Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Is America Behind an Iron Curtain of Silence re Egypt???

Egypt had the most riveting pro-democracy revolution of the Arab Spring, as millions turned out to demonstrate for their rights to live without the oppression of a dictator, and famously ousted longtime strongman Hosny Mubarak. That was certainly a miracle. At the time, the US and other democracies had no choice but to applaud the will of the people, especially as they rose up peacefully, the violence all coming from Mubarak's side. Further, theirs was an essentially liberal secular movement spearheaded by the youth of Egypt, who were nonetheless savvy enough to join hands with the Muslim Brotherhood, the only significant opposition allowed by Mubarak's government. They also notably united Christians and Muslims, even inventing a sign of this cooperation combining the crescent with the cross. This was unprecedented. The mood after Mubarak stepped down was euphoric. Peace reigned the streets, citizens happily performed public services such as street sweeping and policing/security. I remind us of all this because now it seems like a world light-years away. All of that goodwill and hope has been decimated. Egypt is now run by a dictatorship and overbearing military-police takeover that makes Mubarak look tame in comparison.

How did this happen? We all know there were elections. But did we know they were railroaded forward too fast by the Egyptian armed forces? We all know the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Muhammad Morsi was elected President. But did we know that he was not the brotherhood's first or even second choice, that the more charismatic and experienced first choice was forced out of the running by the Egyptian armed forces? We all know that Egyptians were unhappy with Morsi's favoritism toward brotherhood members and causes was angering the Egyptian people, but was that really the issue? We may also have heard that Morsi was an incompetent leader in many ways, leading to unhappiness among Egyptians with his presidency. Egyptian media was giving a daily accounting of the sins of Morsi at the time. But did anyone hear that the Egyptian armed forces wanted Morsi as a weaker personality they could manipulate or throw out if he proved problematic? Of course, he cut off his own foot by railroading a quickie constitution to the shock of the citizens who expected more democracy than that. But who heard about the Armed forces planning a coup all along to return Egypt to a dictatorship with the military-police complex again supreme, and that Morsi was to them nothing more than a stooge to throw off the burden of pro-democracy sympathy?

We all know there was a coup in Egypt. But why doesn't the US recognize it as such? That would mean the US would have to cut funding for Egypt completely. So why don't they do that? Because first, the US needs a dictator in place in Egypt to be able to control Egyptian policies towards Israel and America, and to prevent what some fear as an Islamic takeover of the Middle East, or worse, a democratic takeover of the Arab Street in the Middle East. The US buys Egyptian cooperation and "stability," code for loyalty to Camp David and continuing friendly relations with Israel. Human rights, the misery of ordinary Egyptians, egregious domestic policy are all collateral damage. Who cares? Our self-interest ├╝ber alles. The coup benefits our self-interest. So why would we even bother to concern ourselves with the torture, the mass murder, the degradation of innocents and especially women, or the police state control on basic freedoms under Sisi, if we get perks out of it?

It's a huge disappointment that President Obama, after all his apparent interest in human rights and democracy, would wet-blanket the public recognition of Egypt as having had a coup. Is there more to this than meets the eye? Yeah, there's a whole lot more. But who knew, who hears about it, who knows a single thing about Egypt?  Did CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, PBS, or any of their affiliates, ever report about life under Sisi? Did you ever hear about the atrocities, about the mosques they leveled, the 4,000+ innocent citizens murdered in cold blood for protesting, the wounded thrown in prisons and left to die for trying to report and get treatment for those wounds, the unspeakable beatings, starvation and abuse at the hands of police and army against their own citizens they are supposed to allegedly protect? Is this not newsworthy? Is Egypt so insignificant? Or is the US hiding something? Is the US complicit in this coup? Why else would we be kept in this news blackout? Are we living, unbeknownst to us, behind an iron curtain of silence on Egypt and other issues that we have less than stellar sticky fingers poking in, and don't want to get caught? What happened to the media, to journalism? Something is very very wrong here...

Next I will bring you some of the details you missed about the dirty little coup that could. Could strongarm with the stupidity and brutality of...of...I'm at a loss for words. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Stop Syria Genocide: What the Neighbors Can Do

The only massacre anyone cares about is their own. And nobody "owns" the massacre in Syria except the Syrians. The world attempts to show they "care", but what is "care" and what mobilizes or galvanizes it? The world is preoccupied with the possibility of impending financial breakdown -- but that's not a massacre. Bashar al-Assad's genocide is a greater issue certainly, but right now, with Russia and China roadblocking any UN action, and the world skittish on military intervention, this mass murderer is getting a free pass and using it to the full. From killing "dozens" a day, he's going for "hundreds".

Unless some threat to "our" interests occurs - and Syria is not precisely or clearly "our" interest - we, the rest of the world, are throwing up our hands and saying "Eh - Oh" - which means neither "What was that?" nor "oh-oh" nor anything else intelligible. Russia is loath to lose an arms customer, now that the killing business is getting hot -- somewhere! finally! Ditto China. Besides, neither Russia nor China is hot on the idea of Da West railroading yet another dictator out of office. After all, these are kinder, gentler totalitarians, raising up young whippersnapper totalitarians. Neither country is noted for valuing human life or rights when weighed against maintaining power and control. So Bashar kills? Conscience to them is a matter of opinion. Hey, things are out of control. Any self-respecting totalitarian would crush the plebes into obedience. The only question to which Russia and China prick up their ears is "Got lead?"

So the world is basically negated by these two totalitarian Security Council veto-ers. What's left? The clear and present and obvious answer is, the neighbors. The Arab countries. They are really the only ones who can do something, but it needs back surgery. A real campaign in the Arab world to Bring Back the Vertebrates. Time was, Arabs were indignant about stuff. Competed. Fought wars. Gave a damn. Now nobody wants even to say what they think is right, let alone act on it. The Arab League is still wallowing in the long-discredited fake quicksand of conferences, discussions, meetings, and endless proclamations and statements. Worms and jellyfish can do that. A mass murderer is loose, killing innocents by the thousands, and the Arab league meets to discuss it. Women are being raped, and they are having a conference. Then they come to "observe". After the "observers" became so nauseated at what they saw that they could no longer function, they decided to have another meeting, maybe next week 'cause you see they're on a losing streak...

After the last long run of Arab dictators and their attendant pimps - don't ask me when this started! -- it's time to act like vertebrates. Time to finally walk upright. Time to stand up with and for the Syrian people against this brutal, genocidal dictator. How? Simple!

Cut off all business and all relations with any country that does business with Syria - including pointedly Russia and China. No matter the sacrifice. In short order, Security Council sanctions against Syria will pass, armies will gather at the borders, and the self-proclaimed "mighty" Bashar will shrink to the size of vermin without their abilities to reproduce.

With this simple tactic, the lives of Syrians can be saved by the hands and diplomatic coup of their Arab neighbors. Which neighboring states must ask themselves the question, Are we our brothers' keepers? And the followup question, Do we want the blood of 8,000 Syrians and counting to be remembered by our own failure to act?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tyrant Gaddafi Killed!

Gaddafi has been killed in Sirt and theLibyan people at last ae free!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gaddafi Falls! Seif Arrested!

Last night's push from Libyan rebel forces into Tripoli has met with rousing success and almost no pro-Gaddafi resistance. Seif al-Islam, Gaddafi's notorious son, was arrested, the brigades guarding Gaddafi himself surrendered to the rebels, Gaddafi himself is in direct talks with the head of the NTC, Mustafa Abdul-Jaleel, and the Libyan people are streaming into the streets of Tripoli in celebration. Pro-Gaddafi forces' uniforms are being thrown and trampled in the streets, and the Libyan rebel flag is flying everywhere. Victory for the brave Libyan rebel fighters and victory for freedom and democracy! And huge thanks and victory for NATO in this, their finest hour, and to all the brave supporters of Libya's freedom from the brutal dictator Gaddafi!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The West Needs a New Friggin' Brain

When it comes to the Middle East, the U.S. usually looks like a clueless dwerp. A few well-enacted and clear principles would go far to change that.

1. Human beings are all human. The West tends to think of Arabs as non-human. A sort of mongol race, with a terrorist bent. Think of all the paranoia about the Muslim Brotherhood, as if it's back to its 1950's ascendancy, as if it proposes a return to "the caliphate", GW Bush's touted raison d'etre for the GWOT (war on terror). Think of the cries of "we don't know who these people are!" when considering aid to democracy movements in The Middle East. This is all bullcrap. Drop that load and get real.

2. Freedom and Peace are legitimate goals to defend. Humanity is diminished without them. But... they CANNOT be achieved by FORCE! It must be a willing achievement of the free will of those seeking freedom.

That's why Iraq and Afghanistan failed. We sought to IMPOSE freedom. That's an oxymoron ... moron!

3. In the Arab Spring, our help, no matter how military, is asked for by willing seekers of freedom from oppression. Examples: Libya and Syria.

To compare that to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is either ignorant or political posturing to an ignorant power base or both. Or worse, it could be mean-spirited cynicism appealing to a snarky, nasty power base.

Helping Libya is the same as helping France fight Hitler in WWII. What's in it for us? Our high ground. Freedom is a universal good. Who's gonna defend it? Unarmed civilians?

4. Terrorism cannot be successfully fought as if it's a foreign army with leaders, etc. while ignoring what it is: a freedom-seeking rebellion against oppression. Yes! In this case, seen as superpower-imposed dictatorships and repressive regimes. The latter includes, from the point of view of the Palestinians under their brutal thumb, the state of Israel.

Terrorism is not some sort of pro-caliphate ideology described by George W. Bush. Its idea (in Islamist-style terrorism) is that Islam will make people free from tyranny by non-Muslims. Look at the Palestinians under the Israelis, look at the Arab streets under their dictators. The dictators are all westernized, including the Saudis, whose duplicity is legendary. What could the people be expected to assume??

The only way terrorism could gain a power base of any kind is by the existence of repression that it appears only terrorism could remove. It gained a foothold only as a means to conquer oppression. PERIOD.

Many Arabs and Muslims believe that the word "terrorism" is a ploy invented by repressive regimes - including that of Israel vis-a-vis the Palestinians - in order to maintain and excuse their repression. We have clearly seen how Mubarak used the "threat" of terrorism to justify atrocities against his people. Do the people then not have good reason to believe this, O men and women of supposed minds???

5. Israelis are human beings. And therefore responsible for their actions. They are not fetuses. They are not angels. If the Israeli government is a repressive regime to the Palestinians, then how can they tout their "democracy" while denying Palestinians their basic human rights??? The word "security" is the same reason given by ALL midde eastern dictators for their repression. Are we not then supporters of oppression? Are not taxpayer dollars lavished on oppression? Then what is meant by "freedom-loving"??

6. The naming of groups of people as "terrorists" and thus justifying all manner of torture, murder, repression, abdication of human rights and principles CANNOT be a path to freedom or democracy. It is immoral, unjust, hateful, hypocritical, is itself oppression and repression, and destroys everything we claim to uphold as principle.

Without principles and a high ground, what exactly the hell are we???

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Note to the U.S.: The View from the Arab Street

When the U.S. and the West wallows in heartfelt indecision on Libya, and decisive ambivalence about Mideast democratic revolutions in general, it sends a clear message to the Arab "Street" - as opposed to the Arab "throne", from which emanate winks, nods, and solemn, secret applause. The message is that the U.S., and the West,
WANT, NEED, tyrants in the Middle East. The U.S. and NATO want to avoid "instability". They can't "interfere" in "civil wars". The West will help with "humanitarian efforts" - the band-aids. But to get at the cause??? Well, everybody loves a tyrant!

Arabs on the Street see the West has adopted their much-loved "domino theory". If one tyrant goes, others could fall. And the U.S., apparently, NEEDS tyrants.

Oh yes, we condemned Qaddafi. Reagan even tried to assassinate him back in the day. And we have no problem with regime change, assassination, fomenting civil wars in other countries, or even occupying them. Just look at Iraq, and don't forget Vietnam. But Libya?? Heavens, no!

Why? Simple. We're not calling the shots. We didn't start the revolt. Libyans did. Therein lies the issue, the trigger-finger block. We loathe any revolution that wasn't, shall we say, "made in the U.S.A." If it wasn't our idea, to tell with it.

But...let's look more closely at this domino theory. We're not talking about nations falling to communist revolutions. We're talking about repressive regimes falling to democratic revolutions, about fights for freedom, democracy and representative government - the West's rhetorical ideals. We're talking about the very sorts of revolutions we've been blaming the Arabs for not having for decades, the lack of which has been brought out ad nauseum as proof of Arabs' "backwardness" and lack of "readiness for democracy". And now, here's your true-blood, liberal, Western-style revolt! These are not Islamists. They want a real, free democracy. They want out of dictatorships.

Yet the West gives credence to the worst of all regimes, buying into Qaddafi's "civil war" story, buying into his propaganda that his people "love" him. The West doesn't quibble with this, presumes - for their own convenience - that he has loyalists who have not been bought or terrorized into submission, and that these loyalists are fighting for what they conceive of as a legitimate cause.

The U.S. backed Mubarak until it became openly hideous to do so, and now backs Qaddafi by allowing him to decimate his population and call it a "civil war" instead of a massacre. It seems the U.S. is also trying to shore of Yemen's Ali Saleh, and OMG don't mention the Saudi regime - now there's one hell of a repressive regime if there ever was one! Let alone...please don't say it... the unmentionable, the sacred, the fetus-in-a-jar...Israel. (When Israel openly supports fellow democracies in the region instead of trying to decimate them in some way as per Lebanon, I'll stop calling it a fetus. A democracy that doesn't support democracy is not a democracy, but some kind of hybrid. Is the US trying to rebrand itself, too?)

So what is the Arab on the street to presume? That the West loves democracy? That they believe in human rights and freedom? Or that they only impose, by force of arms, "freedom" when it suits their needs, when they are in full control of that freedom. But isn't "freedom under someone's control" an oxymoron???

Massacre Is Not Civil War: The West Buys Into Qaddafi's Paradigms

A pathologically insane tyrant and his pathological tyrant sons are massacring their civilian populations with total impunity as the West engages in its usual lap-dancing, hypocritical vacillations. It's not that anyone actually likes Qaddafi. It's not that people are not disgusted by his massacre of Libyans in Zawiya and elsewhere or by Qaddafi's and his sons' obvious lies and cover ups. It's that the West basically doesn't give a damn.

Obama doesn't know what he's doing. Most of Europe doesn't give a damn. Cameron wants to look like he gives a damn, but he doesn't really...and so on...So why? Why don't the deaths of civilians being crushed by heavily armed troops inspire enough rage? Why are Libyans being categorized in Qaddafi's terms as "rebels" instead of as protesters forced to become fighters with no experience, weapons or training? Why does the West buy into Qaddafi's "rebel" and "civil war" line instead of calling them wheat they are - civilians who began what was conceived as a non-violent protest against the brutal Qaddafi regime modeled after the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions?

When more and more Libyans joined the once-peaceful revolution, Qaddafi decided to call it a "civil war" and threatened via Seif - his son-turned-War-Pimp - that there would be "blood in the streets." He made good on his promise and massacred unarmed civilians by armed troops from air, land, sea, and close range, calling it "civil war". Now NATO says they can't take action because this is a civil war and they don't "interfere" in civil wars.

Yes, the U.S., NATO, the EU, the West all buy Qaddafi's repackaging of violence. It's not a modern weaponized and mechanized armed force decimating its civilian population to keep them under a madman's repressive tyranny. No, it's a "civil war" with two sides: "the government" vs. "the rebels". But those are not "rebels" and never were. They are civilians who are fighting for their own freedom, for their lives, for their own country on their own land, for the democracy so touted in Western rhetoric. But Qaddafi, whose personal life centers on women, sex, and drugs (he's obviously strung out on drugs most of the time), will kill every man, woman and child in Libya who opposes him to keep the power and money he pathologically craves. He is hell-bent on holding the reins of his psychopathocracy and will stop at nothing. Slaughter is child's play to him. And as for his so-called devoted "people" - Apparently, no one noticed the protests in his so-called "stronghold", Tripoli, which he crushed by nothing less than all-out slaughter, coupled with fear tactics and propaganda. If he has so much "support", why does he have to bribe them? Why does he need to important foreign nationals to fight for him? So to adopt his "civil war" line is itself crazy.

Is NATO crazy? Is Obama crazy? No. But there's a sense of fear of getting mired in this, and there's political liability. There's no self-interest in backing the Libyan people, at least not in the Machiavellian sense. If he stays, the West gets oil. If he leaves, they get oil. So what's the diff? And Qaddafi knows this. He knows the West is all talk, no action. Qaddafi says when it comes to oil, Libya is important. When it comes to human rights and crimes against humanity, Libya is unimportant. The West has clearly bought into this and is currently acting on it. This plays directly into his regime.

The Generals say we need weeks, months, and the "rebels" will lose. Note: not "get slaughtered", no - "lose". We just can't take action like that in a civil war, they say. But these are Qaddafi's words.

Who said this was a civil war? Qaddafi. Who proclaimed there will be a civil war? Qaddafi. Who said when it comes to freedom, de,ocracy and human rights, Libya is unimportant? Qaddafi.

And who are happily mouthing Qaddafi's words, using his terminology, his repackaging of horrific massacre into another entirely different "internal struggle" scenario? Who are choosing when Libya is important or unimportant exactly and solely based on Qaddafi's own set conditions?

NATO. America. The West.

Now tell me - who is calling the shots? Who sets the agenda here?

And the Libyan people's hope for democracy? Their faith in Western nations' willingness to support the cause of freedom? They were hoping for Western leadership, moral backbone. Good luck with that.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Total Joy! Mubarak Finally Steps Down - Democracy for Egypt!!

The Torturer and Veep of Egypt, Omar Suleiman, announced that Hosny Mubarak will vacate his presidency and the army will supervise a secure and orderly transition of power while Gen. Tantawi will be the de facto president. After 18 days of protests, after 80,000 protesters marched on the presidential palace, after the most amazing showing of people power on the face of the planet, Egypt is at last a free country. Now the path to democracy, the effort that requires, begins.

al-jazeera english:


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mubarak Attacks Protesters with Thugs, Dogs, Weapons

Embattled Egyptian dictator Hosny Mubarak played his usual game: attacking peaceful civilians and citizens with paid thugs and secret police, both posing as civilians and in this case, as "pro-Mubarak protesters".

For those journalists who worry that these could be genuine citizens who want Mubarak in power, let this be proof to their cluelessness: those "pro-Mubarak protesters" were all armed. They were mostly paid goons, thugs who were sent by the Ministry of Interior to drive the protestors out with violence, and "support" Mubarak's ruthless dictatorship with violence.

Thousands - by Egypt's Health Ministry estimate, 5,000, but probably more - were injured, some critically, and at least five were killed. Chaos erupted in the streets. Some of the goons arrived, ploughing through the crowd on horseback and camelback, some cracking whips. Brave protesters pulled them off their horses/camels, and subdued them, turning some to the army, but keeping most of the attackers in a makeshift detention area in Tahrir Square.

There was also a concerted effort by Mubarak and his goons to attack journalists, as well as anyone who "looked foreign". Anderson Cooper of CNN was one of the more prominent victims of this violence, though he returned to the air later from an undisclosed "safe" location in Cairo (presumably). As many as 26 (or more) journalists were either beaten up or detained, hooded and interrogated in unknown locations. Protesters took down the license plate number of a car from which an official-looking individual was seen paying money to some of the thugs that had been violent with pro-Democracy protesters.

This is clearly a case of peaceful pro-Democracy protestors who want an end to the brutal dictatorship being roughed up and threatened by dictator Mubarak. It also shows that he wants to brutalize his people without journalists reporting it. It is also a sign that Mubarak wants to show off to the West his anger at their abandonment of his repressive regime (in calling for reform, to step down, etc.) after years of his being their man in the middle east, doing favors for them, clamping down on Muslims in the so-called War on Terror, and torturing terror suspects for the West. In other words, he's angry that the West is now abandoning their pet goon.

But the protestors have retaken Tahrir Square, pushed out the goons, and set up hospital areas to treat the wounded, and responded to the situation in the most admirable, civilized, and cooperative way. This bodes well for Egypt.

But the battle for Egypt has just begun. The pro-Democracy movement in the streets will not back down, saying they will die for their freedom and that of their children. Mubarak says he will not step down or there will be chaos. It's obvious now to the world that the only chaos is coming from his side.

Victory to democracy in Egypt. It is and will be a model of liberty for the world.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Conceived in Liberty: Egypt vs. The Tyrant

The end of acquiescence is the beginning of freedom.

Today, Egyptians demonstrated - from 20,000 to 100,000 strong - in Cairo, Tanta, Alexandria, Asiut - against Hosny Mubarak, the draconian Oppressor of the Egyptian people - who are not "his" people since he considers them his enemies (!). The force of sheer human will towards freedom has been unleashed in Egypt.

And met with Mubarak's domestic "policy": a wall of brute, black-helmeted, robotic, ironclad police who arrived in armored caravans and pressed, with US-trained professional brutality, against the life-force of youth, of their own country, their own youth rebelling to finally, after generations of complacency and soul-killing, despairing acquiescence, stand and march as human beings for the right to breathe, to walk freely in their own streets, to speak freely in their own nation on their own ground, to not be tortured or killed or imprisoned or see family members disappear - for simply speaking, thinking, or walking in a group of three.

There is no faith or motive in despair. but once despair is removed, what power can be unleashed! Fear is irrelevant in challenging such abominable tyranny as Mubarak's criminal regime. Partisanship dissolves. Even religious differences collapse. All Egyptians own their country and they will wrest it forcibly, by the force of thousands growing quickly to millions, from the tyrant and his cronies. All Egyptians are Hosny's victims. Look at those riot police. They are his victims, too. They are often forced by need, by poverty into protecting the very regime that imprisons them and their families, their own nation, in a hopeless, pointless, world without freedom.

Yes, the police. Look at what they must do to themselves to turn against their own sons and daughters in the streets. They must kill their own conscience, lie and cover up for what they know is true. But they cannot be freed from these shackles until the movement gains more power, momentum, and sheer numbers.

The defiance and brashness of protestors is life, invigorating and despair-crushing, death-defying, liberating. But this force needs thousands and the thousands need millions. It needs to grow to overwhelming numbers to create inevitability. The demonstrators must know, not merely hope, believe, but know that their cause - the complete and permanent ouster and overthrow of Mubarak, his family and his cronies is inevitable, will happen, as a consequence of this force of human will on its determined, shared, cooperating trajectory toward freedom. But to make this happen NOW, that is, SOON, requires non-stop, unrelenting action!

Action day after day, week after week, whatever it takes as long as it takes, unrelenting, never giving up, no matter if it takes lives, deaths. The police WILL lose their stomach when it comes to mass murder. Remember, they have families, They are Egyptians. They have very weak and trembling excuses for being on the side of oppression and very powerful urges to break free just as the youth in the street do. But they need to feel the inevitability, the necessity, the massive power of great numbers of fellow countrymen, to lay down their arms and join the force of their own people.

Mubarak's only self-defense will be a call for "security" and "stability". This has been his sole measly, transparently empty excuse for imposing martial law over 3 decades and counting. How worthless is this excuse? How valuable is being a human being with free will? What life can be secured when life without freedom has no taste of life, when faith under oppression cannot be faith, when love under tyranny cannot grow, when under the banner of security and stability the reason to live and to even exist is crushed??

All Egyptians must put pressure on that very security and stability. Make Egypt insecure. Destabilize the streets. Close the shops. Refuse to show up for normalcy. Don't participate in normal daily life (if that's what it even was). Make the streets a place not of commerce and entertainment, not of peace and quiet, not of normal traffic, but a place of revolution. Make the streets the birthplace of liberty. Force liberty out of the streets and the tyrant out of his power-vault.

Make the streets a place where nothing is what it was before. Shops do not sell. Shelters do not shelter. Pedestrians do not mill aimlessly. Everyone is out in the streets in their unarmed bare clothing, more people than can possibly ever be arrested, all marching in one direction, one force, calling in one voice and many voices for the ouster of the tyrant.

Make the streets for Mubarak what Mubarak made them for the people: a place controlled by force. But this time, the force of all Egyptians, young and old, men and women, employed and unemployed, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, Muslims and Christians, impoverished and people of means, all moving in one direction calling for the demise of the tyrant Mubarak.

When the police can no longer control the crowds, when the media no longer can suppress the news, when the tyrant no longer can sleep in his vault, when the army no longer can pretend they despise freedom, when the police find their own families and neighborhoods marching in the force towards long-desired liberty, who - I say, who? - imagines that any outcome is more inevitable than what God has ordained and promised - complete and irreversible victory over tyranny and the demise of the tyrant Mubarak???!!!

The Smell of Revolution

Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" was more coffee than perfume - a sign of morning, beginnings, waking up. And smell is the most penetrating, intangible, evocative of senses. It feels almost unreal. You can't hold it, suppress it, drive it away. It is the cumulative force of masses of people rising up, self-motivated, determined, as a wall of uncompromising resistance. This pungent, irresistible smell aroused latent rebellious urges in the masses of Arabs who live undeer the most draconian and fervent oppressions and tyrannies. The Jasmine Revolution is the aphrodisiac of freedom grasped by force of desire and will power shared as a wall of mass, spontaneous rebellion. Who will be inspired by it? Millions. Who will take action?

The Western media categorizes the threat to Arab regimes as "North African", specifying Libya, Algeria, and Egypt. Morocco doesn't play well into this, since Mohammad VI has managed to ease authoritarian rule and give a strong impression of freedom-to-be-released from its cage. But the others are ripe for picking. Overripe, one could say.

Going further east, one shouldn't ignore the totalitarian regimes in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Jordan - and while we're at it, the Gulf States (although like Morocco, they are liberalized to the point of losing that draconian dictatorship vibe).

All these countries have large populations under varying degrees of oppression - notably large populations of unemployed youth, the very group that spearheaded the Jasmine Revolution. Youth unemployment is a huge problem in the Arab world - for example, Saudi Arabia. But will they revolt? There's a strong tradition of top-down authoritarianism that dominates the thinking of many young Saudis, especially the zealots for whom religion is a prime motivator. The reason is not Islam - contrary to popular (Western) opinion, it's very pro-democratic - nor Arab culture - no Pharaohs in that tradition either. Rather, it's the Wahhabi tendency to micromanage people's lives that created a culture of behavioral policing that in turn lends to totalitarian policies and practices. This itself makes a Saudi revolution implausible, as a micromanaged crowd cannot rise up in a focused, forceful way.

Syria's and Jordan's leaders managed to give off a bungling, human, reasonable vibe that makes them not so easy to universally despise. Masses need to unite with rage. And a human face on the leader diminishes that rage in many. As for Libya's Gaddafi, in spite of his people's contempt for him, he manages to appear less self-indulgent and authoritarian than just a wild and crazy guy. So we're left with Egypt and Algeria as the most likely countries to smell the coffee.

Egypt is the place where that pungent smell should - and will - resonate most. Mubarak is universally despised. His cronies have proven themselves as positively evil - raping and torturing opponents, humiliating and ignoring huge parts of the population. The gap between rich and poor is both vast and also humiliating. The poor barely survive. Education is a joke. Housing is ad hoc. The government is a bureaucracy of bribes and bribes alone. Nothing is as it seems or as it is officially claimed to be. Government officials cannot live off salaries, but must - no real alternative is there - live off bribes. Corruption is so rampant - for years! - that there is no meaning to the word "government" or in fact most of the words used for public display.

Mubarak himself has no domestic policy whatsoever. He leaves that to a brutal police trained in suppression, oppression, draconian rule, and crowd control methods that would shock the world had they been ussed on, noty animals, but insects. Thye individual Egyptian does not even register on the government's radar as a cypher. He/she is nothing, below nothing, a creature without meaning or value who still poses a potential threat - and therefore is an enemy - to Mubarak and his ruling class - a small elite so deprived of moral values that they would be better replaced by robots who at least may run on logic.

Mubarak's sole interest is foreign policy. By appearing with foreign leaders, he creates the impression of being a leader, doing great things, having a job, not being what he really is: a gigantic, monstrous obstacle to human life, success, hope, faith, survival, health, or any semblance of humanity for millions of people.

It is illegal in Egypt for more than two people to walk together. Mubarak's prime minister, Nazif, claimed repeatedly, including in an interview with Charlie Rose, that the Egyptian people are not ready for democracy. He lied. Only he, and his master's voice, the wizard of Toz (which in Arabic means "so what" or "to hell with it"), Mubarak.

Of all places in the world, Egypt needs to smell the revolution, to wake up, to stop the fear, to rise up as one mass, to forget about death. Is death really worse than this desperation-without-purpose that passes for life? And to stand en masse, as one gigantic, irrepressible, eloquent, unbeatable, recalcitrant, immoveable force forging at last their own will, freedom to be, once again, at least, people, human, not caged and bused and humiliated animals.

It is time to forget the fear of loss, of being attacked. If the force gains enough momentum, police and media will turn against the evil dictator and help that force to force him out - him and his collaborators - in shame. This is a moment to sieze now - not let dissipate. The coffee's in the air. The perfume, the aphrodisiac of liberty wafts far and wide. The quarry quivers, has not yet bolstered his defenses, is afraid. Now is the moment - THE MOMENT - to make Mubarak's fears realized, to bring his worst nightmares to life, as he brought his peoples' worst nightmares to life and extended them to the forseeable future.

Now is the moment to have a future, to give children a future. For life under oppression is not life. Faith under oppression is not faith. Love under oppression is not love. Hope under oppression is not hope.

Do not wait for a plan, a leader, an army. The plan is to rise up, all without exception, and each man, woman, and child is a leader when they join the force of revolution and rebellion against the evil that is Mubarak. The only force that can destroy such uncompromising evil. The smell of revolution will blow and it will either reach people's hearts and minds, or fall to the ground, lost forever. It is a choice. and the wrong choice is an unacceptable disaster.

One cannot do it alone. Neighbors, neighborhoods, whole swaths of people, a whole nation rising up with one voice is a force even a brutal dictator like Mubarak cannot fight. Think of the day after - a day when Mubarak flees with his family and cronies never to return. Can there be any greater, unmitigated joy, shared by millions, than that?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Damning BP Memo Uncovers "3 Pigs" Strategy

As tar balls wash up on the white Pensacola beach sands, the Pensacola Independent News has uncovered an internal BP memo, obtained by attorney Brent Coon through discovery in his case against BP where he represents victims of the 2005 BP Texas Refinery explosion. The documents show that BP chose, knowingly and deliberately, to house workers in cheap, flimsy trailers next to the isomerization unit where the explosion occurred, rather than in safer, more solid and blast-resistent structures - solely because of their expense. And this same attitude has translated now to their response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Their mascots for arguing the case for trailers, favoring cost-cutting to life-saving? The 3 Little Pigs...

Mr. Coon originally used the "Three Little Pigs" story in court when speaking to the jury to illustrate his civil case against BP.

"We would ask the witnesses during depositions about the trailers. Whenever we used The Three Little Pigs' tale to describe the risks associated with the trailers versus brick and other structures, BP's attorneys objected."

Yet amazingly, BP used this same story themselves, as Coon found through discovery.

"Right there we found a presentation on the decision to buy the trailers that showed BP using The Three Pigs' fairy tale to describe the costs associated with the four options," Coon said. "I thought, You've got to be f_____g kidding me.' They even had drawings of three pigs on the report."

And what was their argument?

After analyzing the cost of four structures in descending order of blast-resistance and safety, in which the trailers were at the bottom, 100 times cheaper than the safer metal blast-resistant buildings, they merely needed a "cover story" to explain the obvious choice of the cheap buildings. So they estimated the cost of what would be predictably lost human lives - next to one of the most dangerous places in the facility - and callously compare "costs" in purely monetary terms.

"BP set the cost of claim for a lost life at $10 million," said Coon, "and determined it would be more cost effective to use the least expensive trailers and possibly lose a few workers than spend more money on the blast resistant structures."

In other words, they looked at the loss of a human life as an acceptable risk in the greater good of cutting costs. And this is the same attitude they show today, and showed leading up to the Deepwater explosion, in handling their responsibilities to the public, to human life, to the ecosystem that supports their workers, and to the earth itself. In leaving the cleanup to BP - especially leaving the determination of how much money will be spent and on what! - the Administration and the leadership of the Gulf Coast states are putting priceless treasure in the hands of a thief, whose only value system is his own private capital gain.

The Pensacola Independent News contacted BP for comment on these documents, and after some hounding, responded that the "culture" of BP has "fundamentally changed" and they have heavily invested in safety and raised their standards. They did not, interestingly, refer to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Coon's and other victims' lawsuits in the Texas Refinery explosion, which killed 15 and injured 170, resulted in $1.6 billion in settlements. Apparently their original calculations were off.

Now it looks they are still off in the Gulf. First, they decided NOT to buy a $500,000 acoustic valve trigger that would have shut down the well in case the blowout protector didn't work. Straw house didn't work so well there, either. And now they want to cut corners, for the same obviously failed financial reasons, in the cleanup operation.

Their plan is PR and cut. It's taking too long for Pres. Obama to figure this out. Maybe this memo will wake him up. He should listen to folks on the ground in the Gulf.

On May 24, Pensacola Councilman Larry Johnson grilled BP Civic Affairs Director Liz Castro about why her company didn't use Super Tankers to assist with oil recovery.

They had been successfully used off of Saudi Arabia in the '90's. Johnson's assessment was that BP felt they were too expensive, and didn't want to even entertain the idea. They'd rather throw "junk shots" and "top hats" at the spill, and leave containment to the booms. Good luck with that.

The Florida Congressional delegation has repeatedly asked BP to place $1 billion in an escrow account to reimburse states and counties for their cleanup costs. Instead, the states initially received $25 million in block grants. Later, an additional $70 million was forked over to help with advertising campaigns.

Why don't they try telling BP, and getting some legal clout here? Asking, begging, suggesting doesn't work. Where is the rule of law, now that we desperately need it? BP has no conscience. Now they need to pay the consequences - instead of our great-great grandchildren paying, in lives and loss of resources, for their unspeakable crimes.

It's my greatest hope that publicizing this memo will put on display BP's attitude towards human life - and everything else we hold dear - and convince all who have power (the President, the courts, the Governors of affected states) to exert extraordinary pressure on BP to not only pay for the "cleanup", not merely make "promises", but use every and all effective means, no matter how expensive, to clean up this catastrophic continuous oil disaster in the Gulf.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

War as City-State: We Force-feed it, We Pay

This great post from Tomdispatch offers some mind-boggling numbers for materiel involved in the War in Iraq whose "drawdown" is described thusly:

the American drawdown will be the "equivalent, in personnel terms alone, of relocating the entire population of Buffalo, New York."

Now there's a thought. It's as if the whole war were a city-state in itself, complete with food, shelter, weapons, infrastructure - and of course, a nice big population.

Whether it’s 3.1 million items of equipment, or 3 million, 2.8 million, or 1.5 million, whether 341 “facilities” (not including perhaps ten mega-bases which will still be operating in 2011 with tens of thousands of American soldiers, civilians, and private contractors working and living on them), or more than 350 forward operating facilities, or 290 bases are to be shut down, the numbers from Iraq are simply out of this world.

The conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is unprecented, and yet Americans are mostly oblivious, unaware that we are creating little islands in about the least compatible environments imaginable. What does this mean to the Iraqis and Afghans, to see not only war, but an entire set of city-states forcibly planted in their own beautiful and unrelated culture, shocking them without their participation in it.

In this way, our troops carry not just packs on their backs, but a total, transplantable society right down to the PXs, massage parlors, food courts, and miniature golf courses. At Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, there was until recently a “boardwalk” that typically included a “Burger King, a Subway sandwich shop, three cafes, several general stores, a Cold Mountain Creamery, [and an] Oakley sunglasses outlet.”

And of course, there's the staggering cost. The cost in lives, American, but far more Iraqis and Afghanis, is something we'll have to live down. And our children will have to live down. And our future generations, if we have any, will have to live down.

This is the second bubble, courtesy of Republican war strategy. "Down with Government, Up with War". As if war was waged by individuals, not a government. As if war led to freedom. As if war liberated people, instead of enslaving them to its consequences. The aftermath, the bloody, destructive aftermath of war is always littered with lies, claims of victory, claims of power, claims of valor.

But as the second bubble, the bubble of war, is already bursting, its inevitable failure becoming clearer even to a propaganda-numbed, not-very-free-minded (Texas schoolbooks, anyone?) American public, as this becomes then another collapse like the economic collapse, the collapse of the war machine will likewise have worldwide implications. That's because it's ultimately another economic collapse.

It's one thing to wage war. Bad enough. But to conduct war by imposing little city-states within sovereign nations is like forcing a rejected transplant without medication. It's unsustainable. Let's hope this drawdown is for real, and that we seriously draw down on ALL fronts, without leaving our unsustainable "islands" behind.

And by the way, thanks to a load of idiots on both the right and left, there's not much chance of that. Look for Collapse II. Doubt it'll be pretty.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

War on Terror: An Israeli Fund-Raising Scheme?

Len Hart's great post on the Terror Racket is exactly what we need to hear, what I've been saying all along.

The whole War on Terror is an invention. Even the use of the word "terrorist" could be called an Israeli invention, a means of villainizing the Palestinian population and hence legitimizing their own oppression, disenfranchisement, and displacement of them. The latter has been systematic, and financed essentially by the IRS - the same folks who come after honest working U.S. citizens, who tax self-employed entrepreneurs at 15.3% even if they only make $401 a year and don't hire anybody. That money then goes - one could say forcibly - into the pot which, among many other things, is then "donated" to Israel, "one of the richest countries in the world", to finance their long-standing takeover of Palestinian lands, crops, cities, homes.

Now forward to the "War on Terror". Who are the "terrorists"?? This is not about the Red Army, the Basque Separatists, or South American groups. This is about - exclusively - Islamic terrorists. And Israel knows very well that they are the one galvanizing issue uniting all Muslims, regardless to whether they are Arabs, Pakistanis, East Indians, even Americans. It is the obvious oppression of a group of fellow Muslims, the ramrodding of this oppression and its financing by the ostensible Superpower, that galls Muslims. They don't really have an issue with Jews per se. Often anger at Israel flares into anti-Semitism, but this is something Israel will have to deal with - by positing themselves as the "Jewish State", an essentially racist concept, all denials notwithstanding, they open up this Pandora's box on themselves... After all, what's wrong with Palestinians, except being non-Jewish? It's their DNA, supposedly, their culture, not any criminal activity, that is being used to destroy them, to deprive them, to disenfranchise them.

The so-called "terrorists", then, however horrific their actions, are basically a small, international, ragtag group that could much more effectively have been handled by simply revving up already existing law enforcement agencies/structures. Instead, the U.S. created a gigantic, unweildy Department with its own budget, presumably much of it black, and uses it as a means of oppression of all sorts of non-terrorism-related sectors of the population - citizens who disagree with the government, liberals, populists, migrants. And it has been a monumental failure and a showpiece of extravagance and waste.

A little stat from Harper's Index:
Average number of arrests made each year since 2001 by all 4,000 Federal Marshals combined: 4. - Federal spending this represents per arrest: $200,000,000.

And this is a very small segment of the monolith called Homeland Security. Which makes the following even more alarming:

Former Secretary of State Shultz 'credited' Netanyahu for 'effecting a change in American policies on terrorism'. That's 'political speak' for 'Israel extorted billions of dollars in aid by raising the specter of 'terrorism'. Fear of 'terrorism' is responsible for the transfer of billions of dollars to Israel because the U.S. tax payer is brainwashed, literally trained to fear anyone with a tan wearing a turban. Terrorism is how the moneys 'given' to Israel are officially justified. What is 'terrorism' but the practice by the U.S. and its client state, Israel, to extort billions from U.S. taxpayers?

So who's idea was the War on Terrorism in the first place? Israel's? And what does that say about the autonomy of the U.S. government, when it is so powerfully influenced by a small, rather distant, ostensibly foreign nation. A nation that has no problem committing assassinations for political purposes in the name of security, as the Dubai incident shows.

And what do we have to show for all our "largesse" toward this Utopian "Dream State" called Israel, this Holy of Holies? As this Canadian post so succinctly states:

The set of deliberately misleading and discredited assumptions followed by the proponents of the War on Terror must be repudiated. The government is wasting 10s of billions of dollars, propping up this sham, in the wake of the enforced fearmongering that has crept in since 9/11. In return for the tax dollars that pay for blooding our hands, we had habeas corpus struck down, arbitrary “no-fly lists” are implemented, our government is perpetrating terror hoaxes on the people, and over 100 Canadian soldiers have died fighting what Stephen Harper admits is an unwinnable war.

With the economy in the shambles it is, and with economic and even survival conseque4nces for the whole world, I think it is time for the whole world to take a good, hard look at the U.S.-Israeli cozy relationship. Is this the way we want our money spent? It's not just an "Islamic" issue, or a U.S. issue, any more. And if the U.S. is indeed The Superpower. what does it say about the balance of power on this planet, and the future of its inhabitants, that the Biggest Bro on the Block is run by the special interests of a small, well-to-do elite nation whose citizenship is based on DNA, and hence, excludes the vast majority of earthlings? Is this the future?

At least for the foreseeable future in the U.S., even blatant building of new settlements on Palestinian lands - a direct rebuff to anything called "peace process" - is not cause for reviewing the massive "aid" the U.S. bestows on Israel, no questions asked. The truth is that not assassinations, not settlements, not bombing an unarmed civilian population - in the Gaza, in Lebanon (an independent nation, or so we're told), or wherever else they seest that they need - no atrocity is too bad to say "no" to Israel.

This is how the United States lost their conscience, and are actively working to prevent its return. Doubletalk, hypocrisy, and meaningless posturing are, and will always be, the order of the day.

So if you like your planet back, maybe you'll need to review some history of Haiti - where a population of slaves literally overthrew their masters, including the armies of France and England. Even though subsequent economic slavery brought them to the horrific situation they are now in, the lesson remains: people can get things done by never giving up.

So why should voices of reason remain silent? Are we really voiceless, helpless in America? Those who see current U.S. rubber-stamp policy with Israel where they can do no wrong, we will corrupt all our ideals to make them happy, and be happily bled by a racist client state, as anathema, as unconscionable, should finally speak up. And who will fight to the death for my right to say this???

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Drone War on Pakistan Parallels Nixon's Bombing of Cambodia

This article should give pause on the latest strategy in the so-called War on Terror, Pakistan Front, involving the use of drones as a military tactic - in a country, Pakistan, against which we have not declared war:

Like President Obama today, Nixon had come to power promising stability in an age of unrest and with a vague plan to bringing peace to a nation at war. On the day he was sworn in, he read from the Biblical book of Isaiah: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." He also spoke of transforming Washington’s bitter partisan politics into a new age of unity: "We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another, until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.

Sound familiar? The description of Nixon's bombing of Cambodia, ostensibly to "target" the "headquarters" of enemies bent on "harming Americans" sounds just like Obama's drone war in Pakistan - both, notably, targeted areas inhabited by civilians, both were against a nation against whom we were not at war in order to target a supposed leadership of a supposed group against whom we were at war...

In the late 1960s, Cambodia was ruled by a “neutralist” king, Norodom Sihanouk, leading a weak government that had little relevance to its poor and barely educated citizens. In its borderlands, largely beyond its control, the North Vietnamese and Vietcong found “sanctuaries.”

But it gets worse, if the comparison is taking to its ultimate conclusion.

In the meantime, sheltered by local villagers in distant areas of rural Cambodia was a small insurgent group, little-known communist fundamentalists who called themselves the Khmer Rouge. (Think of them as the 1970s equivalent of the Pakistani Taliban who have settled into the wild borderlands of that country largely beyond the control of the Pakistani government.) They were then weak and incapable of challenging Sihanouk -- until, that is, those secret bombing raids by American B-52s began. As these intensified in the summer of 1969, areas of the country began to destabilize (helped on in 1970 by a U.S.-encouraged military coup in the capital Phnom Penh), and the Khmer Rouge began to gain strength.

Ahhh, the drone war, if this analogy works, could lead to a Taliban strengthening, perhaps a win, or a new killing field...

Just to get the idea, think about how the invasion of Iraq became a motivating tool for Al-Qaeda in Iraq (not to mention elsewhere). Think about how the American drone attacks on civilians in Afghanistan alienated those civilians. And think about how drone attacks on civilians in Pakistan could alienate Pakistani civilians, living under a weak ruler in an unstable political environment, where things are going not-so-good. Then look at history:

Like the Taliban of today, many of the Khmer Rouge were, in fact, teenaged villagers who had responded, under the pressure of war and disruption, to the distant call of an inspirational ideology and joined the resistance in the jungles.

If you ask me why I joined the Khmer Rouge, the main reason is because of the American invasion," Hun Sen, the current prime minister of Cambodia, has said. "If there was no invasion, by now, I would be a pilot or a professor."

What's worse was of course the Khmer Rouge's genocide of its own population, starting with enemy number one, those who are educated. It's a sort of war of resentment. And who do you think the Taliban would want to eliminate first? Then ask, does the war in Pakistan, conducted, like Nixon's "Operation Breakfast", at arm's length in the cold, dispassionate, calculating distance of the gamer (referred to commonly as strategist) where human lives don't bleed in your face...is that drone-safe war really a war on terror? Or a seed? Is it, in reality, the instigator, the generator of terror?

Are we really fighting a war on terror? Or are we just playing with guns, posturing for political - international and domestic - power, and in the process victimizing all the soldiers involved in one big, testesterone-fueled, destructive, destabilizing, demoralizing, planet-threatening, hope-and-change-eliminating, peace-blasting runaway train to hell?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Activism Works: IMF Changes Haiti Loan to a Grant

As reported in my last post, the IMF was offering a loan to Haiti with strings attached, including such downers as raising the cost of electricity for Haitians. Now due to much international pressure, IMF is changing this to a grant. According to Naomi Klein's post:

In response to the wave of criticism, the IMF has just issued a statement saying that they will try to turn the $100-million loan to Haiti into a grant. This is unprecedented in my experience and shows that public pressure in moments of disaster can seriously subvert shock doctrine tactics. They are also now saying that they will not put conditions on the emergency loan--another popular victory, since this is not what they were saying last week. Of course people have to keep up the pressure to make sure Haiti's debts really are cancelled as the IMF is now predicting they will be. Something to hold them to!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti: The West-made Tragedy before the Earthquake

Before the catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, Haiti was already a disaster area, home to the world's worst poverty, thanks not to Voodoo rites, as some would say, but to the heavy-handed West.

Haiti's vulnerability to natural disasters, its food shortages, poverty, deforestation and lack of infrastructure, are not accidental. To say that it is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere is to miss the point; Haiti was made poor--by France, the United States, Great Britain, other Western powers and by the IMF and the World Bank.

Aside from the reasons for this, after the devastating earthquake, Haiti has become the locus for this gigantic media blitz:

Soon after almost every disaster the crimes begin: ruthless, selfish, indifferent to human suffering, and generating far more suffering. The perpetrators go unpunished and live to commit further crimes against humanity. They care less for human life than for property. They act without regard for consequences.

I’m talking, of course, about those members of the mass media whose misrepresentation of what goes on in disaster often abets and justifies a second wave of disaster. I’m talking about the treatment of sufferers as criminals, both on the ground and in the news, and the endorsement of a shift of resources from rescue to property patrol. They still have blood on their hands from Hurricane Katrina, and they are staining themselves anew in Haiti.

The issue referred to here is the media's use of the word "looter" and the juxtaposition of Western (U.S./Australian/Euro,etc) "angels" helping pull survivors out in various "miracles" to the Haitians' crimes, gangs and absence of "effective government". This sort of reporting only serves to reinforce preconceived notions about the people of Haiti, whose survival and help for each other is the most amazing and underreported story here, as well as the massive loss of life as it overwhelms the rare survival story.

At the same time, Western financial powers are back at business-as-usual when it comes to Haiti:

To great fanfare, the IMF announced a new $100 million loan to Haiti on Thursday. In one crucial way, the loan is a good thing; Haiti is in dire straits and needs a massive cash infusion. But the new loan was made through the IMF's extended credit facility, to which Haiti already has $165 million in debt. Debt relief activists tell me that these loans came with conditions, including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage and keeping inflation low. They say that the new loans would impose these same conditions. In other words, in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms.

Creating and perpetuating debt in Haiti to "Western" powers and financial organizations takes power from Haitians to govern themselves, make a living, provide services and infrastructure, and form a coherent, functioning society. Instead of that, they become essentially slaves to their creditors. Now to property-obsessed Westerners, it may seem unfair to let Haiti "get away with" unpaid loans. But in the real world, where human beings actually live, Haitians originally owned the land and it was basically usurped by the French and others, who also stole free labor from the Haitians by enslaving them. That's much worse than an unpaid loan.

And now in the aftermath of the earthquake, the West again puts property over human values. Even in media reporting, as Rebecca Solnit so eloquently discusses, the use of the word "looting" should be banned, because it criminalizes what any rational person under the circumstances would do to survive. Not to mention that the emphasis on "security" takes resources away from the very people they are supposed to help, by presuming "chaos", "panic" and "looting" are a huge threat, a threat to property, while the many stories of Haitians cooperating and showing great altruism go largely unreported.

They also deploy the word panic wrongly. Panic among ordinary people in crisis is profoundly uncommon. The media will call a crowd of people running from certain death a panicking mob, even though running is the only sensible thing to do. In Haiti, they continue to report that food is being withheld from distribution for fear of “stampedes.” Do they think Haitians are cattle?

The belief that people in disaster (particularly poor and nonwhite people) are cattle or animals or just crazy and untrustworthy regularly justifies spending far too much energy and far too many resources on control -- the American military calls it “security” -- rather than relief. A British-accented voiceover on CNN calls people sprinting to where supplies are being dumped from a helicopter a "stampede" and adds that this delivery “risks sparking chaos.” The chaos already exists, and you can’t blame it on these people desperate for food and water. Or you can, and in doing so help convince your audience that they’re unworthy and untrustworthy.

To know how the West really adds insult to injury, one must understand something about how debt and slavery produced the disaster area that is Haiti today. After the French enslaved them, Haitians fought back and won their liberty - no small feat. But due to economic conditions imposed by the West (France & the US among them), the Haitians in 1825 agreed to pay 150 million francs to the French in reparations for having been freed! To do this, they borrowed heavily from France, the U.S. & Germany. The debt was finally repaid...in 1947 - 122 years later! Imagine the interest the West collected on that. But that's not called "looting", is it?
Ah, but then...

In 2003, then-President Aristide called on France to pay restitution for this sum--valued in 2003 dollars at over $21 billion. A few months later, he was ousted in a coup d'etat; he claims he left the country under armed pressure from the US.

Nothing like a little political strong-arming to get those nasty backwater states off your financial back, eh? Right. If France - and actually due to their complicity, the U.S. too, and maybe Germany too - owe Haiti over 21 billion dollars in reparations, now that would really help Haiti out. So why not pay now?

No, they only fork over another 100 million bucks as a loan - to keep them down, where they want 'em. So who's looting whom?? And how precious, how kindly, the West is to help poor little ol' Haiti, who can't even get their act together... or can they??

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bush Team Torture Crony Charged with Wife-Strangulation

John Farren, former "W" White House Counsel, may not be a torture-legalizing headliner like John Yoo, but he had his hands in the jerry-rigging of White House legal policies to override such impediments to Cheney's torture agenda (aka "robust interrogation") as the Geneva Convention and the U.S. Army field manual. Now he's been arrested for the strangling and attempted murder of his wife Mary Farren - while his own children were in the home. Could it be that there's a link between draconian legal opinion and a propensity to cross the line oneself? Whether or not that's the case, it certainly is another black smudge on the already discredited Bush legal team.

And this was no run-of-the-mill wife-beating, where one hopes at some point the husband realizes what he's doing and leaves her bruised and battered. This was full-scale attempted murder, although it's not yet being charged exactly that way. Some details:

Farren tackled her in a bedroom at their New Canaan, Connecticut home and ripped out a clump of her hair. Then he beat her with a metal flashlight until Mary lost consciousness. When she woke up, he was still pounding away.

Mary Farren was beaten and strangled by her husband in front of their children at their Connecticut home
​He began to strangle her as she was again losing consciousness. Despite barely being able to see, she managed to trigger the home's alarm system.

Farren started beating her again and threatened to slit his wrists. He grabbed a large knife and went to the bathroom, coaxing his wife to follow. But Mary instead ran to her daughter's bedroom yelling "Daddy's trying to kill me!" according to a police report.

Mary managed to escape with her 7-year-old daughter and the couple's baby. She fled in a BMW before stopping at a home to call police.

Mary Farren also reported that she greatly feared her husband's violent anger, that her filing for divorce triggered this latest outburst, and that this was not the first incident in which he beat her. And to think he was writing policy for the President of the United States. So much for Republican family values...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Miracle in Turkey: How the Road to Peace Can Be Islamic

Turkey has long been seen as something of a "bridge" between The West and The Islamic World, even as those 2 cultural worlds have undergone major changes and political transformations. But none of those transformations can rival that of Turkey.

Before Prime Minister Erdogan's AK Party came to power, Turkey was almost manically secular, thanks to the tradition began by Kamal Ataturk, who sought to erase what he believed to be the "backwardness" of religion, including Islamic culture. Of course, "cultural revolution" sounds rather like many of the socialist movements, including China's, that became government tyrannies under the guise of enforcing social justice. With this same style of heavy hand, Turkey also became rabidly nationalistic, and embarked on a long and brutal cultural and political suppression of ethnic Kurds and others. The AK party, branded "Islamic" (ooooh, danger! orange!) by the West, has undertaken a total rejection of such oppressive and wasteful policies. One rarely hears in the press about how the Islamic-leaning AK party has turned from war and suppression to diplomacy and reconciliation in their dealings with the Kurds as well as their neighbors. There are no calls for antagonizing or attacking those of non-Muslim or other religious persuasions, not to mention nationalities. Note that this is in stark contrast to the stereotype of Muslims as being always on the jihad warpath against enemies - religious, ethnic, or those who diverge from some dogma du jour.

Under the old nationalist government much-adored-but-not-befriended by the West, the Turkish lire was famous for being almost worthless. Twenty years ago, you could go into Istanbul, for example, and need cash for bribes just to get around, meet lots of destitute and unhappy-looking people, see run-down buildings beside crumbling historical sites, wonder how people managed to live, and generally notice a sense of general desperation, corruption, over which the human spirit of the people had to struggle to rise.

Now it is as if Turkey has awakened from a bad dream. Landfills have been transformed into gardens with recreational areas for children and sports facilities for others. Bridges, tunnels, sewers, new roads, tram lines have been built. Hospitals, schools, libraries, training facilities, sports facilities, playgrounds, clinics, elderly care facilities and more have been established and are functioning not only in Istanbul and Ankara, but cities around the country. The government has invested $22.6 billion in five years for civil services such as health care and infrastructure in Istanbul alone. At the same time, crime and punishment have been revamped to provide equal enforcement of the law and to make public officials just as accountable as private citizens, and to strengthen and enforce anti-bribery laws. Corruption has died down while political life has been encouraged in many ways, including the establishment of centers where people can discuss political issues.

Both the government and Turkish charities have revived efforts to help the poor, including subsidized bread, access to health care, and money for immediate needs. Local councils have been established to which people can address their needs.

Importantly, money that would have been spent on the military and on skirmishes with neighbors is being spent on the needs of Turkish society. Taking after this same attitude, a more balanced approach in terms of religious freedom is worth looking at.
The previous nationalist government tried to use religion against freedom in an inverted way, by making religious expression illegal and socially "anti-Turkish". Erdogan had many problems to overcome in changing the status quo.

The one that caused the most problems for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the lifting of the headscarf ban. A relic of the Kemalist era, the ban on headscarves in Universities has deprived millions of female students of the right to education. While espousing values like freedom of choice and expression, the Turkish secular establishment saw nothing contradictory in not allowing students to cover their hair if they wished to. Erdogan’s measure that promoted true secularism was derided as Islamism by his critics. His choice for the President too was condemned as the future First lady preferred to wear a headscarf. Erdogan resigned in the face of such criticism and called for fresh elections to seek a direct mandate from the people. He returned to power with the greatest margin ever in Turkey. This only served to infuriate the opposition who almost succeeded in having his party disbanded by the Constitutional Court.

Which Turkey would serve as a better role model for the Muslim World?? A nationalist and oppressive regime which emphasizes military aggression and almost fanatic secularism? Or a government that favors Islamic principles of democracy and justice and fairness without making dogma and military enforcement of such the centerpiece of their power? A government that prefers cooperation and peaceful development over military might should be a role model not just for the Muslim World, but for the West, and in fact, for the planet and all its political players, east or west.

Pres. Obama promised to make domestic development superceded the international adventurism of Republican nationalism and cultural evangelism. Those same "forces" have influenced his hand in Afghanistan and driven him from the hope of a promised change of agenda. Maybe he should take a good look at Turkey.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Israel's Future Is Gaza's Shadow

Israel is a nation that likes to think of itself as being founded on a dream. It likes to think of itself as a righter of wrongs, a homeland of justice for Jews after their horrific suffering under the Nazi extermination and torture program, the Holocaust. But they do not like to look at facts on the ground today, and try to balance this dream - which now looks more like propaganda than inspiration - with the nightmare of what Israel is actually doing to human beings in a little space of earth called "Gaza" in which fellow humans are routinely, collectively starved to death or near-death, or forced to suffer in unconscionable ways, family by family, child by child, home by home. This is Gaza's shadow, and it will soon completely overcast Israel's dream and Israel's future. It is not just the demographic threat so frequently mentioned as The Threat - it is the moral ground irreparably lost by a nation supposedly founded on nothing less than... its moral ground.

In this reference, Heathlander's post "The Betrayal of Gaza", is required reading.

Next week will mark the one year anniversary of ‘Operation Cast Lead‘, the three week orgy of killing and destruction that left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, the vast majority of them civilians, including hundreds of children.

Beside the civilian casualties - were they all really a threat to Israel's existence? who, outside of Pat Robertson and other deluded liars, believes that? - Gaza's ability to function as an abode for human life was decimated.

During the massacre Gaza’s civilian infrastructure was systematically targeted. Entire residential areas were “almost completely flattened”, dozens of hospitals and clinics were severely damaged, hundreds of schools were destroyed or damaged and 700 private businesses were either partially or totally destroyed. In total a full third of all public buildings [.pdf] and perhaps 14% of all buildings [.pdf] in Gaza were affected.

And since then, Israel blocks the flow of supplies both for rebuilding what was destroyed and for feedling those who survived, down to below the level of a trickle.
Almost 80% of Gazans must rely on foreign aid to survive in the most basic sense. Think of it. They would be far better off in a jungle, or some wilderness. This even beyond collective punishment. It is mass, national imprisonment. Is there a word for mass incarceration? It's a form of slavery.

But there will be repercussions. Not in the form of terrorism, bombs, or the usual suspects. If "what goes around, comes around" has any meaning or truth, this kind of mass crime cannot go without consequences. This is the very moral ground on which Israel claims to have been founded! And now Israel will have to deal with the karma their own actions have brought upon them. There is no justice, no balance, no peace, no human value, no morals, no consideration coming from the policies that led to this overkill in Gaza. What peace were they looking to find - and what has happened to the dream of "never again" genocide, when the people of that dream themselves have perpetrated their own taboo?????

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Surge to the Sinkhole

It's as if the American public believe that the President's main calling is Commander-in-Chief, to wage wars, and wage 'em real good. Why else would the number one quick fix for sagging popularity for any U.S. President be the Macho Maneuver: start or "rev up" a war? Of course, as Bushes I & II can attest, this pumped-up poll surge generally gives a fast, short-lived high, followed by a much-longer depressed state - unless the war is itself short-lived, euphoric, & sanitizable - e.g., Grenada. Afghanistan, Obama's albatross, is none of the above.

Granted, he gave fair warning during the campaign, stating that we oughta get out of Iraq and concentrate on Afghanistan where, as the story goes, the "real war on Terror" is fought. But Obama also promised to use diplomacy when at all possible instead of blanket military solutions; to listen to "folks on the ground", meaning seeing beyond the perhaps ego-laden views of top commanders; to use his considerable intelligence to weigh events as they occur in real time, and not apply old solutions inappropriately to new problems. In all of these more serious promises, Obama has been a huge let-down.

There is the omnipresent refrain, "if we leave Afghanistan, it will become a haven for terrorists." Same was said about Iraq. Same was said about Vietnam, inserting "communists" - the enemy du hour - for "terrorists." The truth on the ground is that an invasion is an invasion. You can never reconstruct it as a "liberation". Semantics don't feed the hungry, lay down arms, or grow crops. Those words are obvious lies and propaganda.

People in Afghanistan must have been thinking, "What are the Americans doing?" The answer seemed to be (from their viewpoint), killing people and enforcing a corrupt central government. The Taliban - unpopular during the invasion - has started to look like a People's Movement, albeit with nasty tactics. The "unaligned" middle ground of Afghanistan, which includes various tribal leaders, city-dwellers, and large numbers of people who just want their children to survive, may not see the wisdom of drones "surgically striking" homes where "insurgents" live with their wives & kids.

These are essentially foreign troops fighting people whose homeland is Afghanistan. It's very hard to change that fact to "win the hearts and minds" of those unaligned masses. Military action is the least effective way to do it - as it inevitably must disrupt civilian life in the most traumatic ways.

And as to the "terrorist haven" argument: such havens are created not by lack of well-trained foreign troops to target guys in the mountains - but rather by an overwhelming sense of oppression felt to be caused somehow by the West or the U.S. Military action only exacerbates this. They say people will always remember how you made them feel...

The real reason for the "surge" is not "liberation" or Afghan security or the war on terror. The terrorist threat from Afghanistan is no greater than the terrorist threat from, say, Pakistan, Indonesia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, or Egypt. Why don't we fight all six at once?? Of course, that is suicidal or, at best, absurd. But so is the war on the Taliban. And no, it doesn't work as an "example" for all the other potential "havens" on the possibly-ever-expanding list. After Iraq, I'm sure they've noticed the U.S. is a sucker for overkill. The terrorists' tactic is the most basic of martial arts - get the "bully" or attacker to charge with all his weight - then get out of the way and watch him fall all over himself, collapsing in defeat. Use his weight against him. And the U.S. typically, is biting the bait. Obama, don't you remember LBJ and Vietnam? Happy replay.

The significant parallels between Vietnam and Afghanistan are starkly presented in Thomas Johnson's incisive article in Foreign Policy magazine, notably the point where we, the Big Guys, don't get the nature of the war we're supposedly fighting:

In Afghanistan, the United States still insists on fighting a secular counterinsurgency, while the enemy is fighting a jihad. The intersection of how insurgencies end and how jihads end is nil. It's hard to defeat an enemy you don't understand, and in Afghanistan, as in Vietnam, this fight is being played out in a different war.

A refusal to learn from Vietnam and to understand the nature of the war has to have its reasons. Especially considering the supposed goal of "nation-building" and "helping the Afghani people", you'd think by now someone in power would've figured out that military action is NOT the way to do it. As Johnson points out, just as in Vietnam's stated goals of "helping" and "liberating" the Vietnamese:

Almost exactly the same percentage of personnel in Afghanistan has rural reconstruction as its primary mission (the Provincial Reconstruction Teams) as had "pacification" (today's "nation-building") as their primary mission in Vietnam, about 4 percent. The other 96 percent is engaged in chasing illiterate teenage boys with guns around the countryside, exactly what the enemy wants us to do.

And as in Vietnam, our "puppet" government in Kabul looks, tastes, and smells like Saigon, as Johnson describes:

Contemporary descriptions of the various Saigon governments read almost exactly like descriptions of the Karzai government today. Notwithstanding all the fanfare over this week's presidential voting in Afghanistan, the Kabul government will never be legitimate either, because democracy is not a source of legitimacy of governance in Afghanistan and it never has been. Legitimacy in Afghanistan over the last thousand years has come exclusively from dynastic and religious sources. The fatal blunder of the United States in eliminating a ceremonial Afghan monarchy was Afghanistan's Diem Coup: afterwards, there was little possibility of establishing a legitimate, secular national government.

We can't "democratize" people against their will, nor can we "free" them against their will because this is an oxymoron or worse - the very meaning of freedom and democracy holds that people are allowed their own free will to be enacted. And that means it can't be "our way" or our terms. So this cannot justify the surge.

No, the real reason for the Surge is pride. Military pride: "We can't be defeated! We're No. 1!" - Collective, patriotic pride: "America is The Superpower! USA! USA" - Political: who votes for a loser? or a yellow-bellied coward who backs down from a fight? - Simplistic: "To hell with the consequences! We gotta win!" - and Personal: "I'm not gonna go down as the Commander-in-Chief who backed down, who blinked." A chorus of Republican nasties are taunting already in the bleachers: "Are ya gonna GIVE UP? Are ya gonna LET ALL THOSE DEATHS OF PATRIOTS BE IN VAIN? Isn't America worth anything to you? WE wouldn't back down - we'd die with our boots on."
Etc., etc...

And pride is the downfall of nations, when it gets in the way of reason, logic, sense, or...principle. When it causes armies to invade other countries and call it liberation, in order to take revenge against a rag-tag group who are not in fact citizens of either of the two invaded countries. When it ignores or denies the fact that this invasion will cause the deaths of many innocent civilians, including women and children, not to mention thousands of men who were never involved in the original "triggering" crime - that pride has become conceit. When it causes a nation to use the methods of torture it banned and condemned, that pride has become conceit. When it causes the use of military might to take sides in other nations' civil internal strife or domestic issues, even claiming that this (invasion) will resolve economic and social problems - this is no longer pride, but at best, raw conceit. These are lies in action, and lies in action cannot create peace, prosperity, or the common good.

Conceit is false pride, pride taken to the level where it betrays its own principles. And America has reached that point. Maybe quite awhile ago.

We elected Obama to swallow that pride and lead us on a path of reason, principle, and inspiration. The road to Afghanistan takes him and us in the diametrically opposite direction.

Friday, October 23, 2009

An Better Mideast Strategy: Independent Democracies, Sans Israel

The Muslim World faces a dilemma, a forced choice between two alternatives, each worse than the other, and none freely determined by Muslims themselves in anything approaching "normal circumstances". In the so-called "War on Terror", they are called upon to "choose" between "Islamist" extremists, aka "terrorists" (the quote doesn't mean I dispute that there is terror here, just that it's loosely applied to a whole scope of movements), and brutal dictatorships sponsored largely by the West and/or Israeli interests represented by the governments of developed nations.

Are you "with us" - i.e., supportive of your repressive, non-democratic, dictatorial, brutal, economy-busting regimes - or "against us" - i.e., supportive of "terrorists", who are the only guys out there standing up to the West/Israel's overwhelming power plays??? And the "West" claims that it is "fighting for freedom" and "pro-democracy". So which group looks more democratic - the ragtag fighters who consider themselves to be, in Afghanistan for example (Battlefield I, you could say), fighting for their country, their families, and their right to self-govern and protect themselves from invaders? Or, say, Hosny Mubarak, the U.S.'s client in Egypt, whose brutality does not exclude rape, political prisoners en masse, police terror, torture and other crimes against basic rights??

Everyone knows that Mubarak's election is a sham. He plainly embarrasses his U.S. supporters. They are not happy with him, because his obvious corruption and totally failed government shines a bad light on anyone who supports him. But he does do one thing. And that is appear as a nominal "Arab" and (for all Muslims, now's the time for pepto-bismol) "Muslim" in so-called "peace negotiations" regarding the Palestinian issue. He is the supreme lackey in international politics. He will do whatever it takes to maintain the charade of a "peace process" without actually making Israel in the least uncomfortable. And what else does the U.S. really want than a lackey who provides pillows for Israel's every nervous breakdown?

Does the U.S. want peace in the Middle East?? Sort of. It sure would be nice. Intellectually, we want it! Rhetorically, we want it! All we ask for is that beautiful thing called "parity". First, Israel must be fully armed, including nuclear arms, no questions asked. Second, whatever they want, arms, money, aid, they must get because they are our "friends" - which means taxpayer-supported womb-dwellers. Peace would mean delivery. They would have to be actually born. They would no longer be a dream. Anathema! Real countries compromise. Real countries can't be racially exclusive. Real countries have to accept real circumstances of real people, not some imagined religious dream that, in application, means applying the ideals of the Third Reich, only with Jews substituting for Germans. No, the U.S. doesn't want Israel to get real, because Israel won't let the U.S. want that. And Peace means Getting Real. So the U.S. doesn't want real actual REAL peace in the Mideast. No.

No, the U.S. sets up and supports client dictators in almost all Muslim countries. Except for the Hated Mr. Ahmedinejad of that nasty country, Iran, which unfortunately for the "democracy-loving West", is a democracy, albeit with a theocratic backdrop. Many, especially conservatives, in America pine for the days of the Shah - who executed and tortured innocent women and political prisoners. We don't see any hatefests here denouncing Hosny Mubarak, let alone the Saudi regime (would the petroleum industry seriously stand for that??). Nobody was particularly upset about Sukarno when he ruled Indonesia. The Gulf principalities/emirates are go-to guys for U.S. interests. And money keeps their low-population-density citizens happy. Hamid Karzai isn't looking too good either, with his tainted election. Gee, we just can't seem to pick the right rulers for the countries whose resources we want to control, or whose proximity to Israel we need to rein in. As for Syria's Assad dynasty - well, it seems Muslims have a problem of their own in working toward a democracy.

Which should be puzzling, considering Islam, the religion. Its original principles are highly democratic. In the early days of the Prophet Mohammad, all Muslims had a vote (all men, that is - remember women's suffrage is only a 20th C thing in the US), elections were held, wealth was shared by law (not in a communist-type model, but with a tax whose proceeds are dedicated to the poor), usury was prohibited, free trade was encouraged, "jihad" meant self-control and self-defense (and offense if it is determined to be necessary for defense - ask any military strategist), there was religious freedom (it was illegal to force anyone to adopt any religion, including Islam), freedom of speech, standards of ethics and common decency, and measures for the elimination of slavery which was viewed as wrong, but given time to change. But as certain families were given more power than others, and wealth built up as well as power within Muslim society, corruption and schisms also appeared, until a more autocratic-style government gradually became the norm. It is not Islamic. The so-called dream of a "caliphate" is not in itself Islamic. What should be the "dream" would be a resurgence of the highest values, mentioned in part above - but that, at the moment, seems impossible.

The "terrorists", seen against the backdrop of corrupt and brutal regimes, look much more democratic. Anyone is welcome to join, regardless of race or national origin. (Women are welcome, too, but in a different, "traditional" role as support people.) They come off as a people's movement, challenging the West, the moneybags of their oppressors - or, of late, the Invaders of their Homeland. What the West calls "Extremists" come off in the Muslim world as a movement against corruption and oppression, pro-family values, pro-religion, patriotic. Because the West has consistently aligned itself with dictators for their own profit at the expense of the citizen-victims, they cannot expect sympathy from the Muslim population in general.

In fact, the "West" has consistently fought AGAINST democratic movements in the Middle East. In the case of Saudi Arabia, a budding, and passionate democratic movement by a Dr. Faqih, residing in the UK, had to put up with his assets being frozen and even personal arrests and attacks by UK authorities at Saudi behest. His crime? Speaking out against Saudi abuses. Oil interests absolutely trump human rights and democracy. "Freedom-loving"? Hardly. Some attempts to provide another party (the Tomorrow party) in Egypt were met with Mr. Mubarak's infamous bulldozer-n-bury government machine. The U.S.'s choice, on his own without any support except ethereal cheerleading, has entered the Land of the Disappeared. Even the Muslim Brotherhood, very popular in Egypt, would at least be far better than what is going on now. Is it not better to have an actual government that works than anarchy controlled by a police state? No - because anything with the name "Islam" tacked onto it is - and this Republican paradigm is still dogma and doctrine - flash some red lights, please - "Terrorism" with a cap T.

But there is something more insidious here. Why is Ahmedinejad constantly demonized but not Mubarak? Because Mubarak doesn't badmouth the Holocaust or say nasty things about Israel. Because Mubarak does not openly support the Palestinians in any meaningful way. Because Mubarak openly supports Israel in principle. And Israel plays a bigger role in international politics than people here generally think. In fact, US Mideast policy is a virtual extension of Israeli security, an obvious fact not lost on most Mideast nations. And Israeli security is seen, by Israel itself, as being so dire that it requires all Arab and/or Islamic nations be weak, or under Western control/influence as much as possible. To this end, dictatorships can be useful insofar as they are amenable to Israeli interests, as is the case with Mubarak, the Saudi regime, the Gulf states, Jordan, and in some weird inverse way, Syria. After all, it was none other than Syrian dictator Hafez el-Asad who slaughtered 20,890 Muslims who were considered Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers and nationalists who wanted to fight for the re-patriation of the Golan Heights. With help like that, why play the Bad Guy? Israel can just stand and watch the Arabs slaughter each other.

Except for those nasties, those terrorists - ah, that wonderful word, "terrorist"! - the Palestinian nationalists, now cornered as Hamas, and their Lebanese sympathizers (as well as Lebanese nationalists), Hezbollah. And their sole supporters in the Middle East, Iran. There you have it. Satan's legions are the anti-Israeli, democracy-seeking, freedom-seeking, independence-seeking, evil Palestinian & Lebanese nationalists who won't kowtow to Israel's "security" policies, and their one powerful ally, democratic, free-speech-daring Iran. Speak against Israel? Dare to speak against Israel? That's not free speech, we say. That's genocide.

But to slaughter women, children, old, young, and helplessly disarmed, deliberately starved people in Gaza over a couple of ineffectual rocket attacks - however unnerving they may be - is not genocide. It's not even overkill. It's self-defense.

Meanwhile, what is Israel? Israel is a race-based state. It is a Jewish homeland. It is not homeland to Palestinians who are the land's indigenous people, Jews having been imported from various locales around the world. Palestinians are 2nd class citizens, barely tolerated in Israel. The nation was founded for one race, and one race only - the Jews. Sound like a Third Reich with the roles reversed? Strange coincidence, isn't it? And who dares to say such a horrible thing? Only the reviled devil, Ahmedinejad, apparently. And what if the Palestinians procreate faster than the Jews? It's a real problem, it's happening now, and everyone knows it.

Right now, Palestinians are living in an open-air prison, supervised by Israeli Jews. The so-called "territories" are in fact a gulag archipelago overseen by cruel armed guards who often shoot to kill. Palestinians are called "terrorists", and viewed by Israelis as inferior, evil, enemies, threatening. Is that neighborly behavior, I ask you? Am I saying Palestinians are angels? What idiot insists that if someone is not a devil, he must then be an angel? We're asking for human/human relations to rise above this degenerate level of race-based politics. And if anti-semitism is a form of racism, then so is Zionism, if Zionism means setting up an exclusively Jewish nation. The concept of exclusivity to one race in one nation is no longer a viable idea. One would have hoped that Nazi Germany was that idea's last stand.

But with Israel fighting for its ideological survival, apparently to the death, to the tune of how many Palestinians and others, it seems that idea is still gasping for breath.

In fact, the so-called War on Terror is an Israeli construct, an Israeli idea. Yes, you can bring out 9-11, al-Qaeda, and all that. But these are a rag-tag troupe of right-wing extremists left over from the U.S.'s failed strategy to get the USSR/Russia out of Afghanistan when it was their war. The U.S. created the force called the Taliban and their nationalistic jihadi bent to counter Russia. Now Russia is out - and the U.S. is in - fighting those very same warriors. And so what's Israel got to do with it? Israel is playing this card for all it's worth, to make the word "terrorist" a household word, to make anti-Islamic sentiment a knee-jerk Western posture (and especially an American posture), and to paint Arabs and Muslims generally as untrustworthy enemies, uncivilized, and hence, in need of Western control and suppression. In contrast, Israel will thereby appear as the Knight in Shining Anti-Terrorist Armor, out to Save Us From Evil.

This is nothing new. The Iran-Iraq War was one of their ideas, to wear down the two countries Israel feared most in a deadly fight with one another. But when U.S. help to Iraq in that war bolstered Saddam's regime, and Saddam began to bluster and bray anti-Israeli rhetoric, that was it for him. The Gulf War was another manufactured war, created by lies ("The Rape of Kuwait"), intrigue (luring Saddam to invade Kuwait), and Israeli urging. Bush Sr's son just finished the job in the Iraq War, which has ended dismally as a total failure, even by Israeli standards. In fact, all facets of the War on Terror can be linked to Israeli security policy, and its insistence on being in a continuous state of war with Muslims and/or Arabs. And the U.S. never, never fails to totally comply with this in every respect possible, both in funds and blood. Excuses and rhetoric vary, but the facts are obvious.

On the other hand, the American public have a romanticized notion of Israel and the Holocaust. There is no logical basis to presume that the slaughter of millions of victims necessarily must be redressed by the removal of another population from some spot of land, and the importation of those ethnically related to the original victims to replace the indigenous population. In other words, as Ahmedinejad often repeats, what do the Palestinians have to do with the Holocaust? Why must they pay the price for the crimes of the Nazis? They are and were not Nazis. It is not their crime. Why, then, must they be removed?

It is true that the British share great responsibility in this injustice. It is true that "well, now, it's happened, and what can we do now? We can't turn back time." Yes, but we can stop oppression and redress wrongs. We can admit what wrongs were made. We can start to act as if justice has a place in international relations. But we absolutely will not. The U.S. has no stomach for justice in matters relating to Israel. Why? Well, it's in too deep...

And so look at who Israel is today. What is Israel now? It is the country that slaughered people in Gaza whom it first starved to near-death, who have no means to make a living or even obtain basic supplies, who are not armed to be mentioned. It is the country with nuclear weapons, armed to the teeth. Genocide is not abhorrent to them, as long as they are not the victims. In fact, they have no problem killing Palestinians with no just cause, in a manner that is abominable. World opinion means nothing to them. Obviously, the Israelis are the first to forget the Holocaust. And who is America to remind them? Who are the Israelis to cause all these wars, all this death and destruction, this outrageous expense, even to Americans? You shall know them by their fruits.

And so what is the Muslim world supposed to do, support radical extremists - and risk having a destabilized country run by possible autocrats posing as Islamic populists, not to mention being unable to come up with a legitimate government - or support pro-Western dictators who make life impossibly miserable and oppressive? This is not a choice at all. And yet many in the West, particularly Republicans and their ilk, bombastically blame Islam and Muslims for some alleged instrinsic disability and disinclination for democracy. If what the West, as imposed by Israeli security policy, offers is limited to these choices, then to hell with them.

Democracy is universal, after all. Those who fight against it cannot lead in the fight for it. If the U.S. cannot stand on its own ideological two feet, then the Muslim world needs to reject them completely and stand for themselves. After all, the Qur'an has a better definition of democracy than the Bible: "The Rule of Law is determined by mutual agreement between you (all)." It's time to mutually agree that dictatorship has gotta go, and extremism is not the only way out. And that democracy does not require recognition of or sympathy with Israel to be viable, free, and independently worthy of recognition.

What if Israel were to become a nation like any other nation, even a refuge preferring Jews but not excluding Palestinians? Israel would not then be a separate issue - it is now the West that has overtly presented the Islamic world with two untenable choices: stand with the West, which often appears to mean standing against one's country, one's survival, one's honor, and one's religion or ethnic identity - especially in the case of the Palestinians - or join the terrorists, the "Islamists", in a desperate last-ditch battle for God and country and honor and all that good stuff - but in the most horrific, thoughtless way that may - or may not - end up destroying all one is fighting for.

On the one hand, we have West-aligned dictatorships that are doing nothing but terrorizing their civilian population, or at best, decimating their economy and lives. On the other hand, we have extremists who defy the Qur'an and the Prophet by bombing fellow Muslims and destroying mosques and basically decimating the people's economy and lives. A good decision requires some objectivity, some careful consideration of the two sides or, hopefully, a better way than either of them. When the knife is at your children's throats, who, I ask, has time or guts for that?

The West, permeated by hypocrisy, lies, and false promises and platitudes, will never come out the winner if they pursue the same demands and same false dichotomy. Israel cannot survive under its current demanding, petulant modus operandi. Islamic countries cannot be viable if they are not free to make their own decisions, both as people and as governments. The human race, civilization, and all that we hold dear - whoever we are - is at stake. Is it not far past time to work toward better choices?