zaterdag 6 november 2010

The Empire 700

Our Big, Fat, Invisible Wars

by: Jon Letman, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: DVIDSHUB, Jiří Děcký, Rishi Bandopadhay)

In the final days of a midterm campaign, marked by hyper-bipartisanship; Tea Party warnings about how Obama was dragging America down the dark corridor of liberal fascism; an astounding display of issues based on the American public's fears of Muslims, Arabs, Latinos, gay couples, soldiers, medical marijuana, mosques, "Obama-care," vague charges of higher taxes; and Obama's alleged plan to turn this country into a socialist state, the president decided to make a high-profile pitch six days before the election.

Appearing on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" with Jon Stewart, the president joined a small pantheon of acting and former heads of state like Pervez Musharraf, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Evo Morales and Bill Clinton to sit down for some casual conversation peppered with quips and yuks.

After almost a full minute of wildly enthusiastic applause from an audience that probably still has their "HOPE" bumper stickers, the president took a seat across from Stewart for a mostly jovial back-and-forth in which Obama spoke about health care reform, financial regulatory reform, insurance premiums, the misuse of the filibuster, negative campaign ads, stabilizing the stock market, staggering job losses and a fragile economy that marked what he called "the two toughest years of any time since the Great Depression."

And, yet, there was one subject that was never discussed, not even in passing, during the 25-minute interview. That's right - you guessed it - the $1.1 trillion invisible campaign issue, America's pernicious nine-year-old War on Terror (oh yeah, the war ... ).

Stewart asked the president if he was surprised that "even [his] base can be disappointed" and yet he never once uttered the words "Afghanistan," "Iraq" or "Pakistan." The complete lack of even an oblique reference to what both Obama and Bush have made the centerpiece of their foreign policy, if not their entire presidency, is pretty remarkable, but sadly indicative of how, after a decade of war with close to 6,000 American troops killed, almost 50,000 American soldiers still in Iraq, nearly 100,000 in Afghanistan and an undeclared, virtually unscrutinized predator drone war in Pakistan that has more than tripled in number of strikes since Obama took office, it doesn't even merit a mention in an interview with the commander in chief less than a week before midterm elections.

One can only assume that the White House offered Stewart a one-on-one with Obama on the condition that there was to be absolutely no mention of the wars, the troops, terror threats, predator drones, Guantanamo, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Iran, North Korea, or anything with even the slightest whiff of war.

It's hard to imagine a sitting American president going on any television talk show less than a week before midterm elections without setting some sort of topic guidelines. And if that's the case, would you blame Stewart for accepting some restrictions in order to get the biggest of Big Cheeses onto his stage?

But if that was not the case, then why would Stewart completely ignore the war in Afghanistan, which earlier this year he called "a losing battle"?

The problem here goes far beyond an overly padded joust-lite between the president and the comedian. The problem is really with all of us - the people who vote, pay taxes and ultimately fund these wars. The real question isn't why didn't Stewart press Obama on the wars, but why aren't we?

In case you haven't noticed how few Americans are making any noise about the wars, The New York Times reported on it last week.

This kind of selective blindness to the $1.1 trillion armed gorilla in the room isn't restricted to voters. Pick a few of your favorite Congressional candidates (difficult, I know ...) and go to their campaign web site and look under "Issues." Where are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq or even Iran listed, and what do they say? Here are a few examples of what is and isn't being said about the wars.

Harry Reid (D-Nevada): Nothing on the wars, just a section labeled "Veterans."

Sharron Angel (R- Nevada): Under "National Security and Public Protection" - "Sharron Angle is a staunch supporter of the U.S. military and will work tirelessly to secure the peace and security of our country. She supports strong sanctions against rogue nations that export, support or harbor terrorism and believes that we must do whatever necessary to protect America from terrorism."

Barbara Boxer (D-California): Sections for agriculture, Armenian community, LGBT, seniors, and 16 other issues, but nothing on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Carly Fiorina (R- California): Under "Protecting America" - "Carly also views defeating the terrorist threat in Afghanistan as an imperative that requires military commitment, economic development and diplomatic energy. To achieve victory, it is critically important to continue listening to our commanders on the ground and to stay until our job is done." There is no mention of Iraq or Pakistan.

And in my home state of Hawaii, this from the web site of incumbent Republican Congressman Charles Djou under "National Security" - "... I understand that we must combat terrorism where it is found, whether in Iran, the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions or in industrialized cities around the world ..."

His Democratic opponent, Hawaii State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa writes (under "Afghanistan") - "We need to understand that our nation's public policy focus in Afghanistan is very different from that of Iraq ... I support President Obama's decision to send over 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to assist existing forces in stabilizing the region. While I have always had grave concerns about our military involvement, especially when lacking a clear purpose or clear exit plan, I recognize that for us to be able to accomplish our goals in the Middle East we need to provide our men and women of the Armed Forces with the resources and numbers they need. The sobering reality is that 9/11 did occur and it could very well happen again. We need take all reasonable actions necessary to ensure that it doesn't happen again."

Wow. With a position like that, who needs the GOP? But at least she and Djou mention the wars. That's more that can be said for most of us, including President Obama and Stewart.

One person who hasn't overlooked the wars is Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! Speaking on CNN the day before the Obama-Stewart bit, she referred to the underreporting of WikiLeaks' largest classified military leak in history saying, "war is an election issue ... I think it's why Obama is president today." Goodman said that Obama's Afghanistan surge may play a role in possible Democratic losses in the elections.

Unlike most politicians, pundits and media, Amy Goodman does make the connection between the wars and our anemic economy. "You relate [the wars] directly to jobs at home," she said, "You're talking about billions of dollars, actually $3-5 trillion according to Nobel economist Joe Stiglitz, is being spent on these wars ... We're talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs that could [be had] by people in this country with some of the highest unemployment rates we've ever seen, if we weren't spending this money in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan."

On the very day Obama and Stewart were not discussing the wars, the Department of Justice announced yet another arrest of a US citizen, this time suspected of plotting an attack planting bombs in the Washington, DC, Metrorail system. But where are the voices pointing out the very obvious cause-and-effect relationship between our war making and those seeking vengeance against us? (Sound of wind blowing ...) We continue on our reckless journey with scarcely a whisper of dissent.

Never mind the latest WikiLeaks documents indicate an additional 15,000 Iraqi civilians (five times the number killed on 9/11) died violently during the war launched by the 2003 US invasion.

Never mind that Aaron Glantz recently reported between 2005 - 2008, three times as many veterans died or committed suicide shortly after returning from war than in the war itself.

Never mind that US military "kill teams" are being charged with random murders and collecting their Afghan victims' body parts as trophies.

And never mind the hundreds of thousands of civilians and soldiers whose killings and disfigurement go unreported or are reduced to a momentary blip on the screen in the wake of the wars we are fighting, or the unpredictable number of people we are inspiring to attack our country from without and within.

War is what we do and once it's underway, it appears American politicians, the public and media see increasingly little need or desire to discuss or debate it, lest we distract ourselves from planning the next war looming on the horizon.

Turning back to review the transcript of the Obama-Stewart interview using the edit and find functions, I discovered that "war" does in fact appear 52 times in the interview - as part of the words "forward," "reward" and, of course, "Stewart."

Since 2001, Democrats and Republicans alike have encouraged, enabled and ignored our wanton war making, squandering hundreds of thousands of lives, destroying families, homes, communities and even countries while eviscerating our own economy and social infrastructure. It is unconscionable that we, the citizens who vote and pay taxes to this government should remain mute, distracted or apathetic, saying and doing nothing, as if the whole thing has been forgotten or, worse yet, simply accepted as just the way America does business in the 21st century.

Obama 192

Posted By Jamal Abdi Share

With Republicans now sharing the burden of governing in the next Congress, President Barack Obama has an opportunity to define the terms of the Iran debate instead of spending two more years capitulating to a Democratic Congress worried about appearing weak or out of sync with hardliners on the Iran issue.

For a president who ran on the promise of fighting the "smallness" of Washington's political discourse that is unequipped for the immensity of the challenges America faces, few issues suffer more from that "smallness" than the Iran debate. In Washington, when in doubt, Iran saber rattling always seems to pay -- and the implications for our Iran policy could not be more disastrous. Obama had offered the promise of fighting this paradigm and supporting a new strategy of engagement, which is the only effective means to resolve the nuclear issue, address the human rights situation, and create space for pro-democracy activists in Iran.

Unfortunately, instead of fighting the Bush paradigm that rewards policymakers on the basis of bellicosity towards Iran, Obama has by and large perpetuated a political metric that defines success on Iran only in terms of pressure. Only if Obama raises the consequences of the dire alternative to a successful engagement strategy -- war with Iran -- and stakes out a new path to create his own political space for diplomacy, can the president effectively navigate the new reality in Congress and pursue a successful Iran agenda.

The picture for Obama in Congress is bleak enough, but particularly so on Iran. Bipartisan Iran sanctions advanced in the Democratic Congress imposed significant new restrictions on the president and give the Republicans significant ammunition to undermine Obama. Opportunities to hold the president's feet to the fire regarding enforcement of unilateral sanctions on China and Russia will not be ignored, and the president will be punished for failing to get "tough enough" on Iran, despite his many efforts to do just that. By failing to realign the metrics for success, and by allowing the outgoing Democratic Congress to undermine his political and policy flexibility, Obama and the Democrats in the 111th Congress have handed Republicans a valuable tool with which to bludgeon the president in the 112th.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the incoming House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman, has been a consistent Bush-esque Iran demagogue who has fiercely opposed any engagement efforts and, as a strong advocate for the sanctions regime against Cuba, has argued stringently for a similar regime against Iran. She is also an ardent supporter of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), a pro-war Iranian Marxist group that, in spite of being designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department, manages to maintain an extremely active presence on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, nearly fifty Republicans endorsed a resolution this past summer expressing support for Israeli military strikes against Iran -- signaling a dangerous willingness to take on the president and the U.S. military leadership on the issue of Israeli strikes and potential war. While Ros-Lehtinen has not signed on to that resolution, Dan Burton (R-IN) did, and he may become the Middle East Subcommittee Chairman in the next Congress.

Meanwhile, while Democrats will retain a narrow majority in the Senate, Obama's old seat will be filled by Mark Kirk, a perennial Iran saber-rattler who played a leading role in advancing sanctions that he argued should punish ordinary Iranians. Evan Bayh's Senate seat will be reclaimed by Dan Coats (R-IN) who has warned that, for Iran, "The only option now is potential military action if we're going to stop this."

The Senate scenario is troubling given that it took an eleventh hour effort by the administration, working with John Kerry, to halt an effort by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-TX) to sneak Iran sanctions through the chamber last December. Kyl attempted to circumvent regular procedure to pass the bill and undermine Obama's outreach at the U.N. to assemble multilateral sanctions. While the administration's efforts to hold off Kyl were successful then, the stakes for procedural games will be even higher now under a razor-thin Senate majority.

But Obama's troubles with the next Congress on Iran may come from his own caucus as well. It has been Democrats who have offered new sanctions legislation that threaten to consign Obama to a "pressure-only track" by further eliminating his flexibility and closing opportunities for engagement. Among these proposals, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced a bill just prior to the elections that would remove the president's ability to approve the export of civilian aircraft parts for humanitarian purposes to Iran. This would revoke yet another tool the president has for negotiations, not to mention the humanitarian implications that denying spare parts has for the innocent Iranians who must take to the skies, despite Iran's abysmal civilian flight record. But Sherman also subscribes to the notion that sanctions must punish ordinary Iranians.

To pro-war demagogues, it is of little consequence that Obama is the first U.S. president to implement unilateral Congressional Iran sanctions against a foreign company. While Democrats may tout this as evidence of Obama's success on Iran, it is a pyrrhic victory. In spending the past year focused on sanctions, the president failed to seize opportunities to capitalize on negotiations that could have created measurable progress on the Iran issue -- including the removal of significant stockpiles of uranium from Iran, a potential reduction in Iran's enrichment levels, and, most importantly, the opening for ongoing negotiations that hold the only opportunity for success. Instead, the administration and the Democrats have been stuck with touting the suffering of ordinary people in Iran as evidence of successful "pressure" against the country.

Some, like Sarah Palin, Elliott Abrams, and even David Broder, have advocated that the best approach the president can take would be to abandon his principles and run to the right of Republicans on Iran. Broder suggested the president should cynically spend the next two years "orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs" to boost the U.S. economy. Palin has suggested that a sound reelection strategy for Obama would be to bomb Iran. None of these proposals offer solutions to our problems, but are endemic to a broken political discourse that Obama must fight head on.

The lesson from the last two years on Iran vis-a-vis Congress is that going along with the hawkish approach has earned little for Obama domestically. Far from creating political openings to pursue real progress for a potential peaceful resolution, an absence of strong presidential leadership has generated just enough political space to ensure that engagement opportunities are suffocated -- not just talks, but promises like the licensing of internet software and hardware, and the expansion of educational exchanges for Iranian students.

Because Obama has failed to set the terms of the debate on Iran, the administration finds itself trapped. Even the upcoming talks with Iran are now being construed by White House spokespersons as "pressure". The so-called "dual track" approach has ebbed into an approach focused solely on pressure, because this is supposed to be politically palatable. But if Obama is standing behind a podium in September 2012 across from Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin, and the criteria for a successful Iran policy is ‘who can be most confrontational', the candidate willing to spew the most insane, bellicose, and counterproductive Iran tirade wins the debate. And no matter how far Obama is willing to run in this direction, he will face a challenger who is more than willing to run even further.

In failing to establish any alternative criteria for progress on the Iran issue other than pressure, the administration risks continuing to perpetuate the Bush paradigm on Iran and accepting a measurement for success that, regardless of reality, only plays into the hands of Obama's pro-war, anti-engagement opponents. It would be disastrous for Obama to embrace the 2002 Democratic foreign policy strategy, when they adopted a Bush-light approach and supported the Iraq war out of fear. It wasn't until Democrats developed a strong message against the Iraq war in 2006 that they reclaimed Congress. And it wasn't until a presidential candidate staked out his own paradigm and established his own political space through leadership on his anti Iraq-war principles that ultimately a Democrat reclaimed the White House.

Jamal Abdi is policy director for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).

Peter van Walsum Oud-Diplomaat 32

Meneer Van Walsum,

Het vermoorden van een half miljoen Irakese kinderen onder de vijf jaar behoort volgens u tot de categorie
'heilzame maatregelen' die weliswaar
'onmiskenbaar... leed berokkenen,' maar die desondanks deze massamoord niet meer maken dan te verwaarlozen 'bijkomende schade.' En dus gaf u op de vraag van John Pilger:

'Aren't the deaths of half a million children mass destruction?'

als antwoord

'I don't think you can use that argument to convince me.'

Een half miljoen kinderen, u heeft het aantal niet aangevochten. Nu mijn vraag:

Meneer Van Walsum,

U heeft hooguit nog een paar jaar te gaan, slechts een paar jaar om de balans op te maken. Wat was het allemaal waard deze genocide? Enkele momenten van internationale bekendheid? Een kortstondige bevrediging van uw ijdelheid? Ik vraag dat aangezien u de geschiedenis ingaat als een bureaucraat die onderdeel was van een meedogenloze terreur. Was het dat allemaal waard? Ik bedoel ook dit: u zadelt de volgende generatie (inclusief uw kinderen) op met een uitzichtloze erfenis, want denkt u werkelijk dat uw slachtoffers en al die anderen die op de een of andere manier lijden onder westerse politieke, economische of militaire druk dat zij overtuigd zijn dat u en de uwen werkelijk in mensenrechten, democratie en beschaving geloven?

Dankzij de VPRO heb ik veel door de wereld kunnen reizen en ik kan u zeggen dat de overgrote meerderheid van de wereldbewoners niet in de westerse claims gelooft, dat wil zeggen, door eigen ervaring weet men hoe meedogenloos u en de uwen zijn. Toen Mahatma Gandhi door een blanke journalist gevraagd werd wat hij van de westerse beschaving dacht, antwoordde hij spontaan:
'Ik denk dat dit een goed idee zou zijn.'

Waarom deed u het? Laat het me weten als waarschuwing voor degenen die na ons komen.

The Staples Singers

We hebben mensen met een ziel nodig. Zet dit keihard aan en luister naar vooral Mavis Staples! Wat een stem.

The Staples Singers

Obama 191

En dit was de hoop. Allemaal misbruikt voor de belangen van plutocratie.

Obama & The Staple Singers

Obama 190

mario Bergen

De nieuw-verkozen Democraten in het Amerikaans parlement

De stembusgang van november 2010 was een gigantische blamage voor president Hussein Obama, wiens partij de meerderheid verloor in het Huis van Afgevaardigden. Slechts enkele Democratische nieuwkomers treffen we vanaf januari 2011 aan in het federale parlement van de V.S.

Kunnen we onder de Democratische nieuwkomers in de Senaat en het Huis van Afgevaardigden kritische stemmen terugvinden voor Israël?


  • Richard Blumenthal heeft sinds 1990 vijf termijnen als procureur-generaal opzitten. Hij is de zoon van een Duitse jood die nazi-Duitsland ontvluchtte in 1935 en begon met de invoer van kleine grondstoffen naar New York City. Martin A. Blumenthal kwam op 17-jarige leeftijd aan in de V.S. en bracht voor de aanvang van de holocaust zijn ouders, broer en zus naar Amerika.

  • De Democraat woont samen met zijn vrouw Cynthia in Greenwich (Connecticut) en ze zijn leden van de Greenwich Reform Synagogue. Ze hebben vier kinderen.

  • Blumenthal steunt de president van Afghanistan en militaire rechtbanken voor terreurverdachten. Over de illegale Israëlische nederzettingen op Palestijnse grond blijft hij vaag: “Ik steun een sterk en veilig Israël met veilige en sterke grenzen. Israël en de V.S. moeten zien samen te werken. Ik ga me niet uitlaten over bepaalde nederzettingen. De discussie over de kolonies zit verweven in de context van de vredesbesprekingen. Het vormt deel van het totale beleid. Israël moet een prioriteit zijn in ons buitenlands beleid.”

  • Over Israël zei hij nog het volgende aldus The Jewish Ledger: “Ik denk dat we Israël moeten aanmoedigen en steunen bij het zoeken naar een Midden-Oosten oplossing zonder haar binnenlands beleid te dicteren, maar ik zou met de Israëlische leiders hun behoeften en prioriteiten willen bespreken alvorens bij de president aan te dringen om iets te doen. En ik denk dat de president voorzichtig moet zijn om in te grijpen in de Israëlische binnenlandse aangelegenheden.”

  • Richard Blumenthal is de enige Democratische nieuwkomer in de Senaat na de verkiezingen van november 2010. Hij volgt er partijgenoot Chris Dodd op die zich niet meer verkiesbaar stelde.

Huis van Afgevaardigden:

  • Terri Sewell is advocaat inzake overheidsfinanciën. Zij is de eerste zwarte vrouw in het Huis van Afgevaardigden die werd verkozen in de staat Alabama.

  • Ze is een enthousiaste verdedigster van het hervormingsplan voor gezondheidszorgen dat vice-president Biden uitwerkte.

  • Terri Sewell heeft geen interesse voor buitenlandse aangelegenheden. Haar prioriteiten liggen bij jobcreatie, onderwijs en de toegang tot gezondheidszorgen.

  • Karen Bass is een voormalig voorzitter van de California State Assembly. Zij was de eerste Afrikaans-Amerikaanse vrouw op die post.

  • Ze werd geboren in Los Angeles en ging op haar tiende naar de Hancock Park Elementary School, een joods onderwijsinstituut. Nadien ging ze naar de Hamilton High School, een plaats waar kinderen van joodse activisten les volgen.

  • Als penningmeester van de Louisville Hebrew School deelt ze jaarlijkse oorkondes voor verdiensten in de Hebreeuwse taal uit.

  • John C. Carney, Jr. is een Amerikaans politicus uit Wilmington, in New Castle Country in de staat Delaware.

  • Volgens Carney kan vrede tussen Israël en de Palestijnen enkel tot stand komen bij directe gesprekken en kan niemand – ook de V.S. niet – vrede opleggen aan één van de partijen.

  • Verder zegt hij nog op zijn webstek: “Israël heeft ongekende stappen naar vrede ondernomen” en die stappen zijn volgens hem de “volledige bouwstop op de Westelijke Jordaanoever” en de terugtrekkingen uit de Sinaï en de Gazastrook. “Dit waren moeilijke beslissingen die gezinnen ontwortelden en offerde de veiligheid en de strategische voordelen, het bewijs van het engagement van Israël en de bereidheid om grote risico's nemen voor de vrede.”

  • De Palestijnse Autoriteit heeft volgens de Democraat ook verantwoordelijkheden om een einde te maken aan het conflict: de nog steeds bestaande terroristische infrastructuur ontmantelen en terug te keren naar de onderhandelingstafel zonder voorwaarden vooraf.

  • Israël heeft dan weer alle recht om alle noodzakelijke acties te ondernemen, net als de V.S., om haar bevolking te beschermen tegen terreuraanslagen. Hij verwerpt het Goldstone-rapport. Hij bezocht in juni 2010 voor het eerst Israël en werd één van de grootste verdedigers van het zionistische regime aldaar.

  • Frederica Wilson vertegenwoordigd de staat Florida. Ze houdt zich uitsluitend bezig met onderwijs.

  • Colleen Hanabusa is een vierde generatie Japans-Amerikaanse. Ze is voorzitter van de Senaat in de staat Hawaii. Gezondheidsbeleid, economie en vernieuwde energie liggen haar nauw aan het hart.

  • Cedric Richmond is een vertegenwoordiger van de staat Louisiana. Zijn interesse gaat naar economie en onderwijs.

  • Bill Keating komt uit Massachusetts en was voorheen Republikein. Keating was CEO van het Detroit Newspaper Partnership. Hij steunt de troepenterugtrekking uit Afghanistan vanaf juli 2011 maar daar houdt zijn buitenlandse aandacht mee op. Bill Keating werd op 30 maart 2010 83 jaar.

  • Hansen Clarke is de eerste Bangladees-Amerikaanse volksvertegenwoordiger en komt uit de staat Michigan. Hansen Clarke werd als moslim opgevoed door zijn Bangladese vader en bekeerde zich nadien als rooms-katholiek. Zijn vader stierf toen hij acht jaar was. De moeder van Clarke groeide op in de African Methodist Episcopal Church in Detroit. Zijn vrouw, Choi Palmer-Cohen, werd in Zuid-Korea geboren en was een adoptiekind van een katholieke moeder en joodse vader. Hansen komt op voor veilige straten, goed werk voor alle Amerikanen, toegankelijke scholen voor iedereen en lagere verzekeringspremies.

    In 2008 ging Clarke naar Israël met een delegatie uit Detroit – de Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Fellowship of Israel and Black America - om Detroit pastoor Kenneth Flowers en de Israëlische musicus Miri Ben-Ari te eren. De groep reisde met de Jewish Community Relations Council of Metro Detroit. De Israëlische president Shimon Peres kreeg eveneens een bezoek. Pastoor Flowers ziet een link tussen de onderdrukking en slavernij van joodse mensen en Afrikaans-Amerikanen.

  • David Cicilline is de burgemeester van Providence, Rhode Island en werd voor deze staat gekozen in het Huis van Afgevaardigden. Hij is de eerste openlijk-homoseksuele burgemeester van een hoofdplaats van een Amerikaanse staat. Cicilline werd geboren op 15 juli 1961 in Providence uit een joodse moeder, Sabra en een Italiaans-Amerikaanse vader, John F. "Jack" Cicilline.

  • Over Israël zegt hij het volgende: “Sinds haar oprichting meer dan 60 jaar geleden, heeft Israël als baken gediend voor pluralisme, rechtvaardigheid en respect voor de mensenrechten, ondanks te worden omringd door onvriendelijke landen die weigeren zelfs haar bestaansrecht te erkennen. De Verenigde Staten en Israël kennen een sterke erfenis van vriendschap, te beginnen met president Harry S. Truman's moedige besluit om Israël amper 11 minuten na haar bereikte soevereiniteit al te erkennen. Bovendien heeft Israël offers voor vrede in het Midden-Oosten gebracht, zoals blijkt uit haar bereidheid tot het geven van delen van het thuisland in ruil voor belangrijke vredesakkoorden met Egypte en Jordanië en de herhaalde concessies om de Palestijnse Autoriteit aan de (onderhandelings)tafel te brengen.”


Wouter Bos als Adviseur

Fatsoen is in onze westerse wereld een schaars goed en zou daarom hoog geprezen moeten worden. Maar helaas, dat is niet het geval.

In 2000 werd hij staatssecretaris van Financiën in het kabinet-Kok II. Na de Tweede Kamerverkiezingen 2002 werd Bos de partijleider van de PvdA en in 2006 werd hij, ondanks een teleurstellend verkiezingsresultaat, minister van Financiën en vicepremier in het kabinet-Balkenende IV. In 2010 maakte hij zijn vertrek uit de politiek bekend.

Onder het bewind van Wouter Bos verloor de PVDA in totaal 13 van de 42 zetels die de partij had, eenderde van de sociaaldemocratische parlementsleden kon vertrekken. Zonder overdrijven kan men stellen dat Bos als politicus een flop was voor zowel de partij als voor de sociaaldemocratie. Behalve zijn miljardensteun aan de banken zal nagenoeg niemand een van zijn heldendaden kunnen opnoemen. Maar als product is Bos dankzij alle geheime staatskennis die hij bezit een topnummer, zijn adviezen zijn voor de grote concerns goud waard. Als oud-minister van Economische Zaken kan hij net als zijn socialistische voorganger Wim Kok grote bedrijven adviseren hoe ze maximaal van de overheid kunnen profiteren tegen minimale kosten, in concreto: waar de subsidies het best binnengesleept kunnen worden en hoe ze het best zo min mogelijk belasting over hun winsten kunnen betalen. Wouter Bos, de Tony Blair van de polder, mag dat aangezien hoge ambtenaren en zijn voormalige collega-politici dit goedkeuren, aangezien ook zij straks gaan vangen als goedbetaalde adviseurs van de rijken. Fatsoen is een schaars goed. En ondertussen vragen de zogeheten linkse Kamerleden zich af hoe het toch komt dat Wilders wint en dat het volk zo woedend is.

Bos hoeft geen verklaring geheimhouding te tekenen

Van onze verslaggever Robert Giebels − 06/11/10, 06:45
Wouter Bos. © Joost van den Broek / de Volkskrant

AMSTERDAM - Wouter Bos heeft van het ministerie van Financiën de vrije hand gekregen om in een nieuwe baan de financiële sector te adviseren. Er zijn geen wettelijke criteria waarom Bos zou moeten afzien van dergelijk advieswerk. Na intern onderzoek constateert het ministerie bovendien dat er geen problemen zijn met vertrouwelijke informatie.

Bos was drie jaar minister van Financiën in de meest turbulente periode die het departement heeft gekend. Diverse steun- en reddingsoperaties hebben hem kennis opgeleverd waarover geen ander beschikt. Bos is per 1 oktober overgestapt naar accountantsorganisatie KPMG. Daar, zegt hij in vraaggesprek vandaag met de Volkskrant, 'gebruiken collega's die bezig zijn met banken, verzekeraars en pensioenfondsen mij om te klankborden of met klanten in gesprek te raken'.

Bos is zelf naar het ministerie van Financiën gestapt om te vragen of zijn overstap naar de financiële sector tot conflicten zou kunnen leiden. 'Ik gooi mijn eigen integriteit te grabbel als ik daarmee verkeerd omga', zegt Bos in het vraaggesprek.

Intern onderzoek
Volgens een woordvoerder is op instigatie van de hoogste departementale ambtenaar, Ronald Gerritse, een intern onderzoek gedaan. 'We moesten dat wel zelf doen, want er bestaan geen richtlijnen voor dit soort situaties', aldus de woordvoerder.

De uitkomst van het onderzoek was dat er geen belemmeringen waren voor Bos om bij KPMG aan de slag te gaan. 'Aangezien er dus geen conflicterende belangen waren, was het dus ook niet nodig om afspraken met Bos te maken over zijn nieuwe baan.'
Zelf zegt Bos daarover: 'Ik hoefde geen geheimhoudingsverklaringen te tekenen.'

Onlangs zei Rick van der Ploeg tegen me dat Wouter Bos nog niet eens het maximum krijgt voor wat hij zou kunnen krijgen. Dat is toch niet slecht voor iemand die nooit een vak heeft gehad.

vrijdag 5 november 2010

Peter van Walsum Oud-Diplomaat 31

Meneer Van Walsum,

Na al wat ik over u geschreven heb wil ik u één ding voorleggen. U bent jurist, heeft rechten gestudeerd, kennelijk vanuit de overtuiging dat het zinnig was om een aantal jaren van uw leven deze opgeschreven ordening te bestuderen. Daarom de vraag: wat betekent het recht in uw ogen? Ik vraag u dit naar aanleiding van het feit dat
het vermoorden van een half miljoen Irakese kinderen onder de vijf jaar volgens u behoort tot de categorie 'heilzame maatregelen' die in uw woordenn weliswaar 'onmiskenbaar... leed berokkenen,' maar die desondanks deze massamoord niet meer maken dan te verwaarlozen 'bijkomende schade.' En dus gaf u op de vraag van John Pilger:

'Aren't the deaths of half a million children mass destruction?'

als antwoord

'I don't think you can use that argument to convince me.'

Een half miljoen kinderen, u heeft het aantal niet aangevochten. Hoe kan een jurist die gelooft in de juistheid van de wet deze grootschalige schending van het recht voor zichzelf rechtvaardigen? Daarom mijn vraag aan u: wat betekent voor u het recht?

Ik zal u vertellen wat voor mij recht betekent. Ik citeer daarbij de formulering van een rechter die in Bonfire of Vanities het laatste woord heeft. Hij zegt:

Recht is de wet. En de wet is de fragiele poging van de mens om de principes van fatsoen vast te leggen. Fatsoen! En fatsoen is geen koehandel, is geen intrige, of een overeenkomst of gesjoemel. Fatsoen is wat uw grootmoeder u leerde. Het zit in ons merg en been.

En zo niet, wie beschermt ons dan nog tegen het onfatsoen, de terreur, de barbarij?

Jewish Peace Activists 12

Dear Stan,

Last week, the oldest and most respected Jewish paper in the United States, the Jewish Daily Forward, did the unimaginable. They named Rebecca Vilkomerson, the director of of Jewish Voice for Peace, one of the top 50 Jewish leaders in the United States.

Rebecca's inclusion on the list is really a symbol of JVP becoming a force that cannot be ignored. It is a stunning acknowledgement of the work of the staff, board, chapters and countless volunteer activists who have spent years making Jewish Voice for Peace what it is, a sign of our extraordinary progress. Today, we are the only national U.S. Jewish group that fights for full equality for Israelis and Palestinians.

We can't stop now. We've got our foot in the door - and now it's time to kick it wide open. And,
we need your help to do it.

You see, to be acknowledged for our influence in the Jewish world is nearly unthinkable. We've been handed a moment to exponentially increase that influence. We've got to be louder, stronger and bigger - and that means finding more and more people who, like you, are willing to speak the truth, to speak of peace, to dissent with us.

This isn't just our idea, though. When a couple of donors heard the news about Rebecca's inclusion in
Forward, they came to us and asked, "What’s the most important thing we can do to make the most of this moment?", the answer seemed obvious.

We said,
Help us be louder and stronger and bigger and more effective than ever.

So they made us an offer, ”For every person who adds their name to the Jewish Voice for Peace email list, we’ll donate a dollar.”

They’ve promised us $15,000 if we can get 15,000 new people on our e-list. All you have to do is have your friends paste this URL into their browser:

Please forward this email to your friends, along with your note about why you stand for a just peace. Every voice counts.


Penny Rosenwasser,
Founding Board Member
Jewish Voice for Peace

donderdag 4 november 2010

Israel as a Rogue State 131

A scenario which can be used again!

Israeli attack on USS Liberty (US Navy ship)

Liduine Zumpolle 17

Liduine Zumpolle: 'hersenspoeling' en 'de dans ontsnapt.'
Nu onlangs duidelijk is geworden dat de christelijke activiste Liduine Zumpolle, die samenwerkt met de terreur bedrijvende geheime dienst van Colombia, er naast zat wat haar propaganda betreft over dat land, komt ze met de bewering op de proppen dat de Farc-strijdster Tanja Nijmeijer
'gehersenspoeld' is. Althans, dat was onlangs haar verklaring voor haar verkeerde inschatting over de strijders van de Farc. In het TV-programma van Pauw en Witteman benadrukt ze nu ook wat elke mensenrechten organisatie allang gedocumenteerd heeft aangetoond, namelijk dat Colombia een 'criminele cultuur' kent, en er 'een waanzinnige hoeveelheid corruptie' heerst. Desondanks werkt ze nauw samen met het corrupte establishment die haar van allerlei middelen voorziet. Tijdens de uitzending ontglipte aan haar mond een schitterende Fehlleistung toen Liduin Zumpolle ineens dit zei over Nijmeijer:

Zij is weer, voor de zoveelste keer, zeg maar, de dans ontsnapt.

Zumpolle gebruikte twee uitdrukkingen door elkaar. Het is de dans ontspringen, en aan de dood ontsnappen, dus het ontsnappen aan het Colombiaanse leger dat bekend staat vanwege zijn grootschalige mensenrechtenschendingen. 'De dans ontsnapt' is een klassiek voorbeeld van een Freudiaanse verspreking. Het is alsof de christelijke acitiviste zich telkens weer verbijt dat die verdomde Nijmeijer nog steeds niet is gedood door de corrupte autoriteiten waarmee Frau Liduine samenwerkt. Een voorbeeld van de staatsterreur van Zumpolle's netwerk is dit:

The response to organized indigenous resistance to displacement has been brutal. Last year alone, four members of the small Lopez Adentro community alone were assassinated ("The Struggle for Survival and Dignity: Human Rights Abuses Against Indigenous Peoples in Colombia," Amnesty International, 23 January 2010 [PDF]). According to human rights advocate Felix Posada, 1,400 indigenous persons were assassinated during Uribe's eight-year tenure, representing one percent of Colombia's total indigenous population. Colombia has the highest rate of indigenous killings in Latin America, numbering 114 last year, reported Posada behind bulletproof doors in his office in downtown Bogota.

Right-wing paramilitary groups are suspected in many of the incidents, despite the Uribe administration's claim of their demobilization in 2006 ("
Colombian Paramilitaries' Successors Called a Threat," Simon Romero, The New York Times, 3 February 2010). The "disarmament" was widely seen as a publicity stunt in which individuals dressed up as militants handed over their guns in photo-ops in exchange for a handsome reward. Countless cases have confirmed collaboration between the Colombian army and the paramilitaries (renamed "organized delinquents" these days), the latter often doing the dirty work in exchange for power and immunity.

Later meer over deze activiste, die onjuiste informatie verspreidt: FARC-kenner Liduine Zumpolle noemde het "zeer waarschijnlijk dat Tanja onder de slachtoffers zit",[61] maar na forensisch onderzoek bleek het lichaam van Tanja Nijmeijer zich niet onder de gevonden doden te bevinden.

Liduine Zumpolle 16

The Dutch activist Liduine Zumpolle.

Watch out for Liduine Zumpolle who works with the DAS,
the Colombian secret service!

Indigenous resistance, from Colombia to Palestine

Anna Baltzer writing from Lopez, Colombia, Live from Palestine, 16 September 2010

A teenager sits above the Toez Indigenous Reserve at dusk. Her community has been repeatedly threatened with displacement by the Colombian government.

"They only see our water, our land, our trees. They don't care about us. They want the land -- without the people on it."

These words are not of a Palestinian farmer but of Justo Conda, governor of Lopez Adentro Indigenous Reserve in southwestern Colombia, whose community was repeatedly threatened with displacement under former president Alvaro Uribe Velez. Uribe, recently appointed by the United Nations to investigate Israel's fatal attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, has a notoriously horrific track record on human rights. Less explored are the clear parallels between his government's mistreatment of indigenous peoples of Colombia and Israel's abuses of the indigenous people of Palestine.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Colombia has one of the largest populations of internally displaced people in the world, numbering as many as 4.9 million. According to the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement more than 286,000 Colombians were uprooted from their land in 2009 alone. Approximately ten percent of the Colombian population has suffered forced displacement, many of them indigenous communities, afro-Colombian descendants of former slaves, and campesinos (farmers).

Like Israel, Colombia is the largest recipient of US military aid in its hemisphere. Six billion US tax-dollars over the past ten years have placed Colombia third in the world for US military assistance, after Israel and Egypt. Armed with US weapons and political backing, Uribe's government and other armed actors have forced out millions through extrajudicial assassinations and terror tactics, clearing the way for the exploitation of natural resources by the government and multinational companies. Always in the name of security and the "War on Terror," Colombian soldiers have burned villages, ransacked homes and destroyed the livelihoods of communities who have taken the radical decision of staying on their own land.

For many indigenous communities, this is not the first time they've been uprooted. With the Spanish invasion five hundred years ago and the founding of Colombia three hundred years later, indigenous peoples have been repeatedly forced to flee their fertile valleys rich with water and minerals, moving further and further into the Andes mountain ranges where the climate is harsher and the land less arable. Now the government wants to take even that land, leaving the communities trapped -- community members say if they head higher into the mountains they may be threatened by guerillas who are fighting to maintain control of those areas, while going down into the valleys they will face aggression from paramilitaries, corporations and the army.

There is something eerily familiar about this violent and calculated expulsion and it is no surprise that Israel has now become Colombia's number one supplier of weapons, advisor on military organization and intelligence-gathering and model for "fighting terror" ("Report: Israelis fighting guerillas in Colombia," Ynet, 10 August 2007, as cited in "Uribe's appointment to flotilla probe guarantees it's failure," Jose Antonio Gutierrez and David Landy, The Electronic Intifada, 6 August 2010). But like the Palestinians, the people of Colombia are not prepared to abandon their homes and livelihoods without a struggle. Almost twenty years ago, up against a military armed to the teeth, the indigenous communities of southwestern Colombia developed their own form of protection: La Guarda Indigena (The Indigenous Guard).

Justo Conda, governor of the Lopez Adentro Indigenous Reserve, standing in front of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca flag with the ancestral staff that identifies him as a member of the indigenous guard.

Standing before the flag of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca in the indigenous reserve of Lopez, Governor Conda explained:

"The Colombian government does not represent us, so we have constructed our own system of security. In each indigenous community, individuals are selected to serve for one year defending our land. Each indigenous guard receives a staff, passed down by its previous user, which represents the authority and responsibility of the position. Guards carry their ancestral staffs everywhere they go. It is received voluntarily; nobody is paid to defend their people. And although everyone in our communities would fight for our freedom, the staffs indicate those of us who have been physically and psychologically prepared during the year to defend our people and our land."

Governor Conda added:

"In the face of a highly-militarized state that consistently denies us our basic rights, the indigenous guard is the only defense we can exercise. We have declared ourselves neutral, allied with neither the guerillas nor the army. We are offering a peaceful solution based on an end to colonization and respect for life and culture. We have no weapons or guns. We don't need weapons or guns to exercise control. Our guards stand outside our gates, armed only with their colorful staff -- a symbol of our strength and our values. And although we have received many threats, many authorities have also come to respect the indigenous guard."

Conda explained that at the end of each guard's term, he or she chooses a successor and the authority and responsibility rotates. Next to Conda, the current community guards stood up one by one, a diverse group of men and women; young and old; a pregnant woman; a village elder. They held the staffs, each meant to reach as high as its carrier's heart.

Colombia's indigenous communities have a long history of popular resistance. In the 1920s, tribes collectively boycotted taxes imposed by the government on indigenous people to live and work on their own land. Since then, councils have been formed to decide how to recuperate territory and resist expulsion. Although their presence preceded European colonization, indigenous Colombians are often treated as foreigners and invaders.

The response to organized indigenous resistance to displacement has been brutal. Last year alone, four members of the small Lopez Adentro community alone were assassinated ("The Struggle for Survival and Dignity: Human Rights Abuses Against Indigenous Peoples in Colombia," Amnesty International, 23 January 2010 [PDF]). According to human rights advocate Felix Posada, 1,400 indigenous persons were assassinated during Uribe's eight-year tenure, representing one percent of Colombia's total indigenous population. Colombia has the highest rate of indigenous killings in Latin America, numbering 114 last year, reported Posada behind bulletproof doors in his office in downtown Bogota.

Right-wing paramilitary groups are suspected in many of the incidents, despite the Uribe administration's claim of their demobilization in 2006 ("Colombian Paramilitaries' Successors Called a Threat," Simon Romero, The New York Times, 3 February 2010). The "disarmament" was widely seen as a publicity stunt in which individuals dressed up as militants handed over their guns in photo-ops in exchange for a handsome reward. Countless cases have confirmed collaboration between the Colombian army and the paramilitaries (renamed "organized delinquents" these days), the latter often doing the dirty work in exchange for power and immunity.

A mother at the Lopez Adentro Indigenous Reserve.

In October of 2008, following direct action by the Indigenous and Popular Minga (Community Mobilization) of La Maria in Piendamo, soldiers entered the municipality and vandalized cars, forced inhabitants out of their homes with tear gas, stripped men in front of their neighbors and set fire to residents' huts, beds, bicycles and even children's dolls (Video: "La Maria Piendamo," 22 October 2008). A mass march from La Maria was met with soldiers and helicopters, leading to a stand-off of stones, sling-shots and ancestral staffs versus the army's tear gas and live ammunition (Video: "Minga de la Maria Piendamo," 22 October 2008). If Uribe's administration's chosen response to wooden, ancestral wooden staffs was bullets, what could he possibly say to Israel's killing of nine Turks who may have been carrying chair legs?

The gravest threat of all faced by Colombia's indigenous population is cultural destruction and extinction. Of Colombia's 102 indigenous tribes, 32 percent are in danger of disappearance. Eighteen tribes have fewer than two hundred persons remaining. One of the most important forms of resistance for many communities has been the preservation of language, cultural values and traditions.

Until recently, the state-imposed educational system mandated schooling in Spanish, but today native languages are taught in classrooms on the reserves. The people have won other victories along the way as far back as 1991 when the new constitution finally recognized the diverse ethnic identities of the Colombian people and their rights to preserve their land and culture. But too often the constitution and laws are ignored in favor of other interests, notably expanding control over natural resources.

Unwilling to continue waiting after twenty years of unkept promises, the indigenous communities of the Cauca and Valle de Cauca regions of southwest Colombia have joined together on a common platform of four priorities: unity, land, culture and autonomy. The vision is a complete one, with freedom conditional on the fulfillment of each element. Another member of the Lopez Adentro community explained: "Peace is not simply an end to war. Peace will come when indigenous rights to land, culture and self-determination are respected. There can be no peace through the destruction or submission of the indigenous population."

This definition of true peace is a timely one as Israel and the illegitimate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas resume negotiations while ignoring the fundamental requirements of justice for the Palestinian people, including their respective rights to land, culture and self-determination.

It is difficult to imagine a leader as enthusiastic about Israel's repression tactics as Uribe being a fair judge as to the legality of Israel's attacks on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. His former administration's close relationship to the Jewish state alone precludes him as an impartial investigator. And although there are notable differences between the situations in Colombia and Palestine, the likeness of the Colombian and Israeli governments' responses to indigenous resistance is unmistakable. It would be not only out of character but downright hypocritical for Uribe to hold Israel accountable for the same type of behavior that characterized his own presidency.

Meanwhile, the sumoud and resilience of the indigenous Colombian people persists. Governor Conda continued, "Just as we have for five hundred years, we will continue to struggle and move forward. In fact, we are ready to work harder than ever."

All images by Anna Baltzer.

Anna Baltzer is an award-winning lecturer, author and activist for Palestinian rights. Author of
Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories, she is contributor to four upcoming book on the subject. For more information visit


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