Category Archives: Palestine

What’s Wrong With the United States?

Despite the myth perpetrated by United States spokespersons, the country is not, and never has been, a beacon of peace and freedom, the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, or a democracy that is the envy of the word. It is, and always has been, a racist, imperialist society, an oligarchy and, as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.

Today it is living up to violent, bloody truths that comprise its existence. We will look at just a few of the circumstance today that embody that violence.

The U.S. has just violated an international treaty, by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement also signed by Russia, China, England, France, Germany, the European Union and Iran. The purpose of this agreement was to regulate Iran’s nuclear ambitions (such as they are), in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed upon that country. The JCPOA was signed by the U.S under President Barack Obama, but it was not an agreement between him and the other nations; it was a binding agreement under international law. By violating it, the U.S. has send a strong message to the world that its word cannot be relied upon; has betrayed some of the country’s closest and oldest allies, and may even sanction them if they continue to do business with Iran, which each of the other signatories says they will do, since Iran is and has been in complete compliance with the agreement.

Additionally, the U.S., which has been at war for 225 years of its 242 year history, and which is currently bombing seven countries and supporting terrorist groups in Syria, accuses Iran, which has not invaded another country since 1798, of being the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. This is Orwellianism at its best.

The current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, previously oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S.’s major torture apparatus. His assistant, one Gina Haspel, who actually directed and oversaw the torture of political prisoners, and then destroyed the evidence, is just about to be confirmed by Congress to head the CIA. This tells volumes about Congress’s disregard for international law, civil rights and even common human decency.

Against the advice of nearly the entire international community, and again in violation of international law, President Donald Trump has established the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem. As this was planned, demonstrations were being held every Friday in Gaza, demanding the internationally-recognized right of return, on the border of Gaza and Israel, but on the Palestinian side. Hundreds of unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli sniper fire; thousands more have been injured. Israel has dropped endless amounts of tear gas on peaceful demonstrators. Yet Trump has said nothing, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the incompetent and clown-like Nikki Haley has blamed the Palestinians for the violence. To add to her endless stupidity, when the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. began addressing that body, she walked out!

Let’s look at all this from an international perspective. Every other nation that is a party to the JCPOA attempted to convince Trump to maintain the agreement. The only two nations on the planet that praised his decision are Saudi Arabia and Israel, two nations with human rights records that are among the most dismal in the world. Hardly the company any respectable country would want to keep.

When the shocking information of Bush-era torture was first revealed, the world recoiled in horror. President George Bush’s Attorney General determined that what the rest of the world, and international law, defined as torture was not so if the U.S. did it. This was a crock that no other nation was willing to buy.

And let’s look at the situation in Palestine. Finally, nearly the entire international community has condemned Israeli violence in Gaza. The U.S. vetoed a resolution calling for an independent investigation of that violence. One must wonder why that is: if Israel did, in face, exercise the great restraint that Haley proclaims it did, and if Israel has nothing to hide, why not have an independent investigation? Wouldn’t such an investigation exonerate Israel, and immediately silence all its critics? Perhaps the U.S., an extremely violent society itself, knows, as well as the rest of the world, that Israel is in violation of countless international laws, and even the most cursory investigation would clearly reveal and officially determine what the world already knows.

Even in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress, there seems to be more than a little disquiet about Israel’s apartheid regime. As Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, the ceremony was attended by a variety of U.S. members of Congress, yet not a single Democrat showed up. This is a seismic shift in Congress, and one that bodes well for Palestine.

While three, current atrocities that the U.S. is committing on the international stage have been discussed herein, they are not the only ones. Unarmed people of color continue to be gunned down in the streets by the racist police force, with nearly complete impunity. The U.S., with its increasing number of for-profit prisons, incarcerates its citizens at a higher rate than any other country on earth. Tax dollars feed the bloated military budget, as more and more people fall into poverty, where they find decreasing government services available to them. The government serves the needs of powerful lobbies over constituents. Political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, after studying thousands of policy decisions, said this: “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preference of the average American appears to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

This is the United States today. This is the much-touted ‘democracy’ of which its ignorant and uninformed citizens are so proud. This is the model to which, we are told, the whole world aspires.

Many lies are believed for years; the lies of the U.S. are finally being exposed, showing the nation for what it really is. As its power declines, it will go through a period where it is more dangerous than it has ever been, and this seems to be what the world is now experiencing. One hopes the trigger-happy, war-mongering U.S. doesn’t destroy the entire world as it quickly loses power, influence and international legitimacy.

Originally published by AHTribune.

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Palestine and Other Arab Nations

            With the demonstrations that began on Land Day ongoing, and Israel continuing its brutal, illegal, inhumane repression of the Palestinians, much of the world remains silent. Even other mainly Muslim, Arab countries seem to look the other way, as another Arab country suffers at the hands of its Zionist oppressor.

This tragic and criminal situation was addressed recently by the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. He stated that “One grave danger, which is threatening the world of Islam today, is undermining the important issue of Palestine and consigning it to oblivion”.

Why is this? Why is the brutal, decades-long, criminal occupation of Palestine by the Zionist entity a threat to the world of Islam?

People and nations need to know their enemies, and Zionism has demonstrated itself to be the enemy of Islam. As the Ayatollah said: “An Islamic country has been completely occupied, not a small strip of land, city or village, but an entire country!” Not only is it occupied, but the people of Palestine are oppressed unlike any others, and have been for generations.

Where is the international outrage from these Arab countries, as the Land Day demonstrations have been disrupted by Israel, wherein at least 18 innocent, unarmed Palestinians have been killed? Palestinians are demonstrating on their own land (we will assume, for the sake of discussion, that Israel has some international legitimacy), not in Israel. Yet Zionist-entity terrorists murder them, and drop tear-gas on peaceful protestors, who are simply demanding rights guaranteed to them by international law.

But Arab nations are mostly, although not completely, silent. Most of them, to again quote the Ayatollah, “… behave, speak and act, in ways that culminate with the issue of Palestine being ignored and consigned to oblivion”. If the Zionist entity is allowed to so victimize Palestine, will it stop there? Or will Syria and Iraq be next? Will Turkey be safe?

Saudi Arabia may believe itself to be safe because of its support of the Zionist regime. Its current leader, Mohammed bin Salman, speaks disparagingly of Palestine, Iran and even the Ayatollah, while it praises Israel. Yet Israel, aligned so closely with the United States, cannot be trusted any more than the violent, brutal, terrorist regime of the U.S. can be trusted. Israel has set its sights on dominating the Middle East, and any current rapprochement with Saudi Arabia will only be temporary.

In his recent speech, the Ayatollah also said that “Palestine is the primary issue of the Islamic world”. If Palestine is allowed to be occupied out of existence, the rest of the Islamic world is not safe. Israeli government officials and spokespeople are forever proclaiming that any opposition to Israel or its racist, apartheid policies is a threat to its very existence. Yet, for decades, it has been stealing Palestinian land, bulldozing Palestinian homes to make room for the construction of Israel-only residences, stealing Palestinian natural resources, and killing innocent, unarmed Palestinian men, women and children. It is Palestine’s existence that is under threat, not Israel’s.

The actions of U.S. President Donald Trump should also alarm the leaders of all Arab, mostly Muslim nations. He has attempted to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and that may be the most benign of his hateful and hate-filled actions. In opposition to international law, and the consensus of the international community, he has declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This decision has been condemned around the world, in the seats of nearly all the governments of the world except that of Israel.

The U.S. government gives Israel $4 billion in aid every year, more than it gives to all other nations combined. This, while schools in the U.S. are crumbling, the infrastructure is failing, one major city has been without clean water for at least three years, and at least 20% of its own population lives in poverty. It’s partiality to Israel should alarm other nations in the Middle East.

Additionally, Trump is expected to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an international agreement that regulates Iran’s nuclear development (not that such an agreement was ever needed; Iran’s spokespeople have always said that their nuclear development program is for peaceful purposes, unlike the nuclear development programs of the U.S. and Israel). In exchange for signing the agreement, unjust sanctions issued against Iran were lifted. Now, again in defiance of the international community, Trump is threatening to withdraw from this agreement.

Trump’s hostility to Arab nations, and to Islam, is on full display. The U.S. is bombing several, mostly-Islamic nations. Those nations being so victimized are well aware of U.S. violence and evil, as that nation’s bombs kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, mostly ‘non-combatants’. Other nations, not currently feeling the deadly impact of U.S. bombs, must understand the potential peril to themselves, as they witness all that the U.S. currently perpetrates.

The cause of Palestine is the human rights issue of this generation. Around the world, the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement grows in strength, even as the U.S. and other nations attempt to ban it (in the U.S., such a ban violates the U.S. Constitution). It is long past time for other Arab nations to follow the lead of Iran in supporting the struggles of the Palestinian people. They must look to Palestine as an example of their own future. They can control that future by assisting the Palestinian people in shedding the oppressive hand of occupation, and becoming, once again, a free and prosperous nation. If they ignore Palestine, than a future of war, occupation and genocide awaits them, all at the hands of Israel and the U.S. The choice is there; the time to act is now.

 

 

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CNN: Blaming the Palestinian Victim

As Palestinians continue to struggle under the heavy, deadly hand of U.S.-sponsored Israeli oppression, the world’s governments mainly ignore them. This is business as usual for most governments, including U.S. officials, many of whom are ‘PEP’ – Progressive Except for Palestine.

March 30 is Land Day in Palestine, a day commemorated annually to mark events first held in 1976, in response to a major land theft announced by Israel. This year, tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators camped and marched on the Palestinian side of the Palestine – Israel border, once again demanding the basic human rights that the world community has refused them. In response, Israeli snipers killed at least 18 unarmed Palestinians.

On April 1, CNN’s loftily titled ‘International Diplomatic Editor’, Nic Robertson, offered his pearls of wisdom on this situation. He wasted no time in both showing his ignorance of the current events, and his desire to blame the victim.

We will look at just a few quotations from his ill-informed editorial. We will start with the title of the article.

“The Timing of the Gaza Protest is No Coincidence.”

Is there anyone who is familiar with the situation in Palestine who thought it was a coincidence? The organizers were clear from the start: the demonstration would start on Land Day and continue to May 15, the day of the Nakba, or catastrophe, when, on that date in 1948, three-quarters of a million Palestinians were displaced from their homes, with no voice in the matter, no choice and no recompense. Does Robertson not know that this current protest was to be a major event, planned carefully to hopefully draw international attention to the plight of the Palestinians? Or did he, in his oh-so-insightful way, see that those crafty Palestinians were up to something, hidden from view but obvious to his particular brand of cleverness?

In this bizarre article. Roberson recognized that the scheduled end of the protest coincides with the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, something which the Palestinians and the vast majority of the world oppose. Said he, again demonstrating that particular intelligence that is clear throughout his article: “Given that Palestinians oppose this move, the timing of the protest is not likely a coincidence.” Right.

“Like so many battles of yesteryear, both sides arrive to this current field of conflict carrying a weight of historic grievances, armed with today’s political imperatives.”

Let’s look for a moment at some of these ‘historic grievances’. Palestinians were driven from their homes so the United Nations could establish the state of Israel.  Hundreds of ancient Palestinians villages were bulldozed, leaving not a trace. Sacred shrines and cemeteries received the same fate. Since that time, using the advanced weaponry that the U.S. provides to Israel, thousands of additional Palestinian men, women and children have been killed, arrested, illegally jailed, displaced, beaten, abused and disregarded by Israeli law. This is ongoing to this day.

On the other hand, Israel must contend with Palestinians throwing stones at its occupying soldiers, and occasionally even slapping one of them. Yes, as Robertson said, there are grievances on both sides.

“Israeli officials are convinced Hamas is challenging the status quo of Gaza’s limits and is ready to throw down civilian lives to achieve it.”

Yes, the murders of at least 18 unarmed Palestinians by Israeli snipers, and the injury to at least 700 more, injured with live ammunition, is all Palestine’s fault!

“In public statements before the confrontation, Israeli officials said an attack on the border fence is an attack on Israel’s sovereignty and pulled no punches on what a response could look like.”

Robertson neglects a few pertinent facts here, so we will inform him. The vast majority of the protesters were hundreds of yards away from the fence, ON PALESTINIAN LAND. Yet many were shot by Israeli snipers. To read Robertson’s words, one would think that hundreds or even thousands of Palestinians stormed the fence. Yes, a few dozen did approach the fence, but at all times they remained on Palestinian land. And, as mentioned earlier, some of the pesky Palestinians actually threw stones at the ‘brave’ Israeli snipers, who were heavily armed and outfitted against them. All this was happening while Israeli drones dropped tear gas on unarmed and defenseless Palestinians on their own land.

“To make their message clear, the Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic website posted a video of a young man being shot in the leg; it was accompanied by the caption: ‘This is what will happen to you if you try to get close to our border.’”

Robertson sees no problem with Palestinians being threatened for committing the ‘crime’ of being ‘close’ to the Israeli border. He did not choose to comment on that at all.

“It is hard to ignore the calculation on Hamas’s part that some of their protesters would get killed.”

Was this Hamas’ ‘calculation’, or an expectation, based on Hamas’, and the world’s, knowledge of the savagery of Israel? Robertson, like most U.S. government officials, seems to see Palestinians demanding equal rights from their apartheid oppressor as something that is ‘calculated’ by a scheming ‘terror’ organization.

In 2014, Robertson met with Khaled Meshaal Hamas’ political leader. In the current article, he says this: “He told me that Hamas does not seek international sympathy through its own victims. Today, that notion is increasingly questioned amid criticism that the group is once again sacrificing civilians for political gain.”

Once again, he is blaming the victim. The government of Gaza is right to encourage its citizens to peacefully demonstrate for their rights. The government of Israel is in violation of international law by shooting them and tear-gassing them. Yet it is the Palestinians in whom Robertson sees culpability.

It has been some time since this writer has seen such a blatantly one-sided, biased article about Palestinian’s struggles on a ‘mainstream’ news site. Generally, although Israel is usually seen as defending its ‘national security’, there is usually some bone thrown to Palestinian aspirations for peace, freedom and human rights. But CNN’s ‘International Diplomatic Editor’ was content to find fault only with the Palestinians, a people who have been brutally oppressed by Israel for decades.

Thankfully, Robertson is in the minority, although it is far more than a shame that he is given a national audience. The unspeakable injustices committed against the Palestinians seem to not only continue, but also increase, as more of the world stands up to Israel. Eventually, however, justice will prevail; it’s tragic that so many innocent Palestinians must suffer and die before that occurs.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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IRAN THREATENS ISRAELI HEGEMONY IN THE MIDDLE EAST

The United States’ corporate-owned and thereby government-controlled media does not provide much coverage of the situation in Syria. For the U.S. government, an informed populace is a dangerous populace, so the media tells the people who and what to care about: the Olympics Games, of course, are worthy of countless hours of coverage, as is reporting on the investigation into the possibility that Russia worked with the campaign of Donald Trump to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Russia has been a popular enemy of the U.S. for decades, so this is merely a new chapter in an old but much-liked story. But U.S-caused sufferings in Syria, or Palestine, or Yemen, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, etc., etc., are not for the U.S. citizenry to concern itself with.

For years, the U.S. supported outside agitators to fight the legitimate government of Basher Al-Assad, thereby causing untold suffering for the innocent people of Syria. A year ago, the U.S. intensified its bombing of Syria to punish Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people, a charge that was not proven then, and has been completely debunked since. Even the U.S. Secretary of Defense, the disgraceful Jim Mattis, admitted in January that there was no evidence linking Assad to the use of chemical weapons.

But a lack of U.S. press coverage should not be confused with inaction in Syria. The fighting continues, with Assad’s forces, assisted by Russia and Iran, taking back more of the country from the foreign-supported ‘rebels’. The situation is complex, and we will attempt to make sense of it.

The major players are Syria, Russia, Iran, Lebanon (specifically Hezbollah) and the apartheid Zionist regime of Israel. The U.S. is still a player, but its influence has been reduced. Anywhere that U.S. political and military influence is reduced in the world can only be a good thing.

There is little that happens in the world that Israel doesn’t consider an ‘existential threat’. This includes everything from a sixteen-year-old girl slapping a heavily armed Israeli soldier/terrorist, to Iran’s support for the government of Syria. So Israel requires a safe buffer zone, either annexing lands of other countries (Israel is expert in land theft), or assuring that nations friendly to it control the areas closest to it. Unfortunately for Israel, the number of its friendly nations is constantly shrinking, so in the context of this discussion, only the U.S. and Saudi Arabia fall into that disreputable category.

With Syria growing stronger, and relying more and more on Iran, Israel is once again raising the specter of an ‘existential threat’. “Israeli officialdom sees great risk with Iran building a seaport, airport, permanent military bases or high-precision missile factories, which would enable precise attacks on key Israeli facilities.”[1]

Does not the Iranian government have a responsibility to protect its own citizens? Iran is surrounded by forty U.S. military bases, yet one doesn’t hear members of the Iranian government screaming about existential threats. It, like every other government in the world, the opinions of Israel and the U.S. notwithstanding, is free to form alliances with other countries, trade with them, and establish military partnerships for mutual defense and protection. That Iran wishes to establish a presence in Syria is only different from the U.S. establishing a military presence in countless countries around the world in that Iran will not exploit the people of the host country in doing so.

As the situation is currently progressing, Iran’s influence will extend from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, to Lebanon. This threatens Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, a condition for which the U.S. has paid dearly in billions upon billions of tax dollars, as well as in destroying its mythical reputation as a beacon of peace, freedom and democracy.

Israel is also very concerned about Lebanon, specifically the powerful Hezbollah. Here the ‘existential threat’ is on its northern border, and any conflict between the two nations will have disastrous consequences for both. Add to the current strength of Hezbollah the power of Iran, and the Israeli government has more than adequate reason to think twice before starting a war with either nation.

Russia remains almost neutral; it has diplomatic relations with both Israel and its archenemy, Iran. Therefore, it is seen by some as being able to serve the function of peace broker, working some inexplicable magic to bring stability to the region, and prevent a wider war which would be disastrous for everyone.

Some recent articles in ‘The Crisis’ include puzzling comments that seem to reflect the U.S. perspective of denying self-determination to the people of Syria.

One article states that Russia should broker an agreement between Israel and Iran that would remain in effect “pending a deal on the country’s (Syria’s) future”.[2]

Who, other than the Syrian people, should be charged with making such a deal? Why would this be the responsibility of any outside entity?

The writer of that article also asks this question: “…will the regime make good on its vow to retake the whole country, including the south west?”.  One must ask: why would it not? Foreign-sponsored rebels have caused havoc and suffering throughout Syria for years, taking possession of various part of the country. Syria, with assistance from Russia and Iran, has taken back most of the country. Why would it not “make good on its vow to retake the whole country” from those who have stolen parts of it, killed and terrorized its people, and deprived them of self-government?

Another statement regarding some fantastic deal to be arranged by Russia is equally puzzling: “The best currently anticipated outcome would be a deal whereby Iran and its partners forego building major military infrastructure, including but not only in Syria’s south west, but retain significant influence in the country through other means”.[3] This indicates that Iran will give up something, but get nothing in return; the article doesn’t suggest what apartheid Israel might surrender in exchange for this deal.

On January 9 of this year, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made this most amazing statement:  “We support a free and democratic Lebanon, free of the influence of others. And we know that the Lebanese Hezbollah is influenced by Iran. This influence we think is unhelpful for Lebanon’s long-term future”.[4] This is a puzzling statement from a U.S. politician. Between November 29, 2010 and November 28, 2016, pro-Israel lobbies donated at least $14,169,515.00 to U.S. senators. Between November 29, 2014 and November 28, 2016, those same lobbies contributed $5,863,292.00 to U.S. members of the House of Representatives. Tillerson’s hypocrisy is astounding. One might slightly reword his statement to make it accurate: “We support a free and democratic United States, free of the influence of others. And we know that the U.S. government is influenced by Israel. This influence we think is unhelpful for the U.S.’s long-term future”.

Israel, the Middle East’s major troublemaker, continues to deal with its own internal problems, increasing its official racism by deporting African refugees, maintaining its brutal occupation of Palestine, and now awaiting a decision on whether or not its murderous Prime Minister will be indicted for a variety of crimes, as has been recommended by the authorities that have been investigating him. While a new war would distract the racist Israelis from these issues, the downside of such a war would probably be too costly for Israel to bear.

The best case scenario for the Middle East seems to be the one that is currently happening: decreased influence of the U.S; increasing power and influence of Iran; the Syrian government finally overcoming the outside forces that have been terrorizing the country, and Russia supporting both Syria and Iran. It is hoped that the chaos that plagues Israel, all of its own making, will be sufficient to prevent that nation from igniting the tinderbox that is the Middle East, and that with Iran and Russia growing in power and influence, the entire area can achieve a greater level of peace than it has known in decades.

 

[1] https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/eastern-mediterranean/syria/182-israel-hizbollah-and-iran-preventing-another-war-syria

[2] https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/eastern-mediterranean/syria/182-israel-hizbollah-and-iran-preventing-another-war-syria

[3] https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/eastern-mediterranean/syria/182-israel-hizbollah-and-iran-preventing-another-war-syria

[4] https://www.timesofisrael.com/tillerson-hezbollahs-role-in-lebanese-politics-needs-to-be-recognized/

 

Originally published in the American Herald Tribune.

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US Encircles Iran with 45 Bases, But Is Concerned With Iran’s Activities in Syria

With the imminent defeat of United States-supported terrorist groups in Syria by the Syrian government, with assistance from Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one might reasonably think that the U.S. would finally just go home. After all, U.S. President Donald Trump wants, or so he says, to stop ‘nation building’, and ‘put America first’. When a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked what role U.S. soldiers/terrorists would have in Syria, once ISIS was no longer a viable presence in that country, the answer was not what the questioner expected. The State Department’s David Satterfield, acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, responded thusly: “We are deeply concerned with the activities of Iran, with the ability of Iran to enhance those activities through a greater ability to move materiel into Syria. And I would rather leave the discussion at that point.”

This response further obfuscates the already complicated, years-long U.S. interference in Syria. The Syrian government has been fighting a variety of foreign-supported terrorist groups for several years; ISIS has been chief among them. While the U.S. has ostensibly ‘helped’ defeat ISIS is Syria, it has long been proven that ISIS fighters receive training and funding from the U.S., Britain, and other countries. The U.S. is more than willing to support both sides of a conflict, since it is the world’s largest arms dealer; where there is money to be made, the U.S. is there, regardless of how totally immoral the deal might be. So it both supported and, to a lesser degree, fought, ISIS.

But with the genuine assistance of Iran and Russia, most of Syria has returned to Syrian control. It is no surprise that the government of Syria would draw closer to the government of Iran, since Iran was instrumental in defeating foreign terrorists on Syrian soil. This is not something that the U.S. can countenance, since it threatens Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. At Israel’s urging, the U.S. has destabilized several Middle Eastern countries. One is shortsighted indeed (as most member of the U.S. Congress seem to be), if one does not recall Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing Congress in 2002, and promising that “enormous benefits” would accrue if Iraq’s Saddam Hussein were overthrown. For the U.S., those benefits included the deaths of five thousand U.S. soldiers, and a cost of at least $2.4 trillion. The ‘enormous benefits’ promised by Netanyahu were all for Israel, not for the U.S.

And now the U.S. is “deeply concerned’ about Iranian activities in Syria. No doubt the government of Iran is ‘deeply concerned’ about U.S. activities in Syria, as it should be. The U.S. has no reason related to its national security to have any presence in Syria whatsoever. Yet Israel feels threatened by Iran’s increasing stature and influence throughout the Middle East, and wants the U.S. to stop it. It has been said that Israel is willing to sacrifice as many U.S. soldiers as necessary, and spend as much money from U.S. tax revenues as required, to maintain Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. And U.S. member of Congress, bought and paid for by pro-Israel lobbies, seem more than willing to do Israel’s brutal bidding.

The State Department official mentioned above said that the U.S. is concerned about “the ability of Iran to…move materiel into Syria.” Let’s not forget that the U.S. has over 1,000 military bases around the world, with at least 45 of them surrounding Iran. One expects that Iran is concerned about the ability of the U.S. to move materiel into Syria, and rightly so. Forty-five military basis threaten Iran, while the Islamic Republic threatens no one, but does maintain its international commitments, including assisting its ally, Syria, in defeating foreign terrorists slaughtering innocent people on Syrian soil. Another example of keeping its commitments is its adherence to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that the U.S. continually threatens to violate.

Surprisingly, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee weren’t impressed with Satterfield’s response, with several committee members pointing out that Congress had not authorized such a role for the U.S. military in Syria. Yet such things as the rule of law are unimportant when Israel demands U.S. action, or at any time when U.S. profits or power are at risk of being compromised anywhere on the planet. And while the U.S. gets nothing from Israel in terms of its ‘national security’, or any cooperation when the U.S. requests the most minor concessions from Israel to the Palestinians, such as ceasing internationally-condemned settlement activity as a precondition to worthless, meaningless and totally unnecessary negotiations, Congress members benefit greatly from campaign contributions from pro-Israeli lobbies. So regardless of whether or not Congress authorizes such a role for Congress, which it will probably do eventually anyway in order to provide legal cover for its illegal activities, U.S. soldiers/terrorists will probably remain in Syria until Syria is able to eject them.

It does appear that, any time the U.S. interferes in the Middle East, either by sanctions, support for rebel groups, or invasions, the source for the action can always be traced back to Israel. That rogue, apartheid nation receives billions of dollars from the U.S. annually, which it uses to brutally oppress the Palestinian people, while it then demands that the U.S. waste additional taxpayer money on invading and/or destabilizing Israel’s many perceived enemies. And the lives of U.S. citizens who, for whatever reason, decide to put on a uniform, are unimportant to either Israel or the United States.

One would be naïve indeed if one thought that members of the U.S. government seek a peaceful world. That nation has been at war for over 220 of its 242-year existence, and it is certainly not going to change its operations when the government is dominated by two capitalist, war-mongering parties.

Yet the U.S. threatens Iran at its peril; Iran is not a small, Third-World nation with a small and ineffective military force.  On the contrary, it is a large, prosperous (despite unjust U.S. sanctions) nation with an experienced and powerful military force. It has powerful allies that, themselves, the U.S. must use caution in threatening.

U.S. President Donald Trump is seen by many as the most inexperienced, incompetent and ignorant man ever to inhabit the White House. Most of his closest advisors come close to him in terms of their complete lack of ability to govern. He has surrounded himself with career military men who see the solution to every problem as an invasion. Yet the greatest hope, limited as it is, lies with them, and their knowledge of Iranian capabilities. Their record indicates that they prefer easy targets (Iraq, Yemen), so hopefully they will prevent any direct confrontation with Iran. Avoiding such a confrontation will be in the best interest of not only the entire Middle East, but of the U.S. as well. Should the United States government officials lose sight of that fact, the consequences for the U.S. will be dire indeed.

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

 

 

 

 

 

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Palestine and Israeli Recognition

Palestine’s weak, spineless, traitorous leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has secured a vote to rescind Palestinian recognition of Israel. It was only a year ago that he declared an end to ‘security cooperation’ (read: Palestinian complicity in Israel’s oppression of the West Bank), and then proceeded with business as usual. The decision on Israeli recognition will probably be the same.

Some members of the international community, which once in a great while notices the abject suffering of the Palestinians (not that it cares to do much about it), and recognizes that Israel is in violation of numerous international laws, provided some tepid reaction, ranging from ‘unhelpful’ (France) to ‘completely understandable’ (Russia).

There are a variety of questions this latest, non-binding ‘decision’ raises, and we will look at a few of them.

  • Why did Palestine ever recognize its brutal occupier without demanding the same concession from Israel? Doing so gives some legitimacy to the occupation, and of all the countries that shouldn’t in any way imply that, Palestine is at the top of the list. Of course, since the U.S. has for decades called the shots, supported Israel and oppressed Palestine, it’s likely that Palestine had little choice in the matter.
  • Why wouldn’t a country be able to withdraw its recognition of another country? Circumstances change, and while it may not be something that can be done easily or quickly, when one nation is in serious violation of international law, over a period of decades, has an apartheid system of government and refuses to be a part of any international monitoring of its nuclear capability, other nations would seem to have good reason to withdraw their official recognition.
  • Why is Mahmoud Abbas still in the picture? Palestine is years past the time for scheduled elections, which would surely put the aged, traitorous, incompetent Israeli puppet out to pasture. The U.S., of course, while it hypocritically proclaims its support for the self-determination of people everywhere, works to prevent such an election, since Hamas would, in all likelihood, win in a landslide. And if not Hamas, some other party that won’t toe the U.S.-Israel line. The victorious party would be one that, for the first time in years, has the needs and desires of the Palestinians at heart, rather than one that would kowtow to the demands of Palestine’s brutal occupier and its cruel enabler.

Preventing foreign elections, if their outcome cannot be pre-determined to be in the U.S.’s favor, is not something with which the U.S. government has no experience. Once very specific case in point will suffice to demonstrate this fact.

In 1954, as the French were attempting, quite unsuccessfully, to hang on to Vietnam as a colony, the Geneva Accords agreement was signed that divided Vietnam into a Communist north, and a non-Communist south. The Accords provided for elections to be held in 1956, which would have been a referendum on reunification. These elections were boycotted by the south, at the urging of the U.S. In the memoirs of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he wrote that if the elections had been held in 1956, “Ho Chi Minh (the Communist leader of the North), would have gotten 80 percent of the vote.” Allowing people to determine their own leadership is only permitted if the U.S. likes that leadership.

The U.S.’s stated support for the will of the people has always been a myth. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson said that “Every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live.” Wilson’s Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, was deeply troubled by such statements. “In his private notes he wrote that it (the concept of self-determination) was loaded with dynamite, might breed disorder, discontent and rebellion. His neat, logical mind saw it leading the President into strange contradictions. ‘Will not the Mohammedans of Syria and Palestine and possibly of Morocco and Tripoli rely on it? How can it be harmonized with Zionism, to which the President is practically committed?’”

Palestinians in the West Bank, unarmed and unprotected, know that when Palestinian law enforcement officers are not on the scene, they can expect IDF terrorists to invade their homes, business, mosques and schools, arresting and terrorizing anyone they encounter, and killing innocent, defenseless men, women and children. This is known, in the peculiar parlance of Israel and Abbas, as ‘security cooperation’. Palestinians can’t throw stones, but Israelis can shoot to kill.

This is the policy that, a year ago, Abbas said he would no longer respect. Much like U.S. politicians, his words are meaningless; Palestinians in the West Bank continue to be harassed, killed, demoralized, held without charge for months or years at a time, regardless of age, all with the willing assistance of their so-called leader. Any election in Palestine would bring an end to this ‘security cooperation’.

The moves that Abbas says he’ll make, but doesn’t, could be game-changers for the Palestinians. If Fatah’s law enforcement personnel spent their time opposing Israel, rather than working with it, the civil disobedience would quickly reach a boiling point that the international community would have to address. If he withdraws recognition of Israel, even the very threat of doing so may motivate other nations to agree to recognize Palestine, if it maintains recognition of the apartheid state.

But these are moves that would benefit the Palestinian people, and Abbas has proved repeatedly, over a period of several years, that that is the least of his concerns.

What comes next? With the U.S. tightening the screws on the coffin of Palestine, and Israel busy digging the grave, one looks in vain for significant help from the leaders of the international community. The greatest hope lies with the rank-and-file members of that community, the people who are ever expanding the boycott, divestment and sanctioning (BDS movement) of Israel. The U.S. and other countries futilely attempt to outlaw such actions (in the U.S. completely disregarding the Constitution), while Israel spends millions of dollars to counteract the economic and reputational consequences of BDS.

Unfortunately, in the near-term, this changes nothing for the Palestinians; in Gaza, they are still locked in the world’s largest open-air prison, and in the West Bank, they continue to suffer from the brutal actions of IDF terrorists and settler terrorists. People of conscience and humanity the world over must increase their efforts; the very existence of the nation of Palestine depends on it.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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The U.S. Military and the Rest of the World

The United States, the world’s foremost sponsor of domestic and international terrorism, is embarking on a new initiative to increase its ability to kill. Called the ‘National Defense Strategy’, it was announced by Elbridge A. Colby, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development, and builds on the so-called National Security Strategy that was announced by President Donald Trump in December.

“The National Defense Strategy seeks to implement the pillars of the National Security Strategy: peace through strength, the affirmation of America’s international role, the U.S. alliance and partnership structure and the necessity to build military advantage to maintain key regional balances of power,” said Colby.

An examination of these four components is instructive.

  • “Peace through strength.” Nowhere in Colby’s pronouncements, or those of Trump, for that matter, are the concepts of justice, human rights, or international law mentioned. That may be because those ideals are of no concern to the mighty U.S. As long as the U.S. is able to use its ‘strength’ to bomb into submission any country that displeases it, there will be peace. Oppression, death, carnage and human suffering are all simply the prices that must be paid for the U.S.’s skewed definition of peace.
  • “The affirmation of America’s international role.” And just what is that role? It seems to be that of a corrupt international police force (perhaps mimicking the U.S. domestic police force), making up the rules as it goes along, acting as judge, jury and executioner. The U.S. has given itself the responsibility of overthrowing democratically elected governments and sponsoring and training terrorists, resulting in the deaths, torture and disappearance of millions of people across the globe.
  • “The U.S. alliance and partnership structure.” The U.S. displays its vaunted alliances from time to time, but anything more than a cursory look at them shows them for the lies that they are. For example, during the criminal U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, U.S. spokespeople talked about the ‘Coalition of the Willing’, proclaiming with great fanfare how it had assembled several countries to send forces to Iraq to overthrow the government there. In reality, over 90% of the soldiers sent on that fool’s errand were from the U.S.
  • “The necessity to build military advantage to maintain key regional balances of power.” There is no balance of power today; the U.S., which spends as much on its military as the next eight countries combined, bombs, destabilizes and sanctions any nations it chooses to, with nearly complete impunity. It is to destroy a regional balance of power that the U.S. threatens Iran; the U.S. seeks to maintain the hegemony of the apartheid regime of Israel in the Middle East, and so Iran’s growing power and influence must be stopped. If the U.S. were truly interested in peace, in the Middle East or anywhere else, it would cease supporting Israel and establish diplomatic relations with Iran.

Additionally, the U.S. has close to 1,000 military bases around the world, at least 40 of which are in close proximity of Iran. Its military advantage is already overwhelming, and threatens the entire world.

Colby also said that the U.S. must counter the threat posed by terrorism, singling out, of course, North Korea and Iran. So the nation that has killed over 20 million people since World War II; that has invaded at least 30 nations since then, some of them multiple times, and that is currently bombing seven countries needs to increase its arsenal to counter terrorism.  It seems obvious that worldwide terrorism would decrease dramatically if the U.S. were to reduce its military expenditures.

And what of North Korea and Iran? During the Korean War, waged by the U.S. from 1950 – 1953, the U.S. caused unspeakable suffering in the North. “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population,” said Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay. The U.S. bombed cities, towns and villages throughout the North, with no concern for the civilian population. North Korean hostility towards the United States can only be seen as valid.

U.S. aggression towards Iran has even less justification than its aggression towards North Korea. Iran has not invaded another nation since 1798. Yet the U.S., to please Israel, accuses Iran of terrorist activities.

In George Orwell’s landmark novel 1984, the reader is introduced to the concept of ‘Newspeak’. This is the twisting of language to enable governments to act in ways that are contrary to the will and good of the people.  U.S. government officials have become champions of ‘Newspeak’; they talk of fighting terrorism, when the U.S. is the chief international source of terrorism. They speak of building alliances and partnerships, when those associations are often tenuous at best, or bought through foreign aid, or made only by coercion. They speak of the threat to U.S. ‘national security’, when it is the U.S. that threatens the security of nations around the world.

The U.S. spends over 50% of its discretional budget on the military. Other nations spend a fraction of this amount, and yet they are not constantly being invaded or bombed. One must ask why the U.S. needs to spend so much to protect itself, when other nations need to spend very little on their military forces.

Nearly 13% of the U.S. population lives below the officially-established poverty line, which is ridiculously low. Over 20% of U.S. children live in poverty. In terms of public education, the U.S. ranks in the middle of industrialized nations, putting its students at risk of not being able to compete in an increasingly global market. The so-called ‘safety net’, resources for the poor, is continually shrinking so the military can be fed. University students graduate with huge debt, due to high-interest government loans, while other countries charge a fraction of the amount that U.S. schools charge for tuition, or offer university education free of charge. These problems could all be rectified by redirecting even a portion of the U.S. military budget to address these other issues.

And now the already bloated U.S. military spending budget will be increased. U.S. officials refer to it as the ‘defense’ budget, but the U.S. military has little or nothing to do with defense; it is all offensive, as the millions of worldwide victims can attest. Yet members of Congress, beholden to the ‘defense’ industry lobbyists who so generally support their election and re-election campaigns, will tell their constituents that the U.S. must have this budget to defend them from all the evil that exists in the world. They ignore the fact that much of that evil originates in the United States, and that the military budget only increases it.

International surveys indicate that it is the United States that is seen as the greatest threat to world peace.  A study in 2017 indicated that, globally, 24% of respondents viewed the U.S. in that way.  The next most feared country was Pakistan, with 8%. The U.S. self-perpetuates this fear, and does it intentionally, to keep the international community doing its bidding.

But it cannot control the world forever; China, Russia, India and Iran are growing in military and economic power. The U.S.’s closest ally, Israel, is experiencing international condemnation due to its horrific, ongoing, brutal oppression of the Palestinians. Under Trump’s disjointed leadership, U.S. allies are distancing themselves, and forming closer alliances with different partners.

A world power in decline is always dangerous; as other nations grow in power and influence, and that of the U.S. wanes, the entire world is at some risk. It is hoped that these other nations, which have far more interest in peace than does the U.S., will be able to eclipse the U.S., and exert their influence internationally. Only then will the world’s perpetual state of war have a chance of ending.

 

Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.

 

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Israel Has Played Trump as a Complete Fool

On December 6, United States President Donald Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy, defied international law, and ignored the advice of virtually all its allies by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In 1995, bowing to pressure from pro-Israel lobby groups in the U.S., the U.S. Congress voted to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but included a provision that the president could waive that move every six months. Each president since then has done so; Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama all cited national security interests to waive the provision.

During Trump’s campaign for the presidency, he promised to implement this move, and now he can proclaim that he has kept a campaign promise. He did not say that the national security concerns his predecessors noted have been reduced in any way; he merely recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump has often proclaimed himself the ultimate deal-maker. Since Israel’s leaders have desperately craved this recognition of Jerusalem as its capital for decades, one might think that the ‘ultimate deal-maker’ could have obtained quite a bit in return for this move. Trump could have demanded an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip. He could have said there would be no recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until all the 500,000+ illegal settlers living on Palestinian land vacated it. Trump could have withheld recognition until all the checkpoints in the West Bank were disbanded. He could have demanded that Israel respect the pre-1967, internationally-recognized borders.

But the ‘ultimate deal maker’ did none of these things. David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator, had a different view. He said that, perhaps, “This might be the case where Trump applies a little honey now to show the Israelis he’s the most pro-Israel president ever, and then applies a little vinegar later.” With such beliefs, it is no wonder Miller failed as a negotiator. We will provide him with a brief history lesson.

In 1987, U.S Secretary of State George Shultz presented a three-point plan to resolve the underlying issues. The points were as follows:

1) The convening of an international conference;

2) A six-month negotiating period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and

3) A date of December, 1988 for the start of talks between Israel and Palestine for the final resolution of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir rejected this plan immediately, claiming, most bizarrely, that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel, and accelerating the delivery of seventy-five F-16 fighter jets. This, ostensibly, was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”[1]

So any thought that Trump was applying ‘honey’ now, and would apply ‘vinegar’ later, would be laughable, were it not so stupid.

This might be compared to Fatah requesting that Hamas surrender its weapons, with the expectation that Israel will ‘do the right thing’. Fatah has no weapons, and Israeli soldiers and settlers brutalize Palestinians with impunity. The entire history of Israel is one of brutality, savagery, injustice, murder and genocide. Its history with the United States is one of constantly taking, and giving nothing in return. That Israel has played Trump as a complete fool cannot be disputed.

What does this action mean in terms of international law? After the 1967 war, Israel annexed the entire city of Jerusalem, an action which the United Nations promptly declared null and void. All of the international community, with the exception of Israel, respected that U.N. declaration, until December 6 of this year, when Trump defied it. Trump has shown his contempt for international law before, most recently when he refused, despite all evidence supporting it, to certify that Iran was in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement sanctioned by the U.N.

Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Russia, the Vatican, Turkey, Germany, France, the U.K, China, Indonesia, Pakistan are just some of the nations whose leaders have condemned Trump’s latest international misstep. The European Union and the United Nations have done the same. With the obvious exception of Israel, no country has spoken in support of it.

Domestically, even Jewish groups oppose Trump’s decision. The head of the largest organization of Reformed Jews in the U.S., Rabbi Rick Jacobs, issued the following statement just prior to Trump’s announcement:  “While we share the President’s belief that the US Embassy should… be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process. We urge the President to do everything in his power to move forward with efforts to bring true peace to the region and take no unilateral steps.”

J-Street, another U.S., pro-Israel organization, also opposed the move. J-Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that “the effect of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem prior to a negotiated agreement will be to anger key Arab allies, foment regional instability and undermine nascent U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the larger conflict. The administration should also note that only a small minority of Jewish Americans – just 20 percent – support unilaterally moving the embassy.”

Apparently, none of these considerations were important to Trump. He had promised repeatedly during the campaign to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and he has been unable to deliver on some of his other promises, most notably depriving millions of people of health care, something supported, oddly, by his base. This latest move is intended to keep his base – evangelical Christians and wealthy donors – happy.

Although Trump only became president due to the peculiar U.S. Electoral College, and despite losing the popular vote by 3 million votes, he continues to believe he is qualified to be president, and is highly popular. He has stated repeatedly that he only lost the popular vote because of voter fraud. Yet there is no evidence to support this. He dismisses polls indicating that less than 40% of the populace approves of the job he is doing.  He has stated that he has accomplished more in less than a year in office than any other president, with the exception of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, Trump concedes, had a major depression to deal with. He makes this statement despite the fact that no major or significant legislation has been passed since he became president.

Many of Trump’s decisions have been met with domestic and international opposition: his travel ban on Muslims; withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement; decertifying of the JCPOA. But the opposition to his latest disastrous decision seems stronger and more unified than has previously been seen.

Finally, the U.S. can no longer proclaim that it is an honest broker between the Palestinians and Israelis; all such pretense has now been exposed for the lie that it is. It is long past time for another nation to assume that role, and genuinely work for a peaceful resolution, which can be easily accomplished by forcing Israel to adhere to international law. If that is an outcome of Trump’s decision, than some good will come of it.

[1] Suleiman, Michael W., ed. U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton. Page 31.

 

 

Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.

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Political Corruption and the U.S. Government

It is almost astounding what the United States populace is willing to tolerate in those that call the shots and make the rules by which they – the plebeian populace – must live. The rule-makers, of course, are exempt from such concerns, but recoil in horror if anyone not a member of the 1% violates them. They are even willing to condemn others of their own class, for violations they, themselves, are guilty of.

The list is nearly endless.

This writer, a charter member of the 99%, with no aspirations to leave it, and no possibility of doing so anyway, must respect and live by certain laws. For example, if he wants to build an addition onto his house, and the local zoning board nixes the plan, he cannot grease the palm of a zoning board member, in order to get a different ruling. Such behavior would result in his arrest, and any of a variety of penalties, not to mention life-long damage to his reputation.

This is not so for members of Congress. Israel wants to ignore international law? Just have Israeli lobbies, the Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) chief among them, donate large sums to Congress members’ campaigns. What does it get in return? Laws preventing the boycott of Israel (forget about the fact that such boycotts are protected by the Constitution; who needs that old thing when campaigns need to be financed?); protection from accountability in the United Nations for war crimes; $4 billion of taxpayer money annually, and a blind eye to the horrific human rights violations committed against the Palestinians.

The gun industry doesn’t want any regulations, whatsoever? Just get the National Rifle Association (NRA) to add their buckets of money to those of AIPAC. In return, anyone, even people who are legally blind, and people who are not allowed on U.S. airplanes because of suspected terrorist ties or activities, can purchase any gun or multiple guns that they choose. This includes semi-automatic weapons, designed to kill many people very quickly. Want to take your gun into a church? No problem!  Kill an unarmed person because you felt ‘threatened’? You have a right to protect yourself! Also, if someone is injured because of a faulty gun, he/she cannot sue the gun manufacturer. There are more laws in the U.S. regulating the manufacture of Teddy bears, than there are of guns.

For us little people, we must respect the personal boundaries of people to whom we may be physically attracted, but only marginally acquainted. Not so for the movers and shakers of the U.S; President Donald Trump has said that, if one is a celebrity, one can do anything they want to any unsuspecting woman who happens to pass by. Democratic Senator Al Franken took pictures of himself, grinning like the idiot that he is, fondling a sleeping woman. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, when in his thirties, trolled malls and high school football games, seeking teenage girls. Former Republican Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, a married, family-values arch-conservative, encouraged his mistress to have an abortion, while he championed the ‘pro-life’ movement. He did, however, resign as a result.

War and Peace.

If one were to ask the average person on the street if war is a good thing, one would probably be told that it is a ‘necessary evil’, and that the U.S. only wages war for the good of the U.S. and the world (no, that doesn’t make any sense, but U.S. politicians are ace snake-oil salespeople). One would probably find that such persons don’t believe U.S. government officials only seek power and wealth for themselves and their already-wealthy cronies, and don’t care about the soldiers they send to kill and die, or the innocent victims in faraway nations. These lemmings-like citizens will not listen to stories of neglect of injured veterans, or consider the possibility that the U.S. government is lying to them (see: weapons of mass destruction; Iraq), but will always show up for Veterans’ Day parades, equipped with a flag to wave and a handkerchief with which to wipe away the tears that begin to flow as the national anthem is played. They will say it is sad that children die, but, they will be quick to add, that is the fault of the victim nation, not the mighty U.S.

Political Prisoners.

Somehow, inexplicitly, the U.S. citizenry seems content that their vaunted ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ operates a torture chamber in Cuba, and utilizes the services of various other nations to house and torture other U.S. political prisoners, including U.S. citizens. The fact that many have been released and exonerated after years of unspeakable torture is not something that concerns them; the U.S., they will say, only tortures people for the good of society. So there.

And didn’t the aged Republican Senator from Arizona, John McCain, during his failed campaign for the presidency in 2008, say that there are some ‘really bad people’ in Guantanamo? As long as he decrees it to be so, what are things like due process? Who cares about the right to an attorney? They are ‘bad people’, as judged by McCain. That is all that is important to know.

It’s bad enough that the inmates are running the asylum, but why must the rest of the inmates tolerate it all? The answer, one supposes, is clear: they have lost sight, thanks to government officials, of who really has the power. They have successfully been made to believe that the power lies in Congress, the courts and the presidency, the three branches of government that activist Dahlia Wasfi correctly refers to as terrorist cells. Yet it is the populace who could, at the very least, vote en masse to rid the country of its current government officials. It is the populace who could take to the streets in numbers so large that there aren’t sufficient police to arrest them all, or cells to hold them. And if they did, it is possible that some of the police would join them. If the National Guard were called out, many Guard members might also join them. It is the populace who could refuse to pay taxes, swarm Congressional offices with their demands, refuse (males who are 18 years of age) to register for the draft, withdraw their money from banks that support terrorism, or hold a nationwide workers strike. This last action would, at least temporarily, cripple the economy, hurting the oligarchs exactly where it most matters to them.

In the 1960s, the phrase ‘Power to the People’ was often chanted at rallies protesting the U.S. war in Vietnam. But the people have always had the power; they simply choose not to use it.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Kakistoligargacy

United States President Donald Trump, following a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, said he believes him when Putin claims that the Russian government didn’t interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. This belief in Russian innocence is not shared by U.S. intelligence services. Mr. Putin, certainly, has his own agenda. U.S. intelligence agencies also have their own agendas. Which agenda is better for the U.S. and the world is open to discussion, but this writer would trust Putin with his life before he’d ever trust the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or any of its corrupt affiliates.

Congress members, especially those saintly Democrats, are horrified at even the suggestion of foreign meddling in the U.S. elections. This, they proclaim, wringing their hands in righteous indignation, threatens the very essence of democracy. The U.S., that beacon of all that is good and just, supports democracy around the world, and serves, they say, as an example for the rest of the world. Any violation of this revered, sacred democracy by outside influences causes the angels in heaven to weep.

Not so fast. There are many, MANY ways in which this all smacks of hypocrisy. It also shows the contempt with which elected officials hold the intelligence of the average U.S. citizen, especially those relatively few who actually vote. We will leave for another day any discussion of whether or not that contempt is justified.

How, the reader may ask, does this arrogant, superior attitude manifest hypocrisy? Read on, Reader!

  • In a democracy, the candidate with the most votes wins the election. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore garnered about 500,000 more votes than George Bush, but Bush became president. As a result, the U.S. became involved in two unjust, illegal and immoral wars (all wars, of course, are immoral), one of which continues to this day. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by about 3 million, yet Donald Trump became president. Whether or not she was the lesser of two evils is difficult to say, but in a functioning democracy, she’d be president.
  • Support for democracy abroad means supporting the will of people in individual nations. It does not mean financing and training terrorists attempting to overthrow democratically-elected governments, and invading foreign nations. The U.S. has done exactly that in many countries, including, but not limited to Angola, Argentina, Bosnia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Somalia, Sudan, Tibet, Turkey and Vietnam. Today is supports terrorists in Syria, and seeks ‘regime change’ in Iran. One can easily imagine the outcry if Iran’s government leaders declared their support for regime change in the U.S.
  • The U.S. has ‘brokered’ meaningless negotiations between Palestine and Israel for decades, all the while supporting Israel financially, and protecting it in the United Nations from accountability for its crimes. A true democracy would either treat both parties the same, or, if favoring one party, would step back from any involvement in such negotiations.
  • In a democracy, all the people who satisfy the minimum requirements for voting, would be able to do so. But with a history of poll taxes, and current requirements in some states for picture identification, more eligible voters are being disenfranchised, a disproportionate number of Black voters being victimized in this way.

If the U.S. isn’t a democracy, what is it? Not a meritocracy; people in government don’t get promoted because of how well they have performed their current job (if that were the case, no one in government, ever, would be promoted).

Let’s consider the possibility that it’s an oligarchy. Elections require millions of campaign dollars, and the most successful candidates (see: Donald Trump) have personal fortunes of their own to spend. Over 50% of the members of Congress are millionaires. Members of Trumps’ cabinet have more money that one-third of the rest of the population of the United States. Can any of these people really represent their constituents? Do they even want to?

The other options is a kakistocracy, in which the worst and most incompetent people are running the country. ‘Nuff said.

Perhaps a new term is required, and this writer is happy to provide it: Kakistoligargacy. This new term indicates that the most wealthy and corrupt people are running the show.

In U.S. society today, when racism is fashionable, sexual harassment and assault are seen as privileges of the elite, the middle calls is seen only as a source of tax revenue, and the poor are to be ignored, perhaps the idea of a kakistoligargacy can be accepted. Imagine any of the U.S.’s leaders from either side of the aisle, standing in front of a crowd on the Fourth of July, extolling the glories of the greatest kakistoligargacy in the world! He or she will proclaim that U.S. kakistoligargacy is the model for aspiring kakistoligargacies around the planet. It is, he/she will proudly say, the envy of every other kakistoligargacy that exists.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t sound too far-fetched. The unmitigated nonsense that spews forth from the mouths of U.S. officials now is no more daft or imbecilic than the idea that they could brag about kakistoligargacy.

The new Republican tax reform program has been unveiled, and it certainly supports the idea that the U.S. is a kakistoligargacy. It includes lower taxes on the storing and staffing of private jets; large cuts in the taxes of the highest earners, and the estate tax, which applies only to estates exceeding $5.49 million, would be increased to only estates exceeding $10 million, and would be eliminated completely in six years.

The tax reform proposals benefit the rich: oligarchy in action. They hurt the middle class and ignore the poor: kakistocracy. A marriage made somewhere other than in heaven, and resulting in kakistoligargacy.

Trump faces little opposition among members of Congress, simply because there is little for them to oppose: his policies benefit them and their corrupt cronies. Yet a basic economic principle of capitalism is that there must be a strong middle-class for a society to succeed. Although this writer would be glad to see capitalism ride off into the sunset, never to be seen again, a more orderly transition, one that avoids the inevitable chaos the U.S. is heading for, is to be desired. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before the kakistoligarchs experience the impacts of their policies. Until then, they will continue to make money, come what may.

This is not a phenomenon of the current Republican president; he is merely its latest incarnation. Look at the last several GOP candidates for president: Mitt Romney (net worth between $190 and $250 million); John McCain (a mere $21 million, but his wife has a net worth of at least $100 million); George W. Bush ($11 – $29 million at the time of his election); Bob Dole ($7.7 million at the time of the 1996 election, in which he was defeated); George H.W. Bush ($23 million). These are supposed to be the ‘representative of the people’.

Democrat or Republican; liberal or conservative, it is all the same. The left wing and the right wing are both parts of the same kakistoligargical bird.

 

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