Netanyahu is in town


CongressInvited by the US congress to speak and influence American policy no less, Netanyahu is enjoying the right to free speech and possibly usurp American foreign policy but his own country is not broadcasting the speech Americans will hear without a FIVE minute delay and after removing all references to campaigning in order to “keep the address from influencing the upcoming election”. (That also happens to be one of the reasons why Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu during this visit; it appears Obama is more Israeli than Bibi) But that’s hardly the reason why Netanyahu is receiving resistancenetanyahu from his own country towards his speech and visit here….it probably has more to do with the fact even his own citizens can’t stomach the lies he’s telling to a very gullible US congress and Main Stream Media.

When the Israeli prime minister argues that his speech will stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he is not only misleading Israel, he is strengthening Iran,  Amnon Reshef, former head of the army’s armored corps, said at a news conference Sunday.

Boo yoow anyone??

 

Remember this?


Not only did Reagan deal with terrorists as president, as revealed in
the Iran-Contra scandal, the preponderance of evidence now supports the charge that his campaign negotiated with Iranian hostage-takers while he was running for president in 1980, to delay the release of hostages before the election, which could have helped Carter win reelection — what was known as “The October Surprise.” Given that Reagan wasn’t president then, but was negotiating to thwart a president’s attempt to get hostages released, this is not simply questionable behavior, it is arguably an act of treason. Democrats’ reluctance to vigorously investigate Reagan’s misdeeds — the exact opposite of GOP attitudes toward Clinton and Obama — has left much of the true story still shrouded in mystery, but what we do know is damning enough in itself, and still cries out for a truly thorough investigation.

First of all, there’s no doubt that Reagan himself set the precedent of Iran-TIMEdealing with terrorists — and encouraging more hostage-taking. He and his administration convinced themselves they were dealing with “moderates” in Iran. But they also famously sent Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to hang out with Saddam Hussein, and collaborated with Osama bin Laden in building up the most extreme mujahideen elements fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan — the very forces that eventually gave birth to the Taliban. When his own hand-picked “Tower Commission” confirmed the basic facts of the Iran-contra scandal, Reagan went on national TV and said, “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.” (emphasis mine)

So goes an article which goes into detail about Ronald Reagan’s romp with terrorism and negotiations and how he failed at it miserably.  The problem for America is Reagan is a right wing ‘god’ who cannot be blamed for anything he did or was done while he was in office no matter how terrible the results were for the American people….and too many of us won’t call him on it.  Oh sure….a few articles like the one sourced above come out but even it claims

….

As we watch the current manufacture of “scandal” surrounding the release of Sgt. Bergdahl, it’s illuminating to contrast this with the way in which multiple very real interconnected scandals under Ronald Reagan were both isolated from one another and then minimized, never receiving the sort of thorough investigation that Republicans are now demanding every time that President Obama so much as coughs.

I’m glad those in opposition to the #DemonicGOP haven’t resorted to the tactics of such a forlorn ex-political party….truth stands out clear from error.  There’s no need to mislead people in order to gain their loyalty but whenever anyone says Obama negotiated with terrorists remind them he did a better job of it than Ronald Reagan who started the practice.

Fareed nailed this one….


When I first read the news headline that Saudi Arabia declined a seat on the United Nations Security Council my first reaction was who cares?  Citing the UN’s inability to solve the Syrian conflict and how Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime continues to kill its one people, including with chemical weapons, without facing any punishment Saudi Arabia has some nerve.  Syria opened itself up tosaudi_arabia_map inspection in ways the Kingdom would never dare do; chemical weapons are no longer an issue there and yes Syria is still embroiled in a civil war but it’s really a matter of degree.  What Middle Eastern Arab country is NOT killing or otherwise oppressing its citizens?  Fareed states the case rather well.

Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries in the world to recognize and support the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan until the 9/11 attacks……

Saudi Arabia’s objections to the Obama Administration’s policies toward Syria and Iran are not framed by humanitarian concerns for the people of those countries. They are rooted in a pervasive anti-Shi’ite ideology. Riyadh has long treated all other versions and sects of Islam as heresy and condoned the oppression of those groups. A 2009 report from Human Rights Watch details the ways in which the Saudi government, clerics, religious police and schools systematically discriminate against the local Shi’ite population, including arrests, beatings and, on occasion, the use of live ammunition. (And not just the Shi’ites. In March 2012, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti issued a fatwa declaring that it was “necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula.”)……

Saudi royals have been rattled by the events in their region and beyond. They sense that the discontent that launched the Arab Spring is not absent in their own populace. They fear the rehabilitation of Iran. They also know that the U.S. might very soon find itself entirely independent of Middle Eastern oil.

Given these trends, it is possible that Saudi Arabia worries that a seat on the U.N. Security Council might constrain it from having freedom of action. Or that the position could shine a light on some of its more unorthodox activities. Or that it could force Riyadh to vote on issues it would rather ignore.

The US must learn to say to all those in the Middle East that America will act to preserve its interests and sometime they will not concur with those of our allies in which case we must be able to say good riddance, so long and if an ally has a conniption fit because America is doing something that ally doesn’t like the US must stay the course of whatever interest it has embraced, all others be damned.

 

Before we go any further, lets reflect on the past


WMDs & Saddam

We’ve been here before haven’t we.  In the lead up to the Iraqi war….both of them….we heard politicians we trusted come out and declare that the foe of the day was complicit in crimes against humanity or some such charge drastic enough to call for American intervention.  In both cases we found out later, after many lives were lost and a lot of damage inflicted on innocent people the charges were not true.  Before we embark on another potential mis-adventure let’s take time to rehash what happened to the last Middle East tyrant we both embraced and deposed

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen,Foreign Policy has learned.

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose.

U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.

“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.

Chemical_weapon1According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983. At the time, Iran was publicly alleging that illegal chemical attacks were carried out on its forces, and was building a case to present to the United Nations. But it lacked the evidence implicating Iraq, much of which was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government. The CIA declined to comment for this story.

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

In the documents, the CIA said that Iran might not discover persuasive evidence of the weapons’ use — even though the agency possessed it. Also, the agency noted that the Soviet Union had previously used chemical agents in Afghanistan and suffered few repercussions.

It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.

Top CIA officials, including the Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey, a close friend of President Ronald Reagan, were told about the location of Iraqi chemical weapons assembly plants; that Iraq was desperately trying to make enough mustard agent to keep up with frontline demand from its forces; that Iraq was about to buy equipment from Italy to help speed up production of chemical-packed artillery rounds and bombs; and that Iraq could also use nerve agents on Iranian troops and possibly civilians.

Officials were also warned that Iran might launch retaliatory attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East, including terrorist strikes, if it believed the United States was complicit in Iraq’s chemical warfare campaign.

“As Iraqi attacks continue and intensify the chances increase that Iranian forces will acquire a shell containing mustard agent with Iraqi markings,” the CIA reported in a top secret document in November 1983. “Tehran would take such evidence to the U.N. and charge U.S. complicity in violating international law.”

At the time, the military attaché’s office was following Iraqi preparations for the offensive using satellite reconnaissance imagery, Francona told Foreign Policy. According to a former CIA official, the images showed Iraqi movements of chemical materials to artillery batteries opposite Iranian positions prior to each offensive.

Francona, an experienced Middle East hand and Arabic linguist who served in the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, said he first became aware of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran in 1984, while serving as air attaché in Amman, Jordan. The information he saw clearly showed that the Iraqis had used Tabun nerve agent (also known as “GA”) against Iranian forces in southern Iraq.

The declassified CIA documents show that Casey and other top officials were repeatedly informed about Iraq’s chemical attacks and its plans for launching more. “If the Iraqis produce or acquire large new supplies of mustard agent, they almost certainly would use it against Iranian troops and towns near the border,” the CIA said in a top secret document.

But it was the express policy of Reagan to ensure an Iraqi victory in the war, whatever the cost.

The CIA noted in one document that the use of nerve agent “could have a significant impact on Iran’s human wave tactics, forcing Iran to give up that strategy.” Those tactics, which involved Iranian forces swarming against conventionally armed Iraqi positions, had proved decisive in some battles. In March 1984, the CIA reported that Iraq had “begun using nerve agents on the Al Basrah front and likely will be able to employ it in militarily significant quantities by late this fall.”

The use of chemical weapons in war is banned under the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which states that parties “will exert every effort to induce other States to accede to the” agreement. Iraq never ratified the protocol; the United States did in 1975. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the production and use of such arms, wasn’t passed until 1997, years after the incidents in question.

The initial wave of Iraqi attacks, in 1983, used mustard agent. While generally not fatal, mustard causes severe blistering of the skin and mucus membranes, which can lead to potentially fatal infections, and can cause blindness and upper respiratory disease, while increasing the risk of cancer. The United States wasn’t yet providing battlefield intelligence to Iraq when mustard was used. But it also did nothing to assist Iran in its attempts to bring proof of illegal Iraqi chemical attacks to light. Nor did the administration inform the United Nations. The CIA determined that Iran had the capability to bomb the weapons assembly facilities, if only it could find them. The CIA believed it knew the locations.

Hard evidence of the Iraqi chemical attacks came to light in 1984. But that did little to deter Hussein from using the lethal agents, including in strikes against his own people. For as much as the CIA knew about Hussein’s use of chemical weapons, officials resisted providing Iraq with intelligence throughout much of the war. The Defense Department had proposed an intelligence-sharing program with the Iraqis in 1986. But according to Francona, it was nixed because the CIA and the State Department viewed Saddam Hussein as “anathema” and his officials as “thugs.”

The situation changed in 1987. CIA reconnaissance satellites picked up clear indications that the Iranians were concentrating large numbers of troops and equipment east of the city of Basrah, according to Francona, who was then serving with the Defense Intelligence Agency. What concerned DIA analysts the most was that the satellite imagery showed that the Iranians had discovered a gaping hole in the Iraqi lines southeast of Basrah. The seam had opened up at the junction between the Iraqi III Corps, deployed east of the city, and the Iraqi VII Corps, which was deployed to the southeast of the city in and around the hotly contested Fao Peninsula.

The satellites detected Iranian engineering and bridging units being secretly moved to deployment areas opposite the gap in the Iraqi lines, indicating that this was going to be where the main force of the annual Iranian spring offensive was going to fall, Francona said.

In late 1987, the DIA analysts in Francona’s shop in Washington wrote a Top Secret Codeword report partially entitled “At The Gates of Basrah,” warning that the Iranian 1988 spring offensive was going to be bigger than all previous spring offensives, and this offensive stood a very good chance of breaking through the Iraqi lines and capturing Basrah. The report warned that if Basrah fell, the Iraqi military would collapse and Iran would win the war.

President Reagan read the report and, according to Francona, wrote a note in the margin addressed to Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci: “An Iranian victory is unacceptable.”

Subsequently, a decision was made at the top level of the U.S. government (almost certainly requiring the approval of the National Security Council and the CIA). The DIA was authorized to give the Iraqi intelligence services as much detailed information as was available about the deployments and movements of all Iranian combat units. That included satellite imagery and perhaps some sanitized electronic intelligence. There was a particular focus on the area east of the city of Basrah where the DIA was convinced the next big Iranian offensive would come. The agency also provided data on the locations of key Iranian logistics facilities, and the strength and capabilities of the Iranian air force and air defense system. Francona described much of the information as “targeting packages” suitable for use by the Iraqi air force to destroy these targets.

The sarin attacks then followed.

The nerve agent causes dizziness, respiratory distress, and muscle convulsions, and can lead to death. CIA analysts could not precisely determine the Iranian casualty figures because they lacked access to Iranian officials and documents. But the agency gauged the number of dead as somewhere between “hundreds” and “thousands” in each of the four cases where chemical weapons were used prior to a military offensive. According to the CIA, two-thirds of all chemical weapons ever used by Iraq during its war with Iran were fired or dropped in the last 18 months of the war.

By 1988, U.S. intelligence was flowing freely to Hussein’s military. That March, Iraq launched a nerve gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq.

A month later, the Iraqis used aerial bombs and artillery shells filled with sarin against Iranian troop concentrations on the Fao Peninsula southeast of Basrah, helping the Iraqi forces win a major victory and recapture the entire peninsula. The success of the Fao Peninsula offensive also prevented the Iranians from launching their much-anticipated offensive to capture Basrah. According to Francona, Washington was very pleased with the result because the Iranians never got a chance to launch their offensive.

The level of insight into Iraq’s chemical weapons program stands in marked contrast to the flawed assessments, provided by the CIA and other intelligence agencies about Iraq’s program prior to the United States’ invasion in 2003. Back then, American intelligence had better access to the region and could send officials out to assess the damage.

Francona visited the Fao Peninsula shortly after it had been captured by the Iraqis. He found the battlefield littered with hundreds of used injectors once filled with atropine, the drug commonly used to treat sarin’s lethal effects. Francona scooped up a few of the injectors and brought them back to Baghdad — proof that the Iraqis had used sarin on the Fao Peninsula.

Syria_3In the ensuing months, Francona reported, the Iraqis used sarin in massive quantities three more times in conjunction with massed artillery fire and smoke to disguise the use of nerve agents. Each offensive was hugely successful, in large part because of the increasingly sophisticated use of mass quantities of nerve agents. The last of these attacks, called the Blessed Ramadan Offensive, was launched by the Iraqis in April 1988 and involved the largest use of sarin nerve agent employed by the Iraqis to date. For a quarter-century, no chemical attack came close to the scale of Saddam’s unconventional assaults. Until, perhaps, the strikes last week outside of Damascus.

 

So, What did the Muslims do for the Jews?


according to David J. Wasserstein, plenty in an essay he wrote for of all things, The Jewish Chronicle OnLine

Jewish subjects of the Ottoman Empire, sevente...

Jewish subjects of the Ottoman Empire, seventeenth century. From the 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, now in the public domain. Category:Jewish Encyclopedia images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth. The argument for it is double. First, in 570 CE, when the Prophet Mohammad was born, the Jews and Judaism were on the way to oblivion. And second, the coming of Islam saved them, providing a new context in which they not only survived, but flourished, laying foundations for subsequent Jewish cultural prosperity – also in Christendom – through the medieval period into the modern world.

By the fourth century, Christianity had become the dominant religion in the Roman empire. One aspect of this success was opposition to rival faiths, including Judaism, along with massive conversion of members of such faiths, sometimes by force, to Christianity. Much of our testimony about Jewish existence in the Roman empire from this time on consists of accounts of conversions.

Great and permanent reductions in numbers through conversion, between the fourth and the seventh centuries, brought with them a gradual but relentless whittling away of the status, rights, social and economic existence, and religious and cultural life of Jews all over the Roman empire.

A long series of enactments deprived Jewish people of their rights as citizens, prevented them from fulfilling their religious obligations, and excluded them from the society of their fellows.

This went along with the centuries-long military and political struggle with Persia. As a tiny element in the Christian world, the Jews should not have been affected much by this broad, political issue. Yet it affected them critically, because the Persian empire at this time included Babylon – now Iraq – at the time home to the world’s greatest concentration of Jews.

Here also were the greatest centres of Jewish intellectual life. The most important single work of Jewish cultural creativity in over 3,000 years, apart from the Bible itself – the Talmud – came into being in Babylon. The struggle between Persia and Byzantium, in our period, led increasingly to a separation between Jews under Byzantine, Christian rule and Jews under Persian rule.

Beyond all this, the Jews who lived under Christian rule seemed to have lost the knowledge of their own culturally specific languages – Hebrew and Aramaic – and to have taken on the use of Latin or Greek or other non-Jewish, local, languages. This in turn must have meant that they also lost access to the central literary works of Jewish culture – the Torah, Mishnah, poetry, midrash, even liturgy.

The loss of the unifying force represented by language – and of the associated literature – was a major step towards assimilation and disappearance. In these circumstances, with contact with the one place where Jewish cultural life continued to prosper – Babylon – cut off by conflict with Persia, Jewish life in the Christian world of late antiquity was not simply a pale shadow of what it had been three or four centuries earlier. It was doomed.

Had Islam not come along, the conflict with Persia would have continued. The separation between western Judaism, that of Christendom, and Babylonian Judaism, that of Mesopotamia, would have intensified. Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance in many areas. And Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult.

But this was all prevented by the rise of Islam. The Islamic conquests of the seventh century changed the world, and did so with dramatic, wide-ranging and permanent effect for the Jews.

Within a century of the death of Mohammad, in 632, Muslim armies had conquered almost the whole of the world where Jews lived, from Spain eastward across North Africa and the Middle East as far as the eastern frontier of Iran and beyond. Almost all the Jews in the world were now ruled by Islam. This new situation transformed Jewish existence. Their fortunes changed in legal, demographic, social, religious, political, geographical, economic, linguistic and cultural terms – all for the better.

First, things improved politically. Almost everywhere in Christendom where Jews had lived now formed part of the same political space as Babylon – Cordoba and Basra lay in the same political world. The old frontier between the vital centre in Babylonia and the Jews of the Mediterranean basin was swept away, forever.

Political change was partnered by change in the legal status of the Jewish population: although it is not always clear what happened during the Muslim conquests, one thing is certain. The result of the conquests was, by and large, to make the Jews second-class citizens.

This should not be misunderstood: to be a second-class citizen was a far better thing to be than not to be a citizen at all. For most of these Jews, second-class citizenship represented a major advance. In Visigothic Spain, for example, shortly before the Muslim conquest in 711, the Jews had seen their children removed from them and forcibly converted to Christianity and had themselves been enslaved.

In the developing Islamic societies of the classical and medieval periods, being a Jew meant belonging to a category defined under law, enjoying certain rights and protections, alongside various obligations. These rights and protections were not as extensive or as generous as those enjoyed by Muslims, and the obligations were greater but, for the first few centuries, the Muslims themselves were a minority, and the practical differences were not all that great.

Along with legal near-equality came social and economic equality. Jews were not confined to ghettos, either literally or in terms of economic activity. The societies of Islam were, in effect, open societies. In religious terms, too, Jews enjoyed virtually full freedom. They might not build many new synagogues – in theory – and they might not make too public their profession of their faith, but there was no really significant restriction on the practice of their religion. Along with internal legal autonomy, they also enjoyed formal representation, through leaders of their own, before the authorities of the state. Imperfect and often not quite as rosy as this might sound, it was at least the broad norm.

The political unity brought by the new Islamic world-empire did not last, but it created a vast Islamic world civilisation, similar to the older Christian civilisation that it replaced. Within this huge area, Jews lived and enjoyed broadly similar status and rights everywhere. They could move around, maintain contacts, and develop their identity as Jews. A great new expansion of trade from the ninth century onwards brought the Spanish Jews – like the Muslims – into touch with the Jews and the Muslims even of India.

A ll this was encouraged by a further, critical development. Huge numbers of people in the new world of Islam adopted the language of the Muslim Arabs. Arabic gradually became the principal language of this vast area, excluding almost all the rest: Greek and Syriac, Aramaic and Coptic and Latin all died out, replaced by Arabic. Persian, too, went into a long retreat, to reappear later heavily influenced by Arabic.

The Jews moved over to Arabic very rapidly. By the early 10th century, only 300 years after the conquests, Sa’adya Gaon was translating the Bible into Arabic. Bible translation is a massive task – it is not undertaken unless there is a need for it. By about the year 900, the Jews had largely abandoned other languages and taken on Arabic.

The change of language in its turn brought the Jews into direct contact with broader cultural developments. The result from the 10th century on was a striking pairing of two cultures. The Jews of the Islamic world developed an entirely new culture, which differed from their culture before Islam in terms of language, cultural forms, influences, and uses. Instead of being concerned primarily with religion, the new Jewish culture of the Islamic world, like that of its neighbours, mixed the religious and the secular to a high degree. The contrast, both with the past and with medieval Christian Europe, was enormous.

Like their neighbours, these Jews wrote in Arabic in part, and in a Jewish form of that language. The use of Arabic brought them close to the Arabs. But the use of a specific Jewish form of that language maintained the barriers between Jew and Muslim. The subjects that Jews wrote about, and the literary forms in which they wrote about them, were largely new ones, borrowed from the Muslims and developed in tandem with developments in Arabic Islam.

Also at this time, Hebrew was revived as a language of high literature, parallel to the use among the Muslims of a high form of Arabic for similar purposes. Along with its use for poetry and artistic prose, secular writing of all forms in Hebrew and in (Judeo-)Arabic came into being, some of it of high quality.

Much of the greatest poetry in Hebrew written since the Bible comes from this period. Sa’adya Gaon, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, Ibn Ezra (Moses and Abraham), Maimonides, Yehuda Halevi, Yehudah al-Harizi, Samuel ha-Nagid, and many more – all of these names, well known today, belong in the first rank of Jewish literary and cultural endeavour.

W here did these Jews produce all this? When did they and their neighbours achieve this symbiosis, this mode of living together? The Jews did it in a number of centres of excellence. The most outstanding of these was Islamic Spain, where there was a true Jewish Golden Age, alongside a wave of cultural achievement among the Muslim population. The Spanish case illustrates a more general pattern, too.

What happened in Islamic Spain – waves of Jewish cultural prosperity paralleling waves of cultural prosperity among the Muslims – exemplifies a larger pattern in Arab Islam. In Baghdad, between the ninth and the twelfth centuries; in Qayrawan (in north Africa), between the ninth and the 11th centuries; in Cairo, between the 10th and the 12th centuries, and elsewhere, the rise and fall of cultural centres of Islam tended to be reflected in the rise and fall of Jewish cultural activity in the same places.

This was not coincidence, and nor was it the product of particularly enlightened liberal patronage by Muslim rulers. It was the product of a number of deeper features of these societies, social and cultural, legal and economic, linguistic and political, which together enabled and indeed encouraged the Jews of the Islamic world to create a novel sub-culture within the high civilisation of the time.

This did not last for ever; the period of culturally successful symbiosis between Jew and Arab Muslim in the middle ages came to a close by about 1300. In reality, it had reached this point even earlier, with the overall relative decline in the importance and vitality of Arabic culture, both in relation to western European cultures and in relation to other cultural forms within Islam itself; Persian and Turkish.

Jewish cultural prosperity in the middle ages operated in large part as a function of Muslim, Arabic cultural (and to some degree political) prosperity: when Muslim Arabic culture thrived, so did that of the Jews; when Muslim Arabic culture declined, so did that of the Jews.

In the case of the Jews, however, the cultural capital thus created also served as the seed-bed of further growth elsewhere – in Christian Spain and in the Christian world more generally.

The Islamic world was not the only source of inspiration for the Jewish cultural revival that came later in Christian Europe, but it certainly was a major contributor to that development. Its significance cannot be overestimated.

The Washington Post gets pwned


I’m not a fan of corporate media because it tends to make unsettling alliances with people of power to insure its profitability through devious journalistic and financial practices but I have a special enmity for corporate media that didn’t do its job during the time of the crisis with Iraq and misled the country with the help of dubious politicians into one of the greatest crimes against humanity that we’ve seen in our lives.  Here is another brilliant piece from Robert Parry about the culpability of the Washington Post

Four days after the Iraq War’s tenth anniversary, the Washington Post published an editorial about the disastrous war of choice, a conflict which the Post’s neocon editors promoted with falsehoods and distortions both before the invasion and for years afterwards.

However, if you thought there would be some admission of the newspaper’s long litany of mistakes or some apology to the war’s critics who were routinely maligned in Post editorials and op-eds, you would be sorely disappointed. There was not even a mention of the nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers or the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died.

President Barack Obama remains a target of the Washington Post’s outrage over his supposed failure to complete the neocon agenda in the Middle East. Obama is shown here touring the crypt containing the reputed birthplace of Jesus during the President’s visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the West Bank, March 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

After a brief acknowledgement that the war’s tenth anniversary “generated plenty of commentary about the lessons of that war,” the Post’s editors said nothing about what, if anything, they had learned. Instead, they remained in positive spin mode, citing one supposed accomplishment from the invasion.

“For the first time in decades, contemporary Iraq poses no threat to its neighbors,” the Post declared. However, even that is a lie on two fronts.

First, Iraq under Saddam Hussein had not been a threat to its neighbors since the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91, unless the Post’s editors were having a flashback to the glory days of 2002-03 when they were disseminating President George W. Bush’s bogus WMD propaganda. Do they still believe that nonsense?

Second, today’s Iraq under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become a threat to its neighbors because al-Qaeda-affiliated Sunni extremists from western Iraq have crossed the border to Syria where they have assumed a major role in the violent opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

But the Post’s editors want you to believe that the Bush-neocon expedition to Iraq was on the cusp of some great success until President Barack Obama showed up to squander the victory – by not insisting on a continuation of the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

“Iran’s influence over Mr. Maliki’s government is mounting, thanks in part to the Obama administration’s failure to agree with Baghdad on a stay-on force of U.S. troops,” the Post wrote, making it seem as if it were Obama’s petulance that prevented the continued U.S. military presence, not the insistence by Maliki’s government of terms in a “status of forces agreement” unacceptable to the Americans.

Lost Influence

In the Post’s frame of reality, however, this failure to keep tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq has led to other terrible consequences: “According to U.S. officials, Iraq has been allowing Iran to fly weapons through its airspace to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Repeated appeals from Washington to stop the traffic have gone unheeded.”

But an objective observer might have noted that it was the Bush-neocon hubris, rushing into a war to oust Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime that led inevitably to the expanded influence of Shiite-ruled Iran within the new Shiite-controlled regime in Iraq. Yet, the Post instead placed the blame squarely on Obama.

The Post’s editorial then returned to its current campaign to pressure the Obama administration into entering a new military conflict in Syria, accusing the President of unmanly softness.

“The civil war in Syria, and the passivity with which the Obama administration has responded to it, have reinforced these negative trends. Mr. Maliki fears that the downfall of the Assad regime could lead to a Sunni-dominated government that would back insurrection in Sunni parts of Iraq.

“As with leaders across the Middle East, he perceives that the United States is unwilling to defend its interests in the region, either by stopping the Syrian bloodbath or countering Iran’s interventions. The risk of greater turmoil or even a return to civil war in Iraq is one of several compelling reasons for more aggressive U.S. action to end the war in Syria.”

The Post then summed up its case by suggesting that Obama has betrayed the great victory that the neocons supposedly had won in Iraq.

“President Obama has often given the impression that he has turned his back on Iraq, and many Americans understandably sympathize with him. But a failure to engage with the fragile state U.S. troops left behind would endanger U.S. interests and break faith with the many Americans who made sacrifices there.”

What is particularly startling about the Post’s editorial, which curiously appears four days after the Iraq War’s tenth anniversary, is that the dominant newspaper in the nation’s capital continues to live in a neocon fantasy world or at least refuses to acknowledge key Middle East realities.

In Neocon-land, the big U.S. mistake in Iraq was not forcing the Iraqis to accept an indefinite U.S. military occupation, compounded by the Obama administration’s hesitancy to join Israel in bombing Iran and to jump into another bloody quagmire in Syria – in other words to continue the neocon grand plan of “regime change” across the Middle East. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

Not only did the Post editorial, entitled “Iraq, 10 years later,” offer no self-reflection on the Post’s many factual errors about Iraq’s non-existent WMD, no apology for its bullying of war skeptics, and no recognition of its complicity in a criminal invasion, but the newspaper’s editors appear to have absorbed not a single lesson from what happened a decade ago.

That inability to utter even the most obvious and necessary mea culpa is disturbing in itself. Indeed, if the Post were still a serious news organization committed to the principles of honest journalism, it would have undertaken a major overhaul of its editorial-page staff rather than keeping in place the same leadership and punditry that was so embarrassingly wrong on Iraq.

But, even worse, the Post’s editors continue to pontificate with an arrogance resistant to the undeniable reality of their own misjudgments, incompetence and immorality. In that sense, the Washington Post has become a threat to the Republic and to the world.

What’s my name?!


Ali-Whats-My-Name-FightNames are important to their bearers and generally to the society at large.  They are a source of pride and at other times scourge; people invest themselves with names of meaning or shed their names because  of its meaning.  We’ve seen people mercilessly pummel others for not recognizing their names and calling them by the chosen name, and we’ve seen others brutally whipped to acknowledge a name give to them by people in order to strip the name bearer of any sense of cultural identity or self worth and replace it with whatever value the name giver is trying to impart. kunta-getting-whipped-1

There are some people who intimidated by the idea that their name is identified with a certain ideology or belief chose to change it of their own accord in order to fit in and not be singled out, while some people change their names willingly to hide their cultural identity to avoid religious or cultural persecution. Others tonycurtiscolortake on names because of careers whereby the name distinguishes them from all others in the performing arts.  “Sting”, “Prince” come to mind to name a few. Such decisions are made artistically and usually enhance the image of the name bearer in the eyes of an adoring public.

People have denigrated entire classes of their fellow mankind by grouping them under one name, nigger, cracker, spic, kike, sandnigger, cockroach, gook are just a few examples that come to mind.  These names are meant to hurt; they come with their own invective; even the pronunciation rolls off the tongue with a certain inflection that’s meant to hurt the ears as much as the hearts and minds of the subjects of such abuse.  By using such language it’s meant to dehumanize and weaken the resolve of a person, to soften them up for the inevitable. We have not gotten over this ability to harm with the spoken word, or name.  When applied enough times to groups of people the result is systematic and relentless oppression, subjugation or intended and eventual annihilation.

AlexWhile I was  a freshman in college Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was the rave in American literary circles.  His book, The Gulag Archipelago had recently been released and became required reading in universities across the West, no less so where I studied. His was the first exposure many of us in my English literature class had to someone with a name like his and as we discussed his work, quite a few of us awkwardly pronounced or made fun of while attempting to pronounce his name so much so that our English teacher stopped the class and with all the seriousness and indignation appropriate for the moment declared, ‘young people every human has the RIGHT to have his/her name pronounced correctly’.  With that declaration he (I wish I could honor that teacher by recalling his name, but unfortunately I have forgotten it) made every student stand one at a time in class and pronounce Solzhenitsyn’s entire name until we got it right.  No student was spared as time was suspended until we said S-O-L-Z-H-E-N-I-T-S-Y-N correctly, no matter how many times it took for us to do so. I left that class with a deep sense of the importance of names and how its bearer should be honored with the correct application of that name to him or her. I realized no matter how hated by me a person or no matter how difficult the name I owed it to its bearer to honor them with their name, no suffixes or prefixes attached, no racial or cultural tags added. Such things could be done in a separate sentence but never immediately juxtaposed with the name….unless that person wanted it so.

During the late 70s toward the end of Jimmy Carter’s term in office when the Nation was gripped by the Iranian hostage crisis, America began its assault on Muslims.  American Muslims who showed any support for the revolution in Iran came under fire, scrutiny by a federal government bent on flexing its muscle to resolve the crisis and cap a ground swell that was boiling in America (which we survived and have since gone on to greater heights of prosperity).  During that time I ran across a young Muslim American who related how he was caught up in the turmoil of the time and indicted by the federal government.  He was told, he said, by officials if he would only agree to have the name “Al” affixed to his indictment instead of “Abdullah” the name he had on all his legal documents  they would eventually drop or reduce the charges. He was faced with a modern day horse whipping much like the character Kunta Kinte in the movie Roots, except in his case he refused and was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit.  Finally after his appeal reached and was decided on by appeals court where he was awarded a new trial, the government having extracted its pound of flesh from him and countless others and satiated its blood lust, refused to re-try him and released him with time served.  Six years he languished in prison because he refused to go by any  name other than his name. That young man’s story reinforced to me the importance of one’s name and how authority sees the importance of names.

CAIRFoleySqIt came as no surprise, therefore, for me to read that names were being used AGAIN by the government to determine guilt or innocence or even if criminal activity or the THREAT of criminal activity existed.  Too often we in America especially and  the West in general rely too much on social schemata to define who a person is instead of listening to or watching how that person defines himself.  In today’s age of instant gratification, and sound bite, bumper slogan ideology, no time is given to evaluating the person beyond that brief first impression that usually starts with one’s name.  We are conditioned to make credible or inconsequential that person’s existence just by the sound of their name, whether it is anglicized or latin, mono or polysyllabic, foreign or American.  Everything after the name is totally irrelevant; it is why people today at the start of  Obama’s second term still think he is an illegitimate president and therefore nothing he says or does is American.  As a result there’s now talk of secessionist movements gaining ground in some parts of the country where such notions weren’t even whispered during the time of any other contemporary president.

notAmerica is a country made of people from all over the world, each of them, those who are law abiding, are citizens of this Republic with all the rights and responsibilities due by the Constitution and no one person can have that fact denied because of their name, yet such denial is becoming increasingly more prevalent.  We come from races and tribes with different and yes even unusual names but none of that allows us to deny or curtail the rights of such people because we cannot pronounce or don’t like a person’s name.   Nor should we expect people to conform to the names we want to bestow on them.  I was sitting with a friend a few years ago when we were approached by an elderly African-American with a soft, appealing  southern accent.  His voice was  melodic like that of a Sunday preacher as were his manners.  When he made eye contact with me and my friend he approached the two of us and introduced himself.  We in turn told him our names, but my friend’s name was a bit difficult for this gentleman to pronounce.  He prodded my friend several times to say the name and each time my friend pronounced his name slower and with more elaborate intonation.  Finally after the fourth or fifth time, the elderly gentleman scratched his name and said to my companion ‘do you mind if I call you Willie?’

sittingbullWe are uncomfortable with names that require effort to say and translate that difficulty into stereotyping the bearer negatively…especially if that person insists on us calling them by their name correctly.  As a society we don’t have an English teacher who will make us pronounce and honor a person’s name until we get it right….we give in too easy and suggest ways to call(define) a person that are acceptable to us.  But that is no longer acceptable in a pluralistic society such as America and it’s not desirable either.  Our names are European, African, Asian, Semitic, Latin, Oceanic and many times a mix of all of them and they all are as valuable, meaningful AND American as any other name you may find in the white pages of your local phone book.  If we are as exceptional as we claim to be, as great a Nation as we say we are, we will learn to respect the names of our countrymen and the diversity of these names that are brought to our society, otherwise we are no better than the tin pot despots, the banana republics we have supported and then invaded because of their perceived inhumanity to their fellow man.  Are we up to the task, America? Then, what’s my name?

Iran and corporate media’s jaundice eye/ An UPDATE


There are forces at work that really want to see a war with Iran and  many of those forces are being encouraged by the duplicitous way main stream media has reported on the story of Iran and its perceived nuclear program. Dave Lindorff talked about that in his most recent pieceGoebbels Would Stand in Awe: The US Corporate News Media are Rank Propagandists on Iran.  Media never tires from war even though the rest of the country most likely has, so it appears they want to wake us from our war stupor to fight another

The sorry state of American journalism is on full display in the coverage by the corporate media of the ongoing crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear fuel program.

The leaders of both Israel and the U.S. have publicly threatened to attack Iran — Israel saying it could do so within weeks, President Obama warning that he would consider attacking Iran militarily if he were convinced that that nation was building an atomic bomb.

Not once, in reporting on these threats of aggressive war by Israel and/or the United States, has any major U.S. news organization, in print or on the air, included any reference to the U.N. Charter or to the fact that what is being contemplated is an invasion by Israel or the United States of a country that has not even been shown to be producing or planning to produce a nuclear weapon, much less to be in possession of one. Not once, in any of these daily reports on the Iran “crisis,” has any report by these news organizations — including National Public Radio — interviewed a source who could point out that what is being discussed is the most serious of all war crimes: the crime against peace (the same crime that led to the hanging, after World War II, of several military leaders in Japan and Germany).

The law itself is crystal clear. Under the UN Charter it is the ultimate war crime for a nation to initiate an aggressive war against another country that has not attacked it or that does not pose an “imminent threat” of attack. And given that even Israeli and US intelligence officials concede that Iran is not at this time making a bomb, and thus cannot hope to have a working one even a year from now were they to begin a crash program, there is simply no imminent threat.

Even when a perfect opportunity arrived for making this point — a public statement Feb. 27 by Brazil’s Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, at the United Nations, reminding UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that an attack by Israel or the US on Iran would be “contrary to international law,” and urging Ban to address the issue — this trenchant and news-worthy warning was totally blacked out by the U.S. corporate news media.

There was no news report on Patriota’s warning in the Washington Post, the New York Times or other major newspapers. There was no mention of it on CNN or other major news stations either.

As far as most Americans go, the statement by the foreign minister of one of the world’s biggest nations, and a leader among the developing nations of the world, never happened.

Instead, the American news media have been running article after article, often on page one above the fold, or as the lead item on the hour, debating when Israel might attack Iran, whether the U.S. would come to Israel’s aid if it did attack, or if after it attacked, Iran retaliated by firing missiles at Israel, the US would join Israel. Even worse, the media have been running and airing stories quoting Pentagon sources and retired military personnel (often still on the Pentagon payroll) describing how an Israeli or a US attack on Iran would likely be conducted. All this without mentioning the criminality of it all.

It’s as though we were siting in Germany in 1938, reading articles in the local newspapers speculating about how Germany’s future attack on Poland would be conducted, or when and how the Blitzkrieg against the Low Countries would play out.

What we are getting is not news. It is propaganda. The Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, had he not killed himself to avoid capture and execution for war crimes by the Allies at the end of the war, would surely marvel at how his methods are being aped and refined by the media in one of his leading democratic enemies some seven decades after he put the German media in service to the Third Reich.

At least the Los Angeles Times belatedly, on March 5, ran an op-ed article by Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman making the point that a US attack on Iran would be both a war crime and a violation of US law. As he explains, since the US is a signatory of the UN Charter–a treaty ratified by the Senate — its provisions banning aggressive wars have become, under Article II of the US Constitution, an integral part of US law.

Ackerman notes that in 1981, when Israel unilaterally bombed and destroyed the Osirik nuclear reactor in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the US voted for a unanimous UN Security Council Resolution condemning that attack, and he quoted then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose country also voted for the resolution, as saying, “Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified. It represents a grave breach of international law.”

But why is such information as Ackerman’s only appearing on the L.A. Times opinion page?

Ackerman is an authority on international law at one of the pre-eminent law schools in the country. He should be getting quoted as an authority in news articles where attacking Iran is being discussed. What he says about the U.N. Charter and about a war of aggression being flat-out illegal is not an opinion. It is a fact. He and this important fact belong on the news pages.

Bad enough that he is being relegated by the editors of the Los Angeles Times to the opinion page ghetto, but he is being totally ignored by the editors of other major news organizations. He is too dangerous even for their opinion pages.

When this kind of thing happens, it is clear that what passes for mainstream journalism in the US is not really journalism at all. It is propaganda–in this case pro-Israel, pro-war propaganda. That’s why we see calls in the US media for Iran to submit to UN inspection of its entire nuclear program, while no similar demand is made of Israel, which has some 300 nuclear weapons, and which has never allowed in any inspectors.

There is no difference between the war-mongering coverage by the mainstream media with respect to Iran today and the war-mongering coverage we experienced in 1982-1983 in the run-up to another criminal war of aggression, the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq — another country that posed no imminent threat to the United States.

Fortunately Americans willing to make the effort do have other sources of news. They could read the alternative US media, like this publication or perhaps look abroad, say at the Irish News Beacon online, where Patriota’s statement was reported properly as significant news. Unfortunately, most Americans are content to passively receive their “news” as it is vetted, twisted and spoon-fed to them from the corporate propaganda machine, though. This may explain why polls show more than 50 percent of Americans to be in support of a campaign to bomb Iran, while only 19 percent of Israelis, who still have real newspapers and real journalists at least, want to do the same thing.

Here’s more reasoning that you won’t read in corporate media about Iran and the supposed nuclear threat

The assumption that a short war of limited strikes will keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is flawed. Damage to Iran’s nuclear program from such a strike would be modest, likely requiring more strikes in another few years or a longer-term presence on the ground.

James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, said an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would set back its nuclear program by one to two years. U.S. military action every few years is an unmanageable strategy.

Worse, attempts to stop Iran’s program militarily will bolster its resolve to pursue a nuclear deterrent. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the military solution will make Iranians “absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons.” He continued, “… they will just go deeper and more covert.”

but what such a strike WILL do is plunge the area into further turmoil for another decade while depleting US military manpower, America’s financial coffers and her reputation throughout the world because of our inability to say no to a recalcitrant ally bent on the destruction of all those who say “no” to her.

 

The Israeli leaderships’ assault on the American military


It used to be in American politics if you hurled insults, character assassination and humiliating invective towards your opponent you could either get them to shut up or do what you want.  That worked because the victim of such verbal abuse dealt from a position of weakness or insecurity.  Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and others within the Israeli government are trying that with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey because of his stance towards Iran and the seeming confrontation Israel wants to have with the Iranians.  Let’s hope the tactic doesn’t work.  Dempsey is a decorated military officer who has served his time and his country in the United States military, at times fighting for the best interests  of the Israeli government to the detriment of America.  Our latest foray into Iraq is the most recent example of that….and now he seems to think along with others that a much more prudent path should be taken in dealing with the Iranians. He’s not alone in that assessment however. American men and women serving in the US military seem to have grown tired of endless wars that drain the national resources of their country, ask them to make sacrifices that are not in their best interests and ruin the reputation of their country and make it a target of the disillusioned.  They are making that discontent known by supporting financially and overwhelmingly  the non-interventionist candidacy of Ron Paul  more than all the other candidates running for office combined, including Obama!

Perhaps Dempsey has sampled that discontent; certainly he has observed the effects a decades old war on two fronts has had on the US military and understands the impact another confrontation could have.  Moreover, conclusive proof that Iran has a nuclear weapon or the means to obtain one shortly is far less than conclusive, much like the weapons of mass destruction meme we were so used to hearing leading up to the Iraqi war.  The Israelis have also decided to reach back into the WMD bag of insults bristling at Dempsey’s words of caution with personal attacks and innuendo, which ring all too much like the cries of traitor and impotent neo cons hurled at dissenters and doubters of the Iraqi war a decade ago.  The latter were proved too prescient, yet despite being discredited neo-cons and their Israeli supporters are still around to assail us with sophomoric insults that have no basis in fact.  Certainly not with the likes of General Dempsey who has nothing to prove to anyone about his loyalties or his competence.  Juan Cole in his blog, Informed Comment, lists Dempsey’s credentials thus

Dempsey served in the Gulf War and deployed twice to Iraq during the Iraq War. “General Dempsey’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with “V” Device and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.”

What’s unfortunate for America is that election years tend to make officials running for office weak kneed when it comes to standing up to lobbying interests, and especially those of Israel.  Even though America is perhaps the safest it has ever been, in spite of recent flare ups in Afghanistan and Iraq, officials who worship at the altar of political action committees like AIPAC, et.al cannot say “no” when it comes time to draw a line between American and Israeli interests, so this salvo directed at Dempsey is only the opening shot. There will be more to come, from the Israelis as well as their American surrogates who are running for office on both sides of the isle.  In an age where political donations have no limit and can be endlessly given to candidates who can run for office regardless of the electoral process’ outcome, one can expect such boorish behavior designed to publicly question and deride honorable public servants to continue.  Hang on to your hats America…..it’s gonna’ be a bumpy ride!

Positive Results from the Arab Spring


One of the biggest world wide problems has been how to bring peace to the Middle East and especially to the Holy Lands of the Fertile Crescent.  Parties on both sides of the conflict have obfuscated their goals and concerns, which has only led to slaughter and conflict for almost a century.  One of the points of contention has been what Israel claims is Palestinians refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to cease hostilities towards the Jewish state.

All of the Palestinian parties have met those conditions, except one, Hamas….so claim the Israelis, and now they too might have come around.

Jane’s, an internationally respected British security and defense risk-analysis firm, has recently reported that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, is on “the brink of renouncing armed resistance and moving to a policy of nonviolent resistance to Israel.” Jane’s, with which I have been a monthly writer to three of its publications since 2007, has several hard-to-ignore quotes in its report of Hamas leaders saying that the move was not “tactical” but “strategic.” Also interviewed are Palestinian Authority intelligence officers who said that Hamas’s strategy was “gradual and nuanced,” with one senior officer telling Jane’s that Hamas “intends to keep its military and security units to control the situation in Gaza, not necessarily to fight the Israelis.” The interviewees’ names were not mentioned for obvious security reasons.

I urge every subscriber to Jane’s to read that groundbreaking piece of reporting because, even if it is not publicly confirmed yet by Hamas’s leadership, it has all the makings of a fascinating story which I am positive will generate an intense debate not only in the Arab world and Israel but also in Washington and other Western capitals. The story is starting to get serious attention in the international press with the Financial Times, Sydney Herald Tribune and other media outlets covering it.

The report, written by my friend and colleague David Hartwell, Jane’s Middle East and Islamic affairs editor, argues that the springboard for this new strategic approach by Hamas is the Arab uprising. More directly, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey reportedly played a key role in convincing Hamas to reconcile with its historical rival Fatah and end armed resistance against Israel. Hartwell writes that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, in a meeting on November 24 in Cairo with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, accepted “in writing with a signature” the need to embrace peaceful activism. And if this is not controversial enough, echoing Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun, Hamas’s leadership also told Jane’s that it will be “downgrading its ties with Syria and Iran and forge new relationships with Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey.”

In some ways, perhaps, this development could have been foreseen. Even the most ideological and stubborn actors in the Middle East have been forced to adjust to the new political realities created by the Arab uprising. Hezbollah in Lebanon, for example, has been feeling increasingly vulnerable and isolated lately because of the escalating civil conflict in Syria and the threat that poses to its ally, the Syrian regime. Hezbollah recently made significant concessions at home, including its approval of funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon—an entity that Hezbollah’s leadership for years had viewed as a tool used by Israel and the United States to defeat it. Other signs of Hezbollah’s contemplation of life after Syrian president Bashar Assad include its decision to move most of its military hardware that has been stored in Syria back to areas under its control inside Lebanon, including the South and the Bekaa.

Yet despite its evident tactical adjustments, Hezbollah hasn’t suggested any intent to disarm, forge new strategic alliances or end its military struggle against Israel. In fact, in a rare public appearance this month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah declared that his party will remain defiant, side with Assad’s Syria and never relinquish its arms. If Hamas, an ally of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran (the so-called Resistance Axis), truly intends to reinvent itself, that would be a historic development with massive political and security implications not just for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also for the whole of Middle East politics.

There are numerous questions surrounding Hamas’s reported decision, the most obvious being why it could have possibly adopted such a stance. It is one thing to say that Hamas felt motivated and/or pressured by Turkey, Egypt and Qatar to renounce violence. But it takes much more for an organization to abandon everything it has stood for and create for itself a new identity. After all, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have tried countless times in the past to shape Hamas and lure it, with financial and political rewards, to leave the pro-Iran-Syria-Hezbollah camp and give up armed struggle. The strategy did not work simply because Hamas felt it had much more to lose than gain. The Resistance Axis was always on the rise, especially after the 2003 Iraq war as Iran and Syria gained influence in the region at the expense of their rivals.

No more. Today, with Iran feeling more cornered by the international community (minus Russia and China) than ever because of its controversial nuclear program and with Syria’s regime fighting an existential battle against its own people, the balance of power is shifting in the Middle East, and this has not gone unnoticed by Hamas. It is foolish to deny that Hamas’s decisions and behavior have been partly driven by ideological convictions and motivations, but it is also wrong to argue the organization has not acted rationally, based on material interest. The decision it reportedly has currently taken may be further proof of that.

While it is important to remember that Hamas’s leadership has not gone public with its decision, it is worth noting that the majority of its external political staff has already evacuated Damascus, where it has a key office managed by Meshal. Their next destination is likely to be Cairo and Doha, where leaders there have committed to sponsoring the movement politically and financially. Unlike Hezbollah, Hamas has refused to say publicly that it is siding with the Syrian regime, a move that has angered not only the Syrian leadership but also the mullahs in Tehran—causing them, according to Jane’s and other sources, to stop providing financial assistance. With money drying up and winds of change rocking the region, it is no wonder Hamas was fed up with Syria and Iran. One also cannot exclude the sectarian underpinnings of Hamas’s decision. While Hamas never allowed its religious identity—Sunni—to prevent it from forming necessary and strategic alliances with Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, the party is pragmatic enough to realize that positioning itself against the Sunni Islamist tide that is currently sweeping the region (in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, possibly Syria and elsewhere) is against its long-term interests. Having operated in the Iranian strategic orbit in the past, Hamas might now wish to embrace its old identity as a branch of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas’s decision, if real, will take time to implement. Since its founding in 1987, the organization’s bread-and-butter stance has been armed resistance coupled with terrorist activity. Should Hamas’s leadership publicly state its new strategy, the first thing it will have to do is come up with a new charter as evidence to the world that its move is not propaganda. The organization will also need substantial help from Arab countries and others interested in such a development. The world, including the United States, will not accept Hamas’s transformation if it is half-hearted. In other words, Hamas will have to integrate its military into the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in order to get the attention and support it desires.

The implications of such a Hamas decision could be huge. Theoretically, it will create a united Palestinian front. In other words, there would be few divisions within Palestinian society to inhibit progress in negotiations with the Israelis, a major boost for the Palestinian cause. Two things remain unclear, however: how Hamas’s constituency and Israel would deal with this massive shift. It is not unreasonable to assume that Hamas would not make such a dramatic move without testing the waters and feeling the mood in the Palestinian street. Hamas knows its constituency well enough to realize that the costs it might suffer as a result of such a decision are likely to be tolerable. Furthermore, Hamas’s support base is not necessarily ideological. Many credible polls suggest that those who have voted for Hamas over the past few years have done so out of pragmatic reasons and anger toward Fatah for its governmental failures. As far as Israel is concerned, the suspicion is that moderates and those truly committed to peace and a two-state solution will be supportive of Hamas’s transformation. The hard-liners will remain critical and will always find an excuse to object. Marking its twenty-fourth anniversary this week, Hamas leaders did not even hint that they may switch strategy. They insisted instead that they will never recognize Israel. For Israeli hard-liners, this is reason enough to remain skeptical of any move by Hamas.

If Hamas actually seeks to pursue such a decision, the United States will be confronted with a crucial choice. It can lend its verbal and material support for the move and cite its concerns and reservations. Or it can stand against it and endorse whatever the Israeli government says and does on the matter. Hence, a large onus likely will rest on Washington as well as on Hamas.

Despite these hopeful pronouncements, Israel is still belligerent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Sunday on the recent moves by Fatah and Hamas to set up a unity government, saying that Israel would not negotiate with the Palestinians should such a government be established.

“If Hamas joins the Palestinian government we will not hold negotiations with the Palestinian Authority,” said Netanyahu in a speech at a conference for Israeli ambassadors.

So it would appear, despite claims to the contrary, Israel is the impediment to peace in the region.  Because it is the most well equipped militarily and the most aggressive in incursions onto its neighbors territories, one should expect there will be more bloodshed and death at the hands of this recalcitrant US ally.

Ron Paul and Israel


 

Ron Paul was not invited to the The Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC)  forum on Wednesday, December 7 because the hosts think Paul is  “too extreme” or has views they think are not consistent with the GOP.  However if you listen to the above video, Paul says all the right things; he supports Israel’s right to say whether or not Iran is an existential threat to Israel and should be attacked, he agrees that Israel has the right to determine its own borders, independent of outside influence or pressure….he claims to have supported Israel’s strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, purporting to be the only voice of support within the US government at that time. So why is it that such a candidate would receive a snub from a group of Republicans when he so clearly has consistently supported Israel?

The reason for Jewish Republican ire is the very first statement he made in the video above when he said he is a non-interventionist.  Despite all the things Paul believes in vis-a-vis Israel he is not willing to lend that country unconditional support for things that are not shared, mutual interests.  He is able to separate American interests, the political entity he is seeking to lead, from Israeli interest and where the two do not meet, he’s not willing to sacrifice American interests for Israel, and that is a problem for Israel firsters.  Paul, until now, has been able to resist the conflation of the two countries into one all encompassing, inseparable  interest.  In so doing he’s acknowledged American financial, military, and human resources will not always be available for Israeli capriciousness and that seems to be the problem with Jewish supporters of Israel here in America. It seems Israel would prefer the political infighting and strong arming that has come with previous Republican administrations that opposed, on the face of things, Israel policies with respect to her borders and neighbors, but who would at some point caved and gave them the money and materiel requested to continue Israeli expansionist policy.  Paul’s policy statements on Israel are indeed consistent with Israeli interests, except for  American financial and military support and oddly enough just as Paul asserts,  these ideas are consistent with the GOP platform.  However, today’s body politic has taken such a far turn to the right and American politicians go through such extremes to genuflect before Israel and her supporters here and there in Israel, Paul can be successfully painted as an outsider or even an anti-Semite due to his stance.

One last interesting note to make about the forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition is none of the other GOP candidates expressed support for Paul’s presence at the event.  It would appear that there is no possibility of dialogue when it comes to Israel….it is not welcomed, supported, or even sought after.  It is  a self imposed censorship the participants seem to be particularly interested in maintaining.  Not one voice was raised to protest Paul’s exclusion from the forum, yet the ever clownish Donald Trump “debate” has already had three GOP candidates say they will not attend, Ron Paul being one of them, amid cries that the debate is no more than a publicity stunt for Trump, in a way to legitimize and insert himself into the political process.  That Trump debate however, has received round condemnation from at least 3 candidates and various pundits.  For the moment, America’s politics have been taken hostage by naked Israeli self-interests which spare no dissent from a complete and total surrender thereof.  Ron Paul is another recent victim of this trend.

Hitting the nail on the head


I read the following article and it was another epiphany for me in terms of its clarity regarding the US, Israel and Iran.  So much chest beating has been going on between these three countries within the last decade and with the draw down of US forces in Iraq it seems rhetoric has increased regarding the necessity to attack another Muslim country that surrounds Israel.

Most of Israel’s neighbors have accepted her existence, as they should, but they have resisted her oppression of her own Arab citizens as well as her Palestinian neighbors, as they should, so the drum beat for war is not an existential necessity for Israel it’s an exercise in assessing the power Israel has over her American client.

The boys who cry “Holocaust”
The same neocon hawks who lied us into Iraq are using the ultimate argument-stopper to push war with Iran
By Gary Kamiya

We’ve been through this before. As one of the most disastrous wars in our history is coming to an inglorious end, the same neoconservative hawks who dreamed it up are agitating for a new war that would make Iraq look like the invasion of Grenada — and using the ultimate trump card in American politics to silence debate over it.

When hawks begin beating the drums for war in the Middle East, Israel is usually a big reason why. That was true in the run-up to the war in Iraq, and it is doubly true with the current  hysteria over Iran. Despite disingenuous claims to the contrary, the only reason the U.S. is even talking about war with Iran is Israel. As the invaluable M.J. Rosenberg, who knows the working of the Israel lobby as only a former card-carrying member can, notes, “It is impossible to find a single politician or journalist advocating war with Iran who is not a neocon or an AIPAC cutout. (They’re often both.)”

Ever since the International Atomic Energy Agency released its overhyped, old-news report on Iran’s nuclear program, Israel’s amen corner in the U.S. has been loudly calling for war.

If American politics did not contain an enormous blind spot, no one would pay any attention to what these discredited ideologues have to say. The Iraq war they championed turned out to be one of the biggest foreign-policy disasters in U.S. history. Their ignorant and Islamophobic view of the Middle East is as breathtaking as their bland willingness to commit America to yet another ruinous war against a Muslim country, this time one four times larger than Iraq and with more than twice as many people. They have a demonstrated track record of complete failure.

Yet these incompetent militarists are still taken seriously. And the reason is simple: They purport to be supporters of Israel. In American politics, you can get away with even the most cracked war-mongering as long as you claim to be “pro-Israel.” And the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card for anything having to do with Israel is the Holocaust.

To listen to the neocons and hawks, you’d think Hitler was about to send the tanks over the Polish border. Former U.S. ambassador and Dr. Strangelove impersonator John Bolton said, “The only alternative now is the potential for a pre-emptive military strike against their military program, either by the United States or Israel. Diplomacy has failed. Sanctions have failed.” For Bolton, Iran is the second coming of Nazi Germany: “If the choice is them continuing [towards a nuclear bomb] or the use of force, I think you’re at a Hitler marching into the Rhineland point … We’re still in 1936, but not for long.”

Jeffrey Goldberg, the former Israeli Defense Forces corporal and Atlantic writer, whose bogus claim in the New Yorker that Saddam Hussein might give his nonexistent WMD to al-Qaida helped convince some liberals to support the Iraq war,  claims, “The Israeli case for preemption is compelling, and has been for some time.”

Why? “The leaders of Iran are eliminationist anti-Semites; men who, for reasons of theology, view the state of the Jews as a ‘cancer.’ They have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction and worked to hasten that end, mainly by providing material support and training to two organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, that specialize in the slaughter of innocent Jews. Iran’s leaders are men who deny the Holocaust while promising another.”

Goldberg acknowledged the downside for Israel of attacking Iran, including international isolation and retaliation, but for him that was a reason why America, not Israel, should threaten war.

“Numerous Israeli officials have told me that they are much less likely to recommend a preemptive strike of their own if they were reasonably sure that Obama was willing to use force. And if Iran’s leaders feared there was a real chance of a U.S. attack, they might actually modify their behavior,” Goldberg wrote. “I believe Obama would use force — and that he should make that perfectly clear to the Iranians.”

Neoconservative leader Bill Kristol, who was wrong about Iraq and was rewarded by being given a gig at the New York Times, where he quickly proved to be perhaps the worst columnist of all time, wrote in the Weekly Standard,  “The next speech we need to hear from the Obama administration should announce that, after 30 years, we have gone on the offensive against this murderous regime. And the speech after that can celebrate the fall of the regime, and offer American help to the democrats building a free and peaceful Iran.” In 2009, Kristol compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain for not being sufficiently outspoken on behalf of the Iranian people.

The Holocaust mind-set

But the most nakedly coercive use of the Holocaust was made by GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (whose trustworthiness in foreign policy matters can be judged by the fact that he criticized the Bush State Department for not cooking its intelligence to support the Iraq war). “I don’t think the United States has the moral right to say to a country whose people who have already gone through one Holocaust – two nuclear weapons is another Holocaust,” said in 2006. “And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs.” In language virtually identical to Goldberg’s, Netanyahu said that while the Iranian president “denies the Holocaust, he is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state.”

“We will always remember what the Nazi Amalek did to us,” Netanyahu said at a 2010 Holocaust remembrance service at Auschwitz, “and we won’t forget to be prepared for the new Amalek, who is making an appearance on the stage of history and once again threatening to destroy the Jews.”

The Holocaust mind-set has led Israel into self-destructive policies. And its promiscuous invocation has helped ensure that Israel maintains a stranglehold over America’s Mideast policy. That stranglehold has always been harmful to America, but it is now actually dangerous.

For there is a very real possibility that Israel will attack Iran. I have been reading Israel’s best newspaper, Ha’aretz, for more than 10 years, and I have never seen a possible war with Iran taken so seriously by its journalists. Ha’aretz is a left-leaning paper, but the concern in Israel reaches across the political spectrum. Israel’s leading political columnist, Nahum Barnea, recently warned in a front-page story in Israel’s highest-circulation newspaper, the centrist Yediot Achronot, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Secretary Ehud Barak, overriding the objections of their security experts, may launch an attack on Iran this winter.

Barnea’s article is in Hebrew: it is summarized  by Larry Derfner, who writes for the excellent Israeli-American site 972. Barnea wrote, “Netanyahu [believes] Ahmadinejad is Hitler; if he is not stopped in time, there will be another Holocaust. There are those who describe Netanyahu’s attitude on the matter as an obsession: all his life he dreamed of being Churchill; Iran gives him the opportunity.”

The odds of war

To be sure, the odds are still against Israel actually launching an attack. Washington has made it clear it does not want war with Iran, and the first rule of Israeli politics is “never threaten the special relationship with America.” Israel has been warning that Iran is months away from getting a nuclear bomb for years. And it has a history of rattling its saber as a tactic to force the U.S. to take a harder line with Iran.

But the possibility that Israel might attack Iran, especially after the U.S. troops leave Iraq, cannot be taken lightly — not least because of Netanyahu’s invocation of the Holocaust. Netanyahu is apparently sincerely convinced that if Iran’s nuclear program is not destroyed, Israel will face another Holocaust. If that is true, the traditional restraints on Israeli behavior may not apply.

It is possible that Israel might attack Iran unilaterally, and dare the U.S. to stop it. As Iran analyst Mark Fitzpatrick  told Reuters, “When you consider that next year being the U.S. presidential election year, and the dynamics of politics in the United States, this could increase Israel’s inclination to take matters into its own hands. The most likely possibility is that Netanyahu calls up Obama and says: ‘I’m not asking for a green light, I’m just telling you that we’ve just launched the planes, don’t shoot them down.’ And in a U.S. presidential election year, I think it’s unlikely that Obama would shoot them down.”

The Israeli historian Benny Morris makes the same point.

“Most observers in Israel believe that while Israel would like to have a green light from Washington, it will proceed without one if it believes that its existence is at stake,” he wrote in the National Interest. “The feeling here is that Obama will endorse, and perhaps in various ways assist, an Israeli strike once it is underway — whether or not he is consulted beforehand — because he sees the ayatollahs’ regime as a threat to world peace and American interests in the Middle East; because successive American administrations, including his own, have declared that Washington will not to allow Iran to acquire the bomb; and because, in a presidential election year, Obama cannot afford to alienate the Jewish vote.”

Morris’ assertion that Obama would be willing to endorse and perhaps assist an Israeli strike because he believes it is justified is extremely dubious, to put it mildly. Obama’s Middle East policies have been hugely disappointing, but he is not a fool. He knows that Iran — which has not started a war in modern history — poses no conceivable military threat to the United States. He also knows that the Arab Spring and the crisis in Syria have weakened Tehran’s geo-strategic position. There is also the little issue of America being bankrupt and its military exhausted. For all these reasons, for Washington to even consider starting a war with Iran would be utter lunacy. This is why Obama has repeatedly sent Netanyahu high-level messages, from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others, warning him not to launch a unilateral attack.

But starting a war is one thing, and daring to stand up to Israel in an election year is another. As usual, the discourse is tilted psychotically to the right. The GOP presidential candidates are beating up Obama for his alleged lack of support for Israel and falling over each other to be first in line to attack Iran. (Mitt Romney, who stands a decent chance of being the next president, actually said that he would simply let Israel decide America’s Mideast policy.) And considering Obama’s politically driven surrender to Netanyahu, Morris and Fitzpatrick are probably right that he would be unwilling to confront the Israeli leader.

In other words, it is quite likely that the most powerful nation in the world will simply stand impotently by while a tiny client state threatens to do something that it knows is not just antithetical to its interests, but possibly ruinous to them. The tail could be about to wag the dog right off a cliff.

If war does break out, the consequences for America would be catastrophic. Oil prices would soar, plunging the U.S. and the world into a massive depression. Iran would use its proxies to attack U.S. troops. And the entire region would erupt, with unforeseeable consequences. It is not too much of a stretch to say that war with Iran might spell the beginning of the end of America as a superpower.

Of course, if a nuclear Iran really did threaten the existence of Israel, a preemptive strike might be justified. But according to the upper echelons of Israeli’s military and security brass, Iran does not pose such a threat. Israel’s  recently retired Mossad chief, Meir Dagan,  called  plans to attack Iran “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” saying that an attack would mean a regional war that would put Israel in an “impossible” position.

Israel’s former military chief of staff, Gabe Ashkenazi, is also opposed to war, as is former Shin Beth head Yuval Diskin. Another former Mossad chief, Ephraim Halevy, said Iran poses no existential threat to Israel and attacking it “will impact the region for 100 years.”

If Iran were to launch a nuclear missile at Israel, Israel would instantly vaporize it with the estimated 200 nuclear warheads it possesses. Contrary to the ignorant claims made by Islamophobic hawks like Goldberg, Iran is not run by madmen bent on committing national suicide. (If its leaders really are “eliminationist anti-Semites,” it’s hard to understand why they have not wiped out Tehran’s Jewish community.)

In fact, the logic behind attacking Iran is identical to that of Dick Cheney’s notorious  “one percent doctrine,” which held that if there was even a 1 percent chance that Iraq might acquire WMD, the U.S. had to attack. Cheney’s crackpot doctrine has been thoroughly discredited. But because the supposed 1 percent possibility is another Holocaust, it is once again framing American policy.

What a nuclear Iran really threatens, as several top Israeli officials have admitted, is Israeli hegemony in the region. The Arab Spring and the rise of Turkey have already begun to erode that hegemony, and Iran’s inevitable acquisition of the ability to build a bomb will further erode it. Israel cannot fight this trend. The days when it could impose its will by bullying are over. It must learn to live with its neighbors.

Which takes us to the one thing that is anathema to the war-mongers: full diplomatic engagement with Tehran. It is time for the U.S. to put everything on the table – Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian file, the nuclear issue, Iraq – thrash it all out, acknowledge that Iran is going to be a major regional player, and come to an agreement.

The key element is the Israeli-Palestinian issue. If Israel makes a just peace with the Palestinians and the Arab League recognizes Israel, the entire raison d’etre of Iran’s rejectionist position would be removed. Israel and Iran would then just be neighbors squabbling over their turf, along with the rest of the countries in the rapidly transforming Middle East.

Israel stands at a crossroads — and time is not on its side. Netanyahu is a disciple of the father of Revisionist Zionism, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who  argued  that the Arabs, understandably in his view, would never voluntarily accept Zionist colonization, and could only be controlled by an “Iron Wall the native population cannot break through.”

Netanyahu lacks Jabotinsky’s intellectual integrity, but shares his belief that brute force is Israel’s only recourse. For him, it is always 1938, the Palestinians are terrorists, Israel’s enemies are murderous anti-Semites and the Jewish state must exist in a constant state of war.

Israel, supported by the United States, has been fighting the Nazis for 63 years. That Iron Wall approach, which sees all of Israel’s enemies as reincarnations of Hitler (as in Jeffrey Goldberg’s propagandistic assertion that Hezbollah and Hamas “specialize in the slaughter of innocent Jews”) has been a calamitous failure. It has not made Israel safer. As even center-right Israeli politicians like Tzipi Livni now recognize, it has resulted in Israel becoming increasingly isolated from the world, much of which now sees it as a pariah.

And Israel will not be given another 63 years. If it continues down this path, aided by its false “friends” in the U.S. who insist on fighting Hitler-redux to the last Israeli (and the last American), Israel is doomed. But if it abandons its self-defeating Holocaustology, it will be able to live in peace with its neighbors and join the world.

From the founding of Israel in the ashes of the Final Solution, the Holocaust has been at the core of Israel’s national identity. That identity is affirmed every year, when at 10 in the morning, sirens are sounded for two minutes throughout Israel to commemorate the Holocaust. During those two minutes, everything comes to a standstill. Even the traffic on the road stops.

It is understandable that a people who suffered one of the most horrific genocides in human history would commemorate it, and vow never to allow it to happen again. But history is filled with ugly ironies, and sometimes the reaction to a trauma ensures that it keeps happening again.

A young Polish Jew named Ruth Grunkraut and her mother were shipped to Bergen-Belsen. Grunkraut’s mother died just six days before the Allies liberated the camp. Before she died, she told her daughter, “You must live. You must live for me.”

The annals of the Holocaust are filled with this same message: You must live.

An attack on Iran will be carried out in the name of the victims of the Holocaust. But that attack, rather than saving the Jewish state, will sound the death knell for it. Israel and its American supporters owe more to the millions of human beings whose last prayer, before their deaths, was that their children live.

The new face of neo-conism in America


Look carefully.  This is the man who wants to lead America into another war, based on his lies that he has peddled to the press about Iran. He has managed to put himself in a position of influence who when things go haywire WILL NOT be held accountable by we the People or by the government.  He is David Albright, one who has started a group with a really impressive sounding name, intent on fleecing the government out of as money as he can convince them to give him and fight a war only he thinks is worth fighting. Check out his latest piece of work

The report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published by a Washington think tank Tuesday repeated the sensational claim previously reported by news media all over the world that a former Soviet nuclear weapons scientist had helped Iran construct a detonation system that could be used for a nuclear weapon.

But it turns out that the foreign expert, who is not named in the IAEA report [.pdf] but was identified in news reports as Vyacheslav Danilenko, is not a nuclear weapons scientist but one of the top specialists in the world in the production of nanodiamonds by explosives.

In fact, Danilenko, a Ukrainian, has worked solely on nanodiamonds from the beginning of his research career and is considered one of the pioneers in the development of nanodiamond technology, as published scientific papers confirm.

It now appears that the IAEA and David Albright, the director of the International Institute for Science and Security in Washington, who was the source of the news reports about Danilenko, never bothered to check the accuracy of the original claim by an unnamed “Member State” on which the IAEA based its assertion about his nuclear weapons background.

This was a characteristically sloppy piece of lying as far as neo-cons are concerned, but it was good enough a decade ago to get people to invade another perceived enemy for reasons that turned out to be a lie.  If you check out the page for Albright’s group, Institute for Science and International Security, you’ll even see they have their own Ahmed Chalabi like enabler, Mahdi Obeidi to add legitimacy to an otherwise faulty premise that Iran has switched their nuclear program into a nuclear weapons program.  This meme however has been repeated since the 90s, with each tale telling of the end of the world after Iran obtains nuclear weapons in the next several weeks or months.  Twenty years on, the status quo still prevails,but that doesn’t stop warmongers like Albright from peddling their stories of an imminent end of western civilization when Iran’s nuclear program produces its first atomic weapon.

For now, and hopefully because of how sloppy he was, Albright’s tale hasn’t passed the smell test.  Americans and Israelis seem to want to choose restraint and diplomacy over beating the war drums, perhaps as a way of saying they’re not inclined to believe the neo-con line just now.  Albright should no longer have an ear anywhere in the halls of government.  He’s an embarrassment; and to paraphrase Col. Lawrence Wilkerson’s characterization of Douglas Feith another neo-con, ‘seldom have I seen…………..a dumber man.’

No Comment…..sorta


Saw this map on a tweet made by Glen Greenwald where he states, rhetorically I can only assume, how much of a threat Iran is to the US.  Certainly he doesn’t mean to the “homeland” but it’s hard to imagine who else Iran is threatening with the demographics illustrated above.  I’m sure we can find someone who will be scared enough to insist America use its peace dividend gained by a withdrawal from Iraq to fight a war with Iran.  Stay tuned.

It’s time to pay up America!


Less than a week after gaining control of the House, Republicans are coming out swinging at Obama and the American people.  If what they’re saying is any indication of their mindset, and I believe it is, America is in for more war and debt, more fear mongering and attempts at curtailing dissent.

Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is already calling for war with Iran, obviously an Israeli objective for quite a long time. The synchronization of efforts between the Republican Party and the Israeli government is an amazing ballet for the American people to sit by and watch since it is their sons and daughters who will be the sacrificial lambs of this play.  This talk of more death and destruction comes amid news that the Army’s suicide rate is now double the national average but that doesn’t seem to deter the Republicans  from offering the Nation’s children to fight unnecessary, unsustainable wars that are a drain on the American economy.  Urged on by challenges to their masculinity, ‘put your man pants on’ I think is how Palin encourages or derides them, Republicans seem to believe in the notion that war helps the US economy. Don’t be surprised therefore to see another causus belli for war with another foreign country far, far away; this is what we as a Nation voted for, and with the ever obsequious press that seems impervious to dissent, intent on silencing even its own voices, a la  Keith Olbermann for example, it appears we are witnessing another procession towards war, Rand Paul’s voice notwithstanding.

The New Face of American Emperialism


Jeffrey Goldberg has written a piece , full of all the usual shtick, to call for the US to engage in a war with Iran.    The piece contains the normal false premises and bravado used by Goldberg and other neocons in the past; how the United States should spare Israel the  pain of an attack against Iran, because of its nuclear weapons potential, by attacking Iran itself or how the American president can’t possibly understand the gravity of a situation faced by the Israelis or doesn’t have the ‘balls’ to act proactively for the commonly shared interests of the two countries, America and Israel, and so on and so on.

Two glaring items stand out concerning Goldberg’s piece.  First and foremost is why should anyone take any stock in what he has to say given his dismal record of fact based reporting and his background?!   Goldberg agitated for the Iraqi war/invasion using  information he either knew was faulty or simply didn’t care enough to confirm its veracity and we all know where that led us.  That embarrassment didn’t make him go away or remain in the background of agenda driven media reporting, rather he’s back and asking for more war and destruction based on a premise he knows to be doubtful at best or simply untrue………..again.

Meanwhile one of the reasons why he’s on this personal crusade against Iran, his intimate involvement in the Israeli government because of his service in the IDF goes unmentioned.  It’s really no secret why, in my opinion; Goldberg isn’t the only prominent American-Israeli to serve in the IDF and then return to influence American policy vis-a-vis Israel.  Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff is another as well as Ethan Bronner of the New York Times, whose son reportedly serves in the IDF are two more examples of people in high profile, influential positions with close ties to Israeli concerns who are able to influence American public opinion and policy with regards to the Middle East.   The Israeli desire/need  to expand their borders at the expense of other sovereign states,  unilaterally use such states’ natural resources without resorting to negotiations and changing their security requirements  based on the needs of “zionism” which may or may not have anything to do with the needs of modern day statehood  are things Americans might not see as a cause to go to war .  Hence the need for people like Goldberg whose job is to make just that case.

In this context of Goldberg’s IDF service it is simply not possible for him to be objective in his role as a reporter, and let’s be honest he’s not reporting anything rather he’s presenting the Israeli view on their need to destroy Iranian nuclear technology,  because it is “known” he, Goldberg, shares this view. A journalist’s biases and agendas all too often DO get in the way of  good reporting on issues of the day, and some expect and want that.   Otherwise how do you account for the dearth of Arab/Muslim reporters on the pages of the NYT, or WaPo backed by editors who think their ethnicity won’t affect their ability to elucidate clearly the talking points of main stream media and its supporters in governmnet, American or Israeli?  Those editors know the experiential and cultural  filter such people might bring to the job will not make it possible for them to slant the news in the direction editors would want it to go for a territorially expansive and militarily aggressive state that encroaches on its neighbors sovereignty.

In fact that is exactly why people like Goldberg are prominently displayed throughout media to make the case for whatever administration or regime, American or Israeli, is in power at the moment because given access to the holders of power they are expected to make the case for policy being touted by those officials  whereas  Arab/Muslim reporters are not  privileged with that access because it is known they are generally not disposed to be tools for political Zionism.

However, the theme that really is provocative and reminiscent of moving the goal posts to constantly justify the raison d’etre of Israel is the notion buried deep in Goldberg’s piece that although a nuclear Iran poses no existential threat to  Israel, the mere fact that notion is intimidating means it would convince enough Israelis not to live there, contribute to an accelerated brain drain of Israeli settlers moving to other places in the world and somehow diminish Israel’s existence.

The real threat to Zionism is the dilution of quality,” Barak tells Goldberg. “Jews know that they can land on their feet in any corner of the world. The real test for us is to make Israel such an attractive place, such a cutting-edge place in human society, education, culture, science, quality of life, that even American Jewish young people want to come here … Our young people can consciously decide to go other places [and] stay out of here by choice.”

……..

“[Israelis] are good citizens, and brave citizens, but the dynamics of life are such that if … someone finishes a Ph.D. and they are offered a job in America, they might stay there … The bottom line is that we would have an accelerated brain drain.”

In other words a threat to Israel is anything that causes its intelligentsia to leave that country to look for greener pastures and the fact Iran might possess nuclear weapons could possibly frighten Israelis now or in the future  to live elsewhere.  Job/educational opportunities in other countries that are inviting enough to Israelis to make them leave the state of Israel are a threat, which begs the question, how would Israel deal with such a “threat”?

In other words, Israeli elites want the United States to attack Iran’s nuclear program — with the potentially negative repercussions that Goldberg acknowledges — so that Israel will not experience “a dilution of quality” or “an accelerated brain drain.”

……….

Israeli elites want to preserve a regional balance of power strongly tilted in Israel’s favor and what an Israeli general described to Goldberg as “freedom of action” –the freedom to use force unilaterally, anytime, for whatever purpose Israel wants. The problem with Iranian nuclear capability — not just weapons, but capability  — is that it might begin constraining Israel’s currently unconstrained “freedom of action.”

The aforementioned ‘freedom of action’ is just a euphemism for the ability of the Israeli government to invade, trespass upon the territorial sovereignty of its neighbors without any repercussions, much like what it has done in Gaza, Lebanon and the aerial attack against Syria a few short years ago. In other words those conditions that Israel wants extended to it as a state in the region it is not in any way considering giving to its neighbors because of the very basic  principle of ‘might makes right’. Israel is not willing to live by any internationally accepted code of conduct that does not allow it to persecute its neighbors in order to meet its constantly changing ideas of what constitutes existential threats and because Goldberg is able to make the case persuasively enough in American circles,  so prominently displayed on the pages of The Atlantic or even considered is an indication of how important people like him are to American imperialism.

Bush and Blair lied intentionally


So says Tariq Aziz in a moment of candor that we’ve all come to know is correct.  That lie led to the total destruction of Iraq and the United States and allowed for the propaganda against Islam and Muslims all over the world which has further plunged America into an abyss of poverty and weakness.

We’ve heard a lot of claims about recidivism of Guantanamo Bay detainees much of it hyped to keep Gitmo Bay open. One of the questions I’ve never seen asked is if the people placed in Gitmo Bay are the worst of the worst, why isn’t recidivism 100% instead of the more reliable 4% to the exaggerated 20%?  It would appear terrorists dedicated to their cause plucked from their homeland would relish the opportunity to return to battle.  This guy,Izatullah Nasrat Yar imprisoned at Gitmo for 5 years,  however has decided to take the battle to the enemy to a higher level. Let’s hope such attempts at change will go down better than the offense which originally put him in Gitmo Bay, which was another lie…..they just seem to follow the efforts of the US government around wherever it goes.

Israeli Firsters in the Republican Party at it again


It’s not that we don’t have enough on our plate, or that the Republican Party, the war party, has no regard for the well being of the American people, it’s just that for now the notion Israel has to be afraid of a nuclear armed Iran is simply not true. Truth never got in the way of a group of politicians that wants to go to war, and HR 1553 is a sign that America may very well end up in a war with Iran on the same faulty premises as it did with Iraq.  This resolution, which has been approved by a third of the House Republicans pledges US support for Israel in the event of a military strike Israel conducts against Iran, and we all know what that means.  The US military will do the brunt of the fighting should Israel strike first and when the Iranians retaliate.  What the Israelis and their allies in the Congress want to do is create an atmosphere whereby Israel will feel justified in attacking Iran, and then have the US military conduct the brunt of the war, before US intelligence agencies come out with their assessment that Iran does not have or is not carrying out a nuclear weapons program!  As Yogi Berra would say, ‘this is deja vu all over again’.

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.

Democracy is a threat to America?!?!


That’s what some in the US intelligence agency believed during the term of President Jimmy Carter and so they schemed to prevent Carter from winning a second term by sabotaging his presidency.  These and other remarkable facts are contained in an article written by Robert Parry.  Take time to read the link.  Among other things it asserts

Too many powerful interests do not want the American people to accept even the possibility that U.S. intelligence operatives and a longtime ally could intervene to oust a president who had impinged on what those two groups considered their vital interests.

To accept that scenario would mean that two of the great fears of American democracy had come true – George Washington’s warning against the dangers of “entangling alliances” and Harry Truman’s concern that the clandestine operations of the CIA had the makings of an “American Gestapo.”

there is no doubt that CIA Old Boys and Likudniks had strong motives for seeking President Jimmy Carter’s defeat in 1980.Inside the CIA, Carter and his CIA Director Stansfield Turner were blamed for firing many of the free-wheeling covert operatives from the Vietnam era, for ousting legendary spymaster Ted Shackley, and for failing to protect longtime U.S. allies (and friends of the CIA), such as Iran’s Shah and Nicaragua’s dictator Anastasio Somoza.

As for Israel, Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin was furious over Carter’s high-handed actions at Camp David in 1978 forcing Israel to trade the occupied Sinai to Egypt for a peace deal. Begin feared that Carter would use his second term to bully Israel into accepting a Palestinian state on West Bank lands that Likud considered part of Israel’s divinely granted territory.

Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, “he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.”In his 1992 memoir, Profits of War, Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli military intelligence officer who worked with Likud, agreed that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt.

“Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David,” Ben-Menashe wrote. “As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israel’s back.”

So, in order to buy time for Israel to “change the facts on the ground” by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carter’s reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.

As for the CIA Old Boys, legendary CIA officer Miles Copeland told me that “the CIA within the CIA” – the inner-most circle of powerful intelligence figures who felt they understood best the strategic needs of the United States – believed Carter and his naïve faith in American democratic ideals represented a grave threat to the nation.

“Carter really believed in all the principles that we talk about in the West,” Copeland said, shaking his mane of white hair. “As smart as Carter is, he did believe in Mom, apple pie and the corner drug store. And those things that are good in America are good everywhere else. …

“Carter, I say, was not a stupid man,” Copeland said, adding that Carter had an even worse flaw: “He was a principled man.”

Parry, who has been following and writing about this thread for several decades provides extensive documentation about the claims of the CIA and G.H.W.Bush’s involvement in the ‘October surprise’ that resulted in the release of American hostages on the day of Ronald Regan’s inauguration in 1981.  I strongly suggest you read the entire article; it dispels a lot of current myths about what went on during that period, but two in particular I want to point out here. First off, the Iranians were negotiating with the Great Satan, not fighting it, and the Republicans were negotiating with the Iranians as well; Reagan was not someone Iranians feared rather he was someone they felt they could trust.  Indeed, ever since the inception of the theocratic Iran, its leaders have reached out to America and tried to negotiate peacefully and come to terms with it. The second myth which must be refuted is the notion that our ally Israel does not spy on its friend America.  Rather, since the Camp David accords, Israel has been actively engaged in inserting itself in American politics, directly and through its surrogates, Jonathan Pollard just one of many, to influence the American political process.  CIA operatives implied that Jimmy Carter’s belief in ‘democracy’ was a threat to American interests and the same meme has been proclaimed by the Israeli ambassador to the US, yet both countries claim to be democracies.  If that doesn’t get you to rethink politics, nothing will.