Archive | August 27th, 2014

The eternal cycle: Death and destruction in Gaza


Haaretz Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hamas’s steadfastness in the Gaza war is proof not only of the blindness of our rulers but also of the power of the inhabitants of the long-besieged and bombed ghetto.

By Yitzhak Laor

Immediately after the occupation of the territories, Israeli political and intelligence officials began to debate the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Gaza Strip, on the assumption that it would remain under Israeli control: to El-Arish in Sinai, to Iraq, to Morocco.

As always, academics were also consulted. Prof. Aryeh Dvoretzky, a Hebrew University mathematician, suggested moving the Gazans into the homes of Palestinians who had fled the West Bank in 1967. In doing so, he explained, “you are provoking internal strife among the Palestinians themselves,” who would not welcome the influx. At the same time, this would reduce the population numbers in the Gaza Strip while also deterring the return of the “new refugees” to their homes in the West Bank.

The Gaza Strip was a thorn in the Zionist imaginaire. No one knew what to do with it. In the most “serious” effort, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol appointed Ada Sereni, who had a bit of secret work in her past, to head a team whose mission was to see to that reduction. Sereni believed it was possible to “evacuate” a quarter of a million people to Jordan at negligible cost, relatively speaking.

In one meeting, Eshkol said: “I want them all to go, even if they go to the moon.” (“1967: Israel, the War and the Year That Transformed the Middle East,” Tom Segev, 2007). But Israel is not genuinely independent, and no outside force would have permitted the state to fulfill its desire to be rid of the Gazans. This is where the destructive hallucinations that were to take shape over the years began.

Occupation engenders resistance. Cruel occupation engenders fierce resistance, and terrorism as well. For years, Israel — which did not even allow commercial strikes in the territories to go by without harsh punishments such as closing shops, arrests and torture — built the only track it was eager for, that of “operations.” The murder of two Israeli children in Gaza in early 1971 gave the signal to the Shaked special forces unit, together with the Rimon reconnaissance unit, under the command of Meir Dagan, which was established for the “operation.” Torture, manhunts, arrests, destruction, the killing of civilians in their shacks and a few dozen armed resistance fighters. Ariel Sharon coordinated the “war on terror.” Troops who took part in the “culling” returned home with horrific stories, such as the sight of corpses on the bumpers of jeeps in the streets of towns and camps.

But the consensus surrounding the oppression of the Gaza Strip was firm; no Zionist party supported Palestinian independence, and certainly not an independent state that would include the Gaza Strip. Hence the early enclosure and slow strangulation of the Strip. Hence the deception over the land bridge linking the Gaza Strip with the West Bank, as promised in the Oslo Accords. Hence also the compliments to Sharon for his “disengagement” (riddance) program, which was preceded and followed by widespread killing.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured in shelling and bombardments since 2004 in Operation Rainbow (May), Operation Days of Penitence (September-October), Operation Summer Rains (June-November 2006) and Operation Hot Winter (February-March 2008). Those with a short memory, who live only the last war, remember at least the atrocity the Olmert government brought to a peak in Operation Cast Lead (winter of 2008-09). There was never any real link between the events and the “responses” of the Israel Defense Forces. They were always opportunities for rampages. The assassination policy provided a popular trigger.

The crueler the oppression became, the more extreme the resistance that followed. Compared to Hamas, the old extreme Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine now looks like a study group for Marxist humanism. But Hamas’s steadfastness in the current operation is proof not only of the blindness of our rulers but also of the power — the result of not having a choice in the matter — of the inhabitants of the long-besieged and bombed ghetto.

Those who goad Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his failure would do well to rest. Even if we were presented with the “goals of the operation,” whether or not they are met, the planners always assume one concrete achievement: Gaza won’t disappear? We shall kill and destroy, “return them to the Stone Age,” let them deal with their grief and the burdens of life among the ruins, without electricity or water, for a few more years. Afterward, they will start firing from within their hovels again, we’ll destroy, they’ll fire, we’ll destroy. And the Israelis living near the border? The nation is with you. “Like,” you are such tasty bait.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, GazaComments Off on The eternal cycle: Death and destruction in Gaza

Blaming Russia as ‘Flat Fact’


NYTIMES disinformation

The idea of doing an investigation first and drawing conclusions second is a concept that, apparently, neither the U.S. government nor the New York Times accepts. They would prefer to start with the conclusion and then make a serious investigation irrelevant, one more casualty of information warfare.

by Robert Parry

Consortium News

As nuclear-armed America hurtles into a completely avoidable crash with nuclear-armed Russia over Ukraine, you can now see the dangers of “information warfare” when facts give way to propaganda and the press fails to act as an impartial arbiter.

Michael R Gordon, NYTimes letting government officials float  stories.

Michael R Gordon, NYTimes letting government officials float stories.

In this sorry affair, one of the worst offenders of journalistic principles has been the New York Times, generally regarded as America’s premier newspaper. During the Ukraine crisis, the Times has been little more than a propaganda conveyor belt delivering what the U.S. government wants out via shoddy and biased reporting from the likes of Michael R. Gordon and David Herszenhorn.

The Times reached what was arguably a new low on Sunday when it accepted as flat fact the still unproven point of how Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down. The Times dropped all attribution despite what appear to be growing – rather than diminishing – doubts about Official Washington’s narrative that Ukrainian rebels shot down the plane by using a powerful Russian-supplied Buk missile battery.

David Herszenhorn NYTimes Congressional reporter

U.S. and Ukrainian government officials began pushing this narrative immediately after the plane went down on July 17 killing 298 people onboard. But the only evidence has been citations of “social media” and the snippet of an intercepted phone call containing possibly confused comments by Ukrainian rebels after the crash, suggesting that some rebels initially believed they had shot the plane down but later reversed that judgment.

A major problem with this evidence is that it assumes the rebels – or for that matter the Ukrainian armed forces – operate with precise command and control when the reality is that the soldiers on both sides are not very professional and function in even a deeper fog of war than might exist in other circumstances.

Missing Images

But an even bigger core problem for the U.S. narrative is that it is virtually inconceivable that American intelligence did not have satellite and other surveillance on eastern Ukraine at the time of the shoot-down. Yet the U.S. government has been unable (or unwilling) to supply a single piece of imagery showing the Russians supplying a Buk anti-aircraft missile battery to the rebels; the rebels transporting the missiles around eastern Ukraine; the rebels firing the fateful missile that allegedly brought down the Malaysian airliner; or the rebels then returning the missiles to Russia.

To accept Official Washington’s certainty about what it “knows” happened, you would have to believe that American spy satellites – considered the best in the world – could not detect 16-feet-tall missiles during their odyssey around Russia and eastern Ukraine. If that is indeed the case, the U.S. taxpayers should demand their billions upon billions of dollars back.

Kerry evidence

However, the failure of U.S. intelligence to release its satellite images of Buk missile batteries in eastern Ukraine is the “dog-not-barking” evidence that this crucial evidence to support the U.S. government’s allegations doesn’t exist. Can anyone believe that if U.S. satellite images showed the missiles crossing the border, being deployed by the rebels and then returning to Russia, that those images would not have been immediately declassified and shown to the world? In this case, the absence of evidence is evidence of absence – absence of U.S. evidence.

The U.S. government’s case also must overcome public remarks by senior U.S. military personnel at variance with the Obama administration’s claims of certainty. For instance, the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock reported last Saturday that Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, U.S. commander of NATO forces in Europe, said last month that “We have not seen any of the [Russian] air-defense vehicles across the border yet.”

Whitlock also reported that “Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said defense officials could not point to specific evidence that an SA-11 [Buk] surface-to-air missile system had been transported from Russia into eastern Ukraine.”

There’s also the possibility that a Ukrainian government missile – either from its own Buk missile batteries fired from the ground or from a warplane in the sky – brought down the Malaysian plane. I was told by one source who had been briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that some satellite images suggest that the missile battery was under the control of Ukrainian government troops but that the conclusion was not definitive.

Plus, there were reports from eyewitnesses in the area of the crash that at least one Ukrainian jet fighter closed on the civilian plane shortly before it went down. The Russian government also has cited radar data supposedly showing Ukrainian fighters in the vicinity.

Need for a Real Inquiry

What all this means is that a serious and impartial investigation is needed to determine who was at fault and to apportion accountability. But that inquiry is still underway with no formal conclusions.

So, in terms of journalistic professionalism, a news organization should treat the mystery of who shot down Flight 17 with doubt. Surely, no serious journalist would jump to the conclusion based on the dubious claims made by one side in a dispute while the other side is adamant in its denials, especially with the stakes so high in a tense confrontation between two nuclear powers.

But that is exactly what the Times did in describing new U.S. plans to escalate the confrontation by possibly supplying tactical intelligence to the Ukrainian army so it can more effectively wage war against eastern Ukrainian rebels.

On Sunday, the Times wrote: “At the core of the debate, said several [U.S.] officials — who, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the policy deliberations are still in progress — is whether the American goal should be simply to shore up a Ukrainian government reeling from the separatist attacks, or to send a stern message to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin by aggressively helping Ukraine target the missiles Russia has provided. Those missiles have taken down at least five aircraft in the past 10 days, including Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.” [Emphasis added.]

The link provided by the Times’ online version of the story connects to an earlier Times’ story that attributed the accusations blaming Russia to U.S. “officials.” But this new story drops that attribution and simply accepts the claims as flat fact.

The danger of American “information warfare” that treats every development in the Ukraine crisis as an opportunity to blame Putin and ratchet up tensions with Russia has been apparent since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis – as has been the clear anti-Russian bias of the Times and virtually every other outlet of the mainstream U.S. news media. [See’s Will Ukraine Be NYT’s Waterloo?”]

Since the start of the crisis last year, U.S. officials and American-funded non-governmental organizations have not only pushed a one-sided story but have been pushing a dangerous agenda, seeking to create a collision between the United States and Russia and, more personally, between President Barack Obama and President Putin.

The vehicle for this head-on collision between Russia and the United States was the internal political disagreement in Ukraine over whether elected President Viktor Yanukovych should have accepted harsh International Monetary Fund austerity demands as the price for associating with the European Union or agree to a more generous offer from Russia.

Angered last September when Putin helped Obama avert a planned U.S. bombing campaign against Syria, American neocons were at the forefront of this strategy. Their principal need was to destroy the Putin-Obama collaboration, which also was instrumental in achieving a breakthrough on the Iran nuclear dispute (while the neocons were hoping that the U.S. military might bomb Iran, too).

So, on Sept. 26, 2013, Carl Gershman, a leading neocon and longtime president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed page of the neocon-flagship Washington Post to urge the U.S. government to push European “free trade” agreements on Ukraine and other former Soviet states and thus counter Moscow’s efforts to maintain close relations with those countries.

The ultimate goal, according to Gershman, was isolating and possibly toppling Putin in Russia with Ukraine the key piece on this global chessboard. “Ukraine is the biggest prize,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

To give the United States more leverage inside Ukraine, Gershman’s NED paid for scores of projects, including training “activists” and supporting “journalists.” Rather than let the Ukrainian political process sort out this disagreement, U.S. officials, such as neocon Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and neocon Sen. John McCain, also intervened to encourage increasingly disruptive demonstrations seeking to overthrow Yanukovych when he opted for the Russian deal over the EU-IMF offer.

Though much of the ensuing violence was instigated by neo-Nazi militias that had moved to the front of the anti-Yanukovych protests, the U.S. government and its complicit news media blamed every act of violence on Yanukovych and the police, including a still mysterious sniper attack that left both protesters and police dead.

On Feb. 21, Yanukovych denied ordering any shootings and tried to stem the violence by signing an agreement brokered by three European nations to reduce his powers and hold early elections so he could be voted out of office. He also complied with a demand from Vice President Joe Biden to pull back Ukrainian police. Then, the trap sprang shut.

Neo-Nazi militias overran government buildings and forced Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives. The State Department quickly endorsed the coup regime – hastily formed by the remnants of the parliament – as “legitimate.” Besides passing bills offensive to ethnic Russians in the east, one of the parliament’s top priorities was to enact the IMF austerity plan.

White Hats/Black Hats

Though the major U.S. news media was aware of these facts – and indeed you could sometimes detect the reality by reading between the lines of dispatches from the field – the overriding U.S. narrative was that the coup-makers were the “white hats” and Yanukovych along with Putin were the “black hats.” Across the U.S. media, Putin was mocked for riding on a horse shirtless and other indiscretions. For the U.S. media, it was all lots of fun, as was the idea of reprising the Cold War with Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a crowd on May 9, 2014, celebrating the 69th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Crimean port city of Sevastopol from the Nazis. (Russian government photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a crowd on May 9, 2014, celebrating the 69th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Crimean port city of Sevastopol from the Nazis. (Russian government photo)

When the people of Crimea – many of whom were ethnic Russians – voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, the U.S. media declared the move a Russian “invasion” although the Russian troops were already in Ukraine as part of an agreement with previous Ukrainian governments.

Every development that could be hyped was hyped. There was virtually no nuance in the news reporting, a lack of professionalism led by the New York Times. Yet, the solution to the crisis was always relatively obvious: a federalized system that would allow the ethnic Russians in the east a measure of self-governance and permit Ukraine to have cordial economic relations with both the EU and Russia.

But replacement President Petro Poroshenko – elected when a secession fight was already underway in the east – refused to negotiate with the ethnic Russian rebels who had rejected the ouster of Yanukovych. Sensing enough political support inside the U.S. government, Poroshenko opted for a military solution.

It was in that context of a massive Ukrainian government assault on the east that Russia stepped up its military assistance to the beleaguered rebels, including the apparent provision of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to fend off Kiev’s air superiority. The rebels did succeed in shooting down some Ukrainian warplanes flying at altitudes far below the 33,000 feet of the Malaysia Airlines plane.

For a plane at that height to be shot down required a more powerful system, like the Buk anti-aircraft batteries or an air-to-air missile fired by a fighter jet. Which brings us to the mystery of what happened on the afternoon of July 17 and why it is so important to let a serious investigation evaluate all the available evidence and not to have a rush to judgment.

But the idea of doing an investigation first and drawing conclusions second is a concept that, apparently, neither the U.S. government nor the New York Times accepts. They would prefer to start with the conclusion and then make a serious investigation irrelevant, one more casualty of information warfare.

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ECIPS Warns of The International Risk In Provocative Political Speeches



The President of ECIPS Ricardo Baretzky warned that Political Leaders should pay attention to their provocative political speeches that can lead to incitement by inducing a possible outbreak of a ” Global Holy War ” in the very near future that are neither based on personal or secular beliefs.

Baretzky said that, the recent provocative statements on the blame game in respect of Gaza in the growing Israeli epidemic, has the potential to dump the world into a “Third World War”, unlike we have ever seen or imagined. ” Provocative civilian killing, war and blame games, are not the solution” he said.Baretzky commented and said that a unilateral ceasefire is a one sided demand and will only spark more criticism. He urged the UN to get proper objective counsel in this matter and called for the UN to establish an independent panel as a matter of urgency.
He further said that ” the people of the world are no longer uninformed of the matters in the world particular of the present Israel and Palestine gaming, given that it has reached a global tipping point of no return that affects us all “. It is estimated that one out of every five people in the world is Muslim and followers of the Quran. Some Intelligence Analysts believe that the threat of a Holy War is a very real and possible threat to global stabilization.
The President of ECIPS called for world leaders to come to their senses before it is too late and urged the “Bench Sitters” to step in and do the “Right Thing” . Harsh words but real as it can get. The United Nation’s official report issued beginning of 2014 indicated that the world population stands at 7 Billion at present with more than 1 Billion living in poverty with no water, food and shelter. Is this the world we are creating for the next generation Z to inherit ?

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Looking at the Elephant from all angles


Convergence of Liberal, Moderate and Conservative Writers Agreeing on Iraq – Universe Coming to an End!

…by  Michael Farrell, Veterans Today Columnist, Futurist and Socratic Provocateur


I haven’t been writing a lot lately, largely because events in areas that I’m interested in are moving so fast that any comment by me would be overtaken by events almost before I could complete a sentence. A great case in point is the situation in Iraq.

At some point, people will stop, look at each other and say, “Joe Biden was right!” about the loose federation concept. Same approach might work for Afghanistan since that place is made up of groups of people who really hate each other; geographic divisions might at least let them cluster into bombs of intolerance and rage which could be turned inward. It’s a thought.

But, when I initially saw the excerpts from Pope Francis’ interview with a Spanish magazine and then tracked down the complete text, I figured that it along with several other articles, should be tossed into the intellectual cauldron at Veterans Today. What I’m seeing is a weird convergence of thought on the role of America in the 21st Century and the role of thought.

There were some great columns in the weekend’s NY Times and then the inimitable Ana Marie Cox had a marvelous insight over at The Guardian. When Friedman, Douthat, Kristoff, Cox and the Pope are all basically saying the same thing, maybe we ought to listen. Now, to steal a phrase from Molly Ivins, it’s probably too much to hope that the Congress-critters obsessed with a misunderstood version of machismo and “American Exceptionalism” can drag their heads away from looking at their own prostates, but as citizens perhaps we should.

Pope Francis first: In many ways, he is really the most interesting man in the world as opposed to a guy from Queens who sometimes drinks Dos Equis. Bit by bit, he’s chiseling away at the accrued bat guano of greed,  insanity,

Pope in Mosque

power and privilege  stretching back to the Milvian Bridge and Constantine’s vision.

Helluva challenge; since I don’t believe in God, I can’t see him succeeding ultimately but as one of his predecessors as prince of Rome, Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Any improvement, no matter how small,is no mean accomplishment.”

Besides, how can you not find interesting someone who in his position can say something like this, when asked about his legacy…“I have not thought about it, but I like it when someone remembers someone and says: “He was a good guy, he did what he could. He wasn’t so bad.” I’m OK with that. I have trouble imagining recent popes saying anything like that or using common language, or, for that matter, having the interview in the first place.

Popes are diplomatic, slow and deliberate; Francis is gentle, quick thinking and open. The interview is worth reading but his comment on fundamentalism is critical, and extends further than he perhaps consciously intended.

Responding to the interviewer on the issue of faith-based violence in the world and the nature  of fundamentalism in the world, he said this, which should be required posting on all political, religious, economic and social magazine mastheads. Not, of course, that anyone pays attention to the masthead anymore…

Violence in the name of God dominates the Middle East. It’s a contradiction. Violence in the name of God does not correspond with our time. It’s something ancient. With historical perspective, one has to say that Christians, at times, have practiced it. When I think of the Thirty Years War, there was violence in the name of God. Today it is unimaginable, right?

We arrive, sometimes, by way of religion to very serious, very grave contradictions. Fundamentalism, for example. The three religions, we have our fundamentalist groups, small in relation to all the rest. And, what do you think about fundamentalism? A fundamentalist group, although it may not kill anyone, although it may not strike anyone, is violent. The mental structure of fundamentalists is violence in the name of God.

Now, I think it’s worth noting that Christians continue to practice fundamentalism in various places and times. But, the nature of fundamentalism is the idea of absolute adherence to established doctrine, and the elimination of any dissent from that doctrine. The nature of violence is such that it can be intrinsic as well as extrinsic, psychological as well as physical, social as well as military.

My old friend Mary E. Hunt, co-founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) has written repeatedly of the intrinsic, economic and psychological violence directed against women and the LGBT communities in the Catholic Church specifically. However, we see fundamentalism at work in the Republican Party, where the Tea Party has its own thought police run by Glenn, Rush, Laura and Annie, Sean and Bill.

When politicians talk about litmus tests for the Supreme Court or for nominations for office, they are reacting to a form of fundamentalism. The idea that there are multiple sides to issues simply doesn’t compute with these folks.


Of course, what we see in Iraq today is a conflict over a different view of fundamentalism. The Sunni fundamentalism of ISIS and al Quaida  is matched by Shiite fundamentalism of Maliki and Iran.

Now, this is in many ways the old Churchill dilemma of putting nations where what we’re really dealing with are tribes with flags, or tribes forced into flags.

Interestingly, the religious argument between them has it’s roots not in the Holy Koran but rather in the succession of the Caliphs in the 7th Century. Everything else springs from that — clerics, politicians and people in general feel fine with slaughtering each other over what in fact is a conflict over the drawing of an org chart but doing so in the name of God.

Now, Christianity has had it’s share of these orgies of blood, hate, bile, and self-satisfaction. But, over centuries the perpetrators of such insanity on the violence side have been marginalized. However, what religion has done in Iraq is cover for tribalism. The middle east is really a number of ethnic groups largely captured by a single religion with multiple warring denominations and agendas that are fine-tuned with regional, ethnic, and socio-historic divisions.

The US has responded to it as if it’s a collaborative of rational actors, in sort of a geo-political application of the idea of rational markets. So, not only are we using the wrong mental model to look at the area, we’re using a mental model that doesn’t work.  What could possibly go wrong with that sort of intellectual foundation? Besides everything?

It’s rare that I can read Tom Friedman without having my eyeballs bleed. However, in his column on Sunday, Friedman was perceptive, reasonable and direct; we have no dog in the Iraq fight except the dog we’ve largely ignored. He writes: 

… in Iraq today, my enemy’s enemy is my enemy. Other than the Kurds, we have no friends in this fight. Neither Sunni nor Shiite leaders spearheading the war in Iraq today share our values.

The Sunni jihadists, Baathists and tribal militiamen who have led the takeover of Mosul from the Iraqi government are not supporters of a democratic, pluralistic Iraq, the only Iraq we have any interest in abetting. And Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, has proved himself not to be a friend of a democratic, pluralistic Iraq either. From Day 1, he has used his office to install Shiites in key security posts, drive out Sunni politicians and generals and direct money to Shiite communities. In a word, Maliki has been a total jerk. Besides being prime minister, he made himself acting minister of defense, minister of the interior and national security adviser, and his cronies also control the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry. Maliki had a choice — to rule in a sectarian way or in an inclusive way — and he chose sectarianism. We owe him nothing.

He goes on to discuss the two places that are in fact working well in the region: the Kurdish region in Iraq and Tunisia, pointing out that we’ve pretty much left these areas to their own devices while we’ve been being “geo-political”


somewhere else. They have functioning, somewhat inclusive and effective governments, and the people aren’t trying to kill each other.

They reflect in so much as any Islamic nation can those values of Jeffersonian Democracy that we had planned to impose on the region by forcing them on Iraq and then having a “thousand blossoms bloom.”

From this, Friedman comes to an interesting revelation: it’s not about the US or the West or Russia and the Geo-Political stuff we love so much. It’s about the people of the region. As he says, “Arabs and Kurds have efficacy too…”

This leads him to another major insight:

The Middle East only puts a smile on your face when it starts with them — when they take ownership of reconciliation. Please spare me another dose of: It is all about whom we train and arm. Sunnis and Shiites don’t need guns from us. They need the truth. It is the early 21st century, and too many of them are still fighting over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad from the 7th century. It has to stop — for them, and for their kids, to have any future.

Friedman then wonders about Iran, and comes to the conclusion that the Iranians who plotted with Maliki to get us out so they could “help” weren’t quite so smart. They’re looking at a long, involved period of support in a nasty, sectarian civil war with the inherent explicit and implicit costs as opposed to having US and NATO propping up their henchmen in Baghdad. Interesting issue, and one that I find very ironic.

I envision the US and some other nations providing logistical, intelligence and related support to a largely Iranian “Peace Keeping” force for a long time. If we’re smart, we’ll get Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Dubai to pay for it along with the Iranians; that’s probably a bit to Jesuitical for the State Department and Congress, but it makes a lot of sense.

Friedman finishes on a very high level of perception, especially for him. He surveys the situation, and asks a couple of very telling questions and gives a somewhat unexpected answer for someone usually so conflicted about Iraq and the Islamic world.

Finally, while none of the main actors in Iraq, other than Kurds, are fighting for our values, is anyone there even fighting for our interests: a minimally stable Iraq that doesn’t threaten us? And whom we can realistically help? The answers still aren’t clear to me, and, until they are, I’d be very wary about intervening. 

I think that Friedman has the root of a new US doctrine of global involvement; if you’re not fighting for something that fits in our values or in our true strategic interests we shouldn’t consider getting involved. And, if we can’t figure out a good way to help effectively, we shouldn’t get involved either.

I’m a retired soldier and an activist by nature, but after 63 years I’ve finally learned that there’s no need to save the bad guys from destroying themselves by uniting everyone against US! Be nice if we all learned that…sometimes we’re the windshield, but we can always make like the bug if we’re not careful.

The June 14 2014 edition of the NY Times OP-ED was unique in that it also had a column by Russ Douthat, who usually irritates or bores me. In this case, he looks at the Iraq situation with some real historical perspective, pointing


out that the creation of the states in the middle East was based on some seriously flawed thinking, and with the goal of preserving French and British hegemony as opposed to providing the basis for coherent and effective nation states.

Pointing out how various thinkers since the start of the Iraq war have been re-drawing the map to show how in the best of all possible worlds these various nations could function, Douthat cites Ralph Peters initial effort in the Armed Forces Journal June 2006 issue as the initial draft of a new system of map drawing.

Peters was accused by some of flacking for the Pentagon, which given Peters relationship with the Defense establishment is kind of funny, that he had drawn the map the way the US wanted it redrawn. Actually, as Douthat points out, Peters felt and still feels that US policy makers have a vested interest in keeping the old Franco-British lines in effect, and he thinks that’s stupid. Douthat agrees, and has a clear, concise and effective argument as to why but shows the rational side of letting the status quo stands.

While the USA values diversity and inclusion, the facts don’t belie that. In Europe, the tendency has been toward exclusive states; states that are more cosmopolitan in their makeup — Yugoslavia, the Austria-Hungary Empire, the Ottoman Empire — have largely failed and been split. More coherence has allowed for more national identity and success and what we observe in Europe is the result of several generations of Ethnic Cleansing and two World Wars.

While it might make sense to redraw the map in western Asia and North Africa, Douthat points out that process is not going to be peaceful and believes it’s underway now. Are we ready for generations of bloodshed and chaos to get there? In the long run, perhaps we should be, but it’s always worth remembering that in the long run, we’re all dead. Douthat writes:

This was true even of the most ambitious (and foolhardy) architects of the Iraq invasion, who intended to upset a dictator-dominated status quo … but not, they mostly thought, in a way that would redraw national boundaries. Instead, the emphasis was on Iraq’s potential for post-Saddam cohesion, its prospects as a multiethnic model for democratization and development. That emphasis endured through the darkest days of our occupation, when the voices calling for partition — including the current vice president, Joe Biden — were passed over and unity remained America’s strategic goal.

This means that Iraq is now part of an arc, extending from Hezbollah’s fiefdom in Lebanon through war-torn Syria, in which official national borders are notional at best. And while full dissolution is not yet upon us, the facts on the ground in Iraq look more and more like Peters’s map than the country that so many Americans died to stabilize and secure…Our basic interests have not altered: better stability now….But two successive administrations have compromised those interests: one through recklessness, the other through neglect. Now the map is changing; now, as in early-20th-century Europe, the price of transformation is being paid in blood.

Douthat is one of the more conservative writers on the Times OP-ED and he takes the opportunity there to take a slap at the Obama administration. Since I have a different lens and see this as the fruits of an absurd policy to begin with, I think his analysis is dead wrong.

You deal with reality as it is, not as you wish it could be and demanding doesn’t make it so. The US may have wooed the Sunni warlords during the Surge but in reality, we were all in on the Shiites, and they wanted us out. And so we left and here we are. Ana Marie Cox seems to think that was not only inevitable but a good idea.


Cox is an interesting writer. She started the satirical blog Wonkette, worked for Time starting their Swampland Blog while covering the McCain Palin campaign; she left Time and worked briefly for Air America before that enterprise cratered; wrote a blog and column for Gentleman’s Quarterly and since 2011 has been a correspondent, blogger and columnist for The Guardian.

My theory is that she no longer appears on the Rachel Maddow show because of the famous “tea bagger” incident where she reduced Maddow to blushing giggles and tears. She still appears on the rest of MSNBC. She remains unapologetic about her progressive tendencies and while less whimsical, she continues to write with clarity and fairness.

In her column on June 15, she discusses the Republican complaint about Obama’s imprecise and indirect foreign policy; while seeing substance in the complaint, she looks at it in a different way, that at the moment vague imprecision the best policy for the US and complaints apart, the only one the nation really wants. 

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Cox has the same yearning for clear choices and a certain trumpet that many on the right argue for but, she points out very lucidly, we really need to be careful in what we wish for. Iraq is a mess, largely of our own making and we need to step carefully, not ape Uncle Teddy in Arsenic and Old Lace, charging down the stairs to bury more laborers on the Panama Canal in the basement. Rather, she asks us to remember how we got into that mess in the first place.

But let’s remember the way we got in too deep: it wasn’t by underestimating the threat Iraq posed to US interests, it was byoverestimating it. ”Overestimating” may even be too generous. We created a threat when there was none, not out of whole cloth so much as a web of pride, avarice and insecurity.

Obama’s haters on the right – and maybe even some formerly hawkish apologists on the left – need a refresher course on just how much of the Iraq invasion hinged on ego and imagined taunts…. That the Bush administration misled the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq is now all but common knowledge; what we talk about less is why Americans were moved so easily from concern about possible attacks from overseas into almost pornographic nationalism. 

Clearly, we were intoxicated by some heady perfume of testosterone and saddle leather that pulled along George W Bush by the nose. When the Iraq war began, nearly 80% of Americans thought it was a good idea.Almost as many approved of how the president was handling it. Irrational exuberance is not just for markets. How we have sobered since then!

Cox points out that governments are not people, and that the mechanisms of government are supposed to grind slowly, not jump on the first impulsive concept that comes to mind. She believes that Republicans think that Americans want smaller government, by which they understand governments that act like people. Fortunately, that isn’t possible.

The more we expect government to produce magic beans capable of solving some immediate problem, the less capable the government ultimately is to respond to the next one. Using the economic analogy again, if the rational actor in the marketplace is your drunken uncle Bernie or schizo cousin Pearl, you can’t trust the market to make rational decisions. Thus in government — the idea that, as some Republicans claim, the administration considers all options and chooses none strikes her as superior to the alternative — grabbing the first option that fits you underlying desires whether or not it’s going to be effective and going all in on it.

Cox sees an almost metaphysical transformation in the American electorate. After Bush, as a group we no longer see the President as the personification of the state. Part of that is probably due to the difference in attitude, intellect, personality and race between this President and most of his predecessors.

A large part of it is due to the results of the Iraq invasion; as a people, we’re sick of conflict with no end, no logic, no goals and no plausible outcome. Leaving Iraq was inevitable and Maliki screwed himself because he made out exit so abrupt and complete; Afghanistan will probably be slower but still, inevitable. The Islamic world will figure it out or not. As Cox says with much the same insight as Friedman and Douthat, and the Pope,

“It is most certainly a function of having seen so many lives lost, but the American people are comfortable with inaction. Barack Obama’s foreign policy is less of a doctrine than a stance – guarded but cautious, careful but alert … just like us.”  

Posted in USAComments Off on Looking at the Elephant from all angles

Jeffrey Goldberg and the I$raHell Defeat



As one of the first to predict an immanent Israeli defeat in this round of violence, I was delighted to read this morning that Zionist mouthpiece Jeffrey Goldberg admits that Israel has lost the war.

“Why Is Israel Losing a War It’s Winning?” asks Goldberg. The Jewish State is a regional super power, its lobbies dominate Western politics, it is technologically superior, so what could have gone wrong?

Jeffrey Goldberg, a veteran Israeli concentration camp guard produces a few uniquely amusing arguments that deserve our attention.

He writes, “In a fight between a state actor and a non-state actor, the non-state actor can win merely by surviving.”

I suspect Israel’s military leadership is aware of this argument by now. But the Palestinians have achieved far more than merely ‘surviving.’ They brought Israel to its knees. Palestinians performed heroically on the ground and displayed total unity, two things Israel did not anticipate.

They have also delivered a clear message to the Israeli people, to world Jewry and even to the miniature Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ clan – this battle is not about ‘occupation,’ 1967 or the ‘two state solution.’ It is about human dignity – the right to exist.  The Palestinians do not have any plans to fade away, they are the people of the land, and they will be back.

The IDF may be able to destroy a few tunnels, murder elders, women and children and turn streets into piles of debris, but it can’t even scratch the Palestinians’ will. Eventually, even Goldberg may be forced to admit, that the Palestinians prevailed because their objectives and goals are far greater than mere ‘survival.’

“People talk a lot about the Jewish lobby. But the worldwide Muslim lobby is bigger,” complains Goldberg. 

But is that really the case? In fact, most commentators including Goldberg himself (and in the same article) agree that Hamas and the Palestinians have never been more isolated politically even within the Muslim world.  The explanation is the opposite of that preached by the ‘anti-Zionists.’

The Jewish progressive paradigm suggests that the building of alliances and leagues would ‘help’ the the Palestinians, but, in reality, once isolated and with their backs against the wall, the Palestinians prevailed militarily, politically, strategically, diplomatically and most important, spiritually.  The reason? With your back to the wall and a gun to your face, it is pretty difficult to bend over.

Goldberg, makes the routine complaints about anti Semitism: “If you’ve spent any time these past few weeks on Twitter, or in Paris, you know that anti-Semitism is another source of Israel’s international isolation.”

As we know, lying and spinning for the ‘cause’ is a kosher sport. However, we still expect Zionist merchants such as Goldberg, Regev or Dershowitz to show slightly more sophistication. Instead of ‘anti Semitism,’ what we have in Paris is a puppet government controlled by the forceful Jewish Lobby CRIF. This government is indeed unpopular and its unpopularity reflects badly on its paymasters.

What we see ‘in Paris’ and ‘on twitter’ is basically a reaction to Jewish power. Is it ‘anti Semitism?’ Not at all. Does it oppose Jews as a race or as a religion? Not at all. Does it oppose Jews simply for being Jews? Not at all. Instead it epitomizes resistance to Jewish lobbies and, in particular, crimes committed by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people.

“Anti-Semitism has been with us for more than 2,000 years; it is an ineradicable and shape-shifting virus,” says Goldberg.

Jewish bad behavior - They just can't give it up

Jewish bad behavior – They just can’t give it up

Here he is simply wrong. Anti-Jewish feelings are the natural reaction to Jewish bad-behaviour. Jewish bad-behaviour is a dynamic notion, it has and has had many faces and permutations. Its different shapes and forms throughout history have evoked different forms of opposition.

It is sad that Jewish bad-behaviour is as old as the Jews, probably caused by the tribal, racist and supremacist roots of Jewish tradition, heritage and texts.

And it is the same Jewish racial exclusivism that is manifested in contemporary Jewish politics both Zionist and ‘anti.’ Practically speaking, opposing the Jewish State’s barbarism or its advocates, is not anti Semitism, it is humanism per se.

Goldberg, who whines about anti-Semitism on a daily basis, obviously doesn’t understand that it is he and his ilk who evoke anti-Jewish sentiment. In a patronising tone he lectures the democratically elected American government on what to do and how to behave.

“Kerry’s recent efforts to negotiate a ceasefire have come to nothing in part because his proposals treat Hamas as a legitimate organization with legitimate security needs.” The Goldbergs, AIPAC and the Dershowitzes of this world do not admit that it is not up to the Jews to define the boundaries of legitimacy. On the contrary, an American liberation is long overdue.

The American people could free their media, culture, finance and politics from that corrosive and repressive ideology that has dominated America for so long. Its influence on American foreign interests and diplomacy has ruined its value system and moral ethos and its effects on finance have left much of the country impoverished.

For years I have argued that the struggle in Palestine is our battle for humanity because we are all Palestinians. The triumph in Gaza is a wake up call for humanity. Without fear, we should identify the corrosive elements that have robbed us of our true Athenian spirit of truth and freedom and planted Jerusalem and Goldbergs in our midst.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Jeffrey Goldberg and the I$raHell Defeat

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