Archive for the On Foreign Affairs Category

A South African Views US Redskin Controversy

Posted in Cultural Matters, On Foreign Affairs with tags , , , , on June 16, 2013 by playthell
The Truth about the Apartheid Era

White Hunter

                       This was also a common scene in the American West during the “Indian Wars”

 

What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name? Everything! I am familiar with the naming of the enslaved people being called all names, but those that edify them. You can imagine in South Africa, we have been called “Kaffirs” – same as nigger’ in the States – monkeys, baboons (Akin to jigaboos), boy/girl  for elderly people; “natives” (as in ‘tribes”)’Bantu’(which really means ‘people’, but was used against us to dehumanize and ‘de-Africanize Africans in South Africa)’ “Plurals” (I guess to remind Themselves that whites in South Africa), that we, Africans, are too many against them; “Darkie”(Dark one); African children called ‘black pica ninny’, and so forth.

As I begun by asking and replying, “What’s in a name?  Everything!”  For us to learn about the Washington Red Skin Debacle brings to mind the hideous and harmful nature of being named and forced to get used to that derogatory name, and you find the White chumps who are so arrogant they can’t see and think as far as their eyelids and foreheads, and because they have had no reason to respect any person enslaved/colonized, they see nothing in calling people with their White people’s ‘invented’ names, and these are not salubrious names/tags and that they assist in disappearing a people’s identity and being.

In South Africa, our mothers, when they were giving birth to us, were forced to choose what was called a ‘Christian’ name i.e. a white European name.  And if it we were given an African name in many cases it was not written on our birth-certificate; although in the Townships and villages we lived in the community called us by our African names.  Our elders explained the importance of our African names and what those names mean. The elders pointed out that giving a child a bad name is a bad omen – “Bitso lebe ke seromomo” – literally meaning “a bad name is a bad omen/karma to the child”.

We grew up within our communities here in Mzantsi known by our African names and were constantly told what they mean, along with our last names. The Apartheid regime did not recognize how we relate to each other as Africans and what was the significance of naming things and the importance of our names to us. They compartmentalized and divided us and dubbed us “tribes” who would never come together.

Meanwhile, they have never ever wanted to call us “Africans. Now, they, the Boers, called themselves Afrikaners – which today, they claim and allege, gives them the right to say they are Africans!’  So, we African people of South Africa, are accused by various ethnic groups in South Africa, who claim that they are Africans, and we blacks really are not.

 So that, in their disrespect of anything African, South African whites accuse indigenous black Africans of South Africa of wanting to hog the Name African.  And yet, these different ethnic groups are themselves African so that, they parrot, that our saying we are “Africans of Mzantsi South Africa” is meaningless, dumb, infantile babble. Thus, we find these people dissing us all the way to denying our existence.

 A Common Sign during the Apartheid Era in South Africa
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The policy of European Invaders in South Africa and the USA

Yet, this awareness as to who we are is excellently captured by Dr. Amos Wilson- the Afro-American Psychiatrist – when he notes that: “Even these people recognize that a name is connected to social role. A name is not just something you call people, but the name a people are called signifies their role. Therefore, a change of name represents a people’s attempt to change their role and position in the world.” Some ‘negroes’ (Africans) think that to change our name is just some foolish game we’re playing. It is not about that. It’s not a game we’re playing here. Identity is very important, as is the idea that Black (African) people would dare name themselves. Whites recognize that as an incursion on their power of naming and an incursion on their power of domination.

I have alluded to how the apartheidizers forced us to have European First names, which in effect messed with our culture, because now we have amongst us so many African Peters, Denisi’s, Marks, John’s, and so forth.   And we are called by these names in our contact/interaction with Europeans- who insist upon calling us these Euro-names. Alas, even when we tell them our African names they claim they are hard to pronounce. We, in our African collective/communities, are then called and known as Sipho (Gift), Thabang (Be all Happy), Karabo (The Answer), Tshepiso (The promise), Ntombi (the girl) and so forth, our African names.

So Playthell Benjamin’s article about the big controversy over the “Washington Redskins” football team refusing to remove the word “Redskins” from their name, which is decried by Native Americans as an insult to their people, because it masks a history of genocide and the ‘disappearing’ of a whole people by the obnoxious and arrogant Europeans – who still feel that they are superior to everyone else.  Incredibly, they feel that the naming of people and things under their purview is fait accompli and a ‘given’. We know, here in South Africa, that is not the case, and there is still an ongoing cultural war about the naming of things with African names since the ANC came into fictive power.

Although along the way, in order to appease their handlers, they compromised a lot in renaming a lot of things here in South African with their given names. This is a real war, and there is a lot I can say about the battles that are presently fought over the naming of Africans, and the “Winning of the hearts and minds of Africans” here in Mzantsi” by the former Apartheidizers.  And now of late, they are being assisted by the American Think Tanks and NGOs, working to turn South Africa into a mini-USA.

It is therefore no surprise and wonder Africans in South Africa dislike Israel, for in it, we see ourselves in what they are doing to the Palestinians; we also detest the arrogance and mien with which they interact/communicate with those they consider not Jews; and this has caused a lot of animosity, which you capture so well with this Yoyo, Snyder, whose people are very quick to defend their lot, as you cogently point out above.

Right now, some of us here in Mzantsi are involved in the fight against our culture, and it is a very difficult battle. Not because our former enslavers made it so (of which they still do and control all the bullshit-covert actions in place now, but because some of our African brothers feel fulfilled if they are seen to be “very American”, “very British”, and even “very Chinese-and dress like the Chinese.

These clowns, the African pseudo-elites, are the ones that are hampering us and assisting our detractors in making gains and headway into our communities; which end up making these African societies dysfunctional. These retarded South African Uncle Toms are assiduously working their lives away trying to “Out-American Americans”, or British, French, or Italians, while making sure they distance themselves from or discard their self-perceived “backward African Culture” and everything about it.

That is our present problem, and these ‘scoundrels, quislings and turncoats are thriving.   They even believe that they have a handle on being the puppets of mega-capitalist corporate and International governments to whom they beg to be slaves and become our slave drivers themselves, whilst showing off their ill-acquired wealth and looking silly trying to be as white as any foreign white-in all aspects and by any means necessary.

These are the people who are interfering with African people naming themselves, and their environment. They are the very people who are in cahoots with some of these sleazy monied potentates who run the world of ideas and money and control the Army.  They are the great pretenders and trumpet untruths that they are our leaders and run the leading ruling party-ANC.  As I read Playthell’s Indians article on the struggle of Native Americans, the so-called “Indians,” I can see that we have quite similar problems here in Mzantsi and then some.

The indigenous of peoples of America are subject to the same treatment of disrespect and disregard/ignored by their colonizers; who see it as a White privilege. And in South Africa, where the white Apartheidizers descendants they still own 83% of the land given to them under the Apartheid era Group Areas Act, your article’s treatment of the massive theft  of  Native American lands really hit a very bothersome issue for us. It is interesting for one to begin to learn that this same treatment of using derogatory names to those who have been dispossessed, is one of the many ways to keep and display the dominance of the European over the indigenous peoples everywhere in the world!

The South African Bantustans Mirror “Indian’ Reservations
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 Whites Arrived in Virginia 1619 and Cape Town 1652
 
The Way We Were

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 White South Africa’s Idea Of child’s Play!

Even in this day of the fictitious democratic sham that is our country, there are still White folks who will never ever cease and desist from calling us “Kaffirs”(equivalent or same as “Nigger”) because they feel they can and know that they have many adherents and sympathizers amongst their Afrikaner “Volk”(Folk). What Playthell is saying is what we are fighting for here in Mzantsi. This is made concrete when he quotes the Congressman Eni who charged that “Native Americans throughout the country consider the ‘R-word’ a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word’ among African Americans or the ‘W-word’ among Latinos.”

We feel the same way here in Mzantsi, and throughout the African Continent and the Diaspora.  But, seemingly, every time we raise this issue we come across arrogance and dismissive attitudes that defies logic or common sense. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Skhokho Sa Tlou

Mazantzi, South Africa

June 16, 2013

Behind the Eight Ball!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on May 6, 2013 by playthell

 Barack behind the eight ball

                     President Obama in Israel

 Barack Looks for a Way out of Syrian Quagmire

As the Israeli’s escalate their attacks on Syria, offering the most spurious justifications for military aggression, we see the lingering effects of the Bush policy regarding preemptive strikes; which means attacking a potential adversary on the belief that they may someday strike you. President Obama should call for an immediate halt to Israeli aggression; it would be the wise and just thing to do.

But he dare not; lest he be sure to attract a hail of criticism from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and suffer a merciless skewering in the press.  This would complicate everything else he is trying to get through a recalcitrant congress.  That’s why he is attempting to justify it in a public statement of support, arguing that Israel is acting in their national security interests against the machinations of Hezbollah, an Iranian armed proxy.   President Obama has evidently decided that choosing the wise and just decision would prove politically disastrous.

The President is trapped in his own rhetoric. In a moment of bravado designed to intimidate Syrian President Bashir Assad, an attempt to persuade him not to even think of deploying chemical weapons against his adversaries in the Syrian Civil War, President Obama drew a symbolic “red line” that, if crossed, would be Assad’s undoing.  The impression given by that statement was that should the Syrian president cross the red line, Barack Obama would make him pay big time.

Now that there are claims such chemical weapons have been detected, the war hawks on the right, who are unceasing in their efforts to besmirch Barack Obama’s foreign policy record – which I regard as a demonstration of diplomatic virtuosity just like his orchestration of domestic policy – are calling for military intervention.  In their ceaseless attempts to discredit the President, the Republican opposition has come very close to being not only disloyal…but a menace to our national security.

It used to be understood that in matters of war and peace, playing partisan politics is not only obscene but dangerous.  It should be taboo for people who are entrusted with guarding the national interests to act as if they were shooting crap with the fate of the nation.   How is it possible that intelligent men such as Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham could so cavalierly speak of the US getting involved militarily by arming the rebels and even establishing a no-fly zone over Syria?  These are acts of war.

Five years ago, when Barack was running against McCain for the presidency, I wrote an essay supporting the position of General Wesley Clarke that McCain was no better qualified to be commander-In-Chief than Barack Obama; despite McCain’s experience as a military officer.  However I went even further. I argued that McCain was in fact unqualified to be Commander-In-Chief.  My argument must have appeared ridiculous to many Americans in light of the Senator’s much vaunted military record.

However I thought his deep psychological need to “prove himself” by winning another war, after the debacle in Vietnam, meant that McCain would be prone to go to war at the first opportunity. The reasons are complex and since I have elucidated them elsewhere I shall simply refer the reader to the essay “General Clarke was Right: John McCain is unqualified to be commander-In-Chief!” on this blog.

Although the charge of sarin gas use is disputed by some experts, who told the Guardian- Observer of London that the evidence was highly suspect.  After considering the testimony of eyewitnesses to the explosion they concluded that there wasn’t sufficient reason to believe that what they described was indeed a Sarin gas attack.  The evidence, such as it is, is based on the analysis of soil samples.

Yet even if traces of Sarin gas have been detected it raises more questions than it answers. Where did it originate?  Who gave the order to use it?  Was the president talking about small traces of gas that are barely detectable when he drew the red line; or a large scale gas attack clearly ordered by the government that inflicted mass casualties?  The last question is the most crucial.

Given the chicanery we have witnessed in the past by people who wanted to start a war based on bogus events, the President is displaying Solomonic wisdom in waiting for a thorough investigation by disinterested scientist before taking any action; the consequences of which are unclear since an American intervention might well make a bad situation worse.  This would compound the problem of finding a peaceful settlement in Syria.

That’s why the Israeli attacks are so dangerous.  US commitments to Israel in the matter of defense are very complex, but it is enough to know that our entanglements are such that any war Israel starts in the Mid-East will eventually involve the United States.  Already their aggressions are being applauded by the usual suspects on the right, but President Obama has also given his approval while admitting that the US helped supply the intelligence that guided the Israeli attack.

We can be sure that hysterical cries for Barack to follow the lead of Bibi with no-fly zones, arming factions identified as being friendly to Israel and the US, and even airstrikes of our own.  Yet given the confusing nature of the opposition it is hard to predict what the outcome of such actions will be.

After an Israeli Attack

Israeli bombing of weapons research center in Syria The Syrians say this is a declaration of war

 And that’s how it looks….

israel-attacks-syria-golan-heights

…..Down on the Ground

The forces clamoring for the US to become involved in the Syrian civil war base their demands on President Obama’s loose talk about ill defined “red lines” that would trigger an American intervention. Senator John McCain has already snidely remarked that President Obama’s red lines “must have been written with disappearing ink.” This guy can hardly wait to start another war; chomping at the bit like a race horse at the starting gate.

Perhaps all of the morons on the left and Black Nationalist ideologues will finally understand why the President is wise not to adopt their rhetoric.  Intellectuals like Cornel West and Boyce Watkins can say anything they please, just like  whacko Republican elected officials who say crazy things; it is just hot air, “all sound and fury signifying nothing” as Shakespeare said.

But when the President of the United States makes a statement it has real consequences. Alas, it may even result in the US being pushed into a war that neither the President nor the American people want because of Israeli actions.  The Israeli’s justify their aggressions with the argument that their actions are surgical strikes aimed at preventing the Lebanon based pro-Palestinian group Hezbollah from receiving missile shipments from Iran, who is the ultimate target of the Israeli government, because they will eventually be used against Israel.

The problem with this argument is that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy given Israeli actions.  And the President must resist all attempts by the Israelis to draw us into their war plans because we just can’t stand another war in the Mid-East in terms of blood, treasure or the long term prospects for peace.  It ought to be clear that the President of the United States needs to be level-headed and thoughtful about the consequences of military action.

The military might at a President’s disposal as Commander-In-Chief of the greatest fighting forces in the history of the world, can create feelings of omnipotence. Especially when military power is augmented by vast intelligence networks, funded with billions of dollars annually, and is capable of conducting spy operations all over the world. It could even make a US President believe that he has the power to determine the course of history through the use of covert actions and the outright projection of military power.

One need only look at the history of contrived events that have justified the US going to war based on bogus claims in order to find adequate reasons for skepticism in the present charges of chemical warfare in Syria.  Looking back to the war that many historians feel marked the beginning of America’s foray into empire building, the Spanish American War; it was the suspicious sinking of the Maine in a Cuban harbor that supplied the justification for a war with Spain that resulted in far flung Spanish colonial possessions in the Atlantic and Pacific coming under US control: Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Americans were persuaded to support a war in Vietnam because of a purported attack on an American vessel in the Gulf of Tonkin off the course of North Vietnam.  We have subsequently learned that it was a bogus charge.  And the invasion of Iraq was justified by the claim that Iraqi leader Sadam Hussein was hording “weapons of mass destruction” such as weaponized germs, poison gasses, and most of all nuclear weapons.  That claim also proved to be untrue, but it will still cost us trillions of dollars, nearly 5000 thousand American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives.

This sordid history is reason enough for us to view the increasingly hysterical calls for an aggressive American policy in Syria with a jaundiced eye, especially based on such spurious evidence. For instance one distinguished member of the independent commission investigating the charges, Carla Del Ponte, says she has evidence that it was the opposition who used Sarin gas.  As a former Swiss Attorney General and prosecutor with the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, Ms. Del Ponte is eminently qualified to conduct this type of investigation.

Given this possibility, along with the Russian and Chinese denunciation of the Israeli attacks on Syria and the US justification and support for them, it’s a safe bet that the US will not get UN backing for sanctions against the Syrian government.  Although John Kerry is planning a mission to Moscow, the Russians have already made their position clear.  Without specifically naming the America government, although it is pretty clear at whom Alexander Lukashevich’s remarks were intended.

Speaking on behalf of the Russian foreign ministry regarding Syria, he noted “signs that world public opinion is being prepared for possible military intervention. “ I think he is right, because I see the same signs; their frequency and vehemence are growing as I write.  Now Democrats are joining Republicans in calling for direct American military intervention in Syria, and they are citing the Sarin gas claim as the raison d’etre.  Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is calling for the US taking out the Syrian air force while it is on the ground with surface to air missiles.

And longtime diplomat and New Mexico Governor Richardson appeared somewhat trance like as he repeated the growing mantra for American military intervention in the Syrian crisis. And all of them join in religiously, almost speaking in unison, chanting “but no boots on the ground!”  In the minds of these mighty whiteys it’s all going to be a neat sanitized affair waged from the air.

Although I was in the Air Force, I agree with that old army man Colin Powell, who says the fly boys always promise more than they deliver in these kinds of civil wars.  And the situation could get very messy.  If these jokers manage to push Barack into yet another war we’ll see.  In the meantime it is incumbent for all thoughtful Americans to let the President know, by letter, telegram and phone that we wish to study war no more!

 The Ravages of War in Syria

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Will Giving These Guys More Guns Make Things Better?

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

May 4, 2013

Jamaica Against the World!

Posted in Guest Commentators, On Foreign Affairs on May 2, 2013 by playthell

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Cheering their Olympic Champions in Kingston

The Budget Debate: Austerity or Stimulus?

The world economy fell apart in Fall 2008 and five years after the crunching collapse of financial markets, the world economy is still struggling to gather new momentum.  The European Union opted for austerity and found itself in a double- dip recession.  Greece had to be bailed out by the European Central Bank.  There are signs of recovery in Ireland but Italy and Spain, inundated with sovereign debt, are struggling to find a growth path to prosperity. The debate all over Europe is whether the austerity measures have exacerbated the economic crisis or would stimulus economics be a more appropriate path to economic recovery.

David Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain and leader of the Conservative Party, opted for austerity and as a consequence Britain stumbled into a double-dip recession.  Cameron is too wedded to austerity to shift gears despite the dismal results of this policy.  His poll numbers have plummeted and it will take a miracle for the Conservative Party to remain in office when the British electorate votes to determine who should govern and who should occupy the opposition benches.

Germany has the most powerful economy in Europe and German economic policy has had to factor in the impact on the German electorate as well as its obligation to rescue the floundering and weaker economies of Europe.  Chancellor Merkel faces re-election in the Fall and her re-election will be pivotal to the nature of the economic recovery program that will be pursued in Europe.

The major cause of the collapse of the world financial markets stemmed from the irresponsible speculation and greed in the US that became the culture of Wall Street.  In a de-regulated environment, Wall Street investment companies abandoned sound investment practices, over-leveraged, and once the housing bubble in the United States was punctured, the financial house of cards came crushing down, taking the world economy in its wake.  It is worth noting that a plethora of serious crimes were committed in this financial fiasco, for which no one has gone to jail.

Yet the American economy has fared much better than its counterpart in Europe.  The stock market has returned to the levels of 2008 and the housing sector, stimulated by low interest rates, has recovered.  Nonetheless, the recovery has been far from robust and unemployment remains disturbingly high.  The debate in the United States has been similar to the debate taking place in Europe.  The Republican Party has been clamoring for austerity as personified by the recently adopted sequestration budgetary reduction.

The Democratic Party and President Obama prefer a more delicate balance, raising taxes to reduce the deficit and the debt but investing in research, development and human capital to ensure future growth. The American governmental system is more complicated than anything that exists in Western Europe and the divisions in the legislature have led to policy paralysis.

The drivers of the world economy for the most part are the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China.  China has been for the last couple of decades the world’s fastest growing economy.  The growth rate of the Chinese economy has hovered around 10 percent.  In the last quarter, the Chinese economy has slowed to approximately 7 percent of GDP as China seeks to expand domestic consumption and to become less reliant on export markets.

In the world of track and field, Jamaica towers above the rest of the world.  As in the last Olympic Games and the recently concluded Penn Relays, Jamaica is a gargantuan force but in the world of international economics, Jamaica is readily trampled by the elephants.  The debate involving austerity vs stimulus is very much germane to Jamaica’s budgetary process.

 

The Fastest Relay Team in the World!
Led by Ussain Bolt: The Fastest Man in the World
 
Dr. Peter Phillips

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Jamaican Minister of Finance

That budgetary process got underway in April when the Minister of Finance, Dr. Peter Phillips, presented his Budget 2013-2014 before the Jamaican Parliament.  For decades, Jamaica has not been able to get its economic act together.  GDP growth has been a rarity, rather than the norm.  Irrespective of the political party, the country’s finances have been out of whack.  At this juncture, the debt burden amounts to 140 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.  The design of the Minister of Finance is to reduce that debt burden by 2020 to 95 percent of GDP.

Jamaica finds itself in a terrible bind. The level of inequality is so pronounced that the social order is exceedingly brittle.  Property and violent crimes are too high and labor productivity has been inexplicably low.  During the years of the Jamaica Labour Party, 2007-2001, an economic agreement was signed with the International Monetary Fund. The Golding administration failed to achieve the benchmark measures set by the IMF and simply walked away from the agreement. A new agreement has been signed by the PNP government, and they will have to adhere to the strict measures of austerity in fiscal matters demanded by the agreement.

This is a historic moment for Dr. Peter Phillips.  His previous counterparts, Dr. Omar Davies for the PNP and Mr. Audley Shaw for the JLP failed to extricate the Jamaican economy from the debt trap and to expand production in the economy.  Dr. Phillips has held a series of previous portfolios but this is the most critical undertaking.  Jamaica cannot continue indefinitely to be a basket case in the world’s economy.

Portia Miller
The Jamaican Prime Minister

A series of reforms have been undertaken. Success can be measured on a yearly basis.  Paradoxically, Dr. Peter Phillips, who failed in his challenge to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller for the leadership of the PNP, will now determine the success or failure of the Portia Simpson Miller administration.

The Prime Minister and her Minister of Finance
 
Once Rivals…they will sink or Swim together

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Dr. Basil Wilson

New York City

May 2, 2013

No War with Syria or Arms to Rebels!!!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on April 28, 2013 by playthell

       untitled

Who are the good guys here?

 Barack Must resist Israeli and  Republican War Hawks

If ever there was an opportunity for the USA to reassess its role in the world it is now!  Listening to Republican Senators talk on CBS Face the Nation on Sunday Morning it is clear that if they had their druthers we would be bombing the Syrian air force right now and declaring a “no fly” zone over their country.  These guys are itching to start another war in the Islamic world.  And,  as the thoughtful reader might suspect,  they are casting themselves as liberators of the Syrian people; just like before they invaded Iraq.

Well, we all know how that turned out and there is every reason to believe that a military intervention in Syria will result in an even bigger disaster.  Despite the increasingly hysterical exhortations of the war hawks such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham for the president to take military action, it is imperative that our government decide what our policy goals are in the Mid-East region and shape our foreign policy accordingly.

Frankly I am at a lost to understand just what the objectives of the interventionist are.  It is my understanding that our paramount objectives in the region is to keep the oil flowing as cheaply as possible, defeat the Jihadist and defend the state of Israel against their Islamic adversaries…who seem to be everywhere.  Whether or not one agrees with all of these objectives, it is clear that they are quite enough for any nation to achieve.  We could even be “biting off more than we can chew” as my Grandmother Claudia would say.  But adding the grandiose agenda of bringing democracy to the Islamic world may well be inviting disaster.

The example of Iraq should serve as a cautionary tale.  After three trillion dollars, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, tens of thousands of Americans who are deeply wounded in body and mind, thousands of young Americans killed, and a wrecked American economy, we should have abandoned this impossible dream of planting an American style democracy in the Arab world.  But democratizing the Islamic world is a fairly recent ideal.

The most persistent American posture in the Islamic world is one of duplicity and Hypocrisy; our allegiances have been dictated by expediencies. The best example of this is Iran.  When the US calls for a secular democratic society in Iran the words should stick in the exhorter’s throat!

Iran had achieved exactly that sixty years ago, when they were governed by a western educated secular democrat who was elected by the Iranian people.  But since the Iranian President, Muhammad Mossedek, demanded a fair price for Iranian oil the CIA went in engineered his overthrow in 1953, replacing him with a militaristic tyrant who ruled with police state tactics.  The Islamic revolution in Iran was a direct result of that historic crime against the Iranian people.

The fact of the matter is that  US policy in the Middle East in the post-World War II era has been one disaster after another; hence we find ourselves in the mess we are in today.  American Mid-East policy at present resembles nothing so much as a game of whackamole.  Every time a crisis flares up one place and we rush to suppress it, another crisis pops up somewhere else.  That’s because the sad truth is the Middle East is a powder keg, filled to the brim with explosive antagonisms and unfathomable contradictions that we barely understand.

Based on the comments coming from the State Department, American intelligence agencies can’t tell friend from foe among the opposition; which tells me that the US should not rush into this confusing and murderous civil war in Syria.  At best we should lead an effort in the UN for the international community to take concerted action to find a solution to this catastrophe.

Although I am not a part of the crowd of Nervous Nellies who say we should never intervene in any situation, and I have warned against a paralysis from over analysis when taking action is the obvious course to address a problem.  As a member of a historically oppressed minority group in a nation where the majority group has demonstrated its willingness to resort to genocide in order to achieve its objectives – just consider the plight of indigenous Americans – I have repeatedly rejected the argument that governments should be free to treat their populations as they please without outside interference – to commit massive crimes against humanity behind the shield of “national soverignty.”

We have seen what that can lead to with the German Nazis, and most recently in Rwanda, despite the ignorant and racist statements of Republican Senators that the US has never stood by while as many as seventy thousand people were killed.  But chilling out and calling for the world community to act seems to be the wisest course of action in the present crisis.

The mere  claim that chemical weapons have been deployed by the Assad government is certainly no reason to rush into this conflict.  There are too many questions that remain unanswered.  And beyond the lack of clarity as to who done what, the last thing the US needs to do is initiate a military conflict in yet another Arab country spending billions that we desperately need to deal with the protracted economic crisis here on the home front….where we may yet face the moral equivilent of food riots.

No matter what the Israeli government, the Israel Lobby, or their Republican neo-con shills in the Congress say,  President Obama must not allow them to push us into a war with Syria, nor convince him to arm a mysterious opposition which appear to be riddled with Al Quaeda operatives.  Alas, in this case an ill informed American intervention could well prove to be a cure that’s worse than the disease!

Who are these Guys?

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Is it really a good idea to give them advanced US weapons?

 

 Will Arming the Syrian Opposition End the Destruction?

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Or will it just make it worse?

 

 

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

April 28, 2013

Viva Afro-Americanos!

Posted in Cultural Matters, On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics, Uncategorized with tags , , on April 13, 2013 by playthell
 Viva Americanos
Jay and Beyoncé Surrounded by Cuban Fans

On  Race, Class and US Policy on Afro- Cubans

I was delighted to hear that the second most popular power couple in the world, international superstars Jay Z and Beyoncé, who rank just below Barack and Michel in world-wide popularity, decided to spend their fifth wedding anniversary in Cuba.  There are many reasons why I rejoiced at the news.  First of all I have always regarded the economic boycott as unjust.  It began because the US Congress, acting as shills for the United Fruit Company, a giant American agri-business corporation who viewed the Island nation of Cuba as it’s private plantation…much as the firestone company viewed the West African nation of Liberia as a little more than their rubber plantation.

Hence when a young white Cuban lawyer named Fidel Castro, frustrated by the anti-democratic rule of military thugs on the Island which was a de facto American colony – led a revolution that deposed the corrupt military strong man Fulgentsia Batista, an American puppet, and began to institute sweeping changes, the US became a fierce opponent of the Cuban Revolution and has remained so over half a century later.

Since the Cubans never committed any offense against the American people, US hostility toward Cuba was sparked by internal economic reforms in that revolutionary Cubans made in their country, which ended the dominant role of the United Fruit Company and other American business interests, along with US support for the decadent white racist Cuban elite, who were their partners in the fleecing of the toiling Cuban masses.

It is the remnants of that white Cuban privileged class residing in southern Florida, centered in Miami, that keeps that hostility alive today and tries their best to prevent American citizens from traveling to Cuba – even as they have constantly complained about the Cuban government not allowing their citizens to travel to the US.  Hence it should surprise no one that the loudest voices criticizing Beyoncé and Jay’s visit to the Island are Cuban Americans from Florida.

The chatter began with protests from two Congresswomen – give their names – and has now been joined by that little snarky charlatan Marco Rubio; who is playing to the rightwing white Cubans in Southern Florida that comprise his base.  “According to recent news reports,” says Rubio, “Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s Cuba trip, which the regime seized on for propaganda purposes, was fully licensed by the Treasury Department.  If true, the Obama Administration should explain exactly how trips like these comply with U.S. law and regulations governing travel to Cuba and it should disclose how many more of these trips they have licensed.”

I think President Obama should pay this little Pisher no rabbit ass mind!  He should not be taken seriously on anything regarding Cuba.  This is the same guy who won a Senate seat by lying about his family history. During the election he presented himself as the son of Cuban refugees who fled Castro’s oppressive communist regime, and he won the hearts of all the suckers who will support anybody that has an axe to grind with Fidel.

However an enterprising reporter at the Miami Herald fact checked his story and discovered it was a fabrication.  The truth is that Rubio’s family fled Cuba under right-winger dictator Batista, in 1958, before Castro came to power.  I believe this is why Rubio was not interested in running with Romney in the VP slot; he is afraid his lies will resurface and there is abundant video of him telling this big lie. Only a party composed of shameless liars, who run campaigns based on lies – ala Mitt Romney – would even consider a shameless liar like Rubio as a candidate.  I hope they do select him as their presidential candidate…because this joker will never win the US presidency!

The white Cubans of southern Florida have intimidated politicians into supporting a policy that is not in the best interests of the US; hence I think American citizens should violate the travel ban en mass and force the government to prosecute them!  This would again raise the question as to whether the US government has the right to arbitrarily restrict our right to travel where we please.

It is a challenge that several Americans who support the Cuban Revolution have raised in the past – Afro-Americans such as Reverend Luscious Walker and Dr. Johnetta Cole prominently among them.  Reverend Walker led multi-racial groups of Americans bearing critical supplies denied to Cubans due to the protracted American economic embargo for 21 years straight.

Reverend Lucius Walker and El Presidente
Lucius and Fidel
Embracing the Cuban Revolution

He would get around American travel restrictions to Cuba by embarking from Mexico or Canada, two nations in the hemisphere that saw no danger to themselves from a revolution on the little Island of Cuba.  Reverend Walker saw no danger to the US either; rather he saw US policy as a menace to Cuba and all of Latin America – a view that was reinforced when he was shot by American sponsored “contras” while on a mercy mission to the people of Nicaragua.    That’s why he continued to travel to Cuba while refusing opportunities to travel there legally under a special dispensation of the US government.

Walker’s intention was to directly challenge the morality of the US government’s policy by taking bibles on his missions claiming he was bring “God’s word to Cuba,” and the Justice Department wisely decided not to take the bait.  On his last trip to Cuba Rev. Walker took a variety of medical supplies such as EKG machines, medicines that were hard to get in Cuba but was in abundant supply in the US, Incubators, etc.  Rev. had a special name for these gifts from Americans of conscience: “Friendshipments.”

When this black American preacher from humble origins danced and joined the great ancestors of our struggle at 80 years old, having remained in the fight for a better world through international solidarity with oppressed and working peoples to the end of his days, the reverence with which he was regarded by the Cuban people was expressed in an editorial of Granma, the official organ of the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party.  “Cubans, in gratitude, “the statement said, “have to say that we don’t want to think of a world without Lucius Walker”.

Dr. Johnetta Cole demonstrated her solidarity with the Cuban Revolution by writing and lecturing about the realities of revolutionary Cuba and leading Vinceramos Brigades down to the Island to help harvest the sugarcane crop and exchange ideas with revolutionary anti-colonial delegations from around the world, in defiance of US government policy.  Dr. Cole used to argue passionately in defense of the revolutionary policies of the Cuban government when we were colleagues in the W.E.B. DuBois Department of Black Studies at U-Mass.

While these Afro-Americans travelled to Cuba to express solidarity with the Revolution, Jay Z and Beyoncé appear to have just wanted to take a vacation on this beautiful exotic island where Salsa was born.  I have never heard either of them express a political concern beyond working to reelect President Obama by bundling money.  And I have no idea what they think about the plight of Afro-Cubans, since they have been mum thus far.

 Dr. Johnetta Cole
COLE, JOHNETTA
Anthropologist and Defender of Cuban Revolution

 I do know that there is a thriving Hip Hop scene that is heavily black and political.   In fact, I have had Afro-Cubans tell me that it is the true voice of black Cuba, since they have no other vehicle by which to publicly address racial issues. Hence there is no telling what they talked about with Cuban rappers, although inquiring minds certainly want to know.  Despite their silence however, Beyoncé and Jay Z’s controversial Cuban sojourn affords us an opportunity to discuss weighty questions such as the role of race and class race in shaping contemporary politics and economic relations in  Cuban society; and how these issues affect  American policy towards Cuba.

Beyonce at the Tropicana!
Beyonce at the Tropicana
Goddesses of Neo African Dance
 A Taste of Afro-American Style

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Dssto the height of fashion!
Chillin with the Youths

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And they are lovin it! 

 And so did the Children

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The time of their lives! 

 

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The suppression of serious discourses about race by the Cuban government, which is dominated by Hispanic Cubans – i.e. White Cubans”– is a persistent theme in the critique of revolutionary Cuba by Afro-Cubans.  While most Afro-American Marxist, and friends of the revolution of all ideological stripes, praise the dramatic advances of Afro-Cubans since the revolution, parroting the position of the Cuban government that the race problem is passé, I am reminded of Faulkner’s statement that the American South will never escape it’s past, and noted that “the past isn’t even past.”

This can also be said regarding the question of anti-black racism in Cuba; alas while official policy denounces racism, racist feeling and ideology is deeply embedded in Cuban culture and can only be rooted out by persistently confronting in a thousand forums.  Instead it has been the policy of the Cuban government to suppress discussions of the race issue.  Hence, based on myriad reports from Afro-Cubans, racism persists in that Spanish speaking Caribbean nation despite government denial.

Suspicions about the shortcomings of the revolutionary Cuban government’s policies on race relations began early on by some of the first Afro-Americans to visit the Island after the Revolution.  One of these was political theorist and cultural critic Harold Cruse, author of the seminal text “The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual,” which offers one of the most astute critiques of the inability of white Marxist to accommodate nationalist aspirations on the part of blacks, which is a healthy response to white supremacy – whether on the right or left.

 Harold Cruse
OBIT Harold Cruse
Skeptical of White Cuban Communist

Hence Cruse reported that while Leroi Jones – aka Amiri Baraka, whom he described as a beatnik poet from Greenwich Village flirting with revolution – was enraptured by everything they saw and heard on the official government tours, Cruse was skeptical because “there were too many white communist walking around looking important.”

After having spent years in the American Communist Party, Harold Cruse, who would go on to become a Professor of history at the University of Michigan, was suspicious of the motives of white communists because he felt that they pursued their group interests while suppressing such tendencies on the part of blacks, mislabeling it “bourgeois black nationalism”

 George Padmore

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Father of the African Independence Movement

It was in essence the same reason why George Padmore, a Trinidadian activist intellectual who is rightfully called “The Father of the African independence movement,” quit the International Communist movement and wrote his famous book length polemic “Pan-Africanism or Communism.”  As the director of The Bureau of Negro Affairs for the Comintern, Padmore was the highest ranking black man in the history of the international Communist Movement. (See: Dr. J.L. Hooker’s Black Revolutionary)

By the time this delegation of intellectuals, journalist and artist visited Cuba,  we already had the experience of Robert Williams, President of the Monroe North Carolina NAACP and ex-Marine, who had organized his community to resist the Ku Klux Klan with arms and was forced into exile in Cuba. It was no accident of history that the revolutionary Cuban government was willing to grant political asylum to Robert Williams.   He had recently come to their attention by virtue of a telegram Williams sent to Adele Stevenson, the pompous patrician American Ambassador to the United Nations, after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of October 17th 1961.

From the moment the revolutionaries came to power in Cuba the US government began plotting against them.  This interference would prove counter-productive because it helped to drive a nationalist reformer interested in honest government and a more just economic system that would raise the standard of living for the Cuban working class into an alliance with the Soviet Union.  Had the US supported the Revolution the course of history would have been different and infinitely better.

Alas powerful US economic elites viewed the revolution as a disaster for their interests and prompted the Kennedy Administration to take action to depose Castro and quash the revolution by launching a counter-revolution. After all, the Central Intelligence Agency had successfully overthrown the democratically elected government of Iran in a covert action and installed the dictatorial Shah, just eight years earlier.  High on hubris the CIA was tasked with organizing, arming and training a counter-revolutionary military force composed of white Cuban’s who had fled the Island.

Convinced that the majority of Cubans opposed the revolution, which was the result of relying on a narrative constructed by the losers -the CIA had calculated that once the invaders landed on Cuban soil the Cuban masses would join them and overthrow the Castro government.  What they failed to understand is that it is impossible to overthrow a military strongman like Batista by revolutionary action without broad popular support.

The Cubans had voted by their actions, since the reason that Fidel turned to revolution in the first place was because the democratic process had been subverted and rendered impotent by right-wing military dictators like Machado and Batista, who were little more than Marionettes whose strings were pulled from Washington.  Hence when the CIA sponsored counter-revolutionaries landed at the Bay of Pigs they were met by an armed Cuban people who crushed them!

Captured Cuban Exiles at Bay of Pigs
Bay of Pigs
A CIA Covert Action Gone Awry

When news of the invasion was reported in the American press it set off a firestorm of protests and acrimonious debates. The Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a group of American activists who expressed solidarity with the Cuban Revolution, organized demonstrations from coast to coast.  Leading American intellectuals spoke out against the Bay of Pigs invasion and chapters of the Fair Play Committee spread like wildfire across college campuses.

Dr. C. Wright Mills, long time Columbia University Professor and one of America’s most distinguished social scientist, was then 80 years old and too ill to attend the demonstrations but he sent a telegram to that was read at one of the largest rallies. “If I were able I would be fighting alongside Fidel Castro” he declared.  However opinion polls taken after news broke of the disastrous American sponsored invasion, even as the Kennedy Administration attempted to deny it at the United Nations, opinion polls revealed that 82% of the American people supported the invasion.

Kennedy was perplexed but pleasantly surprised by the positive public response to his embarrassing diplomatic debacle.  However Robert Williams was outraged by the hypocrisy of so many white Americans favoring supplying arms to help so-called “oppressed” white Cubans regain their “freedom,” but remained silent about the barbaric racist police state tactics that he was living under in the American South.  Hence he wrote a letter to UN Ambassador Stevenson that was read by the Cuban Foreign Minister before the UN General Assembly while Stevenson was sitting there.  The text of William’s letter read:

“Please convey to Mr. Adele Stevenson: Now that the United States has proclaimed support for people willing to rebel against oppression, oppressed Negroes of the south urgently request tanks, artillery, bombs, money and the use of American airfields and white mercenaries to crush the racist tyrants who have betrayed the American Revolution and the Civil War.  We also request prayers for this undertaking.”

Robert F. Williams

The letter was embarrassment enough, but to make matters even worse for the American Ambassador the Cuban Foreign Minister turned to him and said derisively: “I would like to ask Mr. Stevenson what would happen if the government of the United States, which claims to be the champion of democracy, dared to arm not only the Negros in the cotton fields of the South, or right here in Harlem?” Scholars have uncovered a Top Secret cable from Stevenson to Secretary of State Dean Rusk that reveals his ignorance of the Bay of Pigs invasion, as he laments the fact that he was not provided talking points by the State Department beforehand, so that he would not look like a stumble bum trying to respond to these issues.

A Puzzled Steveson Unsure of what to Say

Adlai Stevenson

An object of ridicule, trying to defend the indefensible

Robert William’s response foreshadowed a statement of unequivocal support for the Cuban Revolution and denunciation of the invasion by a wide range of distinguished Afro-American intellectuals, lawyers, artists, activist, preachers, et al.  Titled “Cuba: A Declaration of Conscience by Afro-Americans,” and published in the Baltimore Afro-American, a nationally distributed black owned and edited newspaper, it declared:

Because we have known oppression, because we have suffered more than other Americans, because we are still fighting for our own liberation from tyranny, we Afro-Americans have the right and the duty to raise our voices against the forces of oppression that now seek to crush a free people linked to us by the bonds of blood and common heritage.” The document went on to boldly warn: “Afro-Americans, don’t be fooled – the enemies of Cuba are our enemies, the Jim Crow bosses of this land where we are still denied our rights.”

 This document was signed by black American intellectuals and activists ranging from Robert Williams,  to  Leroi Jones – who became Amiri Baraka – to Dr. WEB DuBois, and its undeniable truth posed a dilemma for the US in its “Cold War” struggle with Communist Russia to win the hearts and minds of the non-white peoples in the emerging nations of Africa and Asia – whose UN delegates had ridiculed the American Ambassador with laughter when the Cuban Foreign minister put the questions to him regarding arming oppressed Afro-Americans and it was telecast around the world.  The Russians made sure everybody in the Third saw it.

Although it is little understood by most Americans, black or white, the US government’s struggle with the communist bloc to win the allegiance of the emergent Third World nations was a major factor in the victories of the Civil Rights Movement in the US.  (See: Civil Rights and Foreign Policy) Hence the Robert Williams story was a nightmare for US diplomacy, especially after he fled into exile in Cuba, where he conducted regular broadcasts into the American South on a program he dubbed “Radio Free Dixie,” named after the American government’s subversive broadcasts into communist countries called “Radio Free Europe.”

These broadcasts could be heard around the world and his pamphlet “The Crusader,” was widely distributed.  I was one of the people who distributed it in the US, as I travelled around the country making speeches under the auspices of the Opportunities Industrialization Center – a manpower training program that began in Philadelphia but spread to 105 cities, and was always located in the heart of black communities.

As a member of the Revolutionary Action Movement, a quasi-underground movement that was the first to advocate and organize for armed struggle during the 1960’s, I had ready access to the Crusader because the Chairman, Max Stanford aka Dr. Muhammad Ahmed, received regular shipments from Cuba, by way of Canada.

I supported Robert Williams from the moment that I learned the details of the Monroe North Carolina struggle in the explosive book “Negros With Guns,” which was based on a series of interviews given on WBAI radio in New York City while Rob was underground on the run from the FBI, who were seeking to arrest him on a trumped up kidnapping charge.  Since it was clear that his only offense was organizing his community to defend themselves against racist white terrorists, all fair minded Americans who understood the facts rallied to Rob’s defense.

Robert and Mable Williams

robert-and-mabel-williams

They Shot it out with the Klan and fled to Cuba
The NAACP in Monroe: Ready to Rumble!
Blacks with guns in Monroe
Too hot for the National Office to Handle

Having been expelled from his office as President of the Monroe chapter then abandoned by the NAACP, Williams had relied on the organized left – whom he had met through his activities with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee - to get him first into Canada and then into Cuba.  The aid, comfort, security and communications platform provided to Williams by the revolutionary Cuban government was deeply appreciated by Afro-Americans.

That feeling did not change even after Williams quit Cuba five years later and relocated in the “The People’s Republic of China, where he was treated as a revolutionary hero and hung out with the top levels of the Chinese government, including chairman Mao, at a time when China was largely a mystery to the US State Department.

Radio Free Dixie!

negroes-with-guns

Robert and Mable Williams broadcasting from Cuba

Rob and Chairman Mao

robert-williams-and-mao

Two Revolutionaries Talkin Revolution

There are various versions of why Rob left Cuba, some say it was the result of a conspiracy by the Russian Communist Party and their American surrogates who for some muddled ideological reasons created suspicions regarding Robert Williams on the part of the Cuban government.  But I find the explanation offered by Dr. Carlos Moore, a black Cuban who had supported the Revolution in an interview conducted on WBAI by this writer.

According to Dr. Moore, it was the great following that Rob enjoyed among Afro-Cubans that began to worry white Cuban Officials, who had made discussions of the race problem a counter-revolutionary act.  And all Rob talked about was the race in America, which began to awaken the racial consciousness of Afro-Cubans.  Dr. Moore went on to become the foremost critic of the Castro government’s policy on race relations, producing many important treatises of varying lengths – including the revelatory books “Castro, The Blacks and Africa” and “Pichun.”

As early as 1960’s, when Afro-American leftist intellectual /activist were completely enamored with the Cuban revolution, Carlos Moore was writing about the persistence of racism in Cuba and the prohibition against honest discussion of the issue.  His persistence in raising the issue got him in trouble with the government and he soon went into exile.  Over the last half century Dr. Moore has lived all over the world, but he has continued to speak out about the unresolved race issues in Cuba, something not only the Cubans don’t want to discuss, Afro-American leftist intellectuals don’t want to talk about either.

As President Obama began to relax the rules regarding travel and investment in Cuba 1n 2009, and the Cuban government embarked on a new economic policy that allowed for the development of private enterprise.  This policy is designed to garner hard currency for foreign exchange in the wake of the devastating economic problems that resulted from the collapse of the Soviet Union, who had been their main benefactor.   As many white Cubans residing in Miami returned home to visit for the first time in decades, Dr. Moore was watching.

He recorded his views of the new policy in a long article published in the McClatchy papers.  It was published on April 21, 2009 under the titled “From Myth to Reality: Putting Context to Cuba’s Racial Divide,” and he observes:

Images of the first batch of Cuban-Americans arriving at Havana’s international airport, since the United States’ lifting of restrictions on travel and remittance-sending to the island, were clear: teary-eyed, Spanish-speaking cousins, laden with gifts and money, for their relatives in Cuba, were all white! … The spectacle of the white Cuban returnees, however, reveals even more by highlighting what or rather who is missing: dark-skinned Cuban faces.”

Dr. Carlos Moore

Dr. Carlos Moore

A Dissident Black Cuban Scholar

Dr. Moore goes on to raise some critical questions.  Among the most telling is:  “How does one explain such a dramatically white homecoming in a country where 62-70% of the population is estimated to be non-white…” After explaining the dramatic difference in wealth between black and white Cuban families he asks:

 “What do these two differing racial realities largely unacknowledged inside and outside Cuba portend for the United States’ emerging Open Door policy? In purely human terms, the warming relations between “cousins” on both sides of the Florida straights may be laudable, but certainly not devoid of long-term political implications inside Cuba. To understand why, a new map of Cuba the real Cuba will have to be drawn.”

Here Dr.  Moore is alluding to the persistent claim by Afro-Cubans that they are drastically undercounted in the government census.  Again, his critiques of race relations in Cuba were denounced by the Cuban Government, and commentators on the American left.  Moore has been smeared as a right-wing Cuban in league with the reactionary white Cubans in Miami, a CIA agent, everything but a child of God!

However his claims that white racism persists in Cuba; that it is covered up by the government and it is dangerous to discuss it publicly; that white Cubans from Miami are pouring money into the pockets of their relatives in Cuba, and black Cubans are losing ground – the arguments that got him run out of post-revolutionary Cuba, has recently been echoed by a prominent Afro-Cuban intellectual in an article published in the Sunday edition of the March 24 New York Times, over three years after Dr. Moore’s report in the McClatchy papers.

Titled “For Blacks In Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun,” Roberto Zurbano tells us:

“Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about.  The government hasn’t allowed racial prejudice to be debated or confronted politically or culturally, often pretending instead that it didn’t exist.  Before 1990 Black Cubans suffered a paralysis of economic mobility while, paradoxically, the government decreed the end of racism in speeches and publications.  To question the extent of racial progress was tantamount to a counter-revolutionary act.  This made it almost impossible to point out the obvious: racism is alive and well.”

On the question of the economic position of Afro-Cubans, Mr. Zurbano reports:

“If the 1960’s, the first decade after the revolution, signified opportunity for all, the decades that followed demonstrated that not everyone was able to have access to and benefitted from those opportunities.  It’s true that the 1980’s produced a generation of black professionals, like doctors and teachers, but these gains were demolished in the 1990’s, as blacks were excluded from lucrative sectors like hospitality.  Now in the 21st century, it has become all too apparent that the black population is underrepresented at universities, and in spheres of economic and political power, and overrepresented in the underground economy, in the criminal sphere, and in marginal neighborhoods.”

Mr. Zurbano explains the role of the exile community in the US – those smiling alabaster faces at the airport – in the rising prosperity of White Cubans, even as black Cubans sink deeper into poverty.  “Most remittances from abroad – the Miami area, the nerve center of the mostly white exile community – go to white Cubans.  They tend to live in upscale houses which can easily be converted into Restaurants – the most common kind of private business in Cuba.”

In formulating a solution to Cuba’s problem of racial inequity, Mr. Zurbano argues:

“An important first step would be to finally get an accurate count of Afro-Cubans.  The black population is far larger than the spurious numbers of the most recent censuses.  The number of blacks on the street undermines, in the most obvious way, the numerical fraud that puts us at less than one fifth of the population.  Many people forget that in Cuba, a drop of white blood can – if only on paper – make a Mestizo or white person, out of someone who in social reality falls in neither of these categories.  Here, the nuances of skin color are a tragicomedy that hides longstanding racial conflicts.”

A content analysis of the major themes and conclusions in this analytical essay by Mr. Zurbano will reveal that they are virtually identical to those that Dr. Moore has been arguing for decades, and mirror his take on the Cuban scene in the 2009 essay cited above.  For telling this unvarnished tale of race relations in Cuba, Mr. Zurbano has been removed from his influential post as Editor at Casa d La Americas.

Like Carlos, for telling the truth about racism in post-revolutionary Cuba…he has been sentenced to silence.  That’s one of the main reasons why more Afro-American scholars and journalists should follow Jay Z and Byonce’s example and go see for themselves!   Incidentally, Jigga has already responded to Rubio and his fellow GOP haters with a rap, which reduced to its essence is just an elaborate way of saying “Kiss my rich black ass”….to which I say OLE!!!

Checkin Out the Scene in Cuba

images Iv

Down to Earth Superstars

 

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

April 12, 2013

 

The Goat!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on March 30, 2013 by playthell
Image: U.S. President Obama smiles while he addresses students at the Jerusalem Convention Center in Jerusalem
Greatest Of All Times

Barack Obama In Israel

As is the case with so many essays published at Commentaries On The Times, the present essay came to me serendipitously, like a revelation from on high.  I had just finished watching a video of President Obama’s speech before students and other selected quest in Israel, and marveling at his political skills as he wooed and won the audience; who gave him repeated and boisterous standing ovations.

I got the feeling that I was watching the most gifted politician in American history.  Then I heard a guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, discussing his new book about forgotten US Presidents who had left their mark on American civilization, and was confirmed in that feeling.

When he was asked if he thought President Obama would be remembered, the author quickly pointed out that Barack Obama will be remembered if only because he is the first African/American President.  But then he went on to enumerate the President’s monumental achievements – saving the world economy from ruin, rescuing the US auto-industry, the Affordable Health Care Act, The Lilly Ledbetter Act, Icing Osama bin Laden, etc – and assured us they will never be forgotten.

As Erhardt talked I kept thinking about the President’s speech, and how Bibi Netanyahu was getting a dose of what the reactionary Republicans have been getting at the hands of this highly intelligent, profoundly humane, visionary, virtuoso at the art of politics.

For just as in America, Barack was winning the intelligent youths of Israel and touching the heart strings of all Israeli’s who dream of a peaceful future with their Arab neighbors.  It was not long before Bibi, Barack’s former antagonist, assumed a lips to posterior posture and maintained it for the balance of the President’s visit.  Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

Barack and Bibi in Israel
Barack and Bibi
Watch the hands: Who’s Listening to whom?

Taking a trip to Israel was viewed as an act akin to walking unarmed into a lion’s den by many astute observers from all over the American political spectrum. The right wing Republican infotainment complex was so certain the trip would be a disaster for the President that FOX NEWS – the flagship media shill of the Grand Obstructionist Party- was running advertisements for an upcoming program exposing President Obama’s hatred for Israel, hosted by that greasy headed numbskull charlatan Sean Hannity.  Unfortunately for them, the ad debuted just as the President was being addressed as “Dear Barack” by Israeli in a ceremony where he was conferred Israel’s highest civilian award…no other American President has received this honor.

 Israel Honors Barack

Barack being Honored in Israel

Simon Perez Places ….Medal on President Obama

Although such a reception would have been newsworthy during the best of times in the US Israeli relationship, it was especially remarkable now.  Just a couple of months ago Prime Minister Netanyahu brazenly attempted to interfere in the US presidential election by showing an open preference for his old Boston business partner Mitt Romney.  But when Obama won reelection it almost finished Netanyahu’s political career.

Among the most important duties of any Israeli Prime minister is to manage and maintain good relations with the US, without whose largess Israel’s security is compromised, and Netanyahu’s disrespectful treatment of President Obama had imperiled that critical relationship.  It almost cost Netanyahu the last election a few weeks ago. And this blunder was followed by the recent attempt to block the President’s nomination of former Republican Senator and decorated combat veteran Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, led by the US Israel Lobby, an appointment that is now a fait accompli.

The speeches Barack Obama presented on his Mid-East sojourn were models of political acumen; they were designed to advance his goal of working out a solution to the intractable Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  And this is the basis upon which they must be judged, not one’s pet ideological peeves.  And the nit picking of academic historians, though accurate in factual detail, may well-represent a cure that is worse than the disease, in that it will sacrifice today’s progress on the altar of yesterday’s truths.

Of course thoughtful people who are familiar with the facts about the Middle-East will disagree with the substance of some of the President’s assertions, and others will question the symbolism of some of his acts – like placing a stone from the monument honoring Dr. Martian Luther King on the tomb of Theodore Hertzel, the founder of Modern Zionism; who was a racial nationalist and thus was far more like Minister Farrakhan than Reverend King, although pro-Zionist Jews will be quick to deny this fact.

It comes as no surprise that many of the President’s critics on the left were cynical about the trip altogether.  In an article titled “Why Obama’s Israel Trip is One Big Mistake” published on  Slate.Com,  Janine Zachariah scoffs at the President’s attempt to win over the Israeli’s and assures us: “If Obama wants to talk about drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews into the Israel Defense Forces or the price of apartments in Tel Aviv, he’ll find an audience. Those relatively marginal issues are what dominated Israel’s recent election, not the future with the Palestinians.” 

As usual, the hysterics on the left are wrong in their snarky critiques of the President.  Ms. Zachariah presents a laundry list of charges against Israel, which in her opinion nullifies any reason the President may have for visiting the Jewish nation.  Yet she offers no explanation as to how Barack will be able to address these complex issues without winning over substantial portions of the Israeli and American electorates.

It is as if the left yearns for a dictator who can issue a directive and the machinery of state act upon it the way the Catholic bureaucracy responds to an encyclical from the Pope, or the Chinese Communist Party carried out to the dictums of Chairman Mao without opposition.

But this is the USA, and we have a divided government in which the power of the executive is checked by the countervailing power of the legislature.  Hence the President will need the cooperation of Congress in order to successfully address the complex issues outlined by Ms. Zachariah, and he won’t get it if the Israel Lobby can successfully paint him as an enemy of Israel.

However, as is characteristic of the President’s critics on the left, Ms. Zachariah does not take the political opposition into account.  And as I have pointed out ad nauseum: That’s why the American left is confined to the status of a national debating society throwing verbal spitballs from the sidelines of American politics.  They are not even in the game where real power is exercised.

However as President of the United States Barack Obama is in the arena grappling with these monumental problems, trying to make deals that will further his objectives of peace and justice in the Middle East.  Which means his tactics must accommodate political reality, the commentariat can say whatever they want.  And even if he does not succeed he will have done no worse than all the American presidents before him.  But let’s not count him out just yet; for Barack is no ordinary politician.

The President’s political gifts were prominently on display during his Israeli Sojourn.  He beguiled the Israeli’s with his infectious charm, sun shine smile and moving eloquence.  And, Contrary to Ms. Zachariah’s prediction, he did talk about the future of the Palestinian people, in fact he called for the birth of a Palestinian State…and he was greeted with tumultuous applause. After effusive praise of Israel’s virtues and the history of Jewish suffering, the President told the audience:

There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turned to terror, and leaders who missed historic opportunities. That is why security must be at the center of any agreement. And there is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiation. That is why, despite the criticism we’ve received, the United States will oppose unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the United Nations.

But the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes – look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day. It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.”

The reaction of Haaretz, Israel’s leading newspaper, is a measure of the way Israeli’s responded to the President’s speech.

“For Barack Obama to come to Jerusalem, and speak to Israeli students and talk persuasively of the possibility of a secure and peaceful future, for him to do that and garner a roaring ovation of approval, he would have to have given one hell of a speech. He did.  This was the speech that these young Israelis not only needed but wanted to hear. A speech that radically redefined centrism in Israel, bringing it down to extraordinary common denominators in directions Israelis have learned to think of as diametrically opposed.  He spoke of security and peace as inextricably and necessarily linked, not a narrow choice between options, but a conscious choice for both.  They roared.”

The article went on to point out that the Israeli college students President Obama was speaking to were different from American students in important ways.

“This was not the student crowd that Obama is used to. These students are Israelis. This is a crowd that is world-weary, hair-trigger volatile. They have come by it honestly. In comparison to their American counterparts, they are, by and large, older by several years – some would say, several lifetimes. They enter college after years in the military, often followed by the escape-valve rehab of a marathon trek to remote continents.

They know a snow job when they hear it. And the rare times when someone makes a sincere and enormous effort to understand them, to see things from their point of view, and to bring them a message that no leader in Israel has managed to bring them, they know that too.”

The praise for President Obama becomes ever more effusive, and ends with this observation “This is not the same country after this speech. Four years from now, when he hands back the White House, Barack Obama should consider a change of direction, even a change of venue. Let him run here. It’s about time we knew again what a real leader was like.”

************

Of all the reasons given for the affinity between the USA and Israel, one of the major reasons is never mentioned: their mutual origins as colonial settler states.  Perhaps this is because of the fundamental character of these societies: which is the massive land theft and displacement of the indigenous populations by force and the establishment of a racial caste system in which the invaders become the ruling elite.  This is true whether we are talking about the creation of the USA by Englishmen in the 18th century; the Republic of Liberia by Afro-Americans in the 19th century; or the state Israel in the 20th century. 

However if we simply changed the word “Arabs” to “Indians” this observation on the founding of Israel by  the great Zionist warrior, Moshe Dayan – in a 1969 speech in Haifa, quoted from quoted in Ha’aretz, April 4, 1969, could well have been made by an American statesman.

“We came here to a country that was populated by Arabs and we are building here a Hebrew, a Jewish state; instead of the Arab villages, Jewish villages were established. You even do not know the names of those villages, and I do not blame you because these villages no longer exist. There is not a single-Jewish settlement that was not established in the place of a former Arab Village.” ­

The similarities between the Israeli and American experience with nation building can be easily seen in the fact that American cities from Chicago Illinois, to Tecumseh Michigan, to Chicopee Massachusetts are named after the Indian villages that once resided upon this land before it was stolen by white invaders from Europe.

President Obama was no more candid in his discussion of the founding of Israel than any of the US presidents who have preceded him.  And the reason is simple: it contradicts the Master Narrative, i.e. the national myth of their civilization…hence neither Israeli nor American Leaders are anxious to discuss the real story of their nation’s founding.

Phillip Weiss, an American Jewish journalist, published an article titled It’s Time for the Media to Talk about Zionism on the World News Daily Information Clearing House, a website that bills itself as offering “News you won’t find on CNN or Fox News.”  Mr. Weiss excoriated the major American media for its lack of objective reporting and candid commentary on the state of Israel and its policies toward the Palestinians.  In this criticism he is joined by a host of brilliant Jewish critics of Israel and the one sided reportage on the question of Palestinian rights and national aspirations.

Don’t ask don’t tell is the rule regarding the crimes against the indigenous peoples that were essential to the founding of America and Israel.  But unlike Native Americans, the seizure of Palestinian lands occurred in the Middle of the 20th century, when genocidal invasions were unacceptable; largely as a result of the furor over the Jewish holocaust in Germany.   The Palestinians are 20th century victims of land hungry settler/colonialists, and they have been waging a protracted war against Israel for over half a century.

Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is also the root cause of their problems with Iran.  And President Obama’s position on Iran will not help the situation.  While he is resisting Netanyahu’s blatant attempt to persuade him to commit the US to a military conflict with the Persian nation, he has nevertheless adopted the Israeli view of the threat to the national security of the US and Israel, which is more propaganda than truth, more fiction than fact.

When I consider Israel’s security, I also think about a people who have a living memory of the Holocaust, faced with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iranian government that has called for Israel’s destruction. It’s no wonder Israelis view this as an existential threat. But this is not simply a challenge for Israel – it is a danger for the entire world, including the United States. It would raise the risk of nuclear terrorism, undermine the non-proliferation regime, spark an arms race in a volatile region, and embolden a government that has shown no respect for the rights of its own people or the responsibilities of nations.

That is why America has built a coalition to increase the cost to Iran of failing to meet their obligations. The Iranian government is now under more pressure than ever before, and that pressure is increasing. It is isolated. Its economy is in a dire condition. Its leadership is divided. And its position – in the region, and the world – has only grown weaker.

First of all, Iran has not grown weaker because the misguided American attack on Iraq has empowered the Shiites, which is a de-facto extension of the power and influence of Iran in the region and would make a war with Iran infinitely more difficult than the Iraq war, in which the US deployed troops for ten years at a cost of two trillion dollars!  It was the greatest foreign policy blunder in American history…an attack on Iran will prove worse!

If the Iraq war was folly, an American war with Iran initiated by Israel would be an exercise in self-mutilation: a disaster for US relations in the region, and on the home front because it would wreck the US economy. Furthermore the President’s contention that Iran acquiring an atomic bomb “would raise the risk of nuclear terrorism, undermine the non-proliferation regime,” is dishonest hyperbole that will not advance the goal of peace in the Middle East – since everybody knows that Israel has a formidable nuclear arsenal yet refuses to even sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and thus do not allow inspections on its soil.

This attitude will result in a permanent state of hostility with their Muslim neighbors, which has caused Israel to become a garrison state, ever vigilant at the possibility of violence. And it shall remain so as long as the question of Palestinian sovereignty is unresolved.  Hence it is the possibility of peace offered by President Obama that inspired the most fervent hope and tumultuous applause

 

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
March 30, 2013

 

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Playthell on politics with tags , , on March 21, 2013 by playthell
Barack and Bibi in Israel - March 2013
A Very Odd Couple

Barack Must Avoid Mid-East Pitfalls and Quagmires

On his present foray into the Middle East President Obama must proceed with caution.   This is the most volatile region of the world; the political landscape is strewn with pitfalls which can quickly metamorphose into quagmires that can bog an interventionist superpower down for a decade, cost trillions in treasure and rivers of blood – much of it resulting from the slaughter of innocents -yet end up leaving the situation worse than you found it.  This is the story of Iraq, the longest war in American history, where after a decade of combat and social engineering the cure has turned out to be worse than the disease.

When the US attacked Iraq with Operation “Shock and Awe” – a devastating aerial assault calculated to break the spirit of the Iraqi people and sap their will to resist,  which I called “March Madness” in a commentary – we were assured by pompous poseurs masquerading as great military thinkers such as Dirty Dick Cheney, “Rummy” Rumsfeld, and Paulie Wolfowitz, that American forces would be greeted with open arms by Iraqi citizens and hailed as heroes.  We were also told by George II’s National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice – “a mere theoric who knows no more of war than a spinster” as Iyago said of Cassio –  that the war would be over in a few weeks, and it would be completely paid for by Iraqi oil revenues. George Bush, then the commander-In-Chief, even flew out to an aircraft carrier in his moth eaten pilot’s jumpsuit a couple of months later and formally declared victory.  History testifies to the fact that they were wrong on all counts!  And it could prove to be the most costly blunder in American history.

A Serial Blunderer

Bush Declares victory

He declared victory…… but didn’t call the troops home

Now Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is trying to get President Obama to do it all over again.  Thus far Barack has kept his own counsel on these matters and ignored Bibi’s various attempts to try and persuade him to commit American military power to an assault on Iran.  However the American intelligence forces are already deeply involved in hostile covert acts inside Iran that range from implanting exotic computer viruses in their nuclear research programs to assassinating nuclear scientist.  Which makes the arguments about the danger Iran represents to us sound absurd and hypocritical.  Given the historic American meddling in the internal affairs of this country, it is they who should be afraid of us.

If the President is to have a positive and lasting effect on the course of events in the region he must first stand up to the Israeli’s and force a settlement with the Palestinians so  that America can gain credibility as an honest broker of peace.  His visit with Palestinian leader Mohmoud Abbis – about which i shall have more to say in a future commentary – is a good beginning.

And he must seek to avoid any wider war with Iran.  The best case for diplomacy over military adventurism lay in the consequences of the Iraq war, and the evidence is compelling.  In a New York Times Op-Ed written by John A Nagil, a veteran military officer who saw combat in Iraq and now research professor at the Naval Academy, we get a succinct cost/benefit analysis of the war in Iraq.

“The cost of the Iraq War….are staggering,” writes Nagil, “nearly 4,500 Americans killed and more than 30,000 wounded, many grievously; tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis wounded or killed; more than two trillion in direct government expenditures; and the significant weakening of the major regional counterweight to Iran and consequent strengthening of that country’s position an ambitions. Great powers rarely make national decisions that explode so quickly and completely in their face.”

Reading this comment several things come to mind.  First there is the fact that two trillion may sound like a lot of money in the abstract, but to fully understand what that means in practical terms it should be pointed out that we could completely rebuilt the American infrastructure and put a million people to work in this same period.  And Professor Nagil’s final observation regarding bad decisions by great powers was the subject of a 2,500 word essay written on the eve of the invasion of Iraq.

Titled “The Iraq Attack: Bush’s March of Folly – I argued that the invasion of Iraq was a classic case of folly as defined by the two time Pulitzer Prize winning historian Barbra Tuchman, and would be the undoing of George Bush’s presidency. That when historians looked back on his administration in the cold light of the future, it would be this misbegotten war that will define his legacy…and it would be viewed as the reign of a hapless buffoon who was beguiled into taking the nation to war on false pretenses.  And so it has come to pass.

It reasonable to assume in light of my predictions about Iraq, and the fact that I also pointed out that the real threat of Jihadist getting a nuke lay in Pakistan – another argument that all the wise guys in the punditariat now share – my predictions about Iran should be taken more seriously than the major media wags who are now mouthing the hysterical charges of the Israeli government that Iran poses a grave and present threat to the national security of Israel and the United states.  My response to this charge can be summed up in one compound word, which happens to be the title of a profound book on the subject by Princeton Philosopher Dr. Harry G. Frank: BULLSHIT!

To insist that even gaining the capability of making an atomic bomb on the part of the Iranians justifies a military strike on their country is transparent madness driven by hubris, which is but an expression of the arrogance of power.   When viewed from the perspective of Iran, who knows that the US has thousands on nuclear weapons that are sufficient to destroy all life on earth several times; is the only nation to actually employ an atomic bomb in warfare; refuses to declare a no first strike policy, and tolerates a nuclear arsenal in Israel which is estimated by experts on nuclear weaponry to be larger than Great Britain’s; yet they refuse to even sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty,  hence they don’t allow inspectors on their soil: the American and Israel position is an insult to the national sovereignty of Iran, and a burlesque of the art of diplomacy.

Hence it is reasonable to believe that if the US and Israel continues down this road it will eventually lead to a war with Iran. One need only look at the size of Iran on the map as compared to Iraq, and consider their level of military organization to see that a war with Iran would be a very different proposition from war with Iraq.  Plus the Iranians are Persians not Arabs, they were a great civilization when America, and even Western Europe, was a wilderness.

What President Obama should be calling for is a nuclear free zone in the Mid-East and energetically pursue his agenda of ridding the world of nuclear weapons altogether.  And in the meantime he must resist any attempt by the Israel’s, supported by their neo-con and Christian Zionists allies in the US, to push America into a war with Iran.

 

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Playthell  G. Benjamin

Harlem,  New York

March 23, 2013

A South African Judges Catholicism

Posted in Cultural Matters, Guest Commentators, On Foreign Affairs with tags , , , on March 16, 2013 by playthell
At the Alter
Conducting the Liturgy in Cape Town

Conjuring Up Bitter Memories

The White i.e. European world is still hung up on pigmentation, and the cobwebs of racism have not been cut off and dislodged from their collective psyche. Thus the choosing of a Pope from Africa is not about to happen, soon. I see them here of the Roman Catholic faith immersed into its symbolism and culture. There is this one Roman church here in Orlando. It has been there, and I found it there when I was born. It was only active in the community in as far as it can recruit its pious members.  As a child I was taken there by my aunt along with my cousins.

We could not help but observe how the members after receiving sacrament had liquor smell on their breaths. Or how they would walk in ‘holy solemnity’ after ingesting the dry and round morsel of bread(I think), and their lips moistened with the wine, that then you could see that these holy parishioners had just returned from heaven, the way they looked, hands clasped on their chest, walking ramrod-straight-like, and their eyes ogling at the White Mary and small Jesus, and Jesus statues with an open palm showing blood, and others, hoisted on the wall above in the cathedral-like church, that we were always left wondering what is happening.

A Catholic Mass In Soweto

safrica-catholic service in soweto

Indoctrinating the Children in Catholic Dogma

I do not belong to any church, but have my Mtundu (an alter we make for the ancestors), with its candle, snuff and specific cloths for the main ancestors in the pantheon of the ancestors according to our family lineage/tradition. We light a candle, spill some mixture of water and mealy meal, and sprinkle snuff for them to eat and some snuff to smoke.

Afterwards, having called them according to their seniority to last one who died most recently, we talk and tell them of our problems and plight and intone them to help us get ahead. This is what my grandma has taught me, and I have learnt even much more than the basic practice I am just describing over the years.

Now, the thing about it is that the very transformed members who ate the sacrament, when they get home, they take out their drums and jump into their traditional ancestral dress and call on the spirits and interact with them, in order to get instruction who to do about some cultural sacred rites to appease and satisfy and communicate with their ancestors for whatever outcome these acts will bring them – hopefully success and the like..

Venerating the Ancestors
xhosa0004 Xhosa women in South African performing ritual Dance

What I am saying is that the appointment of a Pope from South America is going to have a damaging effect on the membership that is now dwindling and then this is helping foist rising force that is the Islamic religion here in South Africa. People are poor and they complain that these Churches, Anglican, Lutheran, Roman, Methodist and the rest of them are fleecing them penniless, and so people are going with the Religion of Islam, because they provide grocery and comfort and support, instead of asking for ‘tithes’ as is done in the aforementioned Churches.

Islam is Growing among Black South Africans!

Muslims-in-South-Africa

A Harbinger of more Muslim/Christian Conflict?

The appointment of the Pope is coinciding with the Churches I have mentioned (the Roman Church in Particular, is going down in membership and relevance. The youth are worse. But, having said that, they will follow the Pope, whatever shape of form the doctrine will be decided by the parish, I think that making Africa irrelevant was a big mistake, because, as I am onto this piece here, one can see and witness the cracks and splits that are occurring, and my take is that Africans will continue to evolve and revolve the church until, like the Anglican Church of Africa, had to break with the Church of England at one point.

The Anglican Church in Africa is now run by Africans, and is called The Anglican Church of Africa.  It is divided into several different African countries, and most are named-according to the name of the country where they are based.  They are also called Anglican Church, African Episcopal Church, of Africa- very close to and reminiscent of the naming of the churches in America by African Americans in the late 18th century, as in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Or Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

My take of all this is that the African people here in Mzantsi, having left and leaving the churches.  They are headed to traditional healers, some fly-by-night churches and others in African Traditional churches; which are receiving many African peoples into their ranks and are burgeoning with in-coming recruits from the “traditional” Christian Churches mentioned above. As you say, the Catholic Bishops settled for a descendant of their former enslavers and colonialists of Argentina (Falkland War comes to mind), that the Papal’ocracy is a farce for me.

It will not change anything with the appointment of this new Pope, because what is happening to their Roman Church base in Africa may be beyond their power to reverse. I still talk and do the sacred practices and rites to and for my ancestors the way I was taught by my Grandma. I know many more people are now practicing this part of our culture and spirituality from the way families are now doing things – which may vary from family to family – but they retain the same protocol and form.

This is the religious double vision they will have to reckon with. The Roman church and other such-like religious institutions have introduced gambling, and is in cahoots with the gambling dens and their Moguls, that are sprouting all over the South African landscape. They bussed and are still bussing thousands of their members to these gamble caverns, start by giving them some paltry money to gamble when they reach the fleecing dens; the rest they will have to cough-out of their own cash in order to continue gambling.

  A South African Gambling Palace

A South African Casino

The Catholic Church is Good for Business!

People have now become addicted and are loosing huge sums of money/houses and jobs; yet there is still no one addressing this insidious odious affair. What the church is doing, is to constantly rebuild and renovate established buildings and their old church buildings over the years. The folks around them are poor, and the children who go to their schools are made to pay exorbitant fees.

So that, honestly looking at the arrival of the new Pope, I do not see any changes for the better in the African Roman churches here in South Africa, except those in the White Suburbs-well, that’s another long story. This is what we see happening and then some, here in Mzantsi… I do not see an African Pope coming in the next distant horizon, and the Roman Church here in South Africa, is not doing that very well, and this has been going on now for many decades.

Basilica of Our Lady Of Peace:  An African Vatican?

African Basilica

Yes! If African Catholics Follow the Example of Anglicans
 

And they Won’t Have to Look Far for a Pope!

African Prelate III

Take you Choice: Cardinals Frances Arinde and Peter Appiah Turkson

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 SkhoKho SaTlou

South Africa

March 15, 2012 

 

On The Savaging of Chuck Hagel

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On Israel, Playthell on politics with tags , , on January 9, 2013 by playthell

Chuck Hagel

             A Decorated combat Veteran and Ex-US Senator

 Should Ideologues and Special Interests Determine American Foreign Policy?

      While some members of my party – and I am a “Yellow Dog Democrat” – are agitated over the fact that President Obama may be about to appoint yet another Republican to the helm of the Department of Defense – whose raison d’etre is waging war – I have other concerns regarding the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

As near as I can tell,  these Democrats are principally concerned about the possibility that President Obama’s choice will confirm the myth that only Republicans can be trusted to direct the nation’s defense.  While this is a legitimate complaint from the winning party, who have ample reason to suspect the motives of the losers, I have bigger fish to fry.

For whatever dangers the perpetuation of the myth of the Republican strong man poses – which are not insignificant – the protests coming from the hawks in Mr. Hagel’s own party such as Senator Lindsay Graham and others are far more disturbing.  The questions they raise go directly to the issue of defining a national security policy that is based on an objective analysis of the realities facing our nation.

In order to create effective policies that address American national interests in a dangerous world faced with many complex problems, the first thing any analyst must do is scrap the bogus ideology of “American Exceptionalism,” because it promotes the idea that Americans have a mission to reshape other societies in our image that engenders an evangelical approcach to foreign policy

The next most important precondition is to free policymakers from the corrosive influences of special interests.  Foremost among these interests are political pressure groups and the Military/Industrial complex i.e. the defense contractors who welcome any opportunity to acquire multi-billion dollar government contracts.  Ironically, it was a very popular Republican President and top military commander, Dwight Eisenhower, who warned us of the dangers of developing a military/industrial complex because he believed it would spur the nation to wars for profit.

By virtue of his independent position on the Middle-East and rejection of those who wish to manufacture war hysteria, Chuck Hagel is anathema to both factions. In the storm brewing around his nomination we are witnessing a convergence of these forces that amounts to a dangerous and unholy alliance.  I would argue that the clear and present danger represented by these forces far outweighs the concerns of my fellow Democrats about untoward appearances…which is largely a matter of cosmetics.

I see no cause for great concern here, since President Obama is Commander-In-Chief and whoever is Secretary of Defense will carry out his orders and implement his vision of the world.  Having spent his entire first term in the presidency conducting two major foreign wars, and several police actions, he is no novice in matters of war and peace.

Hence the President will not be intimidated by military men.  The danger represented by the forces that oppose Hagel’s nomination causes me far greater concern, because they reveal the extent to which American foreign policy options are determined by special interests rather than US national interests.

When we look at the policy struggles on a variety of critical issues involving the national interests, it is frighteningly obvious that far too many cowardly politicians keen on political survival are willing to “sell their souls to the company store”.  That’s why we find ourselves in the absurd position of constantly being on the verge of inflicting disaster on our own economic system – throwing the nation into a second Republican induced depression – because Republican Congressmen are scared to death of bucking the commands of anti-tax zealot Grover Norchrist and his Tea Party allies; rightwing zealots who have pledged to run candidates against them in the Republican primaries should they deviate from the Tea Party line.

Given the unlimited spending by special interests, which is now legal due to the disastrous Supreme Court decision in the “Citizens United” case, the anti-tax lobby is very well funded by people like the multi-billionaire Koch Brothers.  The Republicans are reminding us in grand fashion that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Alas, this cowardly attitude is also reflected in the arena of foreign policy.  Hence, due to the genuflection of avaricious, hypocritical, opportunistic politicians – terrified by the likes of the passionate American Zionist billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is willing to spend hundreds of millions to defeat candidates that refuse to tow the Israel Lobby’s line on Mid-East policy – the fate of the nation may well be determined by special interests at the expense of the national interests.

Nothing demonstrates this possibility more than the nature of the attacks against former Senator Hagel.  And it is all the more frightening because when you subject these charges to close scrutiny it is readily apparent that Hagel’s major sins have to do with him defending American interests in the world, and unapologetically privileging that interest over Israeli interests.

He has called for negotiations with Hamas, the militant Palestinian organization that the Israelis call terrorists – but was elected to govern Gaza by the Palestinian people, and he opposes taking military action against Iran.  He reluctantly voted for the Iraq invasion but later considered it a mistake, and he opposed the expansion of the war in Afghanistan.

Furthermore,  he wants to reduce the size of the American military and end many foreign deployments.  All of which goes against the policies advocated by the Israel Lobby and their neo-con shills.

In return for his unflinching position that American and Israeli interests in the Middle-East are not identical, and that when they diverge American interest should be paramount, Hagel has been denounced as unqualified by such neo-con ideologues as Bill Kristol Jr. – a pretentious blabbermouth who was hugely influential in persuading Bush to invade Iraq, and even declared an enemy of Israel and worse: an anti-Semite aka a Jew Hater.  In the past this charge has proven to be a kiss of death for anyone in public life.

Everybody who knows Hagel says this is a damned lie, a misrepresentation of his position and character.  After all, this is a man who as a US senator voted for $38 billion in aid for Israel.  And Senator Lindsay Graham’s charge that President Obama’s nomination of Hagel is a defiant “in your face” challenge to Senate Republicans that is yet another slap at Israel, demonstrates the degree to which the Republican arguments bear no relationship to reality.  The Republican mantra that President Obama has shown unprecedented hostility to Israel is sheer poppycock.  No matter how many times they repeat it.

The fact is that the feigned love for Israel by Republican politicians amounts to little more than crass political opportunism and vulgar shameless pandering to the Christian Zionists.  Since Jews are few in number compared to Christians, and most Jews are liberal Democrats anyway, a function of their high level of education, it is the impassioned but untutored Christian fundamentalist soldiers to whom the pro-Israel Republican rhetoric is directed.

However high ranking national security figures in Israel are wary of the intentions of the Republican right and hold a very different view of President Obama.  In an interview in the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs Efraim Halevy, the former head of the MOSSAD, Israel’s CIA, criticized Romney’s use of Israel as a political prop.

“Regarding the election,” Halevy said, I think many of the statements made by the Republican candidate are very undesirable as far as Israel is concerned. I remember an article of Governor Romney’s in the Washington Post in March where he advocated dispatching American warships to the Eastern Mediterranean. Shooting from the hip on these matters is a very dangerous sport to be engaged in. And I think that drawing Israel into this campaign is detrimental to Israeli interests, and I regret that one of the candidates is doing this.”

In response to Mitt Romney’s claim that President Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus,” Halevy offered a counter-view of President Obama’s treatment of Israel. “On the practical side, the United States has been very supportive of Israel during President Barack Obama’s administration — both financially and strategically, we have received a lot of support.” Halevy went on to compare the positions of Romney and President Obama regarding Israeli security.  “What Romney is doing is mortally destroying any chance of a resolution without war,” he said.  “Obama does think there is still room for negotiations. It’s a very courageous thing to say in this atmosphere.”  

And in a later Op-Ed column in the New York Times of October 12, 2012 Mr. Halevy had this to say regarding Republican and Democrat support for Israel: Despite the Republican Party’s shrill campaign rhetoric on Israel, no Democratic president has ever strong-armed Israel on any key national security issue.” He also goes to great lengths to name a list of Republican Presidents who did exactly what they are now falsely accusing President Obama of doing.

Halevy’s views are echoed in the assessment of Ehud Barak, the Israeli Minister of Defense.  Speaking in an interview on CNN during the heat of the presidential campaign last July, Barak said “I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past.”  When the Republican views of President Obama policies toward Israel are compared with the position of these high ranking Israeli’s, I am reminded of the wise Ibo proverb: “Beware of the stranger who comes to the funeral and cries louder than the bereaved family.”

Let us examine the case against Chuck Hagel and see if his detractors have a point; let’s look objectively at what the evidence suggests.  The crux of the charges against Hagel center around statements he made regarding US policy toward Israel, Iran and the militant Palestinian organization Hamas.  The evidence for the charge that Mr. Hagel is anti-Semitic resides in his comments during a 2006 interview in which he spoke of how the “Jewish Lobby” was “intimidating a lot of people.”

Hagel’s offense here was that he said “Jewish” rather than “Israel” Lobby, and that grave “offense” was compounded by him telling the truth about how they make “friends” and influence the votes of politicians through organized intimidation.   His reference to the “Jewish Lobby” was simply a matter of semantics, confusion regarding the Lobby’s proper name that puzzles a lot of Americans.  Yet in spite of the caterwauling from the Neo-Con warmongers and the pro-Zionists hawks – Christian and Jewish – the modus operandi described by Hagel is true!

The best evidence of this is the carefully directed campaign against his nomination as Defense Secretary being conducted by these very forces as I write.  And whether they are called the “Jewish Lobby” or the “Israel Lobby” is irrelevant: It is a distinction without a difference.  When one analyzes the content of the anti-Hagel rhetoric it becomes abundantly clear that his greatest sin was mentioning the existence of the “Israel Lobby” at all.

What else are we to conclude from the criticism that “Christians are part of the lobby too?”  And even worse are Arizona Senator John McCain’s statements that Hagel’s observations were “inappropriate,” and “There’s no such thing as a Jewish lobby,” McCain said when asked about Hagel’s comments. “There’s an Armenian lobby, there’s not a Jewish lobby. There’s an Israeli lobby. It’s called AIPAC, very influential.”

Aside from the fact that this is dishonest buffoonery, McCain also labeled the lobby incorrectly, and his offense is a far graver one because he said “Israeli Lobby,” which means a lobbying effort by a foreign government to influence America foreign policy in their favor.  This slip is really revealing; perhaps Senator McCain accidentally said what he really believes but dare not say on purpose.  His statement demonstrates that he, like everybody on Capitol Hill, knows the Lobby exists and that they exercise great power over American politics.

But we have seen John McCain change what were supposed to be principled positions so often he rivals Mitt Romney for the title “Mr. Chameleon.”  And we have already seen the extent to which he is willing to go in risking the national interests to gain a political advantage.  After all, this is the joker who argued that Sarah Palin, the airhead Alaskan Barbarian, was qualified to be the Chief Executive of the most powerful country in the world and Commander-In-Chief of the US armed forces.

His choice revealed a cavalier disregard for the national security of the United States, as well as a disdain for American women.  All of the educated women I know considered McCain’s choice of Palin for his vice President an insult to women who had worked long and hard to qualify themselves for top positions in this country.

Most thought that he wanted somebody as clueless and ineffectual as his wife Cindy, and he would treat her likewise, shunting her off into irrelevance once she helped him win the presidency by attracting the “Dumb Dora” vote.  However I have written about all this in earlier commentaries so I won’t rehash it here; my purpose is to remind people who this verbose charlatan is and suggest that the reader consider the source in weighing the drivel that flows from the pie hole of the Mack Man.

***********

What is important here is that American citizens understand the role of the Israel Lobby, and the militant pro-Israel neo-con cabal hatched in the Project for A New American Century, whose egghead policy wonks were the architects of the disastrous Iraq Invasion.  We avoided another reign of errors by this crazy crew only because we defeated Mitt and reelected the President.

One of the scariest things about Romney – and they were legion – is the number of these clowns he had tapped as foreign policy advisors.  For an in-depth analysis of their role in taking the nation into a war of choice read: “How the Iraq War was Hatched in a Think Tank” on this blog.

As early as 2002, stunned by the 911/attack and the recognition of a rising tide of militant anti-American Islamists, even a major neo-con intellectual  who had been editor of Irvin Kristol’s mag “The Public Interest,” a bible of the neo-cons, wrote the following in reference to the power of the Israel Lobby and questioned if it was in the best interests of the United States.

“Today the Israel lobby distorts U.S. foreign policy in a number of ways. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, enabled by U.S. weapons and money, inflames anti-American attitudes in Arab and Muslim countries. The expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land makes a mockery of the U.S. commitment to self-determination for Kosovo, East Timor and Tibet. The U.S. strategy of dual containment of Iraq and Iran pleases Israel-which is most threatened by them-but violates the logic of realpolitik and alienates most of America’s other allies. Beyond the region, U.S. policy on nuclear weapons proliferation is undermined by the double standard that has led it to ignore Israel’s nuclear program while condemning those of India and Pakistan.”

Although this commentator is on the right, his commentary is on the money and I have made all of these same points in a variety of essays.  No objective observer who is basing their analysis on the facts can arrive at any other conclusion…facts are stubborn things and can’t be wished away by ideologues.

Regarding the power of the Israel Lobby to besmirch the character and wreck the careers of politicians – and journalists too – who disagree with their vision of Israel’s role in the Middle East, and refuse to rubber stamp every policy of the Israeli government because they believe it is not in best interests of the US, the evidence is voluminous.  For the definitive account of how this Lobby works read “The Israel Lobby,” by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard.

After studying American policy in the Middle East, which supports Israeli policy at the risk of alienating everybody else, professors Mearsheimer and Walt raised the following question: “Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.” 

The answer that emerges from their study is clear.  Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics,” they argue, “and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.”

Woe be unto the politician or pundit who disputes this view of American Israeli national interests.  The fearless professors Walt and Mearsheimer predicted that they too would become the target of attack for undertaking this study of the Israel Lobby and candidly weighing the evidence in their conclusion.

And they were right, as the Anti-Defamation League’s formidable propaganda machine produced a book, The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control, attacking the authors personally and dismissing their study, publishing it under the byline of their pugnacious and hypocritical president Abraham Foxman.

However for those who are students of this question, this writer included, Foxman’s tome was dismissed as self-interested “special pleading” – a term of art among professional historians for writers who attempt to arrange historical facts to justify conclusions that are unsupported by an objective examination of the evidence.   It is the difference between history and propaganda.  Looking to Foxman for objective analysis of a book that criticizes practices of which he is guilty is the equivalent of placing the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

The fate of long time White House Press Corps reporter Helen Thomas is another dramatic example of how the Anti-Defamation League employs their influence to trash the careers of those who oppose them on Mid-East policy. Ms. Thomas was interviewed on camera by Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.com, as she walked to work in Washington one morning.

Ms. Thomas was asked what she thought about the Israelis and she said “I think they should get the hell out of Palestine.” She went on to say of the Palestinians “These people are occupied…and it’s their land.”  The following response from pro-Israeli forces was typical of the kind of attacks Helen Thomas received: “She is advocating religious cleansing. How can Hearst stand by her? If a journalist, or a columnist, said the same thing about blacks or Hispanics, they would already have lost their jobs.”

To begin with neither statement is true.  Racist things are said about black people all the time in the media – including the president – and there are no consequences for the utterers.  Thomas was addressing the European Zionist Jews who invaded Palestine, dispossessed the Palestinian Arabs and founded the colonial settler state of Israel in the mid twentieth century.

Hence the feeling that they should return from whence they came is a widespread feeling in the Arab world and Helen Thomas, like the actor comedian Danny Thomas, is of Arabic heritage.  And there are really foul things said by Jewish commentators about the Arabs on a routine basis.

And I dare say that any American would feel exactly the same way had Arabs colonized England or the US the way the Zionist did in Palestine!  I believe any American who says otherwise – if you can find one – would be a damned liar.  Helen Thomas, who known as “The Dean of the White House Press corps,” raised this question after she was fired from her job reporting on the White House, which she had been doing for over fifty years.  The comment is recorded in a 2010 Playboy magazine interview.

Of course I don’t condone any violence against anyone.” She said. “But who wouldn’t fight for their country? What would any American do if their land was being taken? Remember Pearl Harbor. The Palestinian violence is to protect what little remains of Palestine. The suicide bombers act out of despair and desperation.
Three generations of Palestinians have been forced out of their homes—by Israelis—and into refugee camps. And the Israelis are still bulldozing Palestinians’ homes in East Jerusalem. Remember, Menachem
Begin invented terrorism as his MO—and bragged about it in his first book. That’s how Israel was created, aided and abetted by U.S. money and arms.”

Among those who would be the first to declare war against any foreign force that violated one inch of US territory – even if were in Guantanamo Cuba where an imperialist US government forced a weak Cuban government to accept a perpetual treaty ceding part of their territory to the US for use as a naval base in the late 19th century – is the American Exceptionalist crowd; who are so rabidly pro-Israel.   Helen Thomas accused the US of employing double standards in dealing with the Palestinians and she is right!

Ironically the “Christian Zionist,” who outnumber the Jews among pro-Israel Americans, care not a whit about Jews as such.   Their interest in Israel is inspired by “End Time” theology, which teaches that the Jews must return to Israel before Jesus Christ, “The Messiah,” can return to earth and pass final judgment on the world.

After the Battle of Armageddon, there will come the Rapture and the good saved souls will ascend to heaven to live forever with the righteous of all ages in the presence of God; while the wicked sinners will descend into hell to burn in its fires forever.

Alas, in a strange twist of fate, these pro-Israel Christians also believe that if the Jews do not accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah – which thus far they have not been inclined to do – they too shall burn forever in the fires of hell with the rest of the infidels!  And despite how they may feel about the Jewish prophets in the bible, the way they really feel about contemporary Jews in America is another matter.

Those views were candidly expressed and captured on tape by Reverend Billy Graham, an iconic divine among the Israel loving Evangelical Christians, in a private  conversation with President Nixon in the White House during1972 , which was recorded.  Speaking of the positions of Jews in the mass media Reverend Graham said, “This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.” “You believe that? Asked Nixon.. “Yes, sir,” Graham answered. “Oh, boy,” Nixon said, “So do I. I can’t ever say that, but I believe it.”

That the Christian Zionists hold these anti-Jewish beliefs is no secret to the leadership of organized Jewry. They have entered into a Faustian bargain with these Jew haters because they support Israel; just as they have served as holocaust deniers in lobbying against any attempt by Armenian Americans  to persuade the US government to officially recognize the genocide committed against their people by the Turks in 1915, in which a million and a half Armenians were slaughtered.  In yet another Faustian bargain, US Jewish leaders have actively assisted in suppressing recognition of the Armenian victims of Genocide in exchange for Turkish support for Israel.

The testimony of Armenian American journalist and author Mark Arax exposes the duplicity of the powerful Anti-Defamation League on the Armenian genocide, which is shameless and amoral in light of their unceasing and merciless denunciation of those who attempt to deny the Nazi genocide against Jews.  In doing research for a feature story on Jewish holocaust deniers of the Armenian genocide for the Washington Post, Mr. Arax interviewed Abraham Foxman, who heads the Anti-Defamation League.  He recalls:

Then I found my way to the equivocators and deniers who sat at the helms of the major American Jewish organizations. None was more blunt than Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League in New York. The Armenian Genocide had become his own convenient cudgel to keep Turkey in line.  Foxman had just returned from a meeting with Turkish military and government leaders to discuss pressuring Congress, the State Department and President Bush to turn back the genocide resolution once again.

“Our focus is Israel,” he explained. “If helping Turkey helps Israel, then that’s what we’re in the business of doing.” But such a bottom line would seem an uncomfortable place for a Jewish leader to be when the question was genocide.  “Was it genocide?” he said. “It was wartime. Things get messy.”

Like Winston Churchill, who led Britain’s triumphant struggle against the Nazis, pro-Israel American Jews are quite willing to “make a deal with the Devil” if it empowers Israel.  Since these Jews believe Christianity, especially the fundamentalist variety, is hokum anyway, they are quite willing to risk burning in the Rapture if the Christian fanatics are willing to employ their formidable resources to advance Israel here and now.  They will deal with the Rapture when it arrives.

Together these pro-Zionist Christian and Jewish forces have destroyed the careers of anyone who dares to criticize American policy toward Israel as biased and not in the best interests of the United States, or even worse, criticize Israeli policy toward their Arab neighbors – the dispossessed, powerless and occupied Palestinians in particular.

The case of Helen Thomas is instructive because the attack was led by the ubiquitous Abraham Foxman, who openly called for her to be fired.  And she was!   Just as  Mark Arax’s story died a mysterious death at the Washington Post.   Stories of the ruined careers of journalists, and even professional Foreign Service officers, who opposed the objectives of the Israel Lobby abound and are too numerous to reiterate here.

But we must not allow them to destroy the nomination of Chuck Hagel; hence it is imperative to support the president and urge him to stand firm in this appointment.   When a spineless opportunist like Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who is terrified of losing his seat, says Hagel’s views are “out of the mainstream,” well that depends upon how one defines “mainstream.”

Senator Graham’s conception of the mainstream is defined by the policies of the neo-cons that took control of a confused George W. Bush’s Foreign policy after the 9/11 attack.   This is an interventionist policy designed to create a unipolar world under American hegemony, a Pax Americana that resembles the ancient Pax Romama when Rome ruled the world – which means the end of the bipolar world order characterized by a perpetual Cold War /Arms Race with the Soviet Union.  This  view has squandered the so-called “Peace Dividend,” that should have accrued from vast savings on military expenditures when we no longer had to prepare for a possible war with Russia.  What is clear about this view is that it is a formula for perpetual war. Hence it is a good thing that Chuck Hagel is viewed as out of step with this crowd.

However the neo-cons are a recent phenomenon as shapers of American foreign policy. They have been around for years producing policy polemics. But their views on America’s role in the world are opposed by a venerable group of foreign policy /national security intellectuals, who have served at the highest levels of our foreign policy establishment.  Their opposition was clearly stated in a December 25, letter to the Washington Post, in which four former National Security advisors to American presidents – James L. Jones, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzenzinski, and Frank Carlucci – strongly supported the nomination of Chuck Hagel.  Their statement reads:

We strongly object, as a matter of substance and as a matter of principle, to the attacks on the character of former senator Chuck Hagel. Mr. Hagel is a man of unshakable integrity and wisdom who has served his country in the most distinguished manner in peace and war. He is a rare example of a public servant willing to rise above partisan politics to advance the interests of the United States and its friends and allies.”

“Moreover, it is damaging to the quality of our civic discourse for prospective Cabinet nominees to be subjected to such vicious attacks on their character before an official nomination.  This type of behavior will only discourage future prospective nominees from public service when our country badly needs quality leadership in government.” 

And, by the way, Colin Powell – who has been a combat soldier, a general officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor and Secretary of State – is giving Mr. Hagel a ringing endorsement as I write.

One of the most formidable myths constructed by the pro-Israel Jewish leadership in organizations like AIPAC – American Israel Public Affairs Committee – and the Anti-Defamation League is that they speak for all American Jews.  But the fact is that they have the loudest megaphone and simply drown out dissenting voices.

This is true whether it is Jewish religious communities like the Satmar Hassidum, who view the state of Israel as a sacrilege because only the Messiah can establish the new Israel, or Jewish theologians like Dr. Mark Ellis – author of the revelatory text “Beyond Auschwitz” or independent radical intellectuals like Lenni Brenner, whose book “Zionism In the Age of the Dictators” sent shock waves among supporters of Zionism – and had to be published in England because he couldn’t find an American with the balls to publish this incendiary and enlightening text – or the late great Village Voice investigative reporter Robert I Freedman, who was the premier reporter on the fanatical rightwing Jews, here and in Israel.

However there is one dissenting Jewish voice that they have not been able to silence, although they would like to, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times.  A New York Times columnist who has been awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize three times for his writings on foreign affairs, Friedman’s knowledge of Israeli policies toward their neighbors in the Middle East is formidable.  The fact that he also happens to be pro-Israel makes his views all the harder to dismiss.  Friedman’s views on Hagel’s nomination are summed up in his December 26 column Give Chuck a Chance.

It is a column well worth reading in its entirety; especially if, like most Americans, you are not up to snuff on the issues surrounding the attacks on Mr. Hagel.  But for our purposes here one excerpt will suffice.

I am certain that the vast majority of U.S. senators and policymakers quietly believe exactly what Hagel believes on Israel — that it is surrounded by more implacable enemies than ever and needs and deserves America’s backing. But, at the same time, this Israeli government is so spoiled and has shifted so far to the right that it makes no effort to take U.S. interests into account by slowing its self-isolating settlement adventure. And it’s going to get worse. Israel’s friends need to understand that the center-left in Israel is dying.

“The Israeli election in January will bring to power Israeli rightists who never spoke at your local Israel Bonds dinner. These are people who want to annex the West Bank. Bibi Netanyahu is a dove in this crowd. The only thing standing between Israel and national suicide any more is America and its willingness to tell Israel the truth. But most U.S. senators, policymakers and Jews prefer to stick their heads in the sand, because confronting Israel is so unpleasant and politically dangerous. Hagel at least cares enough about Israel to be an exception.”

One need only compare this glowing recommendation of Mr. Hagel with the mealy-mouthed equivocations of Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader of the Senate, another Republican who is scared of losing his seat, to recognize the power of the pro-Israel lobby in the US.  Even the fact that Mr. Hagel saved the life of McConnell’s brother during combat in Vietnam was not sufficient to win Mitch’s enthusiastic endorsement!

Such is the power of special interests, and thus the reason why it must be opposed in favor of policies that truly serve the national security interests of the United States.  I believe it is the historically appointed role of Progressive American intellectuals to expose these lies by presenting counterstatements of fact, which is the burden of this essay.

The minimal essential lesson I’d like the reader to learn is that the attack on Chuck Hagel is motivated by special interests that are not in the national interests, and thus Mr. Hagel is the hero of this dangerous melodrama that threatens to become a genuine tragedy….unless we stand up for this old soldier who is still standing up for us.

A Real Soldier at War

Chuck Hagel at war

Chucky  scares the shit outta the Chicken Hawks!

**********************

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Janurary 8, 2012

Stop The Attack On Dr. Susan Rice!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , , on November 15, 2012 by playthell
Beauty, Intelligence Eloquence, The Complete Packag

The savaging of Dr. Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, signals a new low in the scurrilous tactics of the Grand Obstructionist Party against the Obama administration. These attacks are distinguished not just for the viciousness of their assaults on her character and competence, but also for the extent to which they are divorced from reality.

The thoughtful listener is forced to wonder if  Republicans are experiencing a peculiar bout of collective madness, or do they believe the rest of us are stupid.  What else can we make of the statement by Arizona Senator John McCain that the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi Libya,  where  four Americans were killed, is “the worse national security failure of my lifetime.” Such mindless hyperbole on the part of a major political figure is cause for serious concern.

Aside from making the senator look ridiculous, and not serious about conducting the nation’s business, he dishonors the many thousands of innocent Americans slaughtered in the 9/11 attack. And the thousands more who were maimed or killed by the disastrous invasion of Iraq, and before these disasters there was the invasion of Vietnam: Which was spurred by a spectacular failure of intelligence.

Has the Senator forgotten that there was abundant intelligence warning of an attack on tall building with planes piloted by Islamic Jihadist, but the Bush Administration ignored it? Does the Senator not remember that Condoleeza Rice, then the National Security Advisor, was begged by Richard Clark, the terrorism Czar held over from the Clinton Administration, to call a joint meeting of the heads of all the nation’s vast intelligence agencies an compare intelligence reports to see if the various pieces of the puzzle would reveal the plan of attack?

Viewed from the hindsight of history, we now know they would have figured it out…and 9/11 would just be a nostalgic memory in the fevered imagination of the would be attackers as they languished in their federal prison Cells. The spectacular intelligence failures that led to Vietnam, 9/11 and Iraq cost many thousands of American lives, billions in treasure, domestic tranquility, and millions of innocent foreign lives!

So the question remains: what are we to make of John McCain?  Well, for my part, not much.  I am not among those who consider him either a war hero or a man of honor.  He is not so much immoral as amoral.  I have expressed my views on Johnny Mack in several essays, and they will be included in my forth coming book: “Witnessing the Motion of History: Notes on the Obama Phenomenon.”

Essentially I view Senator McCain  as a deeply wounded man with profound  emotional scars from the rather spectacular failures in his life.  For most men McCain’s life would be regarded a great success.  He is a celebrated Senator with a rich blond wife and more mansions than he can account from memory.

Yet when compared to the achievements of his father and grandfather, both of whom were Admirals  that commanded fleets in great wars and were victorious, Johnny Boy’s record as a naval pilot shot down over Vietnam, where he was captured and forced to do the every bidding of his little brown Vietnamese masters upon pain of corporal punishment, his military career was a humiliating failure!

John McCain Shot Down

 McCain Rescued by Vietnamese Soldiers

That humiliation is magnified by the fact that he sang like a caged bird during captivity.  Since I have already written about this – see “General Clarke is Right: John McCain is Not Qualified to be Commander-In-Chief ”- I won’t re-litigate it here, suffice it to say the evidence for my claim is abundant and indisputable.  Anyone who has ever served in the military knows the protocol for how to behave if captured by the enemy.

You give your name, rank and serial number: That’s it!  McCain told his captors much more than that.  He even told them the size of his fighter squadron, the type of aircraft and even some of their targets.  He could have been Court Marshaled, for his behavior….and I know Vietnam vets who believe he would have been had he not been so well connected.  So much for our great “war hero;” he may have fooled the public, but he knows he squealed like a rat.   I believe that’s part of what’s eating him; why he wants to pursue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to an elusive “victory.”  It is another expression of Vietnam Syndrome.

Winning the presidency would have allowed him to one-up his dad and grand dad, who were genuine war heroes.  However he discredited himself for the job with his first serious decision of his campaign: selecting an Alaskan Barbarian as his running mate.  The fact that he would place Sarah Palin - a verbose, self-absorbed, dunce - a heartbeat from the presidency, let all thinking people know that McCain’s ambitions and quest for power ranked infinitely higher than his love of country.

And now he has the unmitigated gall to call Dr. Susan Rice, a Rhodes Scholar and career diplomat, unqualified to be Secretary of State after arguing that Silly Sarah was qualified to be President?…Commander-In-Chief of the nation’s armed forces?  John McCain is a dishonest buffoon, a sad spectacle of a once impressive man.

Nothing demonstrates McCain’s lack of any sense of integrity more than the fact that he, and that Jackanapes South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, both supported the nomination of Dr. Condoleezza Rice for Secretary Of State after she had presided over the two worst intelligence failures in American history!

Such shameless duplicity is beneath contempt.  As my grandfather would say:“Them thar boys are liars and finks, they feet stinks, and they don’t love Jesus!  It is time for General Colin Powell, who is also a former Secretary of State, to speak out against this scurrilous attempt to besmirch the reputation, and destroy the career, of Dr. Rice…especially since he was once victimized by bad intelligence.

Condoleezza Rice has already spoken out against the attack on Susan; it’s time for Colin Powell to stand up to these lying charlatans in his party.  He should do it as an act of contrition for remaining in the fold of the Grand Obstructionist Party, which regularly fans the flames of racial hatred against the President and Black Americans in general.

If Powell cannot see it in their actions he is blind.  If he does not hear in in their rhetoric he is deaf.  And if he can’t put them together and figure out that it is driven by both ideological differences, sexism and racism he is dumb!  I don’t think he is either.

But if he does not speak out in defense of his beleagured sister the brave general has become spineless. I think the President, who defended his UN Ambassador with fire and conviction yesterday, should now appoint her Secretary of State.

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Playthell George  Benjamin
Harlem, New York
November 15, 2012
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