposition by the pharmaceutical giants. The preference for universal health care is particularly remarkable in light of the fact that there is almost no support or advocacy in sources that reach the general public and virtually no discussion in the public domain.

The facts about public support for universal health care receive occasional comment, in an interesting way. When running for president in 2004, Democrat John Kerry, The New York Times reported, “took pains .. to say that his plan for expanding access to health insurance would not create a new government program,” because “there is so little political support for government intervention in the health care market in the United States.” At the same time, polls in The Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, The Washington Post and other media found overwhelming public support for government guarantees to everyone of “the best and most advanced health care that technology can supply.”

But that is only public support. The press reported correctly that there was little “political support” and that what the public wants is “politically impossible” — a polite way of saying that the financial and pharmaceutical industries will not tolerate it, and in American democracy, that’s what counts.

Returning to your question, it raises a crucial question about American democracy: why isn’t the population “demanding” what it strongly prefers? Why is it allowing concentrated private capital to undermine necessities of life in the interests of profit and power? The “demands” are hardly utopian. They are commonly satisfied elsewhere, even in sectors of the US system. Furthermore, the demands could readily be implemented even without significant legislative breakthroughs. For example, by steadily reducing the age for entry to Medicare.

The question directs our attention to a profound democratic deficit in an atomized society, lacking the kind of popular associations and organizations that enable the public to participate in a meaningful way in determining the course of political, social and economic affairs. These would crucially include a strong and participatory labor movement and actual political parties growing from public deliberation and participation instead of the elite-run candidate-producing groups that pass for political parties. What remains is a depoliticized society in which a majority of voters (barely half the population even in the super-hyped presidential elections, much less in others) are literally disenfranchised, in that their representatives disregard their preferences while effective decision-making lies largely in the hands of tiny concentrations of wealth and corporate power, as study after study reveals.

The prevailing situation reminds us of the words of America’s leading 20th-century social philosopher, John Dewey, much of whose work focused on democracy and its failures and promise. Dewey deplored the domination by “business for private profit through private control of banking, land, industry, reinforced by command of the press, press agents and other means of publicity and propaganda” and recognized that “Power today resides in control of the means of production, exchange, publicity, transportation and communication. Whoever owns them rules the life of the country,” even if democratic forms remain. Until those institutions are in the hands of the public, he continued, politics will remain “the shadow cast on society by big business.”

This was not a voice from the marginalized far left, but from the mainstream of liberal thought.

Turning finally to your question again, a rather general answer, which applies in its specific way to contemporary western democracies, was provided by David Hume over 250 years ago, in his classic study of the First Principles of Government. Hume found “nothing more surprising than to see the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and to observe the implicit submission with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is brought about, we shall find, that as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. `Tis therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.”

Implicit submission is not imposed by laws of nature or political theory. It is a choice, at least in societies such as ours, which enjoys the legacy provided by the struggles of those who came before us. Here power is indeed “on the side of the governed,” if they organize and act to gain and exercise it. That holds for health care and for much else.

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The United States Is Doing Little to Help Stop the Carnage in South Sudan

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By Nick Turse, Haymarket Books 

A camp for internally displaced people that started after a civil war broke out more than two years ago in Juba, South Sudan, on March 3, 2016. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

A camp for internally displaced people that started after a civil war broke out more than two years ago in Juba, South Sudan, on March 3, 2016. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

Beginning in the 1980s, the efforts of an eclectic, bipartisan coalition of American supporters — Washington activists, evangelical Christians, influential congressional representatives, celebrities, a presidential administration focused on regime change and nation-building, and another that picked up the mantle — helped “midwife” South Sudan into existence.

Perhaps no country in Africa received as much congressional attention. And on July 9, 2011, its Independence Day, President Barack Obama released a stirring statement. “I am confident that the bonds of friendship between South Sudan and the United States will only deepen in the years to come. As Southern Sudanese undertake the hard work of building their new country, the United States pledges our partnership as they seek the security, development, and responsive governance that can fulfill their aspirations and respect their human rights.” In August 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in Juba, was emphatic that the US “commitment to this new nation is enduring and absolute in terms of assistance and aid and support going forward.”

What are the ongoing obligations of a midwife? How solid are the bonds of friendship between the United States and South Sudan? How solemn was Obama’s pledge of partnership and Clinton’s of enduring support?

For years, the United States has dumped untold billions of dollars into regime-change operations, nation-building schemes, military interventions, and interminable wars in the Greater Middle East. Iraqis and Afghans, Syrians, Libyans, and Yemenis have grappled with the consequences. South Sudan was a different type of American intervention, but the results turned out to be sadly similar for its people.

The United States provided some roads and electricity, built up the army, and poured a great deal of money into the new nation. Now, it’s reduced to providing humanitarian aid as part of an international effort to fend off the famine that’s forever knocking on the young country’s door. For all I know, the red beans [a boy I encountered] was picking out of the dirt [around a makeshift airport in South Sudan] were “from the American people” — as big bags of US Agency for International Development sorghum, rice, lentils, and other emergency staples are branded the world over.

But is that enough?

Is it enough for a man to feel ashamed and leave a rail-thin child to pluck spilled beans from the dirt? Is it enough for a country to pledge enduring commitment and instead provide just enough food aid to keep the nation it fostered on life support? This is not to say that the United States has offered a trivial sum.The approximately $1.3 billion spent on relief efforts since the country plunged in civil war in 2013 is significant.At least until you realize that a year of ineffective efforts bombing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria cost about three times that amount.

“The United States will support the people of South Sudan as they begin the implementation process, but it is imperative that the parties remain committed to peace,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice announced on August 26, 2015, after a peace deal was signed between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. “Together, we must help South Sudan implement the agreement, to stave off famine, to stand steadfast and united against those who block the path to peace, and to hold accountable those who have committed atrocities.”

Since the civil war began, American officials have made a series of similar statements to little effect. Whether this peace deal holds or crumbles like the many cease fires before it, the United States faces a choice: Will it lavish the sort of taxpayer dollars it normally devotes to war-making on its foster child or will it leave this fledgling, fractured country with beans, platitudes, and little else?

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“The United States will continue to support the aspirations of all Sudanese,” declared President Obama at the close of his statement on South Sudan’s Independence Day in 2011. “Together, we can ensure that today marks another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward opportunity, democracy, and justice.”In nation-building projects from Afghanistan to Iraq, military interventions from Libya to Yemen, military aid efforts from Mali to Burkina Faso, the United States has turned out to be remarkably inept when it comes to providing opportunities, the basics for democratic polities, or justice of any imaginable kind. Invariably, such normally military-oriented or -led American endeavors have ended in failure, disappointment, and in a number of cases outright fiasco.

As South Sudan was midwifed into nationhood “by any means necessary,” atrocities from the 1990s and earlier were swept under the rug, only to have them resurface in recent years. Will history repeat itself? Will the United States and its international partners make every conceivable effort “to hold accountable those who have committed atrocities” in order to help achieve a permanent peace? Or will they take an easier road — one that silences the guns of today only to have them ring out anew with even greater fury at the dawn of some distant tomorrow — or perhaps even sooner? It remains to be seen whether the United States will “stand steadfast,” step back, or walk away from the nation it spent so much time and effort ushering into existence — and whether it matters at all what course South Sudan’s foster parent charts.

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Will Trump Shred the Iran Nuclear Deal?

Will Trump Shred the Iran Nuclear Deal? Or Is That the Least of Our Problems When It Comes to US-Iranian Relations?

By Rajan Menon, TomDispatch

President-elect Donald Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, on January 9, 2017. (Photo: Kevin Hagen / The New York Times)

President-elect Donald Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, on January 9, 2017. (Photo: Kevin Hagen / The New York Times)

Stack up the op-eds and essays on the disasters that await the world once Donald Trump moves into the White House and you’ll have a long list of dismaying scenarios.

One that makes the lineups of most pundits involves a crisis with Iran. So imagine this. Trump struts to the podium for his first presidential press conference, the trademark jutting jaw prominent. He’s spent the previous several days using Twitter to trash the nuclear agreement with Iran, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Unlike former President Barack Obama, Trump loves drama. But the JCPOA runs 159 pages, so he can’t literally tear it up on live television as part of his performance. (And no, it’s not the small hands problem.) Instead, he announces that the nuclear deal is a dead letter, effective immediately.

Could he really do that? Pretty much — through an executive order stating that the United States will no longer abide by the accord and reinstituting the American sanctions that were lifted once the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) certified Iran’s compliance with the agreement and it survived a vote in Congress.

There’s a reason Trump might choose to quash the Iran nuclear deal in this manner. As the State Department put it in November 2015, responding to a clarification request from Congressman Mike Pompeo, a sworn enemy of the agreement and Trump’s pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency, the JCPOA “is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document… [It] reflects political commitments between Iran, the P5+1 (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China), and the European Union. As you know the United States has a long-standing practice of addressing sensitive problems that culminate in political commitments.” Assuming that Trump would bother providing a nuanced defense of his decision, he could simply claim that the Obama administration had cut a global political deal that lacked legal standing and that, as he’d said repeatedly during the campaign, was also a terrible deal.

There’s not much Congress would be able to do. Indeed, Trump might not even face significant resistance from its members because the agreement never had deep support there. In May 2015, even before the negotiators had signed the JCPOA, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), asserting its right to scrutinize the terms of the accord within 60 days of its conclusion and vote to approve or disapprove it. That bill passed 98-1 in the Senate. The lone dissenter was Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, who demanded that “a nuclear arms agreement with an adversary, especially the terrorist-sponsoring Islamist regime,” be submitted to the chamber as a treaty, in which case approval would have required a two-thirds majority. The vote in the House for INARA, 400-25, showed a similar lack of enthusiasm.

Pending Congressional review, the INARA barred the Obama administration from lifting or easing the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. And it imposed short deadlines for submitting the agreement to Congress and for a report on verification: five days for each task. On top of that, the Act mandated a semi-annual report on matters outside the scope of the agreement, including money laundering by Iran and its planning of, or support for, terrorism “against the United States or a United States person anywhere in the world.”

The nuclear agreement was signed on July 14, 2015, and that September 11th, the House voted against it, 269 (including 25 Democrats) to 162. Barely a week later, Senate Democrats managed to muster 58 votes to prevent a resolution of disapproval from moving forward. So yes, the Obama administration prevailed — the vote tally in the House was insufficient to override a veto — but the results showed yet again that support for the Iran deal was barely knee deep, which means that President Trump won’t face much of a problem with legislators if he decides to scrap it.

Why the Nuclear Deal Is Worth the Bother

And that possibility can’t be ruled out. Not only does Trump routinely act on impulse, he has attacked the JCPOA, during and after the campaign, as (among other things) “stupid,” a “lopsided disgrace,” and, in a classic Trumpism, the “worst deal ever negotiated.”

“My number-one priority,” he proclaimed in March while addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which did its best to sink the agreement, “is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.” He called it “catastrophic for America, for Israel, and for the whole of the Middle East.” Iran, he added, got $150 billion in sanctions relief (mainly from the unfreezing of assets it held overseas) “but we received absolutely nothing in return.” As recently as December in a “stay strong” tweet to Israel following the Security Council’s condemnation of that country’s settlements on the West Bank (which the Obama administration refused to veto), Trump referred again to the “horrible Iran deal.”

Trump’s inner circle has also demonized the agreement. In a July 2015 interview, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, warned that, by enabling the lifting of nuclear sanctions, the JCPOA had given Iran extra money for strengthening its military and promoting terrorism, while offering the United States “nothing but grief” in return. The verification measures, he added, were mere “promises,” and the agreement’s text “read like a high school paper.” Speaking to supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina, in October, Vice President-elect Mike Pence pledged that Trump would “rip up” the agreement once in office. As for Mike Pompeo, amid reports in November that he would be the new CIA director, the congressman said, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”

While Trump has yet to pick his Deputy Secretary of State, among the top contenders appears to be John Bolton, a former ambassador to the UN beloved by his fellow neoconservatives. Bolton, unsurprisingly, also abhors the Iran deal. While the talks were still underway, he labeled them “an unprecedented act of surrender,” adding that he couldn’t imagine any worthwhile agreement with Iran because its leaders were hell-bent on building nuclear weapons. The best way to deal with that country in his view was to promote regime change there. Nor did he alter his position once the agreement took effect. In a November op-ed, he advised Trump “to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal in his first days in office.”

Given the right wing’s barrage against that deal and the looming Trump presidency, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Iran nuclear deal is anything but the catastrophe its critics claim it to be. It’s an achievement worth defending, but to understand just why, you have to put on your policy-wonk hat for a few moments and do exactly the sort of thing that Donald Trump seems to like least: plunge into the sometimes abstruse details of that small-print, 159-page report. So fair warning, here goes.

The agreement, in fact, blocks the two paths Iran could take to build nuclear weapons, one based on uranium, the other on plutonium. Recall that Iran went from 164 centrifuges in 2003 to 19,000 by the time the negotiations on what would become the JCPOA started in 2013. (Centrifuges spin uranium hexafluoride, UF-6, at high velocity to achieve the 90% concentration of the Uranium-235 isotope needed to make nuclear weapons.) Under the agreement, Iran can retain a maximum of 5,060 centrifuges at its Natanz and Fordow sites, and they must be the older 1R-1 models. The surplus stock of those as well as all the more advanced IR-4, 5, 6, and 8 models must be placed in continuously monitored storage. Together, Fordow and Natanz could house more than 50,000 centrifuges of various types; so quantitatively and qualitatively, the ceilings set by the JCPOA are very significant.

The agreement also bars Iran from enriching uranium beyond 3.167% — nowhere near the concentration required for building a nuclear bomb. Enrichment can occur only at the Natanz plant; the two centrifuge cascades permitted at the Fordow facility can’t be used for this purpose. Moreover, Iran can retain no more than 300 kilograms of uranium enriched even to this level for research use and medical purposes, which means that its stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) will be cut by 98%. Iran is also prohibited from building additional plants for uranium enrichment.

Nuclear weapons can be built with plutonium as well, specifically Plutonium-239 (PU-239), but the JCPOA blocks that path, too. It requires that Iran’s (unfinished) heavy water reactor at Arak be redesigned so that it can be fueled only with LEU. In the meantime, the reactor has been disabled and concrete poured into its core. In the future, Iran is banned from reprocessing plutonium produced by the reactor or building reprocessing facilities and must export the reactor’s spent fuel. Its stocks of heavy water, used as a coolant in reactors, cannot exceed 130 metric tons; any excess must be exported.

Such an agreement, of course, can be no better than the provisions that verify its implementation. To build nuclear weapons, Iran would have to breach several of the JCPOA’s provisions and persist with various prohibited activities. Given the multiple means of verification at hand, that’s virtually impossible. As International Atomic Energy Agency documents detail, Iranian nuclear installations will be under constant surveillance involving electronic seals and online monitoring (which relay information on uranium enrichment), as well as on-site inspections.

The last of these mechanisms is especially significant because the agreement also requires that Iran accept the terms of the 1997 Additional Protocol that strengthened the monitoring agreements the IAEA has reached with signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). States that implement the Protocol must permit on-site inspections by the IAEA’s technical teams, sometimes on short notice. As it now happens, Iran is committed to implementing the Protocol not just for the 15-year lifespan of the agreement, but for as long as it remains party to the NPT.

Finally there’s the procedure for resolving disputes about verification. I’ll skip the details on this and just cut to the chase: Iran can’t stretch out the process or sanctions will resume under a “snapback” provision, and while a Security Council resolution could theoretically lift those sanctions, the United States could veto it.

Turning Up the Heat on Iran: Trump’s Plan

In other words, the Iran deal couldn’t be more worth saving if your urge in life is not to have Iran join the “nuclear club.” It essentially ensures that reality and, according to a December 2016 poll, more than 60% of Americans are pleased that it exists. But don’t assume that public support, stringent verification processes, and a dispute resolution procedure stacked against Iran will necessarily immunize the agreement from Trump, who is not exactly a details guy. Nor does he spend much time listening to experts because, well, he’s so smart that he knows all the answers. (Besides, if he needs additional information, he can always turn to “the shows,” his apparent go-to source for crucial military information.) As for the members of his entourage, they’ve made it plain en masse that they have no use for the agreement.

Still, don’t consider it a foregone conclusion that Donald Trump will scrap the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action peremptorily and permanently either, even though he’s repeatedly denounced the deal. After all, he’s also said that he’d consider renegotiating its terms to ensure that it meets his (unspecified) standards. As usual, he’s been all over the map.

Consider this: in September 2015, during an appearance on “Morning Joe,” he told The Washington Post’s David Ignatius that the United States had signed “a disastrous deal in so many ways… We have a horrible contract.” But then, in effect invoking the sanctity of contracts, he added, “I’d love to tell you I’m gonna rip up this contract, I’m going to be the toughest guy in the world. But you know what? Life doesn’t work that way.” His solution back then: make sure Iran fulfills its part of the bargain.

And among the various positions he took on the agreement over those months, he wasn’t alone in taking that one. Once the nuclear deal became a reality, others who had doggedly opposed it began to call for monitoring Iran’s compliance rather than scrapping it. In November, Walid Phares, one of Trump’s top advisers on the Middle East, hedged in this fashion: Trump, he insisted, would “take the agreement, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore a few issues or change a few issues, and there will be a discussion.”

In an April speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, retired General James Mattis, Trump’s choice for secretary of defense, called Iran “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” That said, however, he then cautioned that the United States “would be alone” if it tore up the Iran deal and that “unilateral sanctions would not have anywhere near the impact of an allied approach to this.” Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee and a fervent critic of the agreement, as well as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a one-time contender to be Trump’s secretary of state, made exactly the same point once it took effect.

And the same can be said not just about the various Iranophobes soon to populate the Trump administration but about whole countries. Israel and Saudi Arabia both lobbied feverishly against the agreement. Now that it’s in effect, however, neither seems to be pushing the president-elect to abandon it.

And even if he were to do so, Europe, China, and Russia wouldn’t follow suit, which would mean that their companies, not American ones, would reap the benefits of doing business with Iran. Some 29 European and Asian companies have already concluded energy agreements with Iran or are on course to do so. Given its continuing economic difficulties, the European Union (EU) would have no reason to take a hit by disavowing an agreement in which it had invested so much time and that will benefit so many of its businesses like Airbus (which in December signed a contract to sell Iran 100 planes). In November, the EU’s foreign ministers reaffirmed their support for the Iran deal, increasing the likelihood that Trump would risk a rupture with them if he withdrew from it.

In addition, doing so unilaterally would essentially be senseless. American companies like Boeing, which signed a deal worth nearly $17 billion with Iran in December, would forfeit such opportunities. Would Trump, who presents himself as the ultimate dealmaker and vows to create millions of jobs in the United States, really like to take credit for that? Again, it’s hard to tell given the consistency of his inconsistency. After all, he initially criticized the Boeing deal, only later to complain that Iran might buy from Europe, not America. We’ll know where he stands, should those in Congress who have tried to block the Boeing aircraft sale persist.

Even if Trump doesn’t withdraw from the nuclear deal, don’t for a second assume that he won’t turn up the heat on Iran, which remains subject to various American non-nuclear sanctions aimed at its ballistic missile program, human rights record, and support for Hezbollah and Hamas. Bear in mind that, in December, Congress extended — with only one dissenting vote in the House and unanimity in the Senate — the Iran Sanctions Act for another decade. And Trump could, in fact, expand these penalties, as several conservatives have urged him to do. Vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council Ilan Berman, for example, recommends extending the 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to Iran on the grounds that Trump could then use “visa bans, asset freezes, and commercial blacklists” to punish any of its officials engaged in corruption or human rights violations.  

The new president could go even further by following the recommendation of Council on Foreign Relations Iran expert Ray Takeyh. In December, Takeyh argued that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “is presiding over a state with immense vulnerabilities, and the task of US policy is to exploit all of them.” Takeyh’s ultimate aim is regime change, and he believes that “the United States has a real capacity to shrink Iran’s economy and bring it to the brink of collapse.”

So despite Donald Trump’s bluster, there’s at least a reasonable likelihood that he won’t summon the press to announce the Iran nuclear deal’s strangulation at his hands. But instead of being a rare dose of good news, that could well come as cold comfort. Under Trump, the Iranian-American relationship is essentially guaranteed to get a whole lot worse, whatever happens to the treaty itself. Even if Trump does adhere to the agreement, he could easily attempt to show both his contempt for the Iranians and his resolve by getting tough in a host of other ways.

There are plenty of potential collision points, including in Iran’s coastal waters along that crucial oil route, the Persian Gulf, as well as in Lebanon, in Syria (where Iranian forces and advisers are fighting for autocrat Bashar al-Assad), and in Yemen (where Houthi insurgents aligned with Iran are being bombarded by Saudi warplanes, with devastating consequences for civilians). Israel and Saudi Arabia may no longer be fixated on torpedoing the nuclear agreement itself, but once the Obama administration is history they may also feel freed of any restraints from Washington when it comes to Iran. Certainly, key Republicans (and not a few Democrats) will back the Israelis in any kind of confrontation with that country. Both the Israelis and the Saudis have made no secret of the fact that they considered Obama soft on Iran, and they are likely to be emboldened once Trump enters the White House.

Should either of them clash with Iran, the stage will be set for a potentially direct military confrontation between Tehran and Washington. In other words, there may not be a potentially more combustible spot on the planet. So we may be missing the point by speculating on what Trump will do to the Iran deal. The real question is what he’ll do to Iran — and just how disastrous the consequences of that may be.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Will Trump Shred the Iran Nuclear Deal?

Turkey Moves to Expand Erdogan’s Powers, but Not Without Brawl

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  • Lawmakers from ruling AK Party and the main opposition CHP scuffle during a debate on the proposed constitutional changes at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara.
    Lawmakers from ruling AK Party and the main opposition CHP scuffle during a debate on the proposed constitutional changes at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara. | Photo: Reuters.
Despite the clashes, 3 articles of the 18-article bill were approved.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian exercise of power, especially in the last year, and his desire to expand these powers made some gains Thursday — but not without a physical brawl in parliament.

RELATED:  Turkey Detains 235 After Bombings as Erdogan Seeks More Power

Turkish lawmakers in parliament threw punches overnight as they debated a new constitutional reform package proposed last month that seeks to expand the powers of President Erdogan. The opposition CHP and pro-Kurdish HDP fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism.

During the row, CHP deputies objected to the ruling AKP members — who are pushing the legislation — casting votes without entering the cabins set up to ease what was supposed to be a secret ballot. AKP lawmakers then tried to grab the cellphone of a CHP deputy that was filming the scene.

Despite the clashes, 3 articles from the 18-article bill were approved, including reducing the prime ministerial candidacy age from 25 to 18, increasing the parliament’s term from four to five years and changing regulations on the duties and authorities of the parliament.

RELATED: Turkish President Erdogan Sees Better Ties with US Under Trump

“The authority you permit today will bring about the end of this country. You (lawmakers) are trying to destroy yourself (parliament) without anyone seeing. We will not allow this,” Ozgur Ozel, CHP’s deputy chairperson, said early Thursday, as reported by Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper.

“We are taking the chair under our protection in order to ensure the fulfillment of the duty of defending the people’s chair, in order to tell the people and ensure that this article will be discussed in parliament, while looking into the eyes of the people. We are protecting the people’s chair from you,” Ozel added.

The entire reform package will enable Erdogan to appoint and dismiss government ministers, take back the leadership of the ruling party, and govern until 2029.

Debate surrounding the rest of the articles in the bill are scheduled to take place Thursday afternoon.

Posted in TurkeyComments Off on Turkey Moves to Expand Erdogan’s Powers, but Not Without Brawl

America’s War Based Economy Hidden In Plain Sight

NOVANEWS

Medea Benjamin of the left and Ron Paul of the right agree that President Obama’s legacy was as a war hawk who kept our military/industrial complex active and profitable. But, what about the innocent people that are dying because of the U.S.’s war based economy and serial wars? Where are the Peacemakers? [Ed.-TEC]

President Obama dramatically expanded the use of drones for targeted, remote control killing during his presidency.

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America dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016. What a bloody end to Obama’s reign | Medea Benjamin

theguardian.com9 January, 2017

Most Americans would probably be astounded to realize that the president who has been painted by Washington pundits as a reluctant warrior has actually been a hawk. The Iran nuclear deal, a herculean achievement, and the opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba unfortunately stand alone as President Obama’s successful uses of diplomacy over hostility.

While candidate Obama came to office pledging to end George W Bush’s wars, he leaves office having been at war longer than any president in US history. He is also the only president to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.

President Obama did reduce the number of US soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he dramatically expanded the air wars and the use of special operations forces around the globe. In 2016, US special operators could be found in 70% of the world’s nations, 138 countries – a staggering jump of 130% since the days of the Bush administration.

Looking back at President Obama’s legacy, the Council on Foreign Relation’s Micah Zenko added up the defense department’s data on airstrikes and made a startling revelation: in 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs. This means that every day last year, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.

While most of these air attacks were in Syria and Iraq, US bombs also rained down on people in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. That’s seven majority-Muslim countries.

One bombing technique that President Obama championed is drone strikes. As drone-warrior-in-chief, he spread the use of drones outside the declared battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, mainly to Pakistan and Yemen. Obama authorized over 10 times more drone strikes than George W Bush, and automatically painted all males of military age in these regions as combatants, making them fair game for remote controlled killing.

President Obama has claimed that his overseas military adventures are legal under the 2001 and 2003 authorizations for the use of military force passed by Congress to go after al-Qaida. But today’s wars have little or nothing to do with those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

The twisted legal architecture the Obama administration has constructed to justify its interventions, especially extrajudicial drone killings with no geographic restrictions, will now be transferred into the erratic hands of Donald Trump.

What does the administration have to show for eight years of fighting on so many fronts? Terrorism has spread, no wars have been “won” and the Middle East is consumed by more chaos and divisions than when candidate Barack Obama declared his opposition to the invasion of Iraq.

While the switch from US troops on the ground to airstrikes and special forces has saved US lives, untold numbers of foreign lives have been snuffed out. We have no idea how many civilians have been killed in the massive bombings in Iraq and Syria, where the US military is often pursuing Isis in the middle of urban neighborhoods. We only sporadically hear about civilian killings in Afghanistan, such as the tragic bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz that left 42 dead and 37 wounded.

Pushed to release information about civilian deaths in drone strikes, in July 2016 the US government made the absurd claim it had killed, at most, 116 civilians in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya between 2009 and 2015. Journalists and human rights advocates said the numbers were ridiculously low and unverifiable, given that no names, dates, locations or others details were released. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has tracked drone strikes for years, said the true figure was six times higher.

Given that drones account for only a small portion of the munitions dropped in the past eight years, the numbers of civilians killed by Obama’s bombs could be in the thousands. But we can’t know for sure as the administration, and the mainstream media, has been virtually silent about the civilian toll of the administration’s failed interventions.

In May 2013, I interrupted President Obama during his foreign policy address at the National Defense University. I had just returned from visiting the families of innocent people killed by US drone attacks in Yemen and Pakistan, including the Rehman children who saw their grandmother blown to bits while in the field picking okra.

Speaking out on behalf of grieving families whose losses have never been acknowledged by the US government, I asked President Obama to apologize to them. As I was being dragged out, President Obama said: “The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to.”

Too bad he never did.

Posted in Middle East, USA, SyriaComments Off on America’s War Based Economy Hidden In Plain Sight

A « Humanitarian NGO» deprives 5.6 million civilians of water

NOVANEWS

The Jihadists, who since 24 December 2016 have been polluting the sources of Barada — the river which provides the water supply for the inhabitants (now totalling more than 7 million) of Damascus and the region, – and that have exploded its canalization, have published a declaration laying down their conditions.

Currently, 5.6 million civilians have been completely cut off from running water for more than two weeks. The authorities have managed to harness lorries with tanks to supply the population, once or twice a fortnight, with non-potable water, at the rate of 50 litres per family. In addition to the containers that they could fill for washing themselves and their washing up, the inhabitants have to buy mineral water to consume drinking water.

Under the « Declaration of Barada », the jihadists will not allow engineers to clean and restore the sources of Barada unless the Arab Syrian Army and the Hezbollah stop fighting (that is, if the Arab Syrian Republic surrenders).

In a letter addressed to the Security Council, Syria has denounced the planning of this operation by the powers that support and arm the jihadists. The Document features seven jihadist signatory groups and one of these is the « White Helmets », called « the Syrian Civil Defense ». This « humanitarian NGO » (sic) has been created and is led by an MI6 officer, James Le Mesurier, who had been elevated by Queen Elizabeth, in 2016, to the position of Officer of the British Empire. This organization floods the media with shocking images meant to prove “the crimes of the regime”. It has often been demonstrated that the images are no more than the acting out of pure propaganda.

Testimony has been delivered on the participation of this « Humanitarian NGO ». The Russian Minister of Defense has described it as« close to Al-Qaeda ».

The White Helmets are funded by Germany, Denmark, the United States, France, Japan, Holland and the United Kingdom.

On 19 October, the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Marc Ayrault, and the President of Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly, Elisabeth Guigou received at the Elysee, a delegation of White Helmets including the Chair of the “Civil” committee of Aleppo (sic) the self-proclaimed «Mayor of Aleppo» (re-sic), Hagi Hasan Brita.

France had presented to no avail, the candidature of the White Helmets for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In international law, depriving civilians of water is considered a war crime.

JPEG - 43.4 kb

Posted in SyriaComments Off on A « Humanitarian NGO» deprives 5.6 million civilians of water

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