Archive for Barack and Israel

Barack Genuflects Before APAC

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2012 by playthell

Barack Pledged to support Bibi in An Attack on Iran

 Is it De Ja Vu Again?  Notes on the Road to War

I have never witnessed a more blatant example of the arrogance of power than the Israeli/American ultimatum to Iran.  Driven by the imperatives of domestic politics in both countries, the terms of this ultimatum were stated in no uncertain terms by President Obama in his speech before the powerful Jewish organization, APAC….and it was a de-facto declaration of war.  “When the chips are down I have Israel’s back!” declared the president.

Barack went on to say he was not interested in containing a nuclear armed Iran; his policy is to prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon.   He said all options are on the table; including the full range of our nation’s diplomatic, economic and military resources.  He also said “I will not hesitate to use force to defend American interests.”  Thus the die is cast, and the saber rattling is approaching the decibel level before Bush’s march of folly in Iraq.

On the face of it the demand that Iran cease its nuclear research and development is both hypocritical and an insult to their national dignity.  It ignores Iranian national security interests on the one hand, and tells them in no uncertain terms that they are a second rate nation who will not be allowed to exercise the privileges that the US and Israel consider their natural right as sovereign nations.  No matter what kind of self-righteous preachment or diplomatic mumbo jumbo the US and Israeli governments employ to make their case in the court of public opinion, this is what it boils down to.

It is the height of duplicity for the US and Israel to have a hissy fit about the possibility that the Iranians are building a nuclear weapon when Israel has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the Arabs and Iranians in a fortnight.  And what’s more, the Israelis are already waging a covert war against Iran with American assistance. Although they are rarely reported because they are secret, these are real acts of war nonetheless!

They have assassinated several Iranian nuclear scientists in daring James Bond type hits that everyone who pays attention to these matters knows could only have been pulled off by the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.   And the fact that it Furthermore, CBS Sixty Minutes recently did an in-depth report detailing how a brilliantly designed computer virus blew up an Iranian nuclear reactor.  The report featured an international group of distinguished computer scientists who specialize in cyber security, and they concluded the diabolical virus was almost certainly designed by US and Israeli intelligence agencies.

The urgent question for all Americans is whether a war with Iran will serve American interests.  This is an extremely complex question.  The consequences of such a war will have to be considered from the perspectives of foreign relations and domestic policy in order to grasp the full picture.  In terms of foreign relations the immediate consequences include several possibilities.

The most immediate consequence would be the disruption of the flow of oil and a dramatic rise in the price of gas and other petroleum based products.  This would arrest the progress of our economic recovery, which is already fragile and constructed on a shaky foundation.  Tranquility, not chaos, is what is needed in the Middle East.

The Iranians will surely resist, and they will be assisted by their well-armed Shite brethren in Iraq, whom the US put in power as a result of George II’s misbegotten military adventure there.  And they are armed with the latest American weaponry – thanks to US military assistance.  Furthermore Iran is reaching out to Islamic theocrats in an ecumenical manner, putting aside internal theological disputes in order to form a unified front against the “Great Satin” i.e. the USA, which has emerged as the foremost enemy of Islam.

Despite the efforts of those actually tasked with conducting US foreign policy to characterize American waged wars in Muslim countries political…the Jihadists insist that the US is at war with Islam!   And the leading Republican candidates for their party’s presidential nomination are doing their best to convince the moderates in the Muslim world that most Americans also believe they are in a war against Islam.

The Iranian Regime recently hosted a conference of militant Islamist, and Muslims of many stripes from all over the world were present.  There could be no greater catalyst for the rapid development of a new militant Pan-Islamic movement than a joint American/Israeli invasion of Iran.  The invasion would also imperil the stability of the remaining pro-American leaders in the region; who would be trapped between the Devil and the deep blue sea.

If they support the US they will be facing overthrow by the populace, and if they don’t support the US they will face the wrath of the US people and their representatives in Congress, who appropriate foreign aid.   And at the moment the Congress is in the hands of right-wing Republicans; impassioned Christian soldiers who act as if they are ready to wage war with the entire Islamic world at once.   Needless to say, it does not require a gift for prophecy to predict that this will be a real mess!

The Islamic world is in upheaval, old regimes are being overthrown and forces set in motion by an American/Israeli invasion will result in the fall of even more regimes.  No one can predict what new leadership structures or institutions of government will emerge from this turmoil.

Yet it is enough to know that there is a strong, organized, Islamic element among the rebels in each of these populist uprisings to recognize the danger they pose.  In every country the secular democratic forces fighting to modernize their nation, so they can compete in the 21st century, are already at a disadvantage.

The secular Democrats are promoting values that are highly prized only by the educated elite – many of whom have spent time living in western democracies – thus their core concepts are alien and poorly understood by the masses of their people.  I warned that the Islamist could seize control of the revolt in Egypt – while the cheerleaders in the west assured us the Muslim Brotherhood was passé and impotent and other Islamists without much influence – and it has come to pass.  I remembered something the other pundits seemed to forget.  The overthrow of the Iranian Shah was also engineered by secular intellectuals; but the theocrats quickly took control, executed many of the secularists, and established Sharia Law.

Alas, a cry for war is rising from much of the commentariat in commercial media.  It is manufacturing a pro-war hysteria among the public. People like Joe Scarborough who host MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” – a charming sophist whose claim to fame is that he looks like the old cowboy movie star John Wayne – are cheering the President’s militant stance, although he has been damming Barack for not pulling all American troops from Afghanistan.  Joe practically called for the dismissal of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because he said “Iran is a rational actor in international affairs.”

The General’s intention was to quell the crazy narrative spun by hysterical warmongers who are painting the Iranian leadership as madmen willing to commit national suicide by launching a nuclear attack against Israel.  There is absolutely no evidence to support such a conclusion; I believe the US is far more likely to commit national suicide over Israel than Iran committing suicide over the Palestinians!  The attempt to paint the Iranian regime as irrational and therefore a danger to US interests is a transparent move to politicize intelligence regarding the threat from Iran in order to justify a “preemptive attack.”

This is the same path that led to war in Vietnam and Iraq, two nations that had also committed no offense against the US.   Yet we squandered massive amounts of American blood and treasure there, while maiming or killing millions of innocent bystanders.   Alas forces that lead to war have already been set in motion.

The momentum of events may well overwhelm President Obama’s resistance and we shall soon find ourselves in yet another major war with a Muslim country.   Indeed, if the Israeli’s decide to attack Iran, President Obama could find himself in the same predicament as Abe Lincoln when he reflected on the consequences of the Civil War and exclaimed: “Clearly I have not controlled events…but events have controlled me.”  It’s De Ja Vu all over again!

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Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

March 9, 2012

 

The Case For Palestinian Statehood

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , , , on September 24, 2011 by playthell

 Bright Moments: Mahmoud Rappin with Barack

 

He told “a round unvarnished tale”

For those with any understanding of the facts in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, President Obama’s speech before the United Nations on Wednesday was an embarrassment.  And for Americans of conscience who value truth, freedom and justice it was shameful if not sinful.

In the President’s speech only the security concerns of the Israeli’s was discussed; a nation with one of the world’s top military establishments armed with the most advanced weaponry and a nuclear arsenal larger than Great Britain’s.  It was left therefore to President Mahmoud Abbas to present the counter-narrative, to tell the Palestinian side of the story.  And, like Othello, what a round unvarnished tale he told.

Those Americans who took the time to watch the speech on CNN got an extremely rare opportunity to hear the Palestinian case presented unfiltered by an American media that is openly biased in favor of Israel; in fact most of their copy sounds as if it was written in the Israeli embassy.   Hence for many Americans President Abbas must sound like a man from Mars.  For the picture he painted so vividly is one of a victimized people; a people whose lands and wealth was plundered by foreign invaders.

He told how the Palestinian people are the victims of colonial/settlers, the European and American Zionist, who disposssed them of their lands, instituted a racist Apartheid system, and in spite of 60 years of resolutions and agreements, many of which originated in agreements supervised by the UN, the Palestinian people continue languish under Israeli military occupation and are forced to stand idly by as Israeli settlers,  Zionist Jews from all over the world, continue to gobble up Palestinian lands by building new settlements and carving up their territory with “security walls.”

It sounded as if Mahmoud and Barack were talking about two different worlds; as if the situation looked different ways on different days.  The narratives are so radically different that there seems little reason to hope that a catastrophe can be avoided in the Middle-East.  Thus while the American President spouted nonsense, putting forth an argument that can only make sense if viewed from the imperatives of an American domestic politics dominated by the Israel Lobby, arguing that there is no road to Palestinian Statehood except through bilateral negotiations with an intransigent Israeli government, Mahmoud Abbas took his case to the United Nations General Assembly and asked the world to recognize their inherent right to a national existence as a sovereign people with all the rights and privileges that are accorded independent nations.

His overview of the crisis beginning with the founding of the Zionist state of Israel in Palestine was heart rending, a damming case of conquest, colonial occupation, and racial apartheid.  By the time Mr. Abbas announced his intention to apply for membership, proudly holding up the document for the assembly to see, the wildly applauding crowd stood in ovation.  As far as I can see, only the American and Israeli delegations remained quiet.  Thus we can clearly see the intractability of the crisis in the Middle East.

If the response of Richard Hass, Editor of Foreign Affairs, one of Americas most distinguished journals devoted to international relations, is any measure things look grim indeed. Mr. Hass, who is widely regarded as one of our nation’s most knowledgeable and prescient foreign policy analyst, expressed disappointment with Mr. Abbas’s speech and assured us that while it inspired ovations in the UN General Assembly, and will inspire cheers on the West Bank and Gaza: It would only harden the Israeli resolve to maintain the status quo. And he appeared to think this was a reasonable stance.

I see it differently; it is a course of action that can only swell the ranks of the Jihadist all over the Middle East.  There is no question that this will happen, because that is how mass transformative movements work.  Of the many factors that contribute to the growth of a movement the most potent factor is the presence of a clearly identified enemy. And that means real trouble for the US, since we are regarded as Israel’s enabler in the region.

Not long after President Abbas ended his triumphant speech, the Israeli Prime Minister took the stage and presented yet another narrative in which Israel is the victim and the Arabs are the dangerous ones.  He skillfully painted a picture of a beleaguered Jewish homeland besieged by crazy murderous Muslims.  I say Muslims because his attacks were not confined to the Arabs, aside from the Jihadists his greatest invective was reserved for Iran, which is Persian.

And  the Israeli Prime Minister willfully misrepresented some critical facts. The worst of which is to suggest that Iran, a Shiite nation, would give a nuclear weapon to Sunni Jihadist; it is a claim that defies history and denies present realities.  But it is a great ploy to rile up a millions of Americans who are already dwelling on the verge of anti-Muslim hysteria.

Yet at the end of the speechifying, I had the funny feeling that all three political actors were playing to audiences that were not present in the General Assembly.  They are all tightrope walkers who must delicately balance their performance to appeal to several audiences.  I believe that, if left to their own devices, these three rational and skilled statesmen could work out a deal.  But if they wish to survive in their high office each of them must do the bidding of constituencies that are irrational, and if their hopes and dreams are not addressed they may do no telling what.

In President Obama’s case, failure to veto the Palestinian resolution would make him political enemy #1 to the Israel Lobby and Christian Zionist.  The President cannot afford to make such powerful enemies just now; not at a time when he is conducting three wars abroad and trying to devise a cure for the protracted crisis in American capitalism.

And the situation threatens to get worse in an economy with recession level unemployment.  Furthermore he has the bizarre problem of trying to raise his approval rating among the Israeli populace; lest they give the order to the Israel Lobby and Christian soldiers of Zion the order to ice him – a call that would energize and mobilize their troops against the President’s reelection.

Prime Minister Netanyahu sent the President a strong message when he came to Washington recently and addressed a joint-session of Congress and got 18 standing ovations – more than the President got on his last State of the Union Address!  The not so subtle message was: “I own your Congress Mr. President!”   As sad as the situation is, it is nonetheless true that a failure to veto the Palestinian proposal was tantamount to committing political suicide!

Since politics is the art of the possible and I am a political animal, I fully support the President’s decision to veto the Palestinian proposal in the spirit of a circus performer who holds his nose and kisses a skunk because that’s what the script calls for!  It is, by far, a lesser evil than a Republican victory in the 2012 election.  If Mahmoud Abbas thinks that the Palestinian people will ever have a better friend in the White House than Barack Obama he is delusional.

That’s why, in spite of the undeniable righteousness of his cause, Mr. Abbas may well have injured that cause by not acceding  to the President’s request to delay his proposal for statehood a while longer so that he can try to work other options.  An American veto of this proposal will almost certainly strengthen Hamas, Mr. Abbas’ nemesis, as well as swell the ranks of Jihadists, who are the avowed enemies of secular democratic leaders like Mr. Abbas.  But once the independence motion became an option, there is no way he could have withdrawn it.  That would surely have finished him with the cheering crowd massed in Ramallah.

Ironically, Bibi Netanyahu may have won this test of wills with Barack Obama, but he imperiled the security of Israel in doing so.  It was a pyrrhic victory and Netanyahu is too smart not to know it.  Hopelessness spawned from long standing injustice is the incubator of terrorist!  Simply because justice too long delayed becomes justice denied and in such situations the oppressed will resist by any means at their disposal including suicide bombers!

Yet Bibi must bow to the will of his Likud Party – which an article in the September 23 New York Times describes as “a governing coalition dominated by right-wing and religious parties” – or face a revolt from right wing fanatics that could bring down his government Mucho Pronto.

Alas, there are positions Bibi must take in deference to the realities of Israeli politics even if he thinks he has better options.  That’s the fundamental problem with courting unthinking fanatics who operate from an irrational perspective…such as religious dogma.  We can see that the Israeli Prime Minister is concerned about the optics of their intransigence; it explains his impassioned plea for Mahmoud to return to the bargaining table…and his surprising offer to conduct the talks right here in New York right now.

However his refusal to address the issue of expanding settlements his peripatetic rant, suggest that his overtures were purely cosmetic. In the end it appears that we are witnessing a real life drama that combines elements of classical tragedy, Shakespearean intrigues and a post-modern theater of the absurd!  Only one thing is certain:  unless these three leaders can find a way to elevate reason, courage and integrity over the imperatives of political survival, an unspeakable catastrophe looms on the horizon.

Barack and Bibi: Who’s the Boss?

Is the tail wagging the dog here?

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Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 24, 2011

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