Why the outrage?


Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia

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It appears Eric Cantor’s declaration to Benjamin Netanyahu that the Republican Party would, in essence, stand with Israel against the President of the United States has become somewhat of a news item.

Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington. He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.

I like the one party rule reference, because in a way, the Republicans have  done nothing but obstruct the Democratic party’s initiatives since Obama came to office.  Remember, their stated policy/political goal, or rather as stated by Mitch O’Connell is to see that Obama is a one term president, so anything they can do to make him ineffective and look bad, is a plus for them!  But what is also obvious is the “talking point” of mutual reliance.

Despite the fact that America has lived as an independent country far longer than Israel, it appears we cannot live without them any longer; our survival depends on whether Israel survives goes the rational and no one seems to find that insulting.  What is apparent is that the Republican Party will magnify, out do the Democrats in pursuing the Israel agenda in Washington to the extent of becoming a lobbying agent for the government of Israel.  Those efforts at appealing to Israeli leadership most probably will include more wars of aggression against Israeli enemies, who are presently not ours, at the expense of the American economy and lives; already several Republican party members since the elections a few short weeks ago have called  for military action against Iran, while the Israeli economy prospers at the expense of America’s.

But what is truly pathetic about all the hoopla about Cantor’s remarks is the false indignation it has  raised. Cantor has indeed done something he and his Party once criticized those outside his Party for doing during the Bush years, but ever since Obama’s coming to power, the Republicans have taken unprincipled stands against this present Administration in attempts to score political points and the future  indicates the same strategy will prevail.  Let us not forget who Eric Cantor is.  He is quite comfortable with lying to suit his political agendas and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again for Israel which holds a special place in American politics.  She is able to carry out the most egregious crimes in our name yet still command, nay demand rapt attention from American politicians and dismissal for her illegal activity, as well as the full faith and backing of America’s financial institutions.  If you ask me, that’s where our outrage should be directed.  Cantor is just one of many in the political system who’ve taken us down that road.  Shame on him, yes, but shame on us for ignoring the bigger picture!

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Is Israel an ally?


I always thought they were in the connotative sense of the word but that belief was challenged while listening to an interview Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio had with Gareth Porter. (You can find the audio file for that interview here.)  In it Porter made it a point to say that Israel is not an ally but a client state of the US.  I found a Charles Freeman lecture given at The Nixon Center (you remember Charles Freeman don’t you? An appointee who was hounded out of the National Intelligence Council by Israel’s supporters in American policy circles as well as in government who ostensibly knew he would be fairer than most in assessing matters of national security.) where he clearly defined what an ally is and what the expectations are from an ally.

It’s useful to recall what we generally expect allies and strategic partners to do for us.  In Europe, Asia, and elsewhere in the Middle East, they provide bases and support the projection of American power beyond their borders.  They join us on the battlefield in places like Kuwait and Afghanistan or underwrite the costs of our military operations.  They help recruit others to our coalitions.  They coordinate their foreign aid with ours.   Many defray the costs of our use of their facilities with “host nation support” that reduces the costs of our military operations from and through their territory.  They store weapons for our troops’, rather than their own troops’ use.  They pay cash for the weapons we transfer to them……

Israel does none of these things and shows no interest in doing them.  Perhaps it can’t.  It is so estranged from everyone else in the Middle East that no neighboring country will accept flight plans that originate in or transit it.  Israel is therefore useless in terms of support for American power projection.  It has no allies other than us.  It has developed no friends.  Israeli participation in our military operations would preclude the cooperation of many others.  Meanwhile, Israel has become accustomed to living on the American military dole.  The notion that Israeli taxpayers might help defray the expense of U.S. military or foreign assistance operations, even those undertaken at Israel’s behest, would be greeted with astonishment in Israel and incredulity on Capitol Hill.

This is a rather clearly defined list of what an ally does and how Israel meets those goals and objectives or not.

On another point, Freeman was recognized for not bending to the Israeli will if it conflicted, as it often does, with American interests and he certainly wasn’t cowed by dual loyalists in American government. The position which he was forced to give up, chairman of the National Intelligence Council, is responsible for issuing the National Intelligence Estimate, a document which in 2007 asserted that Iran had not re-started a weapons component of the nuclear program, much to the chagrin of the Israelis.  Looking to the next estimate, Israel would like to see indication that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, a claim Israelis have been making or hinting at for sometime, in order to justify a military response against Iran. It seems however, no such claim would be made if the next Estimate were to be produced.

…information from Amiri’s debriefings was only a minor contribution to the intelligence community’s reaffirmation in the latest assessment of Iran’s nuclear program of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)’s finding that work on a nuclear weapon has not been resumed after being halted in 2003….

which means for now the threat of war with Iran is somewhat diminished, until of course the next false flag operation, and diplomacy should be the order of the day. The point being Freeman’s detractors who thought he would not be pro-Israel enough have had all their efforts to remove him wasted because it has not yet produced the intelligence assessment they wanted, that Iran was a nuclear threat to the region.

Congratulations to Mr. Obama?


noble peace prizeBarack Hussein Obama has become only the fourth US president, after Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter to win the Nobel Peace Prize.  Coming after the disastrous Bush administration’s  doctrines of wars of aggression and preemption any President should  be awarded the prize if he/she simply refused to continue Bush’s policy, which is why my congratulatory message is tinged with a bit skepticism.

With a publicity seeking  commander of US forces in Afghanistan  asking for more US troops to be stationed and fight there and after eight years of an already failed policy anything less than a resounding NO to such demands means Obama is headed towards another Vietnam type conflict marked by steady increases of US personnel with no clear winnable objectives.  I found this list of things Mr/President Obama should consider to be most helpful in deciding whether to send more troops to Afghanistan:

1. The planning of 9-11 was done in hotels and apartments in Germany and Spain, and flight schools in the United States. Even Paul Pillar, former CIA deputy chief for counter-terrorism will tell you that an al Qaeda base in Afghanistan would not significantly increase threats to the United States.

2. If the Taliban had control of Afghanistan, it would likely not allow al Qaeda in. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. president’s guy in Afghanistan, will tell you the same.

3. The Taliban would not necessarily gain full control of Afghanistan if the United States left. It never had it before, and appears unlikely to be able to take it now. These three points, as Robert Naiman has pointed out, make the leap from US withdrawal to an al Qaeda attack on the United States quite a large one.

4. Occupying and bombing Afghanistan is actually making us less safe. It is enraging people against the United States, building the Taliban and other resistance.

5. The occupation is also damaging the rule of law. Our engagement in this illegal enterprise makes it more difficult to prevent other nations from engaging in wars of aggression.

6. The occupation is not benefitting the Afghan people. It is not protecting their rights or their lives. It is brutally taking their lives with bombs and imprisoning them without charge or trial or the rights of prisoners of war.

7. The Taliban is made up of poor people fighting in order to eat. They need aid, diplomacy, jobs, education, and resources, not bombs and troops and mercenaries. We’re paying tens of thousands of Afghans to fight as mercenaries. We could pay them to rebuild their country and have money to spare.

8. That we are supposedly succeeding against al Qaeda when arguments are needed to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act, but supposedly failing against al Qaeda when it’s time to continue or escalate wars is insulting, not credible.

9. The citizens of the United States oppose the war, and it’s our money and our kids, and our country being placed in danger of blowback.

10. The people of Afghanistan, according to an ABC News poll, want the United States to withdraw. It’s their country, and you cannot impose democracy on them without obeying their majority opinion.

11. If we’ve been through eight years of this and not been able to even devise a rough description of what a “success” would look like, what are the chances that it will be identified and achieved in year nine?

12. It’s called the graveyard of empires for a reason.

13. Our states’ militias, the national guard, is needed at home and cannot constitutionally be sent abroad to fight for empire.

14. US soldiers signed up to defend the United States, not to commit war crimes in distant lands.

15. There is nothing worse than war that could conceivably take its place. Killing people is the worst thing there is.

I wish the Nobel prize committee had waited to see what Obama’s response about Afghanistan would be before they awarded him the peace prize. Perhaps they thought in giving it to him it would be pressure on him to ‘do the right thing’. I can’t say what their motivation was or what will be Obama’s but his first real foreign policy challenge that directly affects the interest of America is imminent. I hope he lives up to the challenge and the honor of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Mixed messages of the Obama White House


Dick Cheney deserves to be in jail.  He is perhaps one of the biggest war criminals the US has produced in recent memory, ranking right up there with Henry Kissinger and Lyndo Johnson.  So why did he go and put his foot in his mouth about Obama endangering the American public because of his reversal of some of Cheney/Bush’s illegal adventures the last 8 years?  I guess to Dick the fact that the US has invaded two countries that were otherwise not hostile or a threat to US interests doesn’t matter a hill of beans to how people think of this country or how angry and unstable they must feel about American intervention.  All of the displaced Iraqis leaving in countries other than their own must be really happy about Bush’s decision to invade their country while extremely upset with Obama’s decision to close down Guantanamo Bay or stop torture and rendition of people we suspect of terrorism.  Go figure, and did you catch Cheney’s really flippant remark about the role his administration played in the economic downturn?!  Stuff happens.  Wow.  Cheney doesn’t have a clue or doesn’t give a damn.  His deflection of his responsibility for what he took this country through is sad, pathetic and embarrassing for us as a nation.  This was the best we could do?  Brilliant  Someone lock him up and throw away the key, please!

So after this really lame appearance on CNN, the Obama administration reacted to Cheney’s remarks with an equally flippant and faux indignation only politicans can muster.  The longer Obama stays in office the easier it is to see how the saying, the more things “change” the more they remain the same, should have been his campaign slogan, for while he has tossed us the platitudes of closing Guantanamo Bay, he has also repeated a Bush administration policy of citing “state secrets” to prevent the release of evidence concerning extraordinary renditions as well as argued that all cases being brought against the Bush administration for torture related offenses should be dismissed! What Cheney’s remarks were meant to do were to get Obama to continue to toe the line by making the new government appear to be soft on terrorism, when it really isn’t, and in order to project the tough guy image, do even more along the lines of draconian measures instituted by Bush/Cheney to prove it.  Meanwhile the two sides appear to be at odds with one another when they really aren’t.  Obama’s chief concern must be the economy, while issues of foreign policy will be largely seen as a battle ground between the two parties but left as they were under Bush.  The drama continues.