Monday, May 31, 2010

Gortoz A Ran

By Denez Prigent and Lisa Gerrard
Scenes from the movie: "BlackHawk Down"

CounterTerror Adviser Defends Jihad As 'Legitimate Tenet Of Islam'

Published May 27, 2010
Courtesy Of "FOX News"

The president's top counterterrorism adviser on Wednesday called jihad a "legitimate tenet of Islam," arguing that the term "jihadists" should not be used to describe America's enemies.

During a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, John Brennan described violent extremists as victims of "political, economic and social forces," but said that those plotting attacks on the United States should not be described in "religious terms."

He repeated the administration argument that the enemy is not "terrorism," because terrorism is a "tactic," and not terror, because terror is a "state of mind" -- though Brennan's title, deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security, includes the word "terrorism" in it. But then Brennan said that the word "jihad" should not be applied either.

"Nor do we describe our enemy as 'jihadists' or 'Islamists' because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children," Brennan said.

The technical, broadest definition of jihad is a "struggle" in the name of Islam and the term does not connote "holy war" for all Muslims. However, jihad frequently connotes images of military combat or warfare, and some of the world's most wanted terrorists including Usama bin Laden commonly use the word to call for war against the West.


Brennan defined the enemy as members of bin Laden's Al Qaeda network and "its terrorist affiliates."

But Brennan argued that it would be "counterproductive" for the United States to use the term, as it would "play into the false perception" that the "murderers" leading war against the West are doing so in the name of a "holy cause."

"Moreover, describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism -- that the United States is somehow at war against Islam," he said.

The comment comes after Brennan, in a February speech in which he described his respect for the tolerance and devotion of Middle Eastern nations, referred to Jerusalem on first reference by its Arabic name, Al-Quds.

"In all my travels the city I have come to love most is al-Quds, Jerusalem, where three great faiths come together," Brennan said at an event co-sponsored by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Islamic Center at New York University and the Islamic Law Students Association at NYU.

Obama's Letter Exposes Forked Tongue On Iran

By Steve Hynd
May 28, 2010
Source: "NewsHoggers" --May 27, 2010
Courtesy Of "Information Clearing House"

Via Robert Naiman, it appears that President Lula of Brazil has decided to shine some light on the Obama administration's machinations on Iran. He has finally released the full text of Obama's 20th April letter to Brazil about the proposed TTR fuel swap deal and the entire thing appears today in Brazilian Foreign Policy.

The letter reads, in part:

Obama to Lula 1

The letter also specifically mentions the compromise of using Turkey as the location for Iran's fuel to be held "in escrow".

I would urges Brazil to impress upon Iran the opportunity presented by this offer to "escrow" its uranium in Turkey while the nuclear fuel is being produced.

This letter's authenticity is not disputed by the White House. It exposes the Obama administration's forked-tongue response to the Brazil and Turkey brokered swap. The White House is now in full spin mode, but the spin has already been undercut by the release of the letter's full text. Of late, Hilary Clinton has been the main vehicle for the White House's double-talk, which is now entirely aimed at closing down opportunities to find a negotiated settlement to the Iran nuclear issue no matter what the new National Security Strategy might say. But Obama must also bear the burden of blame, his is the desk where the buck stops.

Gitmo ’Suicides’ Torture Gone Wrong

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Friday, May 28th, 2010 -- 1:00 pm
Courtesy Of "The Raw Story"

When three detainees at Guantanamo Bay were found hanged in their cells on June 9, 2006, the official explanation was suicide. Human rights attorney Scott Horton, however, believes that "clearly these were homicides."

Horton has been speaking out about the incident since last winter, apparently motivated by a concern that the Obama administration may be participating in a cover-up. A Justice Department investigation was closed last fall without challenging the official version of the men's deaths.

In an appearance Thursday on Fox News' Freedom Watch, Horton stated that the only real question in his mind is whether the men's deaths were deliberate murders or were "negligent homicides" resulting from "some sort of procedure that was performed on them." He suggested, for example, that they might have suffocated as a result of being gagged while undergoing torture.

"The father of one of the deceased," Horton noted, "who himself was a general in the Saudi Arabian police, said he examined the body and he saw evidence of torture. He's convinced of that."

The show's host, Judge Andrew Napolitano, appeared clearly skeptical of the government account, and the segment was bannered, "Are the 'suicides' really torture interrogations gone wrong?"


As described by Napolitano, the three men "had cloths shoved down their throats, and at least two of them had masks covering their faces, presumably to prevent the cloths from being ejected." After doing all that, the men allegedly tied sheets around their necks to hang themselves and "performed this feat simultaneously although they were not in adjoining cells."

Horton added that it also seems unlikely the men could have died in their cells as claimed because "under the procedures there, they were subject to examination every ten minutes, and according to the official report, the bodies were hanging there for two hours, dead, without being observed."

Horton said there is evidence that the three men had been removed from their cells for interrogation on the night of their deaths. Sergeant Joe Hickman, who was a guard at Guantanamo, has stated that on the evening prior to the deaths, he "was observing ... as a paddy wagon came by and extracted, in three separate trips, three prisoners from Cell Block A, which is where these three prisoners were held, and these prisoners were taken to a secret facility that the guards referred to as 'Camp No.' ... He speculates that these three people are the prisoners who died."

When the deaths occurred, the New York Times reported that they "come at a time of mounting international criticism of the Bush administration's handling of terrorism suspects at Guant√°namo and other prisons around the world." Military officials, according to the Times, "suggested that the three suicides were a form of a coordinated protest."

Admiral Harry B. Harris, the commander at Guantanamo, stated at the time, "I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us." A Bush administration official subsequently described the alleged suicides as a "good PR move to draw attention."

In a lengthy account published earlier this year, however, Horton points out that "in the weeks following the 2006 deaths, the Justice Department decided to use the suicide narrative as leverage against the Guant√°namo prisoners and their troublesome lawyers, who were pressing the government to justify its long-term imprisonment of their clients.”

This video is from Fox News' Freedom Watch, broadcast May 27, 2010.


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Israeli Commandos Murder 9 On Aid Flotilla

BREAKING NEWS

By AMY TEIBEL and TIA GOLDENBERG, Associated Press Writers Amy Teibel And Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press Writers
May 31, 2010 (33 mins ago)
Courtesy Of "Yahoo News"

JERUSALEM – Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday, killing nine passengers in a botched raid that provoked international outrage and a diplomatic crisis.

Dozens of activists and six Israeli soldiers were wounded in the bloody predawn confrontation in international waters. The violent takeover dealt yet another blow to Israel's international image, already tarnished by war crimes accusations in Gaza and its 3-year-old blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu canceled a much-anticipated meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday in a sign of just how gravely Israel viewed the international uproar. In Canada, Netanyahu announced he was rushing home.

Israel said it opened fire after its commandos were attacked by knives, clubs and live fire from two pistols wrested from soldiers after they rappelled from a helicopter to board one of the vessels. Late Monday, it released a grainy black-and-white video that it said supported its version of events.

Reaction was swift and harsh, with a massive protest in Turkey, Israel's longtime Muslim ally, which unofficially supported the mission. Ankara announced it would recall its ambassador and call off military exercises with the Jewish state.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting later Monday to hear a briefing on the incident, said Lebanon's Deputy Ambassador Caroline Ziade, whose country holds the council presidency. The Arab League called for a meeting to discuss the issue Tuesday in Cairo.

The showdown came at a sensitive time for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Netanyahu, who expressed his "full backing" for the military raid, had hoped to receive a high-profile expression of support from Obama after months of strained relations over Israeli settlement construction.

The White House said in a written statement that the United States "deeply regrets" the loss of life and injuries and was working to understand the circumstances surrounding this "tragedy."

The activists were headed to Gaza to draw attention to the blockade, which Israel and Egypt imposed after the militant Hamas group seized the territory of 1.5 million Palestinians in 2007.

There were conflicting accounts of what happened early Monday, with activists claiming the Israelis fired first and Israel insisting its forces fired in self defense. Communications to the ships were cut shortly after the raid began, and activists were kept away from reporters after their boats were towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Helicopters evacuated the wounded to Israeli hospitals, officials said. Three ships had reached port by early evening and some 80 activists had been removed without serious incident, the military said.

The footage filmed from Israeli aircraft and released by the military showed activists swarming around commandos after they descended from a helicopter by rope onto a boat carrying 600 passengers. Activists scuffled with the commandos and are seen throwing an object the military identified as a firebomb.

A commando who spoke to reporters on a naval vessel off the coast, identified only as "A," said he and his comrades were taken off guard by a group of Arabic-speaking men when they rappelled onto the deck.


He said some of the soldiers were stripped of their helmets and equipment and thrown from the top deck to the lower deck, and that some had even jumped overboard to save themselves. At one point one of the activists seized one of the soldiers' weapons and opened fire, the commando said.

A high-ranking naval official displayed a box confiscated from the boat containing switchblades, slingshots, metal balls and metal bats. "We prepared (the soldiers) to deal with peace activists, not to fight," he said. Most of the dead were Turkish, he added.

Turkey's NTV network showed activists beating one commando with sticks as he landed on one of the boats. Dr. Arnon Afek, deputy director of Chaim Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv, said two commandos were brought in with gunshot wounds. Another had serious head wounds from an unspecified blow, Afek added.

Before communications to the boats were severed, a Turkish website showed video of pandemonium on board one of the vessels, with activists in orange life jackets running around as some tried to help an activist lying motionless on the deck. The site also showed video of an Israeli helicopter flying overhead and Israeli warships nearby.

Activists said Israeli naval commandos stormed the ships after ordering them to stop in international waters, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from Gaza's coast.

A reporter with the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera, who was sailing on the Turkish ship leading the flotilla, said the Israelis fired at the vessel before boarding it, wounding the captain.

"These savages are killing people here, please help," a Turkish television reporter said.

The broadcast ended with a voice shouting in Hebrew, "Everybody shut up!"

At a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel's military chief of staff and navy commander said all of the violence was centered on the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara, which was carrying 600 of the 700 activists. Troops took over the five other boats without incident, military chief Gabi Ashkenazi said.

"To me it is clear without a doubt, judging by what I saw and what I heard in the first reports from the soldiers, that in light of the danger to human life this violence required the use of weapons," Ashkenazi said.

Robin Churchill, a professor of international law at the University of Dundee in Scotland, said the Israeli commandos boarded the ship outside of Israel's territorial waters.

"As far as I can see, there is no legal basis for boarding these ships," Churchill said.

Many of the activists were from Europe.

At Barzilai hospital in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, a few activists trickled in under military escort. "They hit me," said a Greek man, whose right arm was in a sling, calling the Israelis "pirates." He did not give his name as he was led away. A second man, also Greek, wore a neck brace.

The European Union deplored what it called excessive use of force and demanded an investigation by Israel. It called the Gaza blockade "politically unacceptable," and called for it to be lifted immediately.

Turkey and other nations called on the U.N. Security Council to convene in an emergency session about Israel.

Thousands marched in protest in Istanbul, some setting Israeli flags on fire after unsuccessfully trying to storm the Israeli consulate. Israel quickly advised to its citizens to avoid travel to Turkey. In Jordan, hundreds of protesters demanded that their government break diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

Israeli security forces were on alert across the country for possible protests, but no serious unrest were reported.

There were no details on the identities of the casualties, or on the conditions of some of the more prominent people on board, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland and European legislators. Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, 85, did not join the flotilla as she had planned.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Israeli "aggression," declared three days of mourning across the West Bank and called on the U.N. Security Council and Arab League to hold emergency sessions on the incident.

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the rival Hamas government in Gaza, condemned the "brutal" Israeli attack and called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to intervene.

In Uganda, Ban condemned the deaths and called for a "thorough" investigation. "Israel must provide an explanation," he said.

Before the ships set sail from waters off Cyprus on Sunday, Israel had urged the flotilla not to try to breach the blockade and offered to transfer some of the cargo to Gaza from an Israeli port, following a security inspection.

Organizers included the IHH, an Islamic humanitarian group that is based in Istanbul but operates in several other countries. Israel outlawed the group in 2008 because of its ties to Hamas.

The flotilla of three cargo ships and three passenger ships carrying 10,000 tons of aid and 700 activists was carrying items that Israel bars from reaching Gaza, like cement and other building materials.

Israel has allowed ships through five times, but has blocked them from entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers in January 2009.

___

Goldenberg reported from aboard the Israeli warship INS Kidon. AP writers Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

America's Fatal Flaws In Afghanistan

Before The Endgame

By Ahmed Rashid
May 26, 2010
Courtesy Of "Der Spiegel Online"


Taliban fighters in Afghanistan: The insurgents have stated  privately that they want direct talks with Washington and NATO.
Zoom
AFP

Taliban fighters in Afghanistan: The insurgents have stated privately that they want direct talks with Washington and NATO.

When Washington starts withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in July 2011, its NATO allies in Europe will quickly rush to the exits. A power-sharing arrangement between Kabul and the Taliban is a less than ideal solution, but it is the only realistic option if the West pulls out.

No matter how many times President Barack Obama and his senior officials tell the world that the Americans will not be pulling out of Afghanistan in just 13 months time, most Afghans believe that the US endgame is already well under way. The same is true for governments of neighboring countries known for their interference and influence-seeking in the Hindu Kush.

That means everyone from Afghan warlords to Taliban and al-Qaida commanders to intelligence agencies in neighboring states have upped their game to undercut rivals, achieve their aims and further their influence. The danger is that Afghanistan will once again become, in the words of Lord Curzon, the 19th century British imperial figure, "the cockpit of Asia.''

Obama himself gave the game away when he said last December that even though 30,000 more US troops would be deployed to Afghanistan this year in a large military and civilian surge to drive back the Taliban, by July 2011 US forces will start withdrawing from the country and handing it over to the Afghans. By this October there will be 100,000 US and more than 40,000 other troops -- mainly from other NATO countries in Afghanistan -- and by next July they will start withdrawing.

Illiterate, Undertrained and Irresponsible

More than $25 billion has been poured into efforts to rebuild the Afghan army and police, but they are still largely illiterate, undertrained and irresponsible and nowhere near ready to take over nation-building tasks. Of the 5,200 Western military trainers that the US and NATO agreed were needed to mentor Afghan forces, only half have been deployed. And despite numerous promises, only 300 of those are Europeans.

For Afghans and powerful neighbors such as Pakistan, India and Iran, it is abundantly clear that the first American soldier to leave will be followed with a rush to the exit by European NATO countries, where the war has lost legitimacy and popularity. The Dutch have already declared their intentions to leave the critical southern province of Uruzghan this summer, the Canadians will leave Kandahar province next year followed possibly by the Danes. And the British have been asked by the Americans to leave Helmand province and redeploy to Kandahar.

Obama's surge was a well-considered notion except for the self-imposed time frame that has frustrated US commanders. On a positive note, the surge coincided with a new counterinsurgency strategy now embraced by NATO that puts an emphasis on protecting the people and pushing forward with development rather than killing insurgents. But that, too, requires time and not a 12-month deadline.

The US first applied its new military strategy in Marja, a small town in southern Helmand and center of the drugs trade. And yet the 15,000 Western and Afghan forces have still been unable to prevent the Taliban from returning to the town at night to lay mines in the roads, intimidate the population and prevent an Afghan administration from running the city.

Now US and NATO forces plan to launch the biggest offensive of the war this summer when over 20,000 troops will deploy to clear Kandahar city and adjoining Taliban-controlled districts before handing security over to Afghan forces. US General David Petraeus warned the population of Kandahar on a visit there on April 30 that the Taliban would retaliate and take ''horrific actions'' to disrupt the US-led offensive. The Taliban have since launched a wave of assassinations in broad daylight in the city, killing a dozen top Afghan officials including the deputy mayor of the city.

Three Continuing Crises

There are three ongoing crises that the international community has still failed to square up to. The first is the lack of a consistent Afghan partner. A new Pentagon report to the US Congress states that only 29 out of 121 key districts support President Hamid Karzai. Most Afghans are still sitting on the fence. Recent US pressure on Karzai to improve governance in Afghanistan and eliminate corruption continues to fall on deaf ears.

For the past nine years, American governments have been naive and inconsistent in their dealings with Karzai. During that time, the Afghan president has never considered good governance to be a serious issue -- why should he suddenly be expected to do so now? Meanwhile, the lack of trust between Karzai and the Americans has grown. The US first accused Karzai of rigging last year's presidential elections, then accepted the results only to fight with him again over governance issues, finally making up with Karzai so he could conduct an all important visit to Washington the week before last.

The second problem is that even if the US maintains a troop presence in Afghanistan for another five years, as it is likely to do, the Europeans will certainly decline to do so. According to recent polls, 72 percent of Britons want their troops out of Afghanistan immediately, as do 62 percent of Germans. Polling across Europe -- from Spain to Sweden -- shows that over 50 percent of Europeans have had enough and want their troops to come home.

Thus Afghanistan's immediate crisis is also in the corridors of NATO in Brussels and European capitals because no European government can afford to sustain a foreign policy that is so deeply unpopular at home and costs so much in terms of blood and treasure for very long. So it was not surprising to see US and European leaders agree at the April 23 NATO meeting in Tallinn to start transferring control of some provinces of Afghanistan back to the Afghan government by the end of this year. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's statement that ''increasingly this year the momentum will be ours'' seemed overly optimistic and hollow. Many Afghans would call such a move a retreat rather than an advance.

Part 2: Germany Has Its Head Stuck in the Sand

Germany has deployed 4,500 troops in northern Afghanistan and Kunduz, but when it comes to explaining its strategy, intentions or aims to its citizens, the country's head has been stuck in the sand -- even more so than most other European nations. The degree of subterfuge pursued by Berlin in front of its own people has been remarkable.

Chancellor Angela Merkel herself has shown little interest in Afghanistan or Germany's deployment there and only recently attended her first funeral for a fallen German soldier. Soon, roughly 5,000 US troops will be deployed in the north to support the Germans in launching a major offensive to drive out the Taliban.

A Proxy Force

The third problem is that the Afghan Taliban and other extremist groups are still able to find sanctuary in Pakistan. The Pakistan military allowed the Taliban and its allies to relaunch their campaign against US forces in 2003. Bush ignored the issue as long as Pakistan went after al-Qaida, which the military did. Obama has pushed Pakistan harder with both carrots and sticks, but Pakistan insists on keeping the Afghan Taliban option open because of its perceived but exagerrated threat from India, which has strengthened its influence in Kabul. Now, with the US intent to withdraw and Pakistan a key player in the end game for influence in Kabul, the military sees it as all the more important to keep the Afghan Taliban in reserve as a proxy force for pursuing the army's interests in Kabul.

In the meantime, Pakistan's army also allowed the growth of the Pakistani Taliban -- Pakistani Pashtun tribesmen who originally appeared as helping hands for the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida in the tribal areas. Since 2007, the Pakistani Taliban has emerged as a challenge to the state that is wreaking havoc with suicide attacks across Pakistan. Late last year, the army began to pursue Pakistani Taliban, but it has only done so in six of the seven tribal agencies. The army refuses to enter the seventh agency, North Waziristan or deploy further south in the border region of Balochistan where the Taliban and their allies, like Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, operate from.

With its obsession with India, the army also refuses to go after Punjabi extremist groups who have been used in the past by the military to fight Indian troops in Kashmir. Lying idle for several years, these groups have not been disarmed and many of their fighters are now fighting for the Pakistani Taliban or have bases in the tribal areas.

Al-Qaida and a number of Central Asian groups also have training camps in North Waziristan. These include half a dozen would-be bombers of various nationalities, who have tried to attack the American mainland, as well as several dozen German militants. The latest case of Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born American citizen who tried to explode a car bomb in Times Square in New York, has finally riled up the Obama administration sufficiently to demand that Pakistan take action in North Waziristan. Pakistan is now under serious pressure to do something, but the army has so far never been forced to do anything it considers to be counter to its strategic interest.

The Tug-of-War over Afghanistan

Obama's promise last year to bring the region together in a kind of pact that would prevent neighboring countries from interfering in Afghanistan has gotten nowhere. Relations between the US and Iran and between India and Pakistan are worse than they have ever been. Afghanistan's six direct neighbors -- Iran, Pakistan, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan -- and its near neighbors India, Russia and Saudi Arabia all want a degree of influence in a post-US Afghanistan. It is Pakistan, however, which holds most of the cards with its grip on the Afghan Taliban leadership.

With the West tiring nine years after Sept. 11, Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue to deteriorate until there is an acceptance by the US, NATO and all the neighboring states to support negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Karzai is keen to gain international support for such talks, which he has already secretly continued for nearly a year in venues such as Dubai and Saudi Arabia. The Taliban have privately said they want to talk directly to the Americans and NATO.

The US demands that the Taliban must cut off all ties with al-Qaida and militarily be beaten into a state of submission before such talks begin are looking more and more impossible to achieve. Other insurgencies have ended by talking and fighting at the same time. But the conditions the West would like to impose on the Taliban can only be done through dialogue. Sharing power with the Taliban is not the best of solutions, especially for the Afghan people, but it is the only realistic option if the West starts withdrawing its troops and Afghanistan remains a weak and fractured nation with rapacious neighbors.

Pakistani journalist and book author Ahmed Rashid is one of the most knowledgeable experts on the region. He wrote a world-renowned book about the Taliban and recently published "Descent Into Chaos: How the war against Islamic extremism is being lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia."


Political Israel Doesn't Understand The New World

In no time, our leaders got addicted to a new kind of landlordship - a world with a single power where Israel enjoyed the status of a regional power under the aegis of the patron.

By Yitzhak Laor
Published 02:37 30.05.10
Latest update 02:37 30.05.10
Courtesy Of "Haaretz Newspaper"

Since the end of the 1960s, the alliance between Israel and the United States has been an open one. Israel learned to reject any solution to the conflict with the Palestinians with the aid of the "Soviet interest" demon and turned itself into a stick. Its withdrawal from the territories was the Americans' carrot to the Arabs. The peace with Egypt was made possible only when that country abandoned its alliance with the Soviet Union. But that world has disappeared.

In no time, our leaders got addicted to a new kind of landlordship - a world with a single power where Israel enjoyed the status of a regional power under the aegis of the patron. In this way, it received treasures - 1 million immigrants, permission to settle them in the territories, expansion of the settlements to catastrophic proportions, advanced weapons, and a green light for three wars against a civilian population.

That chapter has ended and political Israel does not understand the new world. From time to time, we hear hints that U.S. President Barack Obama is "naive." But Obama was elected after the United States' failure to be the sole superpower became obvious to all. That's where the discussion about the Iranian nuclear program must take place.

The reaction in Israel to the Iranian-Turkish-Brazilian agreement reflected a lack of understanding. It is true that no military power is stronger than the United States, at least regarding its power to destroy. It is true that its leaders still tell us occasionally that we can rely on them. It is true that the United States is still the leader of the West and the West is "the free world," even when it supports starving the people of Gaza because they voted the wrong way in their elections. But the United States also knows that it has the largest national debt in the world, and, to a large extent, the economic crisis of 2008 did not become a huge world disaster thanks to China's economic prowess.

Moreover, China does not merely have important economic ties with Iran. Since 2000, China has comprised almost half the world's demand for concrete. Chile is flourishing thanks to the high price of copper, Australia is flourishing, and even Brazil and Argentina have recovered to a large extent due to Chinese demand for raw materials.

On the other hand, China has not replaced the Soviet Union, and a bipolar world is no longer possible. Even Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's "diplomatic variant" - "there is Russia, not just the United States" - stresses just how much Israel is living in the past. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal only one day after embracing President Shimon Peres in Moscow stresses that. And that time, too, we seemed to be amazed. In a world like this, Israel looks like a decorated general from the previous century.

The stirring victory of capitalism paved the way for a hungrier world but also the kind of world where there cannot be only one or two powers. We are referring not merely to the United States and the European Union but also to Brazil, Russia, India and China. And in fact, also to other regional powers that rely on their own strength because that world, its entire soul, is business - and business also means partnership at a time of crisis.

And Israel? It still thinks in terms of "we have the House of Representatives in our pocket." There is nothing better than the colorful event in Dubai to show how far behind we are. Dubai? It's a kind of small Bedouin encampment where it is possible to send assassins with wigs and tennis shorts, as if it were Lillehammer, Norway, 1973. The disdain for Qatar's proposals for ties is also a sign of the old self-importance madness. As if the world were completely hypnotized by the judges' reasoning at the Israel Prize award ceremony.

This is also where the powerlessness in Israeli terms is revealed regarding "world public opinion." The apparent loss that we will face in this campaign in the West dwarfs questions about public opinion in India, Brazil or Turkey. If you would like an image: Ben-Gurion International Airport's new terminal was built as a megalomaniac airport for "the new Middle East." But its departure and arrival halls are populated almost entirely by Israelis, and by security officers who wait in the corners of the giant corridors for youths from different parts of the world whom they suspect will want to go to Bil'in.

The Psychological Influence Of Media On Muslims

The director of "2012" made an explanation about why he didn't destroy the Kaba in his movie. Here is what he says: "Well, I wanted to do that... but my co-writer Harald [Klosser] said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie.

By: Ugur Alkan
May 30, 2010
Courtesy Of "IslamiCity"


The director of "2012" made an explanation about why he didn't destroy the Kaba in his movie. At first, I thought his explanation would be mind stimulating, a sort of statement that would enable people to think deeply. Here is what he says: "Well, I wanted to do that... but my co-writer Harald [Klosser] said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right. ... We have to all ... in the Western world ... think about this. You can actually ... let ... Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab [Islamic] symbol, you would have ... a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is." After reading this, I was completely disappointed about the simplicity of his response.

It would have been more thoughtful if the director said something positive that pleases the Muslim community. For instance, he could have said something like "I understand that Kaaba is very sacred place for Muslims. I didn't want to hurt the feelings of ordinary Muslims as well as provoking the radical ones." To me, that would be more intelligent and mediator sort of approach. The problem is anyone who reads his actual explanation will come to think that Muslims in general are the followers of a violent religion and we just have to put up with that because of politically correctness or fear of terrorist attacks. This doesn't help anything except for causing frustration in the West and sorrowful feelings for ordinary, peaceful Muslims. We know that Islam is a peaceful religion but when he says "I do not want a fatwa over my head", it will definitely put negative thoughts about the Islamic religion on readers' minds. A death fatwa given by an extremist doesn't reveal the views of the entire Muslim community. In fact, we sincerely condemn violence.

The American Catholic is an online religious magazine which reflected resentment in its comments about the making of movie 2012. According to this magazine, Hollywood is too kind to Muslims by not destroying Kaba in the movie although they destroyed the Christian symbols. Of course, the article showed Islamic extremism as being a true face of the religion. It also claimed that while Hollywood produced movies like "Last Temptation of Christ" in which Jesus was degraded, it also produced "The Message" which flattered Islam. The movie honored the Islamic tradition by not depicting Prophet Muhammad. Unfortunately, the article misinformed the readers in numerous ways. First of all, depiction of a prophet is unacceptable in Islamic religion but this is not restricted to the Prophet Muhammad; indeed it includes all prophets such as Adam, Moses, Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad. Secondly, The Message was not produced by Hollywood. Mustapha Akkad, the director and producer of the movie had to find financial sponsors outside The United States since Hollywood didn't want to produce this movie.

We need to examine social psychology in Islamic nations because in most cases, violent demonstrations have psychological roots. For instance, When Danish press released cartoons degrading Prophet Muhammad; Muslims across the globe reacted violently. Western people could not understand the logic behind the violent massive demonstrations. Muslims were so offended because the cartoons showed the degradation of the most revered man in their lives. In an interview, a Pakistani man said" we respect all the prophets and they also should respect our prophet". Indeed, Islam places great importance of Major Prophets such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. It is extremely sinful to speak disrespectfully about them-let alone drawing- cartoons of them.

In some Islamic countries, they disrespect Jewish people by drawing offensive cartoons of Jewish Rabbis and that is something to condemn indeed. It is an inappropriate act for Muslims drawing ugly cartoons of Rabbis. Nevertheless, I don't see any point of attacking Prophet Muhammad since such action will upset the feelings of all Muslims. In defense of cartoons, a French journalist said that "If they have a right to come to our countries to bomb our subways, we should also have a right to draw cartoons of Muhammad." This sort of perspective does not help to solve issues. Just because Islamic extremists are engaged in terrorist acts, do the peaceful Muslim majority have to pay the price? Like any other foreign travelers, most Muslims travel to Europe just for pleasure, not for violence. And this statement can easily be proven by statistical facts.

The perception of Danish cartoons had a negative psychological impact on Muslim minds. Since perception involves psychological response, the way something is perceived plays an important role. From an Islamic perspective, the worst offense I can think of is to depict "God" in a movie. Hollywood produced movies like "Oh God" in which George Burns played as God and "Evan Almighty" showed Morgan Freeman acting as God. In Islam, this is a major sin since the God is unseen and He is incomprehensible by human minds. We just acknowledge that He is All-Powerful. But did Muslims show any reaction to those movies? Not at all! Why not? That is because the name "Allah" was not used in those movies. But that should not make any difference since Islam is the strictest religion in monotheism. Different cultures may have various names for God but there is only one God and clearly those movies were referring to the one God. Still Muslims were not offended by those movies because they didn't feel like they were targeted. This example proves that it isn't the Islamic law that compels them to react but psychological factors which motivate narrow-minded Muslims to act violently like they did in the cartoon crisis. The proper reaction for Muslims who are against such offensive movies is simply not to watch them. Violent demonstrations are not acceptable form of reaction.

In Midnight Express, Turks were terribly depicted in the movie. Interestingly, the actual person, in whom the movie was based on, Billy, stated that the movie didn't reflect reality. He said on YouTube video that he would love to go to Turkey but he just worries about some Turkish nationalists' reaction because of his involvement in Midnight Express. In my opinion, he should travel to Istanbul and Turkish people should welcome him with hospitality in order to settle things. That would truly put an end to the terrible image which Midnight Express still imposes on Turkish people. People who know Turkey certainly considered Midnight Express as an unfortunate movie. Yilmaz Guney, a famous Kurdish film director, stated that Midnight Express was a racist movie despite the fact that he had major issues with the Turkish government.

Violence and Islam cannot come together since Islam means peace. Western media should be more sensitive to the beliefs and traditions of Muslim community. At the same time, Islamic community should take more scientific approach to deal with its own internal problems. Social psychologists, psychiatrists, historians, theologians and other intellectuals should gather to discuss about how to convert the contemporary Muslims from emotionally driven people to rational thinking community.

*****

Ugur Alkan writes articles on various topics. He has a B.A. in Communicaton and MBA in Management from Fort Hays State University.

Israeli Exceptionalism

The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism

By: Elaine C. Hagopian
May 30, 2010
Courtesy Of "IslamiCity"


For those unfamiliar with the extraordinary evolution of Israeli exceptionalism emanating from its Zionist narrative and assuring Israel's incredible success as a colonial settler state, M. Shahid Alam's book is the one to read. He has recorded a compelling, uniquely comprehensive and enlightening historical analysis of the inherently destabilizing dynamic of Zionism. Of particular note are his detailed Chapters Nine and Thirteen.

In Chapter Nine, he documents the constellation of Jewish factors that came together in the 19th century which assured Zionist success: the spread of Jewish intellectuals and professionals across major cities in Europe; Jewish population growth to 16.7 million in 1939 which could root a nationalist movement; business acumen and ownership of major banks and a strong media presence; growth of interchange with other Jewish leaders contributing to a sense of community - important considering that Jews had not previously formed a sense of nation according to Alam; and as European nationalism grew, Jews were affected by the idea though they had no majority presence in any one state which could be claimed by them. Historical anti-Semitism prodded the Jewish elites toward formulation of the Zionist project even as Jews were moving out of the ghettos of a liberalized Europe. Given their distribution throughout Europe and without a territorial base of their own, the Zionist sought and captured the needed "mother" country to implement their colonial settler state in Palestine. This they found in the U.K initially and then in the U.S. with periodic support by other countries such as France.

In Chapter Thirteen, he recounts the growth of Christian Zionism which underpins the Zionist project in Palestine. He takes the reader through the Protestant Reformation from which several new Protestant evangelical churches emerged and restored the notions of Jews as God's chosen people and the Covenant promising Palestine to the Jews. These notions are crucial to evangelical belief in end times.

Alam's Chapter Nineteen on the Israel Lobby in the U.S. is also worthy of special note. He analyzes the way in which Zionist acumen made the Lobby so powerful. This becomes particularly clear when Alam expertly demonstrates that Israel was not a strategic asset to the U.S. or earlier to the U.K. However, by its well-known tactic of instigating Arab hostility to the U.S. for its support of Israel against Arab interests, Israel increasingly developed the image of a strategic asset by offering to check its created Arab hostility to American interests. It is Israel's need to create situations to keep the U.S. on the hook that makes it a destabilizing factor in the area. Israel's defeat of Arab Nationalist regimes in the 1967 war clinched Israel's claim to be a strategic asset. Those regimes had developed a pragmatic relation with the USSR. The Lobby from that point on becomes almost invincible in its ability to co-shape U.S. policy in the M.E. As such, Alam demonstrates effectively that in spite of wreaking havoc in the area, Israel is shielded from international sanctions by its engineered exceptionalism buttressed and reinforced by the astonishing array of politically powerful institutions and organizations Zionists formed in the U.S. Alam spells out the pillars of that exceptionalism which are riveted into the public mind and serve as the automatic armor against criticism and punitive measures: the biblical mythology of Jewish chosenness granting Jews the "divine right" to Palestine and thereby invalidating Palestinian territorial rights; Israeli achievements in garnering Western commitment to creating and maintaining a Jewish State as well as demonstrable Israeli power and technology; and the constant invocation of eternal Jewish victimization to silence criticism. Much of the book is dedicated to how the Zionists achieved this unique status for Israel. In this, Alam has generally exceeded previous studies.

On the other hand, there are problematic sections in the book. Although these sections are not the major thrust of the book, nonetheless they are important for thought about future developments in the area. Alam employs a concept that only a select few understand in the West. It is Islamicate. This concept originated with Marshall Hodgson, a University of Chicago historian who defined it as something that "...would refer not directly to the religion, Islam, itself, but to the social and cultural complex historically associated with Islam and the Muslims, both among Muslims themselves and even when found among non-Muslims." Alam prefers Islamicate to Islamic world since there is no pure Islamic or other culture in the world after generations of cultural co-mingling. Alam tends to see Israel as an attack on the Islamicate set in motion by Western support for its statehood against the indigenous people. But he predicts that the Islamicate will respond to this Israeli/U.S. assault and will recover "its dignity, its autonomy and power ... on the strength of Islamic ideas." (p. 36)

On the way to his predicted restored Islamicate, he takes us through the failure of Arab Nationalism to defeat Israel and its U.S. backer. He blames the failure on two things. First, he insists the Arab nationalists turned their backs on their Islamic roots and tried to build a new ethnic identity drawn primarily from Western secular thought, thereby apparently weakening the Islamicate and forfeiting membership in it. This seems to contradict the definition of Islamicate. If cultures and ideas have co-mingled over time, Arabs who embraced Arab nationalism did not necessarily cease their embrace of values shared by the Islamicate. Alam's juxtaposing of Arab and Islamicate seems to belie a more rigid definition of the Islamicate, one that makes Islam, the religion, the litmus test rather than cultural values emanating there from. It seems Arabs are not part of the Islamicate if they embrace secular ideas but could be if they adopt Islamist ideologies.

Second, Alam states correctly, the Arab Nationalists were basically petit bourgeoisie and committed to their separate states. As such, when confronting Israel, they did so through their inferior state militaries rather than by guerrilla war so successfully used in Vietnam and Algeria. But indeed, there were attempts at guerrilla war against Israel. Most notable was the organized Palestinian Fedayeen resistance in the 1960s. It did not receive the support of the Arab States. Islamic based Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Taliban do employ guerrilla tactics and have been somewhat successful. But their ability to do so stems primarily from the fact that they are fighting on their national territory. My argument with Alam is that he assumes the present Islamist movements will create "more integrated structures across the Islamicate" and will confront and replace these failed and fragmented regimes with their special interest groups leading ultimately to a restored Islamicate. It is not at all clear to this reviewer that this will be the outcome. Changed regimes may not differ in promoting interests of the separate states and/or integrating a significant secular content in their political systems over and above the content of an imagined Islamicate. After all, they too live in a globalized world. To give Alam his due, however, he draws his conclusion based on the movements he sees before him today, but also, understandably, from a personal preference for some semblance of a restored and unified Islamicate.

There are a some errors in the book. Two stand out: 1) he writes "All Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire outside Palestine were promised to the Arabs. ..." (p. 110). Palestine was included in the 1915 McMahon/Hussein agreements which led to Arab support of Britain against the Turks and Germans. The British then chose to neglect their commitment regarding Palestine. Alam did not cover these agreements in his book. And 2) he notes quoting Benny Morris, "... the British administration in Palestine 'went out of its way to promote Arab political frameworks parallel to Zionist institutions.'" (p.114) The British did create Arab institutions. However, as recent archival records indicate, Arab (Palestinian) institutions intentionally had no power. Herbert Samuel, British High Commissioner in Palestine (1915-1920) was a Zionist. Samuel worked closely with the Zionist Commission in Palestine, the National Council for Jews in Palestine and the Jewish Constituent Assembly (Va'ad Leumi) precursor of the Israeli Knesset. He blocked every effort by the majority Palestinians to gain authoritative representation, while simultaneously granting the Zionist minority considerable power. (Sahar Huneida, A Broken Trust: Herbert Samuel, Zionism and the Palestinians). In fact he laid the foundations of the future state of Israel.

In spite of these minor lapses, Alam's book remains a brilliant exposition of the dazzling success of Zionism and its ability to sustain Israeli exceptionalism.

*****

Elaine C. Hagopian: Professor Emerita of Sociology Simmons College, Boston.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Aicha!

By "Tamikrest"



The track "Aicha" is taken from Tamikrest's fantastic debut album "Adagh" (2010). Recorded in excellent audio quality. Listen and enjoy it.

"Tamikrest are a group of young Touareg musicians from the far north of Mali, where the parched landscape forms part of the Sahara desert. Their name means the knot, junction or coalition, a reference to the fact that the members hail from different regions, and Adagh is another name for the Touareg, who are also referred to by their language, Tamashek.

Theyre being dubbed the spiritual sons of Tinariwen the original exponents of the Ishumar rock (Touareg rebel music), and right from the first notes of this debut album, its obvious who theyve modelled their music on. If youre a Tinariwen fan who just cant wait for their next disc, Adagh is very much cut from the same cloth, with a few minor differences.

While Tinariwen have four lead vocalists and writers, Tamikrests Ousmane Ag Mossa is the sole featured singer and songwriter. His lyrics follow much the same themes as theirs, though, focussing most often on the Touareg struggle for self determination as an oppressed group in contemporary Malian society. Many Touareg have spent their lives in exile, after fleeing the fallout from one of several rebellions that have sparked off since Mali gained independence in 1959.

Like Tinariwen, Tamikrests default groove is an agreeably relaxed (and relaxing) lope that suggests a perambulating camel, typified by the likes of Amidini and Adounia Mahegagh. On most tracks Ousmane Ag Mossas simple, gnarled lead guitar is backed by two other rhythm guitars, providing a drone or subtle waves of reverb. What distinguishes them from their icons are Cheikhe Ag Tiglys rather mobile bass lines (which are perhaps a little too high in the mix) and the frequent introductory ululations by female backing singers Fatma Walette Cheikhe and Bassa Walette Abdamou."

"They are definitely the future of Tamasheq music!" (Andy Morgan, long-time manager of Tinariwen)

"..riffs that sound like a dream come true: Keith Richards, Ry Cooder & Ali Farka Toure picking side by side under an unforgiving sun" (D. Fricke from US-Rolling Stone)

Musicians:
Septett from Kidal (Mali, Africa)
Lead Guitar: Ousmane Ag Mossa

Produced by Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts, Dirtmusic)
Recorded at Studio Bogolan (Bamako)

Did An American Mine Sink South Korean Ship?


By Yoichi Shimatsu,
Posted: May 27, 2010
Courtesy Of "The New America Media"

BEIJING - South Korean Prime Minister Lee Myung-bak has claimed "overwhelming evidence" that a North Korean torpedo sank the corvette Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 sailors. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that there’s "overwhelming evidence" in favor of the theory that North Korea sank the South Korean Navy warship Cheonan. But the articles of proof presented so far by military investigators to an official inquiry board have been scanty and inconsistent.

There’s yet another possibility, that a U.S. rising mine sank the Cheonan in a friendly-fire accident.

In the recent U.S.-China strategic talks in Shanghai and Beijing, the Chinese side dismissed the official scenario presented by the Americans and their South Korean allies as not credible. This conclusion was based on an independent technical assessment by the Chinese military, according to a Beijing-based military affairs consultant to the People Liberation Army.

Hardly any of the relevant facts that counter the official verdict have made headline news in either South Korea or its senior ally, the United States.

The first telltale sign of an official smokescreen involves the location of the Choenan sinking - Byeongnyeong Island (pronounced Pyongnang) in the Yellow Sea. On the westernmost fringe of South Korean territory, the island is dominated by a joint U.S.-Korean base for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations. The sea channel between Byeongnyeong and the North Korean coast is narrow enough for both sides to be in artillery range of each other.

Anti-sub warfare is based on sonar and acoustic detection of underwater craft. Since civilian traffic is not routed through the channel, the noiseless conditions are near-perfect for picking up the slightest agitation, for example from a torpedo and any submarine that might fire it.

North Korea admits it does not possess an underwater craft stealthy enough to slip past the advanced sonar and audio arrays around Byeongnyeong Island, explained North Korean intelligence analyst Kim Myong Chol in a news release. "The sinking took place not in North Korean waters but well inside tightly guarded South Korean waters, where a slow-moving North Korean submarine would have great difficulty operating covertly and safely, unless it was equipped with AIP (air-independent propulsion) technology."

The Cheonan sinking occurred in the aftermath of the March 11-18 Foal Eagle Exercise, which included anti-submarine maneuvers by a joint U.S.-South Korean squadron of five missile ships. A mystery surrounds the continued presence of the U.S. missile cruisers for more than eight days after the ASW exercise ended.

Only one reporter, Joohee Cho of ABC News, picked up the key fact that the Foal Eagle flotilla curiously included the USNS Salvor, a diving-support ship with a crew of 12 Navy divers. The lack of any minesweepers during the exercise leaves only one possibility: the Salvor was laying bottom mines.

Ever since an American cruiser was damaged by one of Saddam Hussein's rising mines, also known as bottom mines, in the Iraq War, the U.S. Navy has pushed a crash program to develop a new generation of mines. The U.S. Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command has also been focused on developing counterparts to the fearsome Chinese naval "assassin's mace," which is propelled by a rocket engine.

A rising mine, which is effective only in shallow waters, rests atop a small platform on the sea floor under a camouflage of sand and gravel. Its detection system uses acoustics and magnetic readings to pick up enemy ships and submarines. When activated, jets of compressed air or solid-fuel rockets lift the bomb, which self-guides toward the magnetic center of the target. The blast rips the keel, splitting the ship or submarine into two neat pieces, just as was done to the RKOS Cheonan.

A lateral-fired torpedo, in contrast, "holes" the target's hull, tilting the vessel in the classic war movie manner. The South Korean government displayed to the press the intact propeller shaft of a torpedo that supposedly struck the Cheonan. Since torpedoes travel between 40-50 knots per hour (which is faster than collision tests for cars), a drive shaft would crumble upon impacting the hull and its bearing and struts would be shattered or bent by the high-powered blast.

The initial South Korean review stated that the explosive was gunpowder, which would conform to North Korea's crude munitions. This claim was later overturned by the inquiry board, which found the chemical residues to be similar to German advanced explosives. Due to sanctions against Pyongyang and its few allies, it is hardly credible that North Korea could obtain NATO-grade ordnance.

Thus, the mystery centers on the USNS Salvor, which happened to be yet right near Byeongyang Island at the time of the Cheonan sinking and far from its home base, Pearl Harbor. The inquiry board in Seoul has not questioned the officers and divers of the Salvor, which oddly is not under the command of the 7th Fleet but controlled by the innocuous-sounding Military Sealift Command. Diving-support ships like the Salvor are closely connected with the Office of Naval Intelligence since their duties include secret operations such as retrieving weapons from sunken foreign ships, scouting harbor channels and laying mines, as when the Salvor trained Royal Thai Marine divers in mine-laying in the Gulf of Thailand in 2006, for example.

The Salvor's presence points to an inadvertent release of a rising mine, perhaps because its activation system was not switched off. A human error or technical glitch is very much within the realm of possibility due to the swift current and strong tides that race through the Byeongnyeong Channel. The arduous task of mooring the launch platforms to the sea floor allows the divers precious little time for double-checking the electronic systems.

If indeed it was an American rising mine that sank the Cheonan, it would constitute a friendly-fire accident. That in itself is not grounds for a criminal investigation against the presidential office and, at worst, amounts only to negligence by the military. However, any attempt to falsify evidence and engage in a media cover-up for political purposes constitutes tampering, fraud, perjury and possibly treason.

Yoichi Shimatsu, former editor of the Japan Times, is an environmental consultant and a commentator on Asian affairs for CCTV-9 Dialogue.

Sleepwalking With Iran

Posted By Stephen M. Walt
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 12:32 PM
Courtesy Of "Foreign Policy Magazine"

I can't figure out who is actually directing U.S. policy toward Iran, but what's striking (and depressing) about it is how utterly unimaginative it seems to be. Ever since last year's presidential election, the United States has been stuck with a policy that might be termed "Bush-lite." We continue to ramp up sanctions that most people know won't work, and we take steps that are likely to reinforce Iranian suspicions and strengthen the clerical regime's hold on power.

To succeed, a foreign-policy initiative needs to have a clear and achievable objective. The strategy also needs to be internally consistent, so that certain policy steps don't undermine others. The latter requirement is especially important when you are trying to unwind a "spiral" of exaggerated hostility, which is the problem we face with Iran. Given the deep-seated animosity on both sides, any sign of inconsistency on our part will be viewed in the worst possible light by Iran. Indeed, a combination of friendly and threatening gestures may be worse than the latter alone because tentative acts of accommodation will be seen as a trick and will reinforce the idea that the other side is irredeemably deceitful and can never be trusted.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration's approach to Iran is neither feasible nor consistent. To begin with, our objective -- to persuade Iran to end all nuclear enrichment -- simply isn't achievable. Both the current government and the leaders of the opposition Green Movement are strongly committed to controlling the full nuclear fuel cycle, and the United States will never get the other major powers to impose the sort of "crippling sanctions" it has been seeking for years now. It's not gonna happen folks, or at least not anytime soon.

We might be able to convince Iran not to develop actual nuclear weapons -- which its leaders claim they don't want to do and have said would be contrary to Islam. I don't know if they really believe this or if an agreement along these lines is possible. I do know that we haven't explored that possibility in any serious way. Instead, the Obama administration has been chasing an impossible dream.

Furthermore, the U.S. approach to Tehran is deeply inconsistent. Obama has made a big play of extending an "open hand" to Tehran, and he reacted in a fairly measured way to the crackdown on the Greens last summer. But at the same time, the administration has been ratcheting up sanctions and engaging in very public attempt to strengthen security ties in the Gulf region. And earlier this week, we learned that Centcom commander General David Petraeus has authorized more extensive special operations in a number of countries in the region, almost certainly including covert activities in Iran.

Just imagine how this looks to the Iranian government. They may be paranoid, but sometimes paranoids have real (and powerful) enemies, and we are doing our best to look like one. How would we feel if some other country announced that it was infiltrating special operations forces into the United States, in order to gather intelligence, collect targeting information, or maybe even build networks of disgruntled Americans who wanted to overthrow our government or maybe just sabotage a few government installations? We'd definitely view it as a threat or even an act of war, and we'd certainly react harshly against whomever we thought was responsible. So when you wonder why oil- and gas-rich Iran might be interested in some sort of nuclear deterrent (even if only a latent capability), think about what you'd do if you were in their shoes.

Third, when Turkey and Brazil launched an independent effort to resurrect the earlier deal for a swap for some of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rushed to condemn it and hastily announced a watered-down set of new sanctions. As I said last week, the Turkey-Brazil deal had real limitations and was at best a small first step toward restarting more serious talks. But trashing it as we did merely conveys that we aren't interested in genuine negotiations, and probably ticked off Turkey and Brazil to no good purpose. The smarter play would have been to welcome the deal cautiously but highlight its limitations, and let the onus for any subsequent failure fall on Iran instead of us.

Why is U.S. policy stuck in this particular rut? In part because this is a hard problem; one doesn't unwind three decades of mutual suspicion by making a speech or two or sending a friendly holiday greeting, and sometimes success requires a lot of perseverance. But I think there are two other problems at work.

The first is the mindset that seems to have taken hold in the Obama administration. As near as I can tell, they believe Iran is dead set on acquiring nuclear weapons and that Iran will lie and cheat and prevaricate long enough to get across the nuclear threshold. Given that assumption, there isn't much point in trying to negotiate any sort of "grand bargain" between Iran and the West, and especially not one that left them with an enrichment capability (even one under strict IAEA safeguards). This view may be correct, but if it is, then our effort to ratchet up sanctions is futile and just makes it more likely that other Iranians will blame us for their sufferings. Here I am in rare (if only partial) agreement with Tom Friedman: Maybe our focus ought to shift from our current obsession with Iran's nuclear program and focus on human rights issues instead (though it is harder for Washington to do that without looking pretty darn hypocritical).

A second explanation is some combination of inside-the-Beltway groupthink and ordinary bureaucratic conservatism. For anyone currently working in Washington, a hard line on Iran and defending our longstanding policy of confrontation is a very safe position to support. No one will accuse you of being a naive appeaser; you'll have plenty of bureaucratic allies, and you'll retain your reputation as a tough and reliable defender of U.S. interests.

By contrast, any government official who proposed taking the threat of force off the table, who publicly admitted that sanctions wouldn't work, who acknowledged that we probably can't stop Iran from getting the bomb if it really wants to, or who recommended a much more far-reaching effort at finding common ground would be taking a significant career risk. And you'd be virtually certain to get smeared by unrepentent neocons and other hawks who favor the use of military force. So there's little incentive for insiders to contemplate -- let alone propose -- a different approach to this issue, even though our current policy is looking more and more like the failed policies of the previous administration.

Although I obviously can't be certain, I don't think there will be an open war with Iran. I think that enough influential people realize just how much trouble this would cause us and that they will continue to resist calls for "kinetic action." (Of course, I also thought that about Iraq back in 2001, and look what happened there.) But U.S.-Iranian relations aren't going to improve much either, and we'll end up devoting more time and effort to this problem than it deserves. But who cares? It's not as if the United States has any other problems on its foreign-policy agenda, right?

The Coming War With Iran

MJ Rosenberg
Senior Foreign Policy Fellow, Media Matters Action Network
Posted: May 28, 2010 11:38 AM
Courtesy Of "The Huffington Post"

It's happening again.

The same forces -- with a few new additions and minus a few smart defectors -- who pushed the United States into a needless and deadly war with Iraq are now organizing for the next war.

This time the target is Iran, which, just like Iraq, is said to be on the verge of creating weapons of mass destruction.

Also, just like Iraq, its president is a supposed madman determined to destroy Israel.

In fact, in the case of Iraq, that president, Saddam Hussein, not only threatened to "incinerate half of Israel," he actually launched 39 SCUD missiles against Israel during the 1991 Gulf war.

That war finished off Saddam as a power.

But that was not good enough for Vice President Dick Cheney and his war profiteering buddies. Ten years later, with Cheney in the vice presidency and 9/11 as the pretense, the Cheney crowd led America into a war to depose Saddam. The goal: to turn Iraq into an American protectorate in order to make tens of billions of dollars for themselves and their corporate allies. So far, 4,400 Americans, 318 allied forces, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died to advance that agenda.

But Cheney also enlisted a gang of war cheerleaders who had no interest in making money off the conflict. Those were the neocons who pushed for war out of the belief that eliminating Saddam Hussein would be good for Israel.

The Cheney gang consisted of people like Doug Feith, Joe Lieberman, John Bolton, Frank Gaffney, Richard Perle, Charles Krauthammer, Scooter Libby, Bill Kristol, Elliot Abrams and their various allies in government and media. The Israel lobby is also a member of that gang -- although it operated with nothing like the vigor that it now dedicates to the anti-Iran effort. (The pressure exerted by the lobby is a big part of the reason so many Democrats supported a war they knew was wrong.)

Of course, Iraq did not have WMDs and the Bush administration almost surely knew it. (If Iraq had them, we would no more have attacked Iraq than we now attack North Korea. In fact, the evidence that a country does not have WMDs is our willingness to consider bombing it.)

But, no matter, the gang of war profiteers and neocon ideologues were hell bent on war anyway. The supposed WMDs were just a pretense.

This would all be for the history books (and the grieving widows, parents, grandparents, children, partners, sisters and brothers of the fallen Americans) if the same scenario was not being played out today.

Earlier in May, Turkey and Brazil -- after months of intense negotiations -- persuaded the Iranian regime to accept a deal that would have vastly reduced its ability to produce a nuclear weapon. The Turkish-Brazilian deal was almost identical to the one President Obama and our allies pushed the Iranians to accept back in October.

Only this time, it wasn't good enough. The Obama administration ignored the Turkish-Brazilian breakthrough, saying its goal was crippling sanctions and that it was close to achieving them. Of course, few believe sanctions will have any significant effect other than to punish ordinary Iranians, people who are suffering quite enough under a monstrous regime.

But the administration seems to have been sold a bill of goods that leaves the U.S. with only two choices: sanctions or war. The diplomatic option seems to be off the table, pushed off by pressure from various warhawks, neocons, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies in Congress. (Obama originally favored open-ended diplomacy with no deadline; Netanyahu somehow convinced him that a deadline on diplomacy made sense. It doesn't.)

Even some of the more progressive voices are falling for this false choice largely because the lobby -- although clearly struggling as J Street moves into clear ascendancy among young and middle-aged Jews -- still manages to intimidate.

The other day, an Op-Ed appeared in the Jewish newspaper, Forward, by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Reform Jewish movement in America and a progressive, that read like something out of 2002.

Yoffie's piece is a cris de couer, urging all Jews to support a hard line on Iran. "Now is the time," he writes, "to pressure our government to move more emphatically to counter the Iranian threat.

Yoffie's piece is significant on two counts. The first is that he does not push the ridiculous line that a nuclear Iran would happily commit suicide in order to destroy Israel. The rabbi clearly knows enough about international relations and human behavior to understand that there are limits to what nations will do to make a political point and that national suicide is not one of them.

No, his description of the threat to Israel is both more subtle and more honest.

He writes, "Even if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons and never use them, the danger to Israel would still be intolerable. Israel cannot live in the shadow of a nuclear Iran. In the minds of its own citizens and of the world community, Israel would cease to be a safe place to live."

There is truth in that. The thought of a nuclear Iran so close to Israel is upsetting. But then so was the Cold War. And so is the fact that North Korea, Pakistan, India, and Russia all have nuclear weapons -- not to mention all those missing nukes which could end up, God forbid, in the hands of terrorists. And such is life these days in New York City, Washington, London and -- especially -- Seoul, where, just under the surface, is the fear that a catastrophe could happen at any time.

It also should be noted that for most of the world, the idea that Israel has 200-plus nuclear weapons and, unlike Iran, has not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty is itself deeply troubling. In fact, much of the world believes that Israel is so vehement about Iranian nukes because it wants to remain the only nuclear power in the Middle East, leaving it free to do what it wants, whenever it wants to. It enjoys its hegemony. That is what Yoffie is hinting at.

Nonetheless, I agree with him that the world, and not just Israel, would be better off if Iran never develops nuclear weapons.

But my idea of how to prevent a nuclear Iran is rather different than the rabbi's.

Here is Yoffie: "There is no conceivable solution to the threat of a nuclear Iran that will not require American leadership. All of the options -- whether economic sanctions or military action -- are impossible without American support."

Funny, Yoffie refers to "all" of the options when he only names two -- sanctions or war. It is as if he intended to include the one option that makes sense, diplomacy, and changed his mind at the last minute. The "all" is a remnant of a thought he would not permit himself, either because he honestly opposes diplomacy or because he doesn't want to cross AIPAC.

Yoffie's alternatives are no alternatives at all. Sanctions won't work (except to punish ordinary Iranians and enrich those who defy the sanctions) and "military action" will produce nothing except more dead -- including Americans -- and, quite possibly, a regional war. War would also eliminate any chance that Israel will ever have peace with the Muslim world and would destroy America's standing in a critical region.

What is Yoffie thinking when he rules out diplomacy but rules in a third Middle East war? Is the preemptive slaughter of innocents really a legitimate option for civilized people in 2010? Well, it isn't for me or for the Reform Jews who look to Yoffie for leadership. (Jews are mostly doves and Reform Jews, to their credit, are the most dovish of all.)

It is war, not diplomacy, that belongs off the table. I'm sure Rabbi Yoffie knows that. That is what he should have written.

Terrorism — Cause and Effect

By Jack A. Smith,
May 29, 2010
Courtesy Of "Anti-War"

"Terrorists" and "terrorism" have become Washington’s monomania since 9/11, guiding the foreign/military policies of the American superstate and holding its population in thrall.

“The single biggest threat to U.S. security, both short-term, medium-term and long-term,” President Barack Obama said April 11, is the possibility that terrorists might obtain a nuclear weapon. The second biggest threat to world history’s mightiest military state, it goes without saying, are terrorists without nuclear weapons but armed with box-cutters, rifles or homemade explosives.

It’s "terrorism" 24/7 in the United States — the product of a conscious effort by the Bush Administration to keep the American people in the constant clutches of existential fear, in large part to justify launching endless aggressive wars. Anything goes if the target is said to be "terrorism," as long as the Pentagon’s violence takes place in smaller, weaker countries usually populated by non-Europeans.

But does the U.S. government really want to defeat terrorism? This is a serious question. All its major efforts so far have been focused on the effects of terrorism but not on its much more profound causes. In this article we shall discuss the causes, particularly the actions of the U.S. in the Middle East over the decades which contributed significantly to the rise of terror as a weapon.

After almost a decade, the Bush Administration’s "War on Terrorism" — at a cost of trillions of dollars, the erosion of a substantial portion of America’s civil liberties and its worldwide reputation, and the deaths of over a million foreign civilians — has not succeeded in its stated objectives.

And yet, judging by the Obama Administration’s 2011 war budget request, the recently released Quadrennial Defense Report and the Nuclear Posture report, and the widening of the wars, it is clear that President Barack Obama has no intention of deviating significantly from President George W. Bush’s unjust and failed policies.

President Obama’s troop buildup, implied nuclear threats against Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and his order to the CIA to assassinate an American citizen without a trial are but some of the most recent examples.

All that’s really changed in national security strategy from one administration to the other is the name of Bush’s "War on Terrorism." The Obama Administration renamed it, in an excess of bureaucratese, an "Overseas Contingency Operation," transforming its title to suggest it was a mere budget item. Not so mere, actually, since the Pentagon’s annual war budget has risen 67% since 9/11.

American national security policy since the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center nearly nine years ago has been aimed primarily at defeating a small number of ill-equipped non-state "terrorist" enemies by fielding a large professional army with advanced technology first to Afghanistan, then Iraq and now back to the Afghan theater with tributaries extending into Pakistan, Yemen and to a lesser extent Somalia and the Philippines.

Fewer than 100 al-Qaeda operatives are in Afghanistan against about 94,000 U.S. troops, so far, plus 40,000 NATO soldiers, and about 100,000 mostly higher paid "contractors" performing military duties. There are up to 15,000 part- and full-time irregulars associated with the Afghan Taliban, perhaps fewer. But — even though they are ultra-conservative religious extremists who were oppressive when in power — they are a national force with no designs on the United States, and are not technically terrorists but defenders of their country from foreign invasion. Many Americans don’t like to hear that, of course.

The Bush-Obama anti-terrorism policy has two aspects, one public, the other concealed. The public aspect is to "keep America safe" from specifically Arab and more broadly Muslim "terrorists." The concealed aspect is to utilize the 9/11 tragedy to justify the projection of military might to extend U.S. hegemony throughout the oil-rich Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf region, and into geostrategic Central Asia through the occupation of Afghanistan.

We shall here discuss the public aspect, and why it was and continues to be the wrong response to 9/11, beginning with a paragraph from the Sept. 15, 2001, Activist Newsletter:

"Tuesday’s deplorable terror attacks did not occur in a political vacuum, despite the mass media’s effort to depict the events as simply the product of Middle Eastern ‘madmen’ with ‘no regard for human life’ driven by fundamentalist religious beliefs to hate the United States. In reality, Washington’s role in the Middle East, which it has dominated since the end of World War II to control the region’s vast petroleum resources, must be carefully examined to determine the roots of our present situation…. Many Americans ask, ‘Why do they hate us so?’ The honest answer to that question points the way toward a solution to the ‘terrorism’ crisis."

Never once in all these years has the U.S. government acknowledged that its decades of interference in the region were a major factor in the growth of "terrorism," the existence of al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, and the 9/11 attacks. Washington is hardly unaware of the connection — and indeed of the primacy of its own historic provocation in the region — but in the era of government deception and corporate domination of the mass media, "inconvenient" truths usually remain concealed from the masses of people.

FIVE MAJOR DECISIONS

Washington implemented five major decisions during the last 65 years that turned public opinion in the Middle East against the United States and largely generated the conditions that led to the creation of al-Qaeda, jihadist warriors, and suicide bombers. We will describe these causes which ultimately led to the effects called terrorism, then, in part 3, conclude with brief "modest" proposals to rectify the situation.

(1) The first of these decisions took place immediately following the end of World War II in 1945, when the U.S. chose to extend its hegemony throughout the Middle East, and thus prevent its essential wartime ally, the Soviet Union, from gaining a foothold. Washington’s goal ever since that time — including the last two decades after the implosion of the socialist camp and the 16 months since Obama took office — has been directed toward establishing dominion over this petroleum-rich region to insure America’s global preeminence.

To accomplish this objective, the U.S. made deals with ultra-conservative monarchies in the region, offering them military protection and secure dynastic longevity in return for loyalty and concessions on oil supplies. Royal houses, such as exist in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and elsewhere, could have been swept away decades ago by their own people had they not been in America’s protective custody. Washington’s prolongation of monarchical rule has been a major impediment to democracy in the region.

When the people prevailed, as in Iran in 1951 after an elected democratic government gained power, nationalized the country’s substantial petroleum reserves, and replaced the monarchy with a republic, the U.S. and Britain launched a campaign for bloody regime change that by 1953 crushed democracy and restored the brutal Shah of Iran to power.

Washington also continually interfered with republics, not just monarchies, supporting, protecting and enriching those which destroyed their political left wing and bent the knee to U.S. hegemony, such as Egypt, while subverting those leaning left, as in Iran in the early 1950s, or who simply insisted upon maintaining independence from American domination, such as Syria. This, too, stifled democracy and social progress.

After 65 years of interference, Washington either controls or has considerable influence over virtually all the governments of the Middle East, with the exception of Iran, today’s imperial target par excellence. Syria remains in the middle. Turkey, which is sometimes not geographically included in the Middle East, is a member of U.S.-dominated NATO and seeks Washington’s support to enter the European Union, but has lately taken two positions totally opposed by the Obama Administration: It has sharply criticized Israel, which was considered Turkey’s ally, over its invasion and imprisonment of Gaza, and this month joined with Brazil in a move calculated to head off harsh sanctions against Iran.

In the process of gaining dominance over most Mideast regimes — the majority of which have remained undemocratic as a consequence — the United States has alienated the masses of people throughout the region.

In response, given that the U.S. has demanded of its Arab protectorates that the political left and progressive secular forces be weakened or crushed in country after country, it has been the Islamic resistance which has filled the vacuum and taken up the national struggle against American domination and undemocratic rule. A relatively small portion of this movement is influenced by extreme fundamentalist ideology, and a still smaller sector have joined the jihad (struggle) initiated by Osama bin-Laden’s al-Qaeda.

(2) The second decision that contributed principally to creating Arab and Muslim antipathy toward the U.S. was Washington’s total support of Israel to the detriment of the people of Palestine, particularly following the June 1967 war, when Israel invaded and occupied large swaths of Palestinian territory, where it remains today in utter violation of several key international laws.

"In Palestine," according to British writer/filmmaker John Pilger, "the enduring illegal occupation by Israel would have collapsed long ago were it not for U.S. backing. Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims…. It is only a few years ago that the Islamic fundamentalist groups, willing to blow themselves up in Israel and New York, were formed, and only after Israel and the U.S. had rejected outright the hope of a Palestinian state, and justice for a people scarred by imperialism.”

Today, the Arab world agrees to normalize relations with Israel if the Tel Aviv government allows the establishment of two sovereign states, one being Palestinian. Israel refuses, and not only continues to illegally occupy Palestinian lands but to oppress the masses of people — the most gruesome recent example being the vicious attack on Gaza followed by blockading the territory to deprive its inhabitants of the basic necessities of life.

It is well understood that only U.S. military, economic and political support makes it possible for Israel to continuously subjugate the Palestinians. Israel often claims it is surrounded by "existential" threats of one kind or another, the latest being from Iran, but the only real threat it faces is that of losing Washington’s sponsorship, protection and economic support.

(3) The third Washington decision that led to 9/11 — and in this case directly — was to involve the U.S. in the Afghan civil war that erupted in 1978 after the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), backed by the Afghan army and military officers, seized power and began to enact reforms to "bring Afghanistan into the 20th century." The reforms — including substantial freedoms for women — aroused armed opposition from conservative Islamic war lords and fighting groups.

The U.S. began supporting these groups clandestinely in 1979 with great infusions of money and war materials, prompting the USSR to send troops to defend the leftist government. Both al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban developed out of this struggle, receiving American support in the process.

The Soviets were fought to a standstill and withdrew in 1989, but the left wing government managed to hold on until it was brutally crushed in 1992. The civil war then transformed into a war for control of Afghanistan between several of the strongest rebel groups. It lasted four years, and resulted in victory for the ultra-orthodox Taliban in 1996. Al-Qaeda used Afghanistan as one of its bases until the U.S. invasion in October 2001, then fled to western Pakistan. (A 2-part account of "The U.S. in Afghanistan," including "The Origins of a Bad War," were published in the November 5, 2009, issue of the Activist Newsletter, available in the blog archive.)

(4) The fourth U.S. decision that contributed substantially to the unpopularity of the American government was to impose cruel sanctions against the Iraqi people in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The war itself, resulting in the mortification of Iraq for occupying Kuwait, was intended to compensate for the Pentagon’s humiliating defeat in Vietnam 15 years earlier. The U.S. launched what has been called one of the "most devastating air assaults in history" against Iraq in mid-January 1991. It was all over in a couple of months. Overwhelming power succeeded: The U.S. lost 147 troops. The Iraqis lost 200,000, troops and civilians in the brief war and its immediate aftermath.

Ultimately up to 1.5 million Iraqis died as a result of a dozen years of draconian U.S./UN economic, trade and materials sanctions that accompanied the war, and which ended only after the U.S. invasion in March 2003. The UN suggests that half these civilian dead were children. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a defender of the Iraqi people, said of the sanctions, "The goal was to cripple Iraq’s infrastructure and make civilian life unsustainable.” (His 1992 book, "The Fire This Time — U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf," remains a classic account of the real causes and effects of the Gulf War.)

Most Americans were and remain indifferent to the terrible pain visited upon the Iraqi people by the sanctions. Secretary of State Madeline Albright famously said of the civilian deaths, "we think the price is worth it." To the Arab people, Muslims in general, humanitarians, and anti-imperialists throughout the world, it was a cruel and vindictive act of genocidal proportions.

(5) The fifth decision was to respond to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the U.S. by bombing and invading Afghanistan, instead of relying on international police work to capture al-Qaeda, a small, non-state, quasi-military organization dedicated to "propaganda of the deed," with cells in several countries in addition to its Afghan component.

Bush’s decision to launch a war was precisely what al-Qaeda wanted to further discredit the U.S. in Arab eyes. The Bush Administration’s subsequent decision to invade Iraq — which was completely innocent of involvement in 9/11 and extremely weak militarily because of the sanctions — compounded the original miscalculation of invading Afghanistan. Secular President Saddam Hussein was probably fundamentalist al-Qaeda’s principal ideological enemy in the Arab world, and Washington ordered his execution. Meanwhile, the Iraqi national resistance forced the world’s only military superpower into a humiliating stalemate, another fact about which the U.S. public is blissfully ignorant.

The Iraq war itself, now seven years old, has killed another million Iraqi people and created at least four million refugees. Between the sanctions and the war, the U.S. has killed roughly 2.5 million Iraqis — almost 10% of the population. This does not seem to have penetrated the consciousness, much less the conscience, of the thoroughly propagandized American people. The only winner of Bush’s imperialist misadventure in Iraq was neighboring Shi’ite Iran, which had viewed Hussein’s Ba’athist Sunni regime as its main enemy.

President Obama’s decision to widen the Afghan war and to penetrate Pakistan and Yemen has once again played into al-Qaeda’s hands, and continues to increase anti-U.S. views on the part of the Arab masses. The good will Obama generated throughout the Muslim world by his warm, peaceful, convincing and ultimately deceptive words in Cairo a year ago has dissipated. His actions have strengthened the tiny splinter of the Arab and Muslim population attracted to fringe groups that engage in violence, led by al-Qaeda.

WASHINGTON MUST REVERSE POLICY

If America’s long, unsustainably expensive and essentially stalemated wars are doing little to eliminate the so-called "terrorist" threat, what’s the alternative if Washington actually wants to eliminate terrorism?

The answer is to recognize that the history of America’s misdeeds in the Middle East is the main reason for the existence of al-Qaeda. Instead of more wars, Washington must reverse its policies:

• Call off the wars. Pull the troops out. Withdraw the fleet and air bases from the region.

• Insist upon an equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and take measures to enhance Israel’s compliance.

• Stop dominating and manipulating the countries of the Middle East to serve America’s interests. Discontinue support for undemocratic governments and monarchies. Apologize for decades of manipulation and violence.

• Pay a huge compensation to the Iraqi people in particular. Invest heavily in eliminating poverty in the entire region and improving social services for the masses of people.

• Allow the Arab people, and the Iranians as well of course, to work out their political, social and cultural contradictions and preferences without interference. The United States is not the divine instrument chosen to redeem the world, and should stop behaving as though it were.

This will end jihadist terrorism. And it can all be paid for with the money Washington saves by ending its wars and subversion in the region.

There is another problem as well, however, more dangerous and widespread than the small-group terrorism of a handful of individuals with homemade weapons. That problem is state terrorism.

What else other than "state terrorism" can describe Washington’s killer sanctions followed by the "shock and awe" bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq against an essentially defenseless people? What else but state terrorism can we call U.S.-enabled Israel’s horrendously disproportionate attack against the civilian population of Gaza, resulting in 1,400 Palestinian deaths and 14 Israeli deaths, followed by strangling sanctions?

At this stage, only the people of the United States have the power to force their government to stop interfering in the Middle East, thus ending the retaliatory threat of terrorism. And only the people have the power to end Washington’s ongoing state terrorism against small developing countries in order to enhance its geopolitical fortunes.

So far, the U.S. government, whether controlled by one or the other of the two ruling parties, has hoodwinked most Americans into actively or passively supporting its aggressive wars. This is surprisingly easy to do, not least because most of us Americans suffer not at all due to our country’s violent and criminal adventures abroad. It remains the task of those who see through the distortions and propaganda to speak up and take a public stand in opposition. To do less is to be indifferent to, or complicit with, a gross iniquity.

Read more by Jack A. Smith