Archive for February, 2012
Part I – Real Threats?
In mid February 2012 an array of top U.S. intelligence chiefs appeared before Senate Intelligence Committee to give their annual report on “current and future worldwide threats” to national security. Those testifying included CIA Director David Petraeus, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. General Ronald Burgess, and FBI Director Robert Mueller. Their presentations on what is and is not a real threat to the nation, as well as the reaction of the senators holding the hearings, turned out to be an exercise in one dimensional thinking. What is real? Well, what comports with your point of view. Here are two examples from their testimony:
1. The Enemy Within
– Rogue individuals operating “within the ranks” of the intelligence community and armed forces” now constitute a major threat to U.S. security. According to Lt. General Burgess these people are “self-radicalized lone wolves.” He then pointed to the “recent massive Wikileaks disclosures.”Everyone involved in these hearings agreed with this assertion even though it is based on a dubious, yet unquestioned, assumption. The assumption is that the behavior of U.S. government forces is a model of acceptable normal military and intelligence behavior. Those who work for the government but find this behavior unacceptable, and indeed a criminal betrayal of all that is humane, and then do something about that conviction, are “self-radicalized”dangers to national security.
But what if the support of oppressive and racist regimes, the invasion of other countries based on lies, the killing of thousands upon thousands of civilians, and the official use of torture and extraordinary rendition constitutes radical and unreasonable behavior? Then those who expose such extremism would not be the radicals at all. They would be champions of a more rsonable norm and also heroes.
My suggestion is that this is exactly the case. The country’s pursuit of its alleged national interests is being directed by a bunch of thugs in suits who have taken it upon themselves to label as “radicals” those citizen heroes who point out this fact. They are afraid that more and more citizens might see the real barbaric nature of their policies and call them to account. So, to prevent this, they criminalize the truth tellers.
2. The Iranian Threat
– According to James Clapper, the National Intelligence Director, “despite the hype surrounding Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, the country’s leaders are not likely to develop weapons unless attacked.” In addition, the Iranians are unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.”How was this news greeted by the senators on the intelligence committee? Most of them refused to believe it, which is par for the course for the Congress as a whole and most of the US media. In this case the norm was laid out by Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican) of South Carolina who told Clapper that “I’m very convinced that they’re (the Iranians) are going down the road to developing a nuclear weapon.”
Wait a minute. These are your boys, Senator Graham. You and your ilk are the ones who claim that the nation’s intelligence services are best in the world and know what they are talking about. All of a sudden you don’t believe them! Why not? What other source of information on Iran do you have that you consider better, more reliable than the CIA, the DIA, the NSA, etc.?
Try the Zionist lobby. Graham and his fellow senators’ main source of information on anything touching on Israel (and the Iran business is a prime example of Israeli paranoia) is an American Israel Public Affairs Committee briefing book. They will never cross this Lobby even when it tells them things that contradict U.S. intelligence. That is because the Lobby financially contributes to their campaigns and threatens to work to unseat them if they do not follow its lead. The intelligence community simply cannot compete with that.
So once again we are confronted with definitions that are designed to support idiosyncratic views. What is “radical”? Exposing the government’s crimes is what is radical. What is “real” when it comes to Iran? What the organization that funds your reelection campaign says is real – that’s what.
Part II – What is Real For Everyone Else?
Just about everyone thinks they know what is real. And in some important categories we truly do know. We all know that if you jump off of a high building the reality of gravity takes over with dire consequences. More generally, most of us know what is real within the immediate environment in which we live. What do I mean by this?
Most of us live most of our lives within a relatively small local space. Within that space we have direct, interactive, day-to-day experiences and through these come to accurately know what to expect. Our experiences have good predictive value. If someone comes along and says something ridiculous, like the next town over is developing atomic weapons and is determined to use them to blow up your neighborhood, we will know that this is crazy.
But what about things going on beyond the horizon? Most of us don’t go to those places, don’t have day-to-day experiences with them. Nothing in our lives allows us to make a judgment on what is real or not real about activities there. So what do we do? Well, we ignore those places unless there is some reason to believe they can impact our lives. Then most of us rely on those we are led to believe are “experts”on things foreign – usually government officials or media “talking heads.”
This can be a problem. How do we know that they are experts and can be trusted? How do we know that they don’t have some undeclared agenda that skews their judgment? As the two examples given above suggest, government officials can work on assumptions which, when looked at dispassionately, are just anti-human. And government officials, allied to special interests, can dismiss what their own intelligence experts tell them is real. What are we locals suppose to believe?
Part III – Some Rules to Follow When You Don’t Know What is Real
When one cannot determine what is real or is not real, there are perhaps some rules that can be followed so as to encourage policy makers to act in ways that will minimize mistakes. For instance, in cases of uncertainty citizens should:
1. Be very skeptical of what the government and media tell them is real. Remember the past disasters (most recently the invasion of Iraq) that easy acceptance of such portrayals of alleged reality have caused. Concerned citizens owe it to themselves and their nation to seek multiple sources of information.
2. Demand that policy makers initially act on the basis of a best case scenario even as they prepare for the worst. Most of the time the “expert” advice we get on foreign threats is either ideologically driven and therefore exaggerated or just plain wrong (for instance, the case of Vietnam), or is driven by the agenda of some lobby or special interest (for instance, the case of Iraq, the threat from Iran, or the “sainted” status of the Israelis and the “terrorist” status of the Palestinians). The resulting worst case depictions of reality are almost always inaccurate and generally lead to unnecessary death and destruction.
3. Demand that, in foreign relations, diplomacy always be pursued first and foremost. War should be the very last resort because it is truly a radical and extreme undertaking of which few policy makers have any direct experience. If they did, they would be much more hesitant to commit their fellow citizens to it.
4. Demand punishment for those who knowingly lie and break the laws governing international relations and human rights (such as the Geneva Conventions and laws prohibiting torture). There are good reasons why these laws exist. Not to enforce them is to condone a return to barbarism.
Part IV – Conclusion
Oddly enough, in a democracy citizens who do not participate in political discussion, who do not attempt to influence policy, end up having responsibility for whatever policies their government takes up. This is true because in a democracy if a citizen chooses not to be political he or she abdicates their potential influence to those who do act politically. It is only those who fight for what they think is right and real yet do not win, who can say they are not responsible for the behavior of a government they actively opposed. So if you want to be able to say this you cannot retreat into a wholly private existence. If you do so others, who you might find to be thugs in suits, will more likely succeed. And in the end, they will act in your name.
America’s FBI Goes Rogue – An Analysis (1 September 2011)
Part I – Entrapment as Government Policy
Here is an important question: What single organization is responsible for more terror plots in the USA than any other? Possible answers: Al Qaida. That would no doubt be the popular answer but it would be wrong. The KKK. Way past their prime, so that is not it. The Jewish Defense League. Good guess, but still not it. So what is the correct answer? It is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, AKA the FBI. Don’t believe me? Well, just read Trevor Aaronson’s expose entitled “The Informants” published in the September/October 2011 issue of Mother Jones.
Aaronson looked at over 500 terrorism related cases taken up by the FBI and found that over half of them involved the Bureau’s stable of 15,000 informants. Many of these are ex-felons and con men who are often paid well if their efforts result in an arrest and conviction. So what, you might say. Using informants to obtain information about criminal activity is an old and legitimate tactic. Yes, however, that approach to information gathering is not exactly how the FBI uses all of its informants. Indeed, the Bureau has a program, misnamed “prevention” which encourages its agents to get creative in the use of informants. How creative? Well, if they can’t find any terrorist activity going on, they have their informants instigate some. Where are they doing this? Mainly in our country’s Muslim communities.
According to the Mother Jones story the FBI has concluded that Al-Qaeda as an organization is no longer a major threat to the US. The threat now comes from the “lone wolf,” the person who is angry at or frustrated by their life situation and open to the influence of terrorist rhetoric. Allegedly, the American Muslim community is full of these “lone wolves” just sitting out there fuming, aching to vent their anger on a myriad array of significant and insignificant targets. As the FBI’s logic goes, sooner or later a lot of these people will find the courage to act. So, the role of the informant is to find these folks and nab them before they blow up a Christmas tree in Portland Oregon. Here is a typical scenario:
1. FBI informant A is assigned, in Aaronson’s words, to “troll the mosques” of some American Muslim community. They might work this area for months looking for those angry, frustrated types. Gadeir Abbas, Staff Attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), says they may hit upon some fellows living “on the fringes of society.” These people are often poor and unsettled, with only a rudimentary knowledge if Islam, and usually quite gullible.
2. Having spotted a candidate B, informant A befriends him and encourages B to vent his anger and dissatisfaction. At one point informant A might suggest to B that Allah put him on this earth for better things and what would he like to do about all that anger and frustration?
3. Now we are at the seminal moment. What if B has no idea what he would like to do? At this point informant A (carefully turning off his hidden recording device) transforms himself into an agent provocateur (remember he has a financial incentive to entrap this guy) and comes up with a suggestion. Why don’t we go blow up an army recruitment center? In other words, A is a confidence artist, a con-man (one of these informants boasted that he could con the kernels off a cob of corn) and is using his “talent” to maneuver his victim, who as yet has done nothing illegal, into an incriminating situation.
4. If B takes the bait, then A leads him on, concocting a plot, perhaps informing B that he A is an agent (not of the FBI of course) of some Pakistani terrorist organization come to the US to wage Jihad. He can supply B with weapons, explosives, vehicles and money. In other words, all the things that B could never have reasonably procured on his own (such as the necessary money or appropriate vehicles). All the things that B has no knowledge how to construct (like a bomb).
5. Eventually B is led to enact the crime, usually using a fake bomb. Then, of course, he gets arrested. Typically, he is sent to jail for decades. A gets paid up to $100,000 by the FBI. Voila, another terrorist plot foiled.
Part II – Criminal Cops
There has always been a fine line between the behavior of the criminal and that of the policeman. The police know this to be true and that is why major state and local police departments have internal affairs sections which look out for “criminal cops.” I do not know if the FBI has such an internal operation, but they certainly should. There are laws against what the FBI is doing. Their informants, at the Bureau’s direction, are not just rooting out criminals, they are inciting the crimes and organizing their commission.
This interpretation of the situation has been raised with Attorney General Eric Holder. His reply is that those who make these accusations “do not have their facts straight or do not have a full understanding of the law.” This is not a very satisfactory response. The FBI will not give us all the facts and in many cases has carefully made sure some of the facts go unrecorded. And, as for the crime of incitement, if you look this topic up using Wikipedia, here is part of what you get: “The plan to commit crime may exist only in the mind of one person until others are incited to join in, at which point the social danger becomes more real. The offence overlaps the offences of counseling or procuring as an accessory.” This is exactly what the FBI informants are doing: counseling, procuring and inciting.
One can go on and read in the Wikipedia piece that incitement exists as a crime because if you wait for the actual crime to be committed, “it is too late to avert the harm. Thus the offence of incitement has been preserved to allow the police to intervene at an earlier time and so avert the threatened harm.” This is probably the part of the law Holder feels is not understood. Yet in the FBI’s “prevention” campaign there is often no evidence of prior intent on the part of those eventually arrested. That is, without the intervention of the informant, without his incitement, there is no evidence that any of these entrapped “criminals” would have done anything wrong. That being the case, it appears that in these incidents, the FBI is inciting others to criminal acts. This is illegal and an egregious abuse of power.
Part III – Conclusion.
If one thinks this through, it becomes clear that the FBI policy makers have confused thought and action. This is a very Judeo-Christian thing to do. Is the sin in the thought or the action? According to the Old Testament thought will do. You do not have to seduce your neighbor’s wife to break one of the Ten Commandments. All you have to do is “covet” her. To pursue the metaphor a bit further, who is it in the Bible stories who goes around and encourages sin, first in the mind and then in action? Adam and Eve might have occasionally thought about eating that apple, but who incited them to do so? Now we have the FBI reenacting this ancient storyline. They know that there are all these people with the sin of terrorism in their hearts. And, they have taken it upon themselves to play the role of the tempter and move these people from thought to action. It seems to me that there must be a daring cartoonist out there who would like to lampoon Robert Mueller, current Director of the FBI, by drawing him with little horns and a pointed tail.
Peter Ahearn, a retired FBI agent who has directed some of these entrapment operations, would get upset at such a cartoon. He is one of the strongest defenders of “prevention.” According to Mr. Ahearn it is important to understand who the FBI is dealing with. These are not “real people.” How so? Ahearn explains that “real people don’t say ‘Yeah, let’s go bomb that place.’ Real people call the cops.” Alas, calling the cops has been tried. When one of the FBI’s more aggressive informants was “trolling” the mosques in the Los Angeles area representatives of the Muslim community called the FBI to report him as a potential terrorist. Nothing happened. The FBI did not act as a “real cop” should and arrest this fellow. The community’s lawyers could not find anyone to arrest him and had to go to court to get a restraining order to get him out of the community. Tell me Peter Ahearn, how many “real cops” do you have in the FBI anti-terrorism unit?
Finally, there is a good chance that “prevention” is making us all less safe. This is because the program will likely make any “real” lone wolf act truly as a loner. If there is anyone out there with actual terrorist designs they are by now forewarned not to share their intentions with anyone for fear of potential informants. They will act alone. In such a way is the road to hell paved with (alleged) good intentions.
Former Pennsylvania Senator, Rick Santorum, is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination who is fast coming to the fore. He won the Republican primary in Iowa (albeit by only 34 votes) in early January and in February won the primaries in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota. So, as the question goes, who is this guy?
Santorum is a self-styled “true conservative,” right-wing, Christian fundamentalist of Catholic background. In 2005 Time Magazine called him “one of America’s 25 most influential evangelicals.” That is still certainly true today. Santorum believes that religious values (at least his religious values) should play a large role in shaping government policies. For those not sure what this means, Santorum has a list of examples:
Part I – Rick Santorum the Moralist
1. Santorum wants “a blanket ban on abortions.” The fact that the U.S. had this very same prohibition up until 1973, and the result was black market abortions that killed not only fetuses but also lots of pregnant women, seems to have escaped the former senator.
2. Santorum wants a ban on gay marriages. He would likely bring back antiquated anti-sodomy laws as well. “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have a right to bigamy, you have a right to polygamy, you have a right to incest, you have a right to adultery. You have a right to anything.” When Santorum gets on the subject of homosexuality, one can’t help noting a tinge of hysteria, along with a generous helping of illogic and exaggeration.
Santorum would probably try to ban other related activities, such as the use of contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. He certainly wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood.
What this adds up to is that when Santorum says religious values should play a greater role in government policy, he means that there should be lots of laws regulating your personal life, particularly your sex life. This is pretty typical of religious fundamentalists particularly of the American Christian variety. They just can’t leave other people’s bedrooms alone.
Part II – Rick Santorum the Economist
On the economic side of the ledger, Rick Santorum takes a slash and burn approach.
1. There should be a $5 trillion cut in the federal budget (but defense spending would be held at present levels). In order to realize this Santorum would do away with, greatly reduce or freeze the Environmental Protection Agency, healthcare reform and medicaid, subsidies for housing, food stamps, job training, energy and education. He would “reform” medicare and social security in draconian fashion and pass a balanced budget amendment. One might agree that the present U.S. federal deficit verges on the insane and still find Santorum’s cure equally crazy. For instance, just about holding exempt defense and “security” spending when combined they make up 20% of the budget and are notorious for waste, redundancy and corruption, makes no sense.
2. There should be an elimination of financial and other regulatory laws. This is true insanity. Regulation is the only thing that makes capitalism an enduring system. Eliminate it and you have financial crashes, dangerous sweatshop working conditions, falling wages and benefits, runaway corruption and theft and, ultimately, depression. That Santorum cannot understand this suggests that he has substituted a discredited free market ideology for history.
3. As a nation Americans should “live within our means” and if we do so “future generations will have a brighter future unburdened by oppressive debt and high taxation.” These are fine slogans, but in practice they probably spell eventual revolution in the streets. If you reduce the debt by slashing expenditures Santorum-style while refusing to increase taxes, you will eliminate almost all of society’s safety nets. That means increasing poverty and all its attendant miseries. You will also make infrastructure maintenance much more difficult.
Someone should tell Mr. Santorum that the U.S. population is not over-taxed. Out of sixty two industrialized countries, the U.S. ranks 28th in terms of its income tax rates. It is, of course, possible to over-tax a people to ruination. It is also possible to under-tax a people to ruination– to tax so low that you can’t assist the less fortunate or fix the pot holes and keep the bridges from collapsing. If Santorum was to get his way the nation would not have his predicted “brighter future.” More likely it would be a future of more poor and more pot holes. That might well lead to disillusionment with the capitalist system among both the lower and middle classes. Personally, I have no objection to such growing disillusionment. I would, however, like to minimize the suffering and violence that surely goes along with it.
Part III – Rick Santorum and Foreign Policy
When it comes to foreign policy, Santorum is a warmonger plain and simple.
1. As to Iran, Santorum would “work with Israel to determine the proper military response needed” to put a end to that country’s nuclear weapons program. It seems not to matter to the former Senator that every U.S. intelligence agency that has ever investigated this issue has determined that there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
2. As to Syria, Santorum would go after the strongman (Bashar al-Assad) “covertly or otherwise.” Does that mean that Santorum act-alikes at the helm of other nations could use the same logic to go after a U.S. president?
3. As to Iraq, Santorum would “continue to stabilize Iraq” presumably by re-invading the country. This belies the fact that it was the American policy of draconian sanctions and ultimate invasion that destabilized Iraq in the first place.
4. As to Afghanistan, Santorum would set no time lines or limit resources “in the war effort.” Yet, if al-Qaeda is as weakened as Washington claims, there seems to be little point in more war. If a stable and competent Taliban government reappears in Afghanistan, it is unlikely to invite future attacks by providing a haven for terrorist organizations. On the other hand, this on-going war is almost certainly providing a breeding ground for more terrorists.
5. As to Islam, Santorum believes it is a religion that is “stuck in the seventh century.” Except for rare exceptions such as the Saudi inspired Wahhabis, this is untrue. Actually, it is Rick Santorum who is stuck in the past. It is he who, like some political ecclesiastic, wants to regulate everyone else’s lives. If Mr. Santorum simply changed hats, he could be a Saudi cleric. Compared to people like him, most Muslims are much more tolerant and contemporary.
6. As to Israel, Santorum takes an uncritically approving position on the Zionist state. This makes sense when you realize that Israel is essentially a religious state–a nation on the brink of becoming a theocracy.
Part IV – Conclusion
Rick Santorum is a religious ideologue. He wants to turn the U.S. into a “faith based” Christian country through the imposition of those “family values” he personally has decided are God given. He believes that America’s founding fathers would agree because they were, supposedly, men of faith just like him. Quoting the Declaration of Independence to prove this point, Santorum reminds us that it says that people “are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” From this he concludes that rights come from God and not from government. Government’s role is simply to implement and protect those divine rights.
The truth is that the man who penned the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, was nothing like Rick Santorum. He wasn’t even a Christian. He was a Deist. Jefferson’s phrasing was meant to impress a wider world in an age when religion was interpreted in a more literal fashion than it is in today’s United States. Jefferson certainly did not mean for Americans to take the notion of God given inalienable rights literally. After all, he was a slave holder.
The number of Americans who respond positively to Rick Santorum’s message is probably in the range of 20%. In terms of the Republican Party, they probably represent about one-third of the membership. Being ideologically driven, these people are motivated to vote. And, that is significant in a nation where voting turnout is traditionally low. So, Rick Santorum is certainly representative of a politically active part of the U.S. population–a dangerous, intolerant, noisy, in-your-face part. If we let him and his followers get their way, the result will be ever greater divisiveness and decline at home, and war abroad. That is a choice for the rest of us.
Lobby, Lobbification, Lobbified – An Analysis (16 April 2011) by Lawrence Davidson
Lobbification is a word I have just coined for the corruptive process that bends politicians to the will of special interests–that is to the will of lobbies. The result of lobbification can be seen in the stilted and fawning behavior of the lobbified political brain. Politicians with lobbified brains become the obedient instruments of the lobbies which have captured their political souls. Below are a few examples of the results of lobbification.
Part I: An Example from the House of Representatives
The majority of the politicians who sit on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee are victims of lobbification. Among the major lobbies that have, over the decades, carried out this corrupting process are the Zionist organizations in their various Jewish and Christian manifestations. In their present state, the lobbified minds of these committee members, so influential in the foreign policy formulation process of our country, are utterly incapable of questioning, much less defying, the hypnotic power of either American Zionists or the Israelis. Here is just one illustration of the resulting mental paralysis.
On Tuesday 5 April 2011 three Israelis appeared before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee. Two were retired IDF generals and one was Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Gold is one of those transplanted Americans who have chosen careers as Israeli spokesmen. (As an aside, he is also an Inspector Clouseau look alike). He served as Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations and political advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Among other dubious accomplishments it was Gold who convinced the Clinton administration not to press Israel on the issue of the Golan Heights. The Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once described him as “simply hatred’s scribe.” Here is some of what Gold and his fellow Israelis told the Foreign Affairs Committee:
1. Israel is confronting a new diplomatic assault that could well strip it of territorial defenses in the West Bank that have provided for its security for over forty years…..”
2. “The 1993 Oslo Agreements envisioned a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with borders to be decided by the parties themselves and not imposed by international coalitions or by unilateral acts.”
3. “Traditional U.S. policy recognized that Israel is not expected to withdrew from all territories it captured in the 1967 Six Day War. This was enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 242….”
4. “…the entire Middle East is engulfed in flames. Just as Israel faces complete strategic uncertainty…it is being asked to acquiesce to unprecedented concessions that could put its very future at risk.” Therefore, “…to agree to a full withdrawal from the West Bank and to acquiesce to the loss of defensible borders pose an unacceptable risk for the Jewish state.”
During this lament our Congressional Representatives sat there, in their collective lobbified frame of mind, and swallowed it all in as if it were gospel. This was completely predictable. The Foreign Affairs Committee is chaired by Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, an ardent anti-Castro Cuban American who has spent her political life doing two things: first, distorting our foreign policy toward Cuba so that no vestige of national interest can be found therein, and second, promoting a tactical alliance between reactionary Cuban American groups and the Zionists. Ros-Lehtinen has recently confirmed her lobbified status by demanding that Congress “make it U.S. policy to demand that the UN General Assembly revoke and repudiate the Goldstone Report.” She did this despite the fact that three of the four signatories of the Report have avowed its accuracy and continued relevance. The ranking Democratic on the committee is Howard Berman who has never been able to figure out who he should represent more diligently, his California district constituents or Israel.
Both these leading committee members clearly suffer from lobbification and most of the other standing members also display this condition to one extent or another. As a result, when it came to the discussion that followed the Israelis’ presentation, all the possible probing questions remained unasked. Here are some of them, figuratively addressed to Ambassador Dore, et. al.
1. What do you mean by “diplomatic assault,” “imposed by international coalitions,” and “unilateral acts”? Do you mean the rather feeble US and European suggestion that your country negotiate in good faith and cease its own series of illegal unilateral acts such as the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem?
2. And how is it that you are now telling us that, for the last forty years, your “territorial defenses” have made you secure? For the past forty years you have been telling us how insecure you are! Are we to understand that your constant claim of insecurity was a gross exaggeration? Perhaps nothing more than an addictive frame of mind? Or has it been just a facade behind which you carry on expansion in violation of international law?
3. Why do you bring up the Oslo Accords? For the last few decades you have been telling us that they are dead letters, irrelevant to current circumstances. You seen to trot them out when they serve your purposes and cast them into oblivion when they do not. Also, are you not aware that in the past your country has violated these accords at will?
4. Is Israel’s determined refusal to negotiate rational concessions really a function of the assertion that the “entire Middle East” is allegedly “engulfed in flames”? If we simply go back to a period when there was no “complete strategic uncertainty” we find that Israel’s position on compromise was exactly the same as it is today. So isn’t this new concern really a contrived excuse to justify your country’s refusal to come to just and fair settlement with the Palestinians?
5. Why are you bringing up the possibility of “full withdrawal” from the West Bank as if it was a specter gazing over your shoulder? When is the last time the U.S. government or the European Union demanded this of you? Is not the present understanding of the final character of borders based upon the 1967 Green line one that includes mutually agreed upon and equitable land swaps? Is not this the recognized contemporary understanding of UN Resolution 242?
6. And what is this business of “defensible borders”? When was the last time your country’s borders proved indefensible to conventional military attack? Isn’t it true that, even without the West Bank, your borders have never been seriously crossed by such forces? Your vulnerability lies in your inability to counter guerrilla and terrorist attacks, and to prevent missile penetration. Ultimate security against these threats does not rest in a policy of colonial expansion but rather in an equitable peace agreement.
What a memorable and actually useful committee meeting it would have been if these or similar questions had been posed. But alas, the lobbified brain functions something like Israel’s apartheid wall. Meaningful questions about Israel and doubts about the real consequences of Zionism cannot easily get over or around the 9 meter high conditioning that is lobbification.
Part II – An Example From the U.S. Senate
The on-line magazine Politico reports tells us that “even as they push for huge cuts, 11 freshman GOP senators say the U.S. must continue to provide foreign aid to its strongest ally in the Middle East: Israel.” In a letter to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) the security conscious eleven stated, “as we work to reduce wasteful government spending….we must continue to prioritize the safety of our nation and the security of our allies, including Israel.” Only the thoroughly lobbified brain can advocate cutting $500 million from federal programs for health and nutrition for women, infants and children and simultaneously insist on continuing to give Israel $ 3 billion a year– and, do so in the name of “prioritizing the safety of our nation”! The Senator who organized the letter to McConnell is Marco Rubio of Florida (a male version of Ros-Lehtinen) and he sits on what committee? The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of course. His lobbified state apparently makes it impossible for him to see the connection between our open-ended support of Israel, Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and our nation’s insecurity. It should come as no surprise that Senator Rubio has said that the U.S. must “stand with Israel without equivocation or hesitation” and cease pressuring Israel over its settlement policies.
Part III – Conclusion
As the approximately 206.8 million adult Americans go about their daily lives most probably do not realize that they, or at least the approximately 57% who bother to vote in federal elections, have placed into positions of power individuals who have been corrupted by lobby power. This is due to the fact that most Americans do not understand and/or pay attention to how their own political system works. Few and far between are the school “civics” courses that, in theory, explain its intricacies. And, once the Republicans get done gutting the education budgets, those remaining courses will most likely disappear.
Ignorance is not bliss. It is often the prelude to sudden destruction. It is not bliss to be ignorant of the corruption that is undermining your government . Lobbification is synonymous with just that –a dangerous form of political corruption. Our political system is riddled with it. It has been so for a long time and the situation is not improving. This condition has recently manifested itself in Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, Ohio and a host of other states in the form of feverish acts of self-destruction. And, as we have seen, Congress has no immunity. Yet the citizenry goes blissfully about its business. To quote the immortal Samuel Johnson, “Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate, roll darkling down the torrent of his fate? (Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 2001, p. 411, No. 19). Perhaps it is so.
Two Front International Struggle For Palestine: An Analysis (5 February 2012) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – Two International Fronts
In January 2011, I wrote an analysis in support of a one-state solution to the on-going Israeli-Palestinian struggle. It is the Israelis themselves who have made the one-state solution the only practicable approach, because their incessant and illegal colonization of the West Bank has simply eliminated all possibility of a viable and truly independent Palestinian state. Israeli behavior has not changed in the past year and so I still stand by the position.
That being said, it is important to point out that even a one-state solution capable of bringing justice to the Palestinians, and in doing so, saving the Jews from the folly of Zionism, will not be possible without worldwide intervention. What is necessary is a struggle on two international fronts:
A) A strong growing international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel and
B) Growing popular pressure in the United States that forces a change in foreign policy toward Israel.
Without achieving both of these goals the fate of both Palestinians and Jews looks very bleak indeed.
Part II – Israel Will Try To Prevent A Civil Rights Struggle
The necessity of this two-front international approach was reinforced for me upon reading a speech given by Noam Chomsky in Beirut in May of 2010. When commenting on a one-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, he made the following points:
1. For the indefinite future, “Israel will continue doing exactly what [its] doing….[taking] the water resources, the valuable land…the Jordan Valley…and send[ing] corridors through the remaining regions to break them up into separated cantons…”
2. In the process the Israeli government will make sure that “very few Palestinians [are] incorporated in the valuable areas that Israel will take over” and they will do so in order to preclude “any civil rights struggle.”
3. the Israelis can do this as long as the United States supports them. Chomsky calls this the “mafia principle.” He notes that in the case of South Africa, the apartheid state was able to hold out against an international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign as long as the United States did not participate in it. And the primary reason the US gave for not doing so was that the leading resistance organization fighting apartheid, Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, was a “notorious” terrorist organization.
4. However, international anti-apartheid sentiment did help push Washington to finally cease its support South Africa and then apartheid collapsed. Chomsky concludes: “When the godfather [that is, the U.S.] changes his policy, things change….I think this could happen with Israel. If the United States changes policy and decides to join the world[‘s growing opposition to Israeli behavior], Israel will have no option but to go along.”
Chomsky’s analysis is a bit too reductionist for me. That is, he tends to bring everything down to positions taken by the U.S. government. But there is no denying that changing U.S. policy is one of two necessary international parts to any solution. And, he makes a seminal point when he tells us that the Israeli government has no intention of incorporating the mass of West Bank Palestinians (to say nothing of the Gazans) into the Jewish state.
Part III – Avoiding A Civil Rights Struggle Through “Transfer”
Indeed, Israeli strategy necessitates allowing a fake “Palestinian state” in the form of West Bank Bantustans, and then deporting their Arab Israeli citizens into those enclaves. No Arabs in Israel, no civil rights struggle.
An interesting piece of news that speaks to this possibility appeared on January 31, 2012. According to Associated Press reports, the Israeli Interior Ministry plans to deport thousands of Southern Sudanese refugees. Why so? Because, according to a ministry spokeswoman, “since the Southern Sudanese have an independent state, they will no longer be given protected status in Israel.” The first step will be to offer them “voluntary deportation and around $1300″ in ‘thanks for leaving’ money. After that, forced deportation and no money, will be the policy.
As the American Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah notes, “Israeli leaders have already hinted that they could use the same type of logic to justify removal of Palestinian citizens of Israel if a nominally independent Palestinian state is established on scrapes of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
This is known as a policy of “transfer” in Zionist parlance and it has been discussed at least since the time of Theodor Herzl. In recent years it has been suggested by former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (now head of the Israeli opposition in the Knesset) and the present Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as well as a slew of other Israeli politicians. Abunimah’s conclusion is that a “two-state solution would be more likely to lead to further ethnic cleansing of Palestinians than to peace.”
Part IV – Conclusion
So what do we have here? On the one hand, Noam Chomsky points to the very real possibility that the Israelis will not allow a one state solution that creates the conditions for an internal struggle for civil and political equality. And, on the other hand, Ali Abunimah points to the very real possibility that any two state solution will lead to forced deportation of Palestinians into Bantustans.
Is there a way out of this? Well if the South African experience is to be a guide it is this: The sine qua non of any solution is the collapse of Israel’s ethno/religious, that is Zionist, ideology of governance. Just as the racist apartheid form of governance had to be changed for there to be a resolution of the South African struggle, so the Israeli Zionist form of governance has to be changed for there to be a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.
And, I think that Chomsky is right when he says the Israelis have no intention of allowing such a change in governance to come about through an internal civil rights struggle. Therefore, the pressure for the necessary transformation will have to come from outside. It will have to come in the form a two-front movement: one front building the worldwide boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and the second front concentrating on making support of Israel a national scandal in the U.S. and therefore a domestic voting issue.
While there are a few good organizations in the U.S. (such as the U.S. Campaign To End The Occupation and Jewish Voices for Peace) involved in building this second front, I think that the effort has not been given enough attention by Americans involved in supporting the Palestinian cause. It is time this changed for, as Noam Chomsky suggests, there will be no just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle unless Israeli treatment of the Palestinians becomes a strong enough cause to impact U.S. policy.