• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

donderdag 9 april 2009

Mad Men

In de serie Mad Men zegt de hoofdrolspeler met betrekking tot de consumptiemaatschappij: 'People want to be told what to do so badly that they will listen to anyone.' De serie geeft een perfect beeld van de mensen die de massamaatschappij vorm geven, een samenleving waarin zelfs de echtgenote 'is just another stranger' omdat alles ontzield is gemaakt, totaan de liefde toe. In de consumptiemaatschappij wordt alles bepaald en beheerst door koop en verkoop, zoals Mad Men haarscherp aantoont. Alleen de markt bepaalt de waarde van alles.

H.J.A. Hofland 24


In de NRC van gisteren schreef Henk Hofland: 'Hoog op de lijst blijft Iran. Werkt het aan een kernwapen of niet? Israël blijft ervan overtuigd dat dat zo is. Daarom moet in toenemende mate rekening worden gehouden met een preventief ingrijpen, dat wil zeggen een bombardement zoals dat van 1981 op de kerninstallaties van Saddam Hoessein.'

Dit is de taal van de Koude Oorlog, toen goed en kwaad nog haarscherp verdeeld was, wij waren goed, zij daar in dat andere kamp waren slecht. Koude Oorlogstaal die niet meer in deze tijd past omdat sinds de val van de Sovjet Unie de wereld veel gecomliceerder is geworden, en daarmee ook de zogeheten oplossingen. Het woord 'preventief ingrijpen' is ook niets anders dan een propagandistisch woord voor een agressie-oorlog.

Wat Hofland niet duidelijk maakt met zijn begrip 'preventief ingrijpen' is dat de werkelijkheid wezenlijk is veranderd en dat het enige dat de mensheid bezit om niet onmiddellijk in de totale chaos te belanden het internationaal recht is, dat een agressie-oorlog expliciet verbiedt. Het punt is dus niet wat Hofland aanvoert dat een dergelijke 'preventief ingrijpen... op de langere termijn tegen de belangen van Israel' of de VS is, maar dat een agressie-oorlog domweg een schending is van het enige dat de mens kan beschermen tegen de barbarij, te weten het recht. Henk Hofland gaat toch niet met een pistool op straat om zich heen schieten zodra hij zich bedreigd voelt of denkt daarmee zijn positie te kunnen versterken? Na 11 september 2001 zou Hofland moeten weten dat het rijke Westen het monopolie op het geweld heeft verloren, en dat 'de vijand' kan terugslaan, iets wat kennelijk president Obama wel beseft nu hij toenadering zoekt tot Iran.

In tegenstelling tot deskundigen weet Hofland kennelijk ook niet wat er op de achtergrond allemaal meespeelt. Hij zou het werk van de goed ingevoerde Trista Parsi kunnen lezen, of als hij geen tijd daarvoor heeft kan hij altijd nog het korte interview dat ik met Parsi had, beluisteren. http://www.stanvanhoucke.net/audioblog/pivot/entry.php?id=43#body

Laat men zich toch eerst informeren als Nederlandse opiniemaker voordat men meningen de wereld in slingert en net doet alsof die meningen feiten zijn. Hofland zou ook de columns van de ter zake kundige Roger Cohen in The New York Times kunnen lezen, een goed geinformeerde bron wiens informatie iets heel anders duidelijk maakt. Vandaag schrijft hij het volgende in zijn krant:

Op-Ed Columnist
Israel Cries Wolf
By ROGER COHEN

Published: April 8, 2009

ISTANBUL — “Iran is the center of terrorism, fundamentalism and subversion and is in my view more dangerous than Nazism, because Hitler did not possess a nuclear bomb, whereas the Iranians are trying to perfect a nuclear option.”
Benjamin Netanyahu 2009? Try again. These words were in fact uttered by another Israeli prime minister (and now Israeli president), Shimon Peres, in 1996. Four years earlier, in 1992, he’d predicted that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999. You can’t accuse the Israelis of not crying wolf. Ehud Barak, now defense minister, said in 1996 that Iran would be producing nuclear weapons by 2004. Now here comes Netanyahu, in an interview with his faithful stenographer Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, spinning the latest iteration of Israel’s attempt to frame Iran as some Nazi-like incarnation of evil: “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.” I must say when I read those words about “the wide-eyed believer” my mind wandered to a recently departed “decider.” But I’m not going there. The issue today is Iran and, more precisely, what President Barack Obama will make of Netanyahu’s prescription that, the economy aside, Obama’s great mission is “preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons” — an eventuality newly inscribed on Israeli calendars as “months” away. I’ll return to the ever shifting nuclear doomsday in a moment, but first that Netanyahu interview. This “messianic apocalyptic cult” in Tehran is, of course, the very same one with which Israel did business during the 1980’s, when its interest was in weakening Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. That business — including sales of weapons and technology — was an extension of Israeli policy toward Iran under the shah. It’s also the same “messianic apocalyptic cult” that has survived 30 years, ushered the country from the penury of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, shrewdly extended its power and influence, cooperated with America on Afghanistan before being consigned to “the axis of evil,” and kept its country at peace in the 21st century while bloody mayhem engulfed neighbors to east and west and Israel fought two wars. I don’t buy the view that, as Netanyahu told Goldberg, Iran is “a fanatic regime that might put its zealotry above its self-interest.” Every scrap of evidence suggests that, on the contrary, self-interest and survival drive the mullahs. Yet Netanyahu insists (too much) that Iran is “a country that glorifies blood and death, including its own self-immolation.” Huh? On that ocular theme again, Netanyahu says Iran’s “composite leadership” has “elements of wide-eyed fanaticism that do not exist in any other would-be nuclear power in the world.” No, they exist in an actual nuclear power, Pakistan. Israel’s nuclear warheads, whose function is presumably deterrence of precisely powers like Iran, go unmentioned, of course.'
Lees verder: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/opinion/09iht-edcohen.html

woensdag 8 april 2009

Het Neoliberale Geloof 419

De Nederlandse regering heeft voormalige minister van financien Onno Ruding, die de basis legde voor de deregulering van Nederland waarbij de overheid elke greep op de banken verloor, benoemd tot Nederlandse vertegenwoordiger in een Europese commissie die moet onderzoeken wat er fout is gegaan. De Nederlandse 'politiek-literaire elite' (term van Henk Hofland) accepteert dit zonder morren. De Amerikaanse intellectuelen zijn daarentegen niet zo dociel.

Changing the Rules of the Blame Game

Wednesday 08 April 2009
by: Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

    A cartoon in the Sunday comics shows that mustachioed fellow with monocle and top hat from the Monopoly game - "Rich Uncle Pennybags," he used to be called - standing along the roadside, destitute, holding a sign: "Will blame poor people for food."

Time to move the blame to where it really belongs. That means no more coddling banks with bailout billions marked "secret." No more allowing their executives lavish bonuses and new corporate jets as if they've won the mega-lottery and not sent the economy down the tubes. And no more apostles of Wall Street calling the shots.

Which brings us to Larry Summers. Over the weekend, the White House released financial disclosure reports revealing that Summers, director of the National Economic Council, received $5.2 million last year working for a $30 billion hedge fund. He made another $2.7 million in lecture fees, including cash from such recent beneficiaries of taxpayer generosity as Citigroup, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. The now defunct financial services giant Lehman Brothers handsomely purchased his pearls of wisdom, too.

Reading stories about Summers and Wall Street, you realize the man was intoxicated by the exotic witches' brew of derivatives and other financial legerdemain that got us into such a fine mess in the first place. Yet, here he is, serving as gatekeeper of the information and analysis going to President Obama on the current collapse. We have to wonder when the president asks, "Larry, who did this to us?" is he going to name names of old friends and benefactors? Knowing he most likely will be looking for his old desk back once he leaves the White House, is he going to be tough on the very system of lucrative largess that he helped create in his earlier incarnation as a deregulating treasury secretary? ("Larry?" "Yes, Mr. President?" "Who the hell recommended repealing the Glass-Steagall Act back in the 90s and opened the floodgates to all this greed?" "Uh, excuse me, Mr. President, I think Bob Rubin is calling me.")

That imaginary conversation came to mind last week as we watched President Obama's joint press conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. When a reporter asked Obama who is to blame for the financial crisis, our usually eloquent and knowledgeable president responded with a rambling and ineffectual answer. With Larry Summers guarding his in box, it's hardly surprising he's not getting the whole story.
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/040809A

The Empire 426

Man Is a Cruel Animal
by: Chris Hedges, Truthdig

It was Joseph Conrad I thought of when I read an article in The Nation magazine this month about white vigilante groups that rose up out of the chaos of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to terrorize and murder blacks. It was Conrad I thought of when I saw the ominous statements by authorities, such as International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Thwarning of potential civil unrest in the United States as we funnel staggering sums of public funds upward to our bankrupt elites and leave our poor and working class destitute, hungry, without health care and locked out of their foreclosed homes. We fool ourselves into believing we are immune to the savagery and chaos of failed states. Take away the rigid social structure, let society continue to break down, and we become, like anyone else, brutes.

Conrad saw enough of the world as a sea captain to know the irredeemable corruption of humanity. The noble virtues that drove characters like Kurtz in "Heart of Darkness" into the jungle veiled abject self-interest, unchecked greed and murder. Conrad was in the Congo in the late 19th century when the Belgian monarch King Leopold, in the name of Western civilization and anti-slavery, was plundering the country. The Belgian occupation resulted in the death by disease, starvation and murder of some 10 million Congolese. Conrad understood what we did to others in the name of civilization and progress. And it is Conrad, as our society unravels internally and plows ahead in the costly, morally repugnant and self-defeating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, whom we do well to heed.

This theme of our corruptibility is central to Conrad. In his short story "An Outpost of Progress" he writes of two white traders, Carlier and Kayerts, who are sent to a remote trading station in the Congo. The mission is endowed with a great moral purpose - to export European "civilization" to Africa. But the boredom and lack of constraints swiftly turn the two men, like our mercenaries and soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, into savages. They trade slaves for ivory. They get into a feud over dwindling food supplies and Kayerts shoots and kills his unarmed companion Carlier.

"They were two perfectly insignificant and incapable individuals," Conrad wrote of Kayerts and Carlier, "whose existence is only rendered possible through high organization of civilized crowds. Few men realize that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings. The courage, the composure, the confidence; the emotions and principles; every great and every insignificant thought belongs not to the individual but to the crowd; to the crowd that believes blindly in the irresistible force of its institutions and its morals, in the power of its police and of its opinion. But the contact with pure unmitigated savagery, with primitive nature and primitive man, brings sudden and profound trouble into the heart. To the sentiment of being alone of one's kind, to the clear perception of the loneliness of one's thoughts, of one's sensations - to the negation of the habitual, which is safe, there is added the affirmation of the unusual, which is dangerous; a suggestion of things vague, uncontrollable, and repulsive, whose discomposing intrusion excites the imagination and tries the civilized nerves of the foolish and the wise alike."
Lees verder: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20081221_man_is_a_cruel_animal/

Palestina 17

Israel-Palestine
Time for a bi-national state

Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas may have affirmed that they want a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but it may be more promising to return to a much older idea.
by Leila Farsakh


There is talk once again of a one-state bi-national solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Oslo peace process failed to bring Palestinians their independence and the withdrawal from Gaza has not created a basis for a democratic Palestinian state as President George Bush had imagined: the Palestinians are watching their territory being fragmented into South African-style bantustans with poverty levels of over 75%. The area is heading to the abyss of an apartheid state system rather than to a viable two-state solution, let alone peace (1).

There have been a number of recent publications proposing a one-state solution as the only alternative to the current impasse. Three years ago Meron Benvenisti, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor in the 1970s, wrote that the question is “no longer whether there is to be a bi-national state in Palestine-Israel, but which model to choose” (2). Respected intellectuals on all sides, including the late Edward Said; the Arab Israeli member of the Knesset, Azmi Bishara; the Israeli historian Illan Pape; scholars Tanya Reinhart and Virginia Tilley; and journalists Amira Haas and Ali Abunimeh, have all stressed the inevitability of such a solution.

The idea of a single, bi-national state is not new. Its appeal lies in its attempt to provide an equitable and inclusive solution to the struggle of two peoples for the same piece of land. It was first suggested in the 1920s by Zionist leftwing intellectuals led by philosopher Martin Buber, Judah Magnes (the first rector of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Haïm Kalvarisky (a member of Brit-Shalom and later of the National Union). The group followed in the footsteps of Ahad Ha’am (Asher Hirsch Ginsberg, one of the great pre-state Zionist thinkers).

Underlying their Zionism was a quest for a Jewish renaissance, both cultural and spiritual, with a determination to avoid injustice in its achievement. It was essential to found a new nation, although not necessarily a separate Jewish state and certainly not at the expense of the existing population. Magnes argued that the Jewish people did not “need a Jewish state to maintain its very existence” (3).

No to partition

Although supporters of the bi-national state remained a marginal group in Zionist politics under the British mandate, they made sure they were heard both in official Zionist circles and the international arena. They also pleaded before the 1947 United Nations special committee on Palestine. When the commission finally recommended partition, they strongly opposed it, calling for a bi-national state in Palestine, forming part of an Arab federation. They campaigned for a federal state that would respect the rights of all citizens, while guaranteeing the national aspirations of the Jewish people to cultural and linguistic autonomy. They proposed, in line with the British, the creation of a legislative council based on proportional representation, safeguarding the rights of its nationals but also assuring equal political rights for all citizens of the state.

But with the UN’s partition plan and the Arab-Israeli war that broke out in 1948, a one-state solution was shelved. It came to light again in 1969 with the call by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement for the creation of a “secular and democratic state” in Palestine. The new state was based on the right of return — while accepting a Jewish presence in Palestine — and it was to end the injustices stemming from the creation of Israel and the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinian villagers. Although it called for the destruction of Israel as a colonial entity, it upheld the principle of a single state for all, Muslim, Christian or Jew. This was the first official attempt by the Palestinians to address the relationship between national and individual rights of citizenry. The idea met with no enthusiasm in Israel, and none internationally, and again lost momentum.

The failure of the one-state option has often been attributed to the idealism of its cause and its failure to come to terms with local realities. Nevertheless, as Magnes pointed out, the option offered significant advantages in demographic and territorial terms in 1947 to the Jewish cause (4).

In fact, the idea failed because the political actors of the time rejected it: the Zionist organisations were not interested, the British were unsupportive and the Arabs too suspicious. Between 1948 and 1993 the only significant change in these positions came from the Arabs, who finally came to terms with the existence of Israel.

Despite the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s calls for a secular, democratic state, Arafat prepared Palestinians for partition as the only available option. The PLO’s national council accepted the position in 1974, and confirmed it with its declaration of Palestinian independence in 1988 and the acceptance of the UN partition plan. A separate, independent Palestinian state was the best hope, even if it had to be on only 22% of the territory. The long Palestinian struggle for statehood culminated in 1993 with the Oslo accords.

From dream to nightmare

The tragedy of Oslo is that it turned the dream of two states into the nightmare of a single new state of apartheid. Israel’s prime minister Yitzhak Rabin declared that the great success of the accords, perhaps their only success, was to recognise that Israelis and Palestinians were “destined to live together, on the same soil in the same land” (5).

Since 1994 the Palestinians have not been liberated; they have been imprisoned by the Israeli system of permits and the installation of 50 permanent checkpoints and terminals fragmenting the territory into eight bantustans (6). Since 2002 the Palestinian Authority has seen its territory further eroded by the 700km-long wall being built with the aim of severing the West Bank from the remaining 46% of the territory.

What is the attraction of a bi-national state in these circumstances? For a start, a two-state plan appears to be less of a solution to the nationalist aspirations of either Zionists or Palestinians. Before 1947 partition had not been tried; since then it has taken root in circumstances of total Israeli domination. Despite the historic compromise of 1993, the Palestinians have not obtained the independent, viable state they sought. Palestinian nationalism has also met its limits: its leaders have failed to guide their people to independence and are now reduced to tearing themselves apart.

But partition has also failed to give Jews the security the state of Israel promised. About 400 Israelis were killed in suicide attacks in the 1990s, and 1,000 more have died since the second intifada of 2000. Antisemitic feelings are worsening around the world.

Demographic changes will continue to undermine any plans for partition. In 2005 there were 5.2 million Israelis living between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river, and 5.6 million Palestinians. Despite Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and its plans to demarcate the West Bank frontier, a separate Israeli state will have to deal with the much more rapid demographic growth of the Palestinian population within its own frontiers. This will have not only economic but political consequences, given the Palestinian population’s current lack of basic rights.

There is another factor that argues against a two-state solution: the idea of citizenship founded on justice and equality. History has shown that, in this region as elsewhere, partition cannot be achieved without the expulsion and transfer of populations. This raises ethnic issues. There can be no peace, from a moral point of view, without an equitable solution to the Palestinian refugee problem, based on the right of return or compensation, as required as early as 1948 by resolution 194 of the UN General Assembly.

But this right of return, and the expansion of the Palestinian population, endangers Israel’s Jewish identity. This has always been a major problem for Israelis.

Essential anachronism

According to historian Tony Judt, this is where Israel reaches its limits. No state can claim democratic credentials whilst practising ethnic exclusion; not after the crimes of the last century (7). Virginia Tilley says that partition, and the very existence of Israel, are “flawed from the start, resting on the discredited idea, on which political Zionism stakes all its moral authority, that any ethnic group can legitimately claim permanent formal dominion over a territorial state” (8).

The establishment of a bi-national state would redefine the identity of the state; it would favour democracy over nationalism. For Ali Abunimeh it would allow “all the people to live in and enjoy the entire country while preserving their distinctive communities and addressing their particular needs. It offers the potential to deterritorialise the conflict and neutralise demography and ethnicity as a source of political power and legitimacy” (9). At the heart of this conflict there remains a persistent territorial issue. Ethnicity (and, even more, religion) continues to be the main source of legitimacy and the quest for power.

Those arguing for a single democratic state now detect growing popular support for this solution, inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement. Boycott campaigns are being organised in Europe and the United States against what is often now called Israeli apartheid (10).

Groups in Israel and in Palestine are working together against the construction of the separation wall and are inventing new forms of resistance. The struggle has been redirected, against Israel’s policies rather than its people, and for rights for all rather than separate states for each.

True, the three political protagonists seem far from convinced. Israel’s politicians and the majority of its population insist on separation, as their wholehearted support for the wall seems to prove. The international community seems intent on a two-state solution, but does little to bring it about or influence progress. The Palestinian leadership is at a loss for a strategy, and the differences between Hamas and Fatah continue to generate conflict. But the present deadlock has created new conditions. Perhaps the time is ripe for original ideas and untried solutions.
Zie: http://mondediplo.com/2007/03/07binational

Het Militair Industrieel Complex 4

Generaal Smedley Butler, oud bevelhebber van het Amerikaanse Korps Mariniers, verklaarde in 1933 na ruim 33 jaar actieve dienst: ‘Oorlog is misdaad. Hij wordt gevoerd ten voordele van de zeer weinigen ten koste van de massa. Ik ben heel lang een eersteklas uitsmijter geweest voor het bedrijfsleven. Voor Wall Street en voor de banken. Ik was in feite een misdadiger, een gangster voor het kapitalisme. Ik heb in 1914 Mexico veilig gemaakt voor de Amerikaanse oliebelangen. Ik hielp bij het verkrachten van een half dozijn Midden Amerikaanse republieken voor het profijt van Wall Street. In China heb ik ervoor gezorgd dat Standaard Oil ongestoord zijn weg kon gaan. Al Capone is niet verder gekomen dan drie wijken. Mijn werkterrein omvatte drie continenten.’


Smedley Butler on Interventionism

-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.
War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
Lees verder: http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm
Zie ook:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler

De Israelische Terreur 821


'Palestinians gather around a crater caused by an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip. (Mohamed Al-Zanon/MaanImages)

At a time when Western governments refrain from using their power to stop Israel's ongoing violations of international law, many civil society organizations silently watch the moral corrosion of their governments. At the "Israel Review Conference" in Geneva this month and the Russell Tribunal slated for early 2010, however, civil society will use its power and call Israel to account.

The Israel Review Conference is organized in response to the efforts to leave out the case of the systematic violation of the rights of the Palestinian people from the United Nations Durban Review Conference in Geneva from 20-24 April. The World Conference Against Racism adopted a Program of Action to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in Durban, South Africa in 2001. The progress made will be reviewed at the UN Durban Review Conference. Israel has tried to avoid a review of its policies and practices by staying away from Durban II, and it successfully influenced its allies to do the same.

In October 2008 the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), representing more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, published a solid position paper for Durban II. It gives many examples of Israel's systematic and institutional discrimination against the Palestinian people. This includes the continued prevention of the return of the Palestinian refugees, the ongoing appropriation of Palestinian land in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel, the adoption of new discriminatory laws to limit the fundamental human and civil rights of Palestinians, the siege of the Gaza Strip, the ongoing segregation and house demolitions of property owned by Palestinians in Israel, and the denial of due process and effective remedies for Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

It is obvious Palestinians have not enjoyed much improvement towards equal rights since Durban I. However, the Durban Review Conference will not examine this issue. To ensure that Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people will be assessed, the Israel Review Conference is organized by a civil society coalition in Geneva on 18-19 April. The partners collaborating on the conference are the Palestinian BNC, the Civil Society Forum for the Durban Review Conference, the European Coordinating Committee on Palestine, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and the International Coordinating Network on Palestine. Internationally renowned experts and actors for social and political justice will examine how the UN anti-racism instruments apply to Israel's policies and practices towards the Palestinian people, and develop practical recommendations on how to hold Israel accountable to international law and protect the rights of the Palestinian people.

The exclusion of a review of Israel at Durban II and the formation of the Israel Review Conference follows Israel's deadly assault on Gaza earlier this year, and questions of what international mechanisms exist to hold Israel accountable.

United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk stated that Israel's offensive in the densely populated Gaza appeared to constitute a war crime of the "greatest magnitude." Falk also mentioned that Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip violated the Geneva Conventions. He further suggested that the UN Security Council set up an ad hoc criminal tribunal to establish accountability for war crimes in Gaza. The reluctance of the Security Council to call for an immediate ceasefire to end the bombing and killing in Gaza does not give much hope that meaningful action will be taken at the UN level.

The option to hold Israel to account at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is uncertain. Israel does not recognize the authority of the ICC, because it wants to deal with war crimes in its own way. What this entails becomes clear by how it dealt with serious allegations from Israeli soldiers that included the commission of war crimes and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in the Gaza Strip. After an inquiry of 11 days, military Advocate-General Avichai Mandelblit closed the case. However, the Palestinian Authority expressed its recognition of the ICC's authority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in January, with the intention to give the ICC jurisdiction to launch an investigation in Gaza. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced in early February that he will start a preliminary investigation that would include whether the ICC has the authority to proceed further. There are serious doubts that the ICC will bring the abettors of war crimes in Gaza to The Hague.

In this environment of lack of accountability for Israel at the level of international organizations, citizens took the initiative for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in response to Israel's impunity vis-a-vis its violations of international law. The tribunal aims to reaffirm the primacy of international law as the basis for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and hopes to raise awareness of the responsibility of the international community in the continuing denial of the rights of the Palestinian people. Experts and witnesses committees will establish the facts and build the legal arguments that will be presented to the Russell Tribunal in several world capitals in early 2010. A jury of well-known personalities respected for their high moral standing will consider the reports and hear witness testimony. The jury will announce its conclusions which certainly will attract widespread international public and political support.

The first Russell Tribunal or International War Crimes Tribunal investigated and evaluated American foreign policy and military intervention in Vietnam after the defeat of French forces in 1954. At the establishment of the Russell Tribunal, Bertrand Russell quoted the Chief Prosecutor of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, Robert H. Jackson, stating that "If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us." Civil society initiatives towards freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people confirm that the same counts for Israel.

Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.'
Zie: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10441.shtml

Het Militair Industrieel Complex 3

Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

'Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.'

Lees: http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html

Het Militair Industrieel Complex 2

Filling the Skies with Robot Assassins: The Drone Wars Have Begun
By Tom Engelhardt, Tomdispatch.com. Posted April 8, 2009.

Hunter-killer drones armed with Hellfire missiles are patrolling the Pentagon's expanding global battlefields: It's a scene right out of Terminator.

In 1984, Skynet, the supercomputer that rules a future Earth, sent a cyborg assassin, a "terminator," back to our time. His job was to liquidate the woman who would give birth to John Connor, the leader of the underground human resistance of Skynet's time. You with me so far? That, of course, was the plot of the first Terminator movie and for the multi-millions who saw it, the images of future machine war -- of hunter-killer drones flying above a wasted landscape -- are unforgettable.

Since then, as Hollywood's special effects took off, there were two sequels during which the original terminator somehow morphed into a friendlier figure on screen, and even more miraculously, off-screen, into the humanoid governor of California. Now, the fourth film in the series, Terminator Salvation, is about to descend on us. It will hit our multiplexes this May.

Oh, sorry, I don't mean hit hit. I mean, arrive in.

Meanwhile, hunter-killer drones haven't waited for Hollywood. As you sit in that movie theater in May, actual unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), pilotless surveillance and assassination drones armed with Hellfire missiles, will be patrolling our expanding global battlefields, hunting down human beings. And in the Pentagon and the labs of defense contractors, UAV supporters are already talking about and working on next-generation machines. Post-2020, according to these dreamers, drones will be able to fly and fight, discern enemies and incinerate them without human decision-making. They're even wondering about just how to program human ethics, maybe even American ethics, into them.

Okay, it may never happen, but it should still make you blink that out there in America are people eager to bring the fifth iteration of Terminator not to local multiplexes, but to the skies of our perfectly real world -- and that the Pentagon is already funding them to do so.

An Arms Race of One

Now, keep our present drones, those MQ-1 Predators and more advanced MQ-9 Reapers, in mind for a moment. Remember that, as you read, they're cruising Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani skies looking for potential "targets," and in Pakistan's tribal borderlands, are employing what Centcom commander General David Petraeus calls "the right of last resort" to take out "threats" (as well as tribespeople who just happen to be in the vicinity). And bear with me while I offer you a little potted history of the modern arms race.'
Lees verder: http://www.alternet.org/audits/135594/filling_the_skies_with_robot_assassins%3A_the_drone_wars_have_begun/

Het Militair Industrieel Complex

Interviews
The Business of War

Pentagon whistle-blower Karen Kwiatowski returns to the Truthdig podcast to take stock of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which she says are effectively “a government jobs program for the military and military contractors.”

Read Karen Kwiatowski’s columns on LewRockwell.com.

LISTEN NOW http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090406_the_business_of_war_repost/

Het Neoliberale Geloof 418

Terwijl in de polder iedereen doorsnurkt, gebeurt er van alles in de VS.

Chris Hedges' Columns

Resist or Become Serfs

By Chris Hedges

America is devolving into a third-world nation. And if we do not immediately halt our elite’s rapacious looting of the public treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to ameliorate. Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty. This is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. The stimulus and bailout plans are not about saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or become serfs.


We have been in a steady economic decline for decades. The Canadian political philosopher John Ralston Saul detailed this decline in his 1992 book “Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West.” David Cay Johnston exposed the mirage and rot of American capitalism in “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill),” and David C. Korten, in “When Corporations Rule the World” and “Agenda for a New Economy,” laid out corporate malfeasance and abuse. But our universities and mass media, entranced by power and naively believing that global capitalism was an unstoppable force of nature, rarely asked the right questions or gave a prominent voice to those who did. Our elites hid their incompetence and loss of control behind an arrogant facade of specialized jargon and obscure economic theories.'
Lees verder: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090406_resist_or_become_serfs/

Boycot Israel 45

'PvdA wil eventueel sancties tegen Israël
Gepubliceerd: 8 april 2009 13:39 | Gewijzigd: 8 april 2009 13:54
Door een onzer redacteuren
Den Haag, 8 april. De PvdA is opnieuw hard in aanvaring komen met minister Verhagen (Buitenlandse Zaken, CDA) over zijn Israëlpolitiek.


Palestijnse burgers en medisch personeel rennen naar een schuilplaats tijdens een Israëlische aanval op een VN-school in Beit Lahia, in het noorden van de Gazastrook. Deze foto werd genomen op 17 januari, tijdens de Israëlische aanval op de Gazastrook.
Foto AFP
Achtergrond - Moslimjeugd roert zich om geweld Gazastrook
Achtergrond - Gaza verdeelt ook Kamer
Nieuwsthema - Conflict Gazastrook
Het PvdA-Kamerlid Martijn van Dam vindt dat sancties tegen Israël niet moeten worden uitgesloten als het land een vredesregeling voor het Midden-Oosten blokkeert. Minister Verhagen wil hier niets van weten. Volgens hem kan het dreigen met sancties zelfs contraproductief werken.

Van Dam uitte vanmorgen in de Tweede Kamer zware kritiek op de nieuwe Israëlische regering. Hij betitelde de nieuwe minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Lieberman als een „extremist” en verwachtte ook weinig positiefs voor het vredesproces van premier Netanyahu. Lieberman zinspeelde begin dit jaar tijdens de gevechten in Gazastrook, toen hij nog geen minister was, op het gooien van een atoombom.

Van Dam vreest dat Nederland binnen de Europese Unie steeds meer een „buitenbeentje” wordt. Andere trouwe bondgenoten van Israël in de EU, zoals Duitsland en Tsjechië, sluiten volgens hem sancties niet langer uit.'
Lees verder: http://www.nrc.nl/binnenland/article2207452.ece/PvdA_wil_eventueel_sancties_tegen_Israel

Het Neoliberale Geloof 417

Adbusters wins right to sue broadcasters over TV ads
April 6, 2009 at 8:59 PM EDT

VANCOUVER — After almost 15 years of legal struggle, Kalle Lasn,
editor-in-chief of Vancouver-based Adbusters magazine, finally has
something to celebrate. On Friday, the B.C. Court of Appeal issued a ruling
that allows Adbusters Media Foundation to pursue legal action against the
CBC and CanWest Global for refusing to screen its anti-consumerist
television ads.

“This is the first victory we've had in 15 years, and it feels incredibly
sweet,” Mr. Lasn said in a telephone interview. “The court has
basically given us permission to go after media corporations and hold them
up for scrutiny. The case is wide open again. It feels like a
vindication.”

Adbusters' legal counsel, Mark Underhill, said that the significance of the
case lies in whether private broadcasters given a license to operate by
Parliament have the right to determine who gets to speak on the public
airwaves.

“We are arguing that Section 3 of the Broadcasting Act says that the
broadcasting system is public,” he said. “It's not just about
Adbusters' rights, it's about the rights of the people to hear Adbusters
and others who might have alternative viewpoints in a public space.”

The case is still months, if not years, away from being heard in court, Mr.
Underhill said. “We are essentially at the very beginning. It has taken
all this time to be able to start from scratch.”

Adbusters launched a legal challenge after the CBC pulled its anti-car
television ad, Autosaurus, from its automotive show Driver's Seat. The ad
ran once in February, 1993, but was withdrawn after complaints from other
sponsors – mostly car companies.

In November, 1995, the B.C. Supreme Court rejected Adbusters' argument that
this infringed on the foundation's right to freedom of expression, ruling
that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply to the Crown
corporation.

In 2004, Mr. Lasn hired prominent civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby and
launched another suit in Ontario, arguing that CBC, CanWest Global, Bell
Globemedia and CHUM had each refused to run ads created by Adbusters.
Telephone transcripts included in the legal filing showed television
executives anticipated a negative response from major advertisers over the
ads. During the same period, several of the same ads were screened without
issue on CNN.

The action hit a wall when Adbusters was ordered to dismiss Mr. Ruby
because of a conflict of interest (he was working on a different CanWest
case). Strapped for cash (Mr. Lasn estimates the case has cost $200,000 so
far), and needing to find another lawyer, Adbusters transferred the case to
B.C. and continued – this time citing CBC, CanWest Global and the
Attorney-General of Canada as defendants.

In February, 2008, the B.C. Supreme Court under Mr. Justice William Ehrcke
rejected Adbusters' claim that refusing to air the ads was a violation of
the right to freedom of expression. The charter, he said, citing the
previous ruling on CBC, did not apply to private corporations.

That decision was overturned on Friday, when the B.C. Court of Appeal
unanimously rejected the original ruling that the charter did not apply to
the CBC, and in consequence, overturned the decision to throw out the case
against CanWest Global.

A spokesperson for the CBC, Jeff Keay, said that the corporation will
review the ruling before determining its next course of action.

CanWest Global declined to comment.'
Zie:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090406.wads0406/BNStory
/National/home?cid=al_gam_mostview

Het Neoliberale Geloof 416

Construction workers in their distinctive blue overalls building the upper floors of the new Burj al-Arab hotelThe dark side of Dubai

Dubai was meant to be a Middle-Eastern Shangri-La, a glittering monument to
Arab enterprise and western capitalism. But as hard times arrive in the
city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging.
Johann Hari reports

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The wide, smiling face of Sheikh Mohammed ˆ the absolute ruler of Dubai
ˆ beams down on his creation. His image is displayed on every other
building, sandwiched between the more familiar corporate rictuses of Ronald
McDonald and Colonel Sanders. This man has sold Dubai to the world as the
city of One Thousand and One Arabian Lights, a Shangri-La in the Middle
East insulated from the dust-storms blasting across the region. He
dominates the Manhattan-manqué skyline, beaming out from row after row of
glass pyramids and hotels smelted into the shape of piles of golden coins.
And there he stands on the tallest building in the world ˆ a skinny
spike, jabbing farther into the sky than any other human construction in
history.

But something has flickered in Sheikh Mohammed's smile. The ubiquitous
cranes have paused on the skyline, as if stuck in time. There are countless
buildings half-finished, seemingly abandoned. In the swankiest new
constructions ˆ like the vast Atlantis hotel, a giant pink castle built
in 1,000 days for $1.5bn on its own artificial island ˆ where rainwater
is leaking from the ceilings and the tiles are falling off the roof. This
Neverland was built on the Never-Never ˆ and now the cracks are beginning
to show. Suddenly it looks less like Manhattan in the sun than Iceland in
the desert.

Once the manic burst of building has stopped and the whirlwind has slowed,
the secrets of Dubai are slowly seeping out. This is a city built from
nothing in just a few wild decades on credit and ecocide, suppression and
slavery. Dubai is a living metal metaphor for the neo-liberal globalised
world that may be crashing ˆ at last ˆ into history.

I. An Adult Disneyland

Karen Andrews can't speak. Every time she starts to tell her story, she
puts her head down and crumples. She is slim and angular and has the faded
radiance of the once-rich, even though her clothes are as creased as her
forehead. I find her in the car park of one of Dubai's finest international
hotels, where she is living, in her Range Rover. She has been sleeping here
for months, thanks to the kindness of the Bangladeshi car park attendants
who don't have the heart to move her on. This is not where she thought her
Dubai dream would end.'
Les verder: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/the-dark-side-of-dubai-1664368.html

Het Neoliberale Geloof 415

Global Economic Shock Worse Than Great Depression
April 7, 2009 at 06:11 PM

The global economic collapse of the last several months is already greater
than the shock that hit the world 80 years ago, triggering the Great
Depression, two economists reported Tuesday.

But by focusing narrowly on U.S. economic metrics, policy makers have
missed the depth of the crisis and are too optimistic about recovery, they
argue.

"I do see green shoots -- not everywhere -- but certainly in some of the
markets that we've been functioning in," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke told 60 Minutes in March.

"All these people talking about green shoots; and about, maybe,
light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel; and that things are showing signs of
getting better now are looking exclusively at the United States," said
Barry Eichengreen, an economist at UC Berkeley, who co-authored an item
that rocketed around the economic blogosphere Tuesday.

The post, by Eichengreen and economist Kevin O'Rourke, compares various
global economic indicators side-by-side with the early years of the Great
Depression.

Eichengreen told the Huffington Post that policy makers who see signs of
improvement are "premature in their optimism. I don't think we in the
United States can be an island of prosperity in a depressed world."

The charts Eichengreen and O'Rourke compile are striking: world output,
world stock prices and trade volume have all fallen faster during this
collapse than during the last. Several economists wrote Eichengreen to note
that because of price deflation after the '29 collapse -- which has yet to
happen again -- the stock market decline this time around is that much
greater in real terms.

The reason the decline is worse today than during the Great Depression,
says Eichengreen, is that in 1929 the United States and Germany both
collapsed, but other nations managed to stumble along.

The global nature of the collapse is important for two reasons, Eichengreen
stressed. First, it underscores the need for a global round of stimulus
spending, which many European leaders dismissed at the G-20 meeting last
week. And second, it effectively eliminates the one solution -- an increase
in exports -- that has worked for countries in recent years that have
suffered bank collapses.

"Countries that have had severe banking problems exported their way out of
the problem," said Eichengreen, citing Japan, Norway and others. But today,
with the global economy in such steep decline, increasing exports is highly
difficult.

"The point that we were trying to make is that the need for a coherent,
aggressive policy response globally is really very pressing," said
Eichengreen.'
Zie: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/07/global-economic-shock-wor_n_184283.html

Obama 95

Afghanistan 2.0: 'AfPak Overseas Contingency Operation'

Afghanistan 2.0: ‘AfPak Contingency Operation’
Posted By David DeGraw, Filed under War Watch .

Here’s the AmpedStatus round-up of the best reporting on President Obama’s new Afghanistan and Pakistan (AfPak) strategy.
We divided the coverage into the following categories – click on the headings below to jump to individual sections:
• Obama’s Plan
• Critique of Plan
• Fearing Friends: Mercenaries and Pakistan’s ISI
• Context & Background
• Alternative Plan
• View From Afghanistan
• Anti-War Movement
• Closing Thought
Before diving into the serious reporting on this issue, let’s start with a little informative comic relief…
Redefinition Accomplished
The Obama administration puts a pretty new name on the war on terror. =======
OBAMA’S PLAN
Obama Announcement of New Afghanistan, Pakistan Strategies

White Paper of the Interagency Policy Group’s Report on U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan
Objectives
Achieving our core goal is vital to U.S. national security. It requires, first of all, realistic and achievable objectives. These include:
• Disrupting terrorist networks in Afghanistan and especially Pakistan to degrade any ability they have to plan and launch international terrorist attacks.
• Promoting a more capable, accountable, and effective government in Afghanistan that serves the Afghan people and can eventually function, especially regarding internal security, with limited international support.
• Developing increasingly self-reliant Afghan security forces that can lead the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism fight with reduced U.S. assistance.
• Assisting efforts to enhance civilian control and stable constitutional government in Pakistan and a vibrant economy that provides opportunity for the people of Pakistan.
• Involving the international community to actively assist in addressing these objectives for Afghanistan and Pakistan, with an important leadership role for the UN. [ Read PDF Report Here]
Obama Afghan strategy not just about bullets, bombs
Dismissing past aid efforts as ill-organized and underfunded, it calls for a civilian surge in Afghanistan to match the military one as well as for a 7.5 billion dollar development plan and special economic zones for Pakistan.
“We need agricultural specialists and educators, engineers and lawyers,” Obama said. “That’s how we can help the Afghan government serve its people and develop an economy that isn’t dominated by illicit drugs.”
Proceeds from opium poppy sales, officials say, fuel the Taliban insurgency against the US-backed government in Kabul of President Hamid Karzai….
Over six years the Bush administration gave more than 10 billion dollars, in both military and economic aid, to Pakistan under the rule of President Pervez Musharraf, a general who seized power in a military coup in October 1999. [Continue Reading]
Afghanistan war needs more time, money
The situation in Afghanistan is dire, and progress will demand a substantial and sustained commitment, military leaders told Congress Wednesday, as they laid out more details of the Obama administration’s new strategy for the war….

Defense leaders did not detail what the budget request would be, but said a key element will be the fund to train Pakistani forces in counterinsurgency operations that would target al-Qaida safe havens along the ungoverned Afghan border. [Continue Reading]'
Lees verder: http://ampedstatus.com/afghanistan-20-afpak-overseas-contingency-operation

Klimaatverandering 144

Published on Saturday, April 4, 2009 by the Associated Press
Ice Shelf About to Break Away From Antarctica
New rifts' appeared this week along Wilkins; shelf holds back ice on land

PARIS - A massive ice shelf anchored to the Antarctic coast by a narrow and
quickly deteriorating ice bridge could break away soon, the European Space
Agency warned Friday.

The Paris-based agency said satellite images show the bridge that connects
the Wilkins Ice Shelf to Charcot and Latady Islands "looks set to
collapse."

"The beginning of what appears to be the demise of the ice bridge began
this week when new rifts" appeared and a large block of ice broke away, it
said.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf - which like the rest of Antarctic's ice sheet "was
formed by thousands of years of accumulated and compacted snow" - had been
stable for most of the last century before it began retreating in the
1990s, the statement said.

The shelf, which was originally of Jamaica or the U.S. state of
Connecticut, is located on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula,
which thrusts up from the continent toward the southern tip of South
America.

Originally covering about 5,000 square miles, the ice shelf lost 14 percent
of its mass last year alone, the statement quotes a scientist Angelika
Humbert of Germany's Munster University as saying.

In two 2008 incidents, large chunks of the ice bridge fell away, shaving it
down to just 985 yards across at its narrowest, the statement said.

As a result, "in the past months, we have observed the ice bridge deforming
and its narrowest location acting as a kind of hinge," Humbert is quoted as
saying.

Scientist are examining whether global warming is behind the shelf's
breakup, the statement said. Average temperatures in the Antarctic
Peninsula have risen by 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit over the past half century,
the statement said - higher than the average global rise.

De Dollar Hegemonie 46

Peter Schiff The Dollar is Gonna Drop Like a Stone
Zie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8HRRQ6JkCw&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.campaignforliberty.com%2Fblog.php&feature=player_embedded

Obama 94

Obama and Afghanistan: Repeating Past Mistakes

By A.G. Noorani

April 04, 2009 "Dawn" -- --‘IT is an infallible rule that a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised … wise counsels, from whoever they come, must necessarily be due to the prudence of the prince, and not the prudence of the prince to the wise counsel received.’

Niccolo Machiavelli’s sage words aptly sum up the predicament of President Barack Obama on Afghanistan. Unlike his predecessor George W. Bush and his equally rash bunch of advisers, Obama is a sensible man. However, the haste he has shown in crafting a policy on Afghanistan does not reflect wisdom.

He ordered ‘a careful policy review … as soon as I took office’ he said on March 27 in a speech which, like all American pronouncements from on high, did not err on the side of brevity. His own understanding of that country and this region, as his campaign speeches revealed, was not profound. His advisers are none too blessed with the knowledge or understanding either. The highest in the intelligence services confessed to an ‘appalling’ ignorance of the command structure of the Taliban whom his book The Audacity of Hope ignores. It has brief references only to Al Qaeda.

What is it that emboldened Obama to think that he would hit upon a cure for the ills in Kabul in record speed? The recipe prescribed in the speech does not reckon with the one fundamental issues that lies at the root of the problem — the presence of foreign troops on Afghan soil. They went there to be rid of Al Qaeda. The Taliban were affected because they had extended hospitality to its chief Osama bin Laden. Second only to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, her colleague Karl F. Inderfurth was responsible for snubbing the Taliban’s many overtures and for, thus, hardening their attitude. Disdain for diplomacy and indifference to other people’s sentiments are the twin hallmarks of American diplomacy.

They were reflected in an article by Inderfurth and James Dobbins, a Bush official, published on the day Obama spoke. They were reflected in the president’s speech as well. Inderfurth and Dobbins first lay out the sketch of an impressive edifice of an international treaty which ensures peace in Afghanistan and in the region. The US and its allies will ‘withdraw all forces from Afghanistan once these other provisions (of the treaty) had been implemented’.

That is a consummation devoutly to be wished for. But how will it be achieved? By the use of military force. ‘More western troops and economic assistance, more sophisticated military tactics and greater civilian capacity will be needed to turn the tide that is currently running against Nato...’

Obama’s proposals are no different. Deployment of more US troops. ‘That’s how we will prepare Afghans to take responsibility for their security, and how we will ultimately be able to bring our own troops home.’ Is this a realistic exit strategy?

The goal is defined thus: ‘to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.’ To this end ‘we must isolate Al Qaeda from the Pakistani people (sic)’ — a strange formulation. Even The Economist came to realise by March 28 that ‘America’s bombing raids inside Pakistan probably are counterproductive, and should stop’. Economic aid to Pakistan will be coupled with demands for greater commitment to rooting out Al Qaeda and for denial of safe havens to it.'
Lees verder: http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22343.htm

De Israelische Terreur 820

Barbaric Israel
A nation that has violated “every norm of civilized behavior and international law” since its founding in 1948 is held virtually blameless by the U.S. corporate media – Israel sycophants of the lowest order. “Now members of the Israeli Defense Force themselves are coming forward to admit that they committed war crimes” – but the U.S. press is censoring their confessions! Even when Israeli soldiers openly testify to committing “murder” in Gaza, as reported by the Israeli press, the U.S. corporate media “keeps the people of this country ignorant” of the crimes against humanity bankrolled by American taxpayers.

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberle

“Every norm of civilized behavior and international law was violated.”
April 04, 2009 "BAR" -- Despite the best efforts of the American corporate media, the Israeli lobby, and compromised politicians, the true nature of Israel’s barbarity towards the Palestinian people is not easily hidden. The massacres of Gaza’s civilian population that were recently carried out by the Israeli Defense Force created a turning point in worldwide public opinion. Only the Israeli and American governments try to deny that war crimes were committed.

The IDF barred the world’s media from witnessing the killings of more than 1,400 people. Every norm of civilized behavior and international law was violated, including the Geneva Conventions prohibition of acts of revenge against civilian populations. Israel kept the borders of Gaza sealed, and would not even allow the population to flee and save their lives. The IDF takes the term “shooting fish in a barrel” very seriously.

Now members of the IDF themselves are coming forward to admit that they committed war crimes. Soldiers have told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that they were ordered to murder civilians without provocation. Haaretz has also revealed that the IDF prepares soldiers to kill civilians by openly condoning the killing of pregnant women and little children.

“1 Shot, 2 Kills” reads one t-shirt routinely worn by IDF soldiers. It depicts a pregnant woman covered by a bulls-eye. Another t-shirt for infantry snipers depicts “the inscription ‘Better use Durex,’ next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him.” Soldiers wear these shirts only with the approval of their platoon commanders.

“The IDF prepares soldiers to kill civilians by openly condoning the killing of pregnant women and little children.”
The shirts are bilingual, written in Hebrew and in English too. It makes sense that the inscriptions are also in English, because were it not for American financial support, the IDF would not exist or be able to bomb Syria or the Sudan or invade Lebanon or carry out massacres in Gaza.

The United States is the Israeli government’s only friend in the world. While boycotts and protests against Israel are carried out all over the globe, concerned Americans are silenced because the corporate media and the political system have turned their country into Israel’s colony.

The Los Angeles Times carried the story of IDF war crimes revelations, but only after censoring the words of the soldiers themselves.

"When we entered a house, we were supposed to bust down the door and start shooting inside and just go up story by story… I call that murder. Each story, if we identify a person, we shoot them. I asked myself – how is this reasonable?"

The Los Angeles Times felt that the word “murder” was too much for sensitive American eyes and left the sentence out. “‘When we entered a house, we were supposed to bust down the door and start shooting inside and just go up story by story,’ he was quoted as saying. ‘Each story, if we identify a person, we shoot them. I asked myself: 'How is this reasonable?’”

Apparently, “I call that murder,” is just not acceptable, even if the words come straight from the horse’s mouth. The Los Angeles Times knows or thinks it knows that it can go only so far when Israel is the subject of what passes for reporting in the American corporate media.

“Several cardboard boxes full of excrement were left in the house.”
Not only do Israelis kill women and children and use civilians as human shields, but they also occupy Palestinian homes. They routinely desecrate them in ways that are so cruel and malicious, that they must be considered pathological. According to Amnesty International, not only did Israelis in Gaza illegally occupy Palestinian homes, but they left them in a devastated and desecrated condition.

“In one house in the Sayafa area in north Gaza several cardboard boxes full of excrement were left in the house (italics mine) - although there was a functioning toilet which the soldiers could have used. Walls were defaced with crude threats written in Hebrew, such as ‘next time it will hurt more’. In every case the soldiers had smashed holes in the outer walls of the houses to use as lookout and sniper positions.”'
Lees verder: http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22349.htm

The Empire 425

'IT is an infallible rule that a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised ... wise counsels, from whoever they come, must necessarily be due to the prudence of the prince, and not the prudence of the prince to the wise counsel received.': Niccolo Machiavelli

=
"We are the ruling race of the world. . . . We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization of the world. . . . He has marked us as his chosen people. . . . He has made us adept in government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples." : Sen. Alfred Beveridge

=
"I firmly believe that when any territory outside the present territorial limits of the United States becomes necessary for our defense or essential for our commercial development, we ought to lose no time in acquiring it." : Sen. Orville Platt of Connecticut 1894.

=
"Between 1898 and 1934, the Marines invaded Cuba 4 times, Nicaragua 5 times, Honduras 7 times, the Dominican Republic 4 times, Haiti twice, Guatemala once, Panama twice, Mexico 3 times and Columbia 4 times," Washington has intervened militarily in foreign countries more than 200 times."

===
"If the people are not convinced (that the Free World is in mortal danger) it would be impossible for Congress to vote the vast sums now being spent to avert danger. With the support of public opinion, as marshalled by the press, we are off to a good start. It is our Job - yours and mine -- to keep our people convinced that the only way to keep disaster away from our shores is to build up America's might." -- Charles Wilson, Chairman of the Board of General Electric and Truman appointee to head the Office of Defence Mobilization, in a speech to the Newspaper Publishers Association, 1950


=

Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered Since The U.S. Invaded Iraq "1,320,110"
www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq/iraqdeaths.html

=

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America'sWar On Iraq 4,265
icasualties.org/oif/

=

The War in Iraq Costs
$610,655,812,854

Birgit Donker van de NRC 4

Desgevraagd verklaarde de directeur/hoofdredacteur van de NRC onlangs dat ze als profiel van haar krant het volgende beeld voor ogen heeft: 'Birgit Donker ziet een avontuurlijke vrouw voor zich, een vrouw die veel wil weten, die erop af durft te gaan, een vrouw met stijl ook, een chique vrouw, een wereldreizigster met een open geest en met oog voor vertier op niveau, en een die het nieuws ook vindt op de puinhopen in Brazilie.' Kortom, branding, het is het beeld van de reclame, de marketing, het beeld van een bepaalde middenklasse, voor wie 'chique' nog een kinderlijke betekenis heeft en voor wie de journalistiek uiteindelijk een vormkwestie is geworden. Sterker nog, het is het beeld van iemand op zoek naar een identiteit. Ik moest hier aan denken tijdens het kijken naar een aflevering van Mad Men, een serie van de schrijver van The Sopranos, waarin hij op een genadeloze manier de Amerikaanse samenleving analyseert in het begin van de jaren zestig 'the early years of mass consumerism where everyone was selling something and ad men were revered.'

In tegenstelling tot Nederland zijn grote naties in staat zichzelf te portretteren. In Mad Men is bijna iedereen wanhopig op zoek naar een identiteit en tegelijkertijd is iedere gladde reclameboy bezig identiteiten te verkopen. In dat opzicht houdt de serie van Matthew Weiner de massamens een spiegel voor, een spiegel waarin telkens wisselende identiteiten passeren. Het laat de peilloze leegte zien van de gefrustreerde consumptiecultuur waarin niets is wat het lijkt en waar iedereen op zoek is naar een plaats waar hij of zij het gevoel heeft ergens bij te horen. Ondertussen leidt de massamens een dubbelleven om te kunnen overleven, zoals een kameleon van kleur verandert. Het ene moment is men 'chique', het volgende moment een 'wereldreizigster' of wat dan ook, tegenstelde flarden identiteit worden in een identiteitsloze cultuur aan elkaar gekoppeld om op zijn minst de schijn hoog te houden. Alles moet worden verkocht, van koelkasten tot liefde. Of zoals de Britse schrijver John Berger het verwoordde: 'Consumptie en communicatie zijn tegenwoordig verenigd in een diabolische vennootschap, en uit deze vennootschap bestaat datgene wat wij kennen als de media. Eerst en vooral vertegenwoordigen de media een economisch contract waardoor alles wat er in de wereld gebeurt wordt gekoppeld aan het mechanisme van de verkoop.'

Het is de ideologie van de Birgit Donker's in deze wereld, een ideologie 'where the truth lies' en waarbij 'marketers see a brand as an implied promise that the level of quality people have come to expect from a brand will continue with future purchases of the same product.' Vervreemding en eenzaamheid zijn de sleutelbegrippen. Mad Men, de BBC zendt het uit.

dinsdag 7 april 2009

Iran 261

With the election of Bibi Netanyahu, speculation about Israeli airstrikes against Iran have surged once more. According to the Atlantic Monthly, Netanyahu has told President Obama that either the US will stop Iran or Israel will. But is this a real threat – or a bluff that never stops giving?

Reality is that Israel does not have a genuine military option. But the threat of military attacks nevertheless serves a purpose beyond Israeli concerns about Iran’s nuclear advances.

In the article below, published today in the Huffington Post, I discuss this issue in greater detail.

PS. I have forgotten to send out a few other writings I have done recently. You can find them below
:
· Will Tehran Tango? Obama's Historic Norooz Message, Huffington Post, March 20, 2009.
· Testimony in Congress, March 12, 2009.
· The Path Back to Square One, The MidEast Peace Pulse, March 9, 2009.

Sincerely,
Trita Parsi, PhD
www.niacouncil.org
http://www.tritaparsi.com/
http://www.treacherousalliance.com/


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Netanyahu and threat of bombing Iran - the bluff that never stops giving?
By Trita Parsi
April 7, 2009
The Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/trita-parsi/netanyahu-and-threat-of-b_b_183822.html

In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed to have told President Barack Obama that either America stops Iran or Israel will. Not surprisingly, the interview sparked quite a controversy and only a day later, General David Petreus told the Senate Arms Services Committee that "the Israeli government may ultimately see itself so threatened by the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon that it would take preemptive military action to derail or delay it."
So once again, in spite of President Obama's best efforts, the military option was put back on the table and the atmosphere for dealing with Iran was turned into "Do as we say - or else..." Even if the President wants to give diplomacy a chance, disbelievers have been quick to limit Obama's options by seeking to set arbitrary deadlines for negotiations - or by threatening Israeli military action if America doesn't act with its military might.
Reality is, however, that talk of an Israeli military option is more of a bluff than a threat - but it is a bluff that never seems to stop giving.
Israel does not have the military capability to successfully eliminate Iran's nuclear program. Even the most successful bombing campaign would only set back the known program for a few years - without affecting any potential clandestine program. This is not classified information. Military experts are well aware of Israel's capabilities - and its limits.
Yet, the threat of military action, or rather the bluff, serves a purpose: Threats of military action militarizes the atmosphere. It creates an environment that renders diplomacy less likely to succeed - it may even prevent diplomacy from being pursued in the first place.
In the Iranian case, Netanyahu's tough talk undermines the Obama administration's prospects for diplomacy in the following ways.
Getting to the negotiating table has proven an arduous task for the US and Iran. Both sides are currently testing each other's intentions, asking themselves if the other side is serious about diplomacy or if the perceived desire for talks is merely a tactical maneuver to either buy time or build greater international support for more confrontational policies down the road. From Tehran's perspective, uncertainty about Washington's intentions during the Bush administration was partly fueled by the insistence of the military option remaining on the table. Tehran seemed to fear entering negotiations that could have been designed to fail, since that could strengthen the case for military action against Iran.
Today, talk of Israeli strikes has similar effects. Tehran has repeatedly failed to appreciate the policy differences between Washington and Tel Aviv, oftentimes seeing them as either a perfectly coordinated team or as a single entity. Consequently, explicit or implicit threats of Israeli military action reduce Tehran's confidence in Washington's intentions.
Furthermore, Iran's sense of a threat from the US (and in extension Israel) is believed to be one of the driving forces of Iran's nuclear program. Whether Iran seeks a weapon or a civilian program that provides Iran with a weapons capability, the program's existence provides Tehran with a level of deterrence against the perceived US threat. The Obama administration's approach seems to have been to reduce Iran's sense of threat in order to kick-start negotiations. The threat of Israeli military action does the opposite - it fuels Iranian insecurity and closes the window for diplomacy.
Moreover, Israel uses this threat to pressure Washington and the EU to act tough. This has been a cornerstone of Israeli policy towards Iran since the mid-1990s. Even though Israel is reluctant to put itself on the frontline against Iran, fearing that this would counter its message that Iran is the world's and not just Israel's problem, it also fears that the absence of Israeli pressure would cause the West to go soft on Iran. Hence, Israel keeps the pressure on the West - by threatening military action - in order for the West to keep pressuring Iran. However, under the current circumstances, Israeli pressure may compel the Obama administration to adopt a confrontational approach that is incompatible with the diplomatic strategy President Obama seems to prefer.
Finally, Netanyahu - as well as hawks in Washington - are using the threat of Israeli military action to create arbitrary deadlines for negotiations with Tehran combined with exaggerated expectations of what diplomacy must achieve. The message of Israeli hawks has been that it can only afford to give diplomacy "a few months," meaning that whatever sanctions and confrontation has failed to achieve with Iran in the past 30 years, must miraculously be obtained after only a few months of negotiations - otherwise Israel will take military action.
This logic does two things. First, it brings us back to the foreign policy approach of the Bush administration in which diplomacy was treated with suspicion and skepticism, and military confrontation was viewed as a policy option with guaranteed success. Second, it ensures that diplomacy fails by denying it the time and space it needs to succeed and by setting the bar too high.
This does not mean that Israel does not have legitimate reasons to fear Iran's nuclear advances - on the contrary. But what lies at the heart of Israel's maneuvers is not necessarily the fear of a nuclear clash, but the regional and strategic consequences nuclear technology in Iranian hands will have for Israel.
In spite of its rhetoric, Israel views the regime in Tehran as rational, calculating and risk-averse. Even those Israeli officials who believe that Iran is hell-bent on destroying the Jewish state recognize that Tehran is unlikely to attack Israel with nuclear weapons due to the destruction Israel would inflict on Iran through its second-strike capability.
The real danger a nuclear-capable Iran brings with it for Israel is twofold. First, an Iran with nuclear capability will significantly damage Israel's ability to deter militant Palestinian and Lebanese organizations. Gone would be the days when Israel's military supremacy would enable it to dictate the parameters of peace and pursue unilateral peace plans.
This could force Israel to accept territorial compromises with its neighbors in order to deprive Iran of points of hostility that it could use against the Jewish state. Israel simply would not be able to afford a nuclear rivalry with Iran and continued territorial disputes with the Arabs at the same time.
Second, the deterrence and power Iran would gain by mastering the fuel cycle could compel Washington to cut a deal with Tehran in which Iran would be recognized as a regional power and gain strategic significance in the Middle East at the expense of Israel. This has been a major Israeli fear since the end of the Cold War, when Israel's strategic utility to Washington lost considerable justification due to the absence of a Soviet threat. Under these circumstances, US-Iran negotiations could damage Israel's strategic standing, since common interests shared by Iran and the US would overshadow Israel's concerns with Tehran and leave Israel alone in facing its Iranian rival. The Great Satan will eventually make up with the ayatollahs and forget about the Jewish state, Israeli officials fear.
Netanyahu's threat of stopping Iran if Obama doesn't should be seen in light of the Israeli right's fear of a US-Iran deal. Talk of Israeli military action has not coincided with major advances in Iran's nuclear program, but rather with hints of an American preparedness to strike a compromise with Tehran that would grant it the dreaded know-how and limit Israel's strategic maneuverability.
The flaw in the Netanyahu's approach, however, is its underestimation of how US-Iran diplomacy can significantly alter Iran's posture towards the Jewish state and reduce the threat it faces from Tehran. Therein lies the opening for Israel's new prime minister that carries far greater promise for Israel's security than efforts to complicate Washington's path towards diplomacy.

Trita Parsi is president and co- founder of the National Iranian American Council and author of "Treacherous Alliances: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States."