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Forum Post: US Empire Reaches Breaking Point: Time to End It

Posted 3 years ago on July 22, 2014, 1:10 a.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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US Empire Reaches Breaking Point: Time to End It

Monday, 21 July 2014 10:47
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance | Op-Ed


This is Part I of a two part series on American Empire. Part II will focus on the Empire Economy and how it is failing to work for most Americans as well as most people of the world.

The historian who chronicles US Empire,William Blum, issued his 130th Anti-Empire Report this week. In it he notes that the US, by far, is seen by the people of the world as “the greatest threat to peace in the world today” with 24% taking that view. Only 2% see Russia as such a threat, and 6% see China.

This should not come as a surprise since, as this map shows, much of the world has been bombed, had their democratically chosen government overthrown and has been occupied by the United States. Blum follows these interventions closely and has reported that since the end of World War II, the United States has: Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected. Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries. Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders. Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries. Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries, according to Chapter 18 of his book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower.

It seems the people of the world are factually correct when they label the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world.

Yet, despite this mass public opinion about the United States, US leaders seem oblivious. As Blum points out, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “In my travels as secretary of state, I have seen as never before the thirst for American leadership in the world.”

And, potential future leaders show support for the path of military intervention. The Republican Vice Presidential candidate in 2012, Paul Ryan (R-WI) said: “We need to be reminded that the world needs American leadership.” And the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton has said “The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century.”

A more accurate appraisal comes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Vietnam era when he said: “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world : My own Government, I cannot be Silent.” The people of the United States must follow the lead of Dr. King and work to end the interventionist violence of the United States Empire.

Reviewing the Hottest Spots in US Empire

The US is involved in military disputes around the globe, conflicts which could lead to a much broader war. The US role seems to encourage violence, rather than minimize it; to intervene, rather than allow people in the country or region resolve disputes. The breadth of Empire is costly in financial and human terms as well as to the respect of the United States and its people. Is the US Empire spread so thin at a time of a struggling economy that this is a moment where people can come together and build a movement to end Empire?

There are multiple hot spots where US Empire is participating, supporting and approving of escalating violence. Here’s a quick review:

Israel-Palestine: Even before its founding Israel was entangled with violence – the violence of removing Palestinians from their homes to create the “Jewish State.” Former Secretary of State and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Alexander Haig perhaps most honestly described what Israel is to the United States when he aptly called Israel America’s “unsinkable battleship in the Middle East.”

The US battleship Israel is now involved in another slaughter of the Palestinian people of Gaza. We could write this entire article on the atrocities of this attack and the lies on which it is based, but we will be brief (for more see here). As we write this article, Israel is expanding the ground invasion of Gaza moving from the “iron dome to the iron fist.” The last time there was a ground attack on Gaza was January, 2009 during Operation Cast Lead when 1,400 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, were killed.

The government of the United States supports Israel at all costs. Even when Israel kills children playing on a beach, the United States incredibly blames the Palestinians. The US never talks about the people of Gaza defending themselves from daily brutalization by Israel – that has gone on for decades – but always talks about Israel having the right to defend themselves. Social media is helping to show the reality of this manipulated and lopsided conflict. The veil is lifting.

As is common in military intervention hot spots, the US and Israeli public are treated to false, inaccurate and biased reporting. One recent effective propaganda ploy reported widely in the US was the so-called cease fire brokered by the anti-Hamas government of Egypt with Israel. The Palestinians were not part of the negotiations and it would have reduced their rights, but Israel used the failure as an excuse to expand their war to a ground invasion. Imagine if the tables were turned and Syria negotiated a cease fire with Hamas that gave Hamas all it asked for – would Israel agree? Here’s the truth about the phony propaganda cease fire.

Major media outlets have been caught in lies and misrepresentations. ABC News may have been the most blatant when it showed video of Palestinians running for their lives and said they were Israelis. ABC was forced to admit the obvious lie, but that does not change their bias. The NY Times was caught changing the headline about the horrific killing of four young Palestinian boys playing on the beach. The pro-war bias of the Times is evident on many fronts of war. NBC has also become embroiled in controversy around its reporting as it removed a journalist who has been reporting on what is occurring in Gaza, and who witnessed the four children being killed by Israel at the beach just before the ground invasion began. The pressure grew so quickly that NBC was forced to reinstate the reporter. It is evident the US media cannot be trusted when it comes to their reporting on what is actually occurring in Palestine.

There have been protests throughout the United States (see e.g. Boston, Detroit, Washington, DC at the White House as well as the Israeli Embassy) and around the world. This week, when local politicians expressed their fealty to Israel in New York City, protesters showed up to express a different viewpoint. In addition, students are organizing protests across the country and the international boycott and divestment movement against Israel grows.

Ukraine: We have been reporting on developments in Ukraine for over a year. And, as with Israel there have been many instances of biased reporting in the US media. Robert Parry writes that “MSM outlets have been feeding Americans a highly biased narrative of the crisis non-stop from the beginning.” He points to the failure of the media to report on the right wing extremist role in the new Kiev government, describing the Russian “invasion” of Crimea – an invasion where no troops crossed the border, the harsh austerity plan agreed to by the new US supported leaders, the failure to report a secret visit to Ukraine by the head of the CIA among other false narratives and omissions.

Another important item not reported in the corporate media is that since the US supported and funded the coup of an elected president to ‘bring democracy to Ukraine,’ the two leaders chosen are consistent with US wishes. A Wikileaks document describes the president as “Our Ukraine (OU) insider Petro Poroshenko,” and shows how he has been working as an agent of the US government since 2006. And, former intelligence official, Ray McGovern, points out how US officials were caught on a telephone call saying the current Prime Minister, Arseniy Petrovych Yatsenyuk, a former banker, was the US choice. These two leaders have gotten Ukraine deeply into debt with Western bankers and have done as Western powers wanted including accepting major austerity requirements.

The horrible shooting down of a passenger plane seemingly by a missile is causing controversy now. We published two stories on the event, one from the NY Times and the other from Russia Today to show the stark contrast. RT reports that Kiev moved missiles that could shoot down a plane to the region and ten years ago shot down a Russian aircraft to demonstrate Kiev has the technology. This is not being reported in the US media which has ruled out the possibility that Kiev fired the missile and is debating whether Russia or the Eastern Ukrainian separatists fired the shot.

Both Kiev and the Eastern Ukranians have denied the shooting. Vladimir Putin has blamed the catastrophe on the ongoing attacks by Kiev against Eastern Ukraine and has urged a ceasefire. Obama joined in the call for a cease fire a day later. There have been aerial bombardments of Eastern Ukraine by Kiev. All the facts have not come in as we write this, so at this stage we just note the disparity in reporting. It would be wise not to make any assumptions but to wait for the evidence and certainly not use this as an excuse for direct involvement by the United States or escalation of hostilities. Putting in place a cease fire and finding a peaceful solution to the conflict is the approach we hope Ukraine takes.

Also notable is the lack of reporting on Ukraine. There are some incredible stories in the Russian media about atrocities being conducted by right wing extremists in Eastern Ukraine. We have not seen any western media deny the stories. One horrible story is of a child who was allegedly crucified by Ukrainian extremists while his mother was forced to watch and then she was dragged through the square by a tank until she died. Some describe what is occurring as genocide with the targeting of civilian buildings. International lawyer, Francis Boyle, said in an interview that the US was aiding and abetting genocide.



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[-] 3 points by turbocharger (1756) 3 years ago

Dude, the crazies are running wild.

The crazies in office dont scare me as much as the believers on the streets. They are ones that keep these freaks in power.

For a group that believes in voting so much, they sure do a shit job of creating decent, viable candidates

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

Iraq: After military attacks and economic embargoes of Iraq by Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the country is a mess. The government is in chaos, a new Muslim group, ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), has taken many of the major cities by military force and there is talk of dividing the country into multiple parts. Obama has already sent hundreds of troops to Iraq, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Martin Dempsey, has not ruled out a large US troop presence saying if “our national interests drive us there” we will send more troops. Too many in government do not realize that the cause of the problems in Iraq was the US invasion and occupation and that more of the same will not solve the problem, but is likely to make it worse. As Chris Hedges writes, ISIS is “the final answer to the collective humiliation of an occupied country, the logical outcome of Shock and Awe…”

There is growing bi-partisan opposition to military involvement in Iraq by members of Congress who are urging Obama to get authorization from Congress as required by the Constitution. This letter, authored by Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Scott Regall (R-VA) had 103 members of Congress sign on.

Once again the corporate media played its usual role of propagandizing Americans to drum up support for another war in Iraq. They consistently aired people who advocated prior attacks and occupations of Iraq while never allowing war opponents on the air. The media also exaggerated sectarian divisions, divisions the US made worse to control the population during the occupation. Despite mass propaganda, a majority of the American public opposes military intervention in Iraq and only 20% support it.

Those who oppose another Iraq War quickly organized protests throughout the country. Usually war propaganda works long enough to start the attack. For a new war with Iraq and an attack on Syria, the public has shown greater immunity to propaganda.

As William Blum notes, Hillary Clinton now admits she made a mistake in voting for the authorization for the use of force in Iraq. But, she is equally wrong on its outcome. Blum reports that in 2007 Clinton said, “The American military has done its job. . . the American military has succeeded.” Can the American public trust someone who is so mistaken in her hawkish, pro-militarist judgments?

Afghanistan: The longest war in US history is supposedly winding down at a very slow rate. President Obama agreed to draw down troops in 2016. This slow draw down may change now that a president who is friendlier to the US has been elected in Afghanistan. And, the leading candidate for president, Hillary Clinton, says she would be open to keeping US military forces in Afghanistan past 2016. Clinton notes that with the new president there might be a “legal basis” for the US staying.

One thing that has not closed is the secret Bagram prison in Afghanistan officially known as the Detention Facility in Parwan. This prison, informally known as the Afghan Guantanamo, holds 40 secret “detainees.” These prisoners are held without charges, many for years. The prison is reportedly believed to be holding Pakistanis, Yemenis, Tunisians, Uzbeks and Russians. Bagram prisoners have even less rights than prisoners at Guantanamo and much less is known about their conditions. They do not have a right to a lawyer or to challenge their detention. This week it was reported that the prisoners in Bagram have been on hunger strikes which indicates there are serious issues at the prison. If the US presence in Afghanistan continues, these prisoners are likely to continue to be held.

The Asian Pivot: The centerpiece of President Obama’s foreign policy is the pivot to Asia. This massive shift of forces to Asia is meant to focus the US military on China, which the United States sees as its only economic rival; and a country that presents an alternative to big finance capitalism.

The pivot has led to major changes in many countries in the region as well as increasing tensions. Japan may be the most important as it is the third largest economy and has a long history of militarism. Japan has a large military and has worked with the United States for decades, buts its “pacifist” constitution has a clause that forbids it from engaging in foreign war. Article 9 of the Constitution says:

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

“In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

Ret. Col. Ann Wright points out that the US has been pressuring Japan to change that restriction. The United States wrote Japan’s constitution, but once China became a communist nation, the US wanted Japan to participate in militarism in the region. As William Blum reports, on July 1, Prime Minister Abe gave the US its wish. Without changing a word, he reinterpreted the constitution to mean that Japan could not attack another nation on its own, but it could do so in allegiance with another nation. (Hmm, we wonder what country he had in mind?) This unilateral change was made despite strong opposition in Japan, including a protester who burned himself to death.

Already there have been tense moments between China and Japan with its ally, the US. Last November there were multiple challenges as Japan and the US violated the “Air Defense Zone” of China resulting in China scrambling fighter jets over the East China Sea in response. Tensions will likely rise as the US has now brought drones into the Asian Pacific which are housed on military bases in Japan.

The United States has also entered into new agreements with Australia, resulting in former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser warning his country may be drawn into a war against China as a result of how intertwined the US and Australian military’s have become. Similarly, new military agreements between the Philippines and the US, protested by the Philippine people, create a situation where some see their country as once again becoming a US colony.

There have also been ongoing protests in South Korea as that country becomes more entangled with the Asia Pivot. The “Peace Island” of Jeju, South Korea has been a special focus as the country which was devastated by a US puppet government is being forced to accept a naval base that is inconsistent with the nonviolent views of the population.

Bruce Gagnon, who has worked with the people of Jeju Island to stop the navy base and who is active with Veterans For Peace, warns that the US is looking for trouble with China. And Nile Bowie warns that the peace movement should spend more focus on China. There are a lot of hot spots in the world, but the future of military conflict is likely to emanate from Obama’s Asian Pivot.

These are just the current hot spots. The US is also increasing it militarism in Africa. AfriCom has rapidly grown under President Obama. Tom Dispatch reports the US military is active in Algeria and Angola, Benin and Botswana, Burkina Faso and Burundi, Cameroon and the Cape Verde Islands, Senegal and the Seychelles, Togo and Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. “From north to south, east to west, the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, the heart of the continent to the islands off its coasts, the US military is at work. Base construction, security cooperation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions, and a growing logistics network, all undeniable evidence of expansion—except at US Africa Command.”

Then, of course, there is Iran where things seem to no longer be on the edge of war, but Iran is a nation the United States has been at odds with since the CIA put in place the Shah in a coup in 1953 and was thrown out in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Since that time there has been constant conflict. While there are tenuous nuclear negotiations right now, Iran always has the potential to become a hot spot as it has rejected becoming part of the US Empire.

Is US Empire Collapsing?

The US Empire is the largest in world history with more than 1,100 military bases and outposts around the world. To put that in perspective, compared to two other large empires, there were 37 Roman bases at that empire’s peak in AD 117 and 36 British bases at empire’s peak in 1898. Not only is the US Empire the largest in history but it has been the most destructive.

Each of the conflicts described in this article could escalate into a much larger war, but that would lead to further austerity and go against public sentiment. The faltering US economy can no longer afford the expensive US military. The people of the United States no longer support war and the people of the world are rebelling against US rule. As US Empire stretches to the breaking point, people are mobilizing (see. e.g. World Beyond War) to finally put an end to US militarism and Empire.

Next week: How the Empire Economy Hurts All of Us.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

"Blood on American Hands": Richard Falk on Palestine

Monday, 21 July 2014 13:03
By CJ Polychroniou, Truthout | Interview


For over 20 years, Israel and the United States have been working to separate Gaza from the West Bank, in violation of the Oslo Accords they had just signed declaring them to be an indivisible territorial unity. The latest carnage in Gaza is part of an ongoing Israeli imperial policy which, as Noam Chomsky wrote to me just a couple of days ago, seeks "to take over what's of value 'in the land of Israel,' reduce the population to marginal existence (with the usual neocolonial exception: an enclave for the rich and Westernized sectors in Ramallah), and if they leave, so much the better." But, as Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, former UN special rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, and author of the forthcoming book Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope, which will be published in September by Just World Press, underscores in this exclusive interview, Israel always claims that its attacks against Palestinians are provoked by the Palestinians themselves.

C.J. Polychroniou: Professor Falk, here we go again: Israel, one of the world's mightiest military powers, has launched yet another ground offensive into the Gaza Strip on the rather bogus proposition that Hamas provoked Israel to attack Gaza. What is Israel's real purpose in attacking Gaza this time around?

Richard Falk: I believe that Israel periodically "mows the grass" in Gaza as one right-wing Israeli advisor to Sharon distastefully expressed the goal of Israel policy toward Gaza several years ago. There were factors present in the context of this Israeli attack that help explain why now. The main two factors in my view were the unwelcome establishment of an interim "unity government" on June 2 by the leadership of Fatah and Hamas, which undermined the Israeli approach of keeping the governing authorities in the West Bank and Gaza as divided as possible. The second element was Israel's strong incentive to weaken Hamas in the West Bank so that Israel could justify its moves in April to end direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and move ever closer to incorporating the West Bank, or most of it into Israel, and fulfill the expansionist Zionist dream to move beyond the 1967 borders.

The June 12 kidnapping incident involving the three teenage settler children from the Gush Etzion settlement near Jerusalem provided the Netanyahu government with the pretext it needed to mount an anti-Hamas campaign that started as a supposed hunt for the perpetrators, detaining up to 500 suspected of a Hamas connection and generally imposing a variety of oppressive measures, including house demolition, lockdowns of Palestinian towns, and random violence that led to six Palestinian deaths. As has been shown, the incident was manipulated in a most cynical fashion by the government pretending to search for the kidnapped youth, while knowing that they were already dead, using public anxiety and anger to incite the Israeli citizenry to justify the oppressive tactics of the government and to create an atmosphere of vigilante vengeance.

Having denied any involvement in the kidnapping incident, it is hardly surprising that in retaliation for Israel's provocations that Hamas in retaliation began firing rockets at Israeli towns. Israel used its formidable propaganda machine to tell the world that its third major military assault on defenseless Gaza in the last five years (2008-09, 2012, 2014) was a defensive response to unprovoked rocket attacks. With mock innocence, Netanyahu told the world that Israel needed to act to protect its citizens from the rockets, without any mention, of course, of the prior anti-Hamas rampage that included ugly Israeli racist slurs directed at the Palestinians and revenge attacks on Palestinian children.

Why did the ceasefire negotiations in Cairo fail?

The ceasefire failed for several reasons. Hamas was excluded from the process leading up to the proposed ceasefire, and was informed only by the public media. Beyond this, the previously announced Hamas conditions for agreeing to a ceasefire were ignored: release of Palestinians who had been part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange three years ago (in which a single captured IDF soldier was released in exchange for the agreed Israeli release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners) and were rearrested in recent weeks as part of the crackdown on Hamas; lifting the blockade and opening the crossings; cease interference with the unity government; restore the 2012 ceasefire. Also, Sisi's Egypt is hardly a suitable or trustworthy intermediary from Hamas' perspective. Not far in the background is the brutal repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and related hostility to Hamas, which is regarded by the Sisi government as an offshoot.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

Would Israel have launched an attack if the new Egyptian government was not also bent on seeing Hamas destroyed?

This is a very speculative issue. Israel did initiate a major attack on Gaza in November 2012 while Mohamed Morsi was president despite his affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, and did then accept a ceasefire arranged under Cairo's diplomatic auspices. Having General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as president of Egypt is certainly a favorable development from Israel's perspective. Sisi has substantially destroyed the extensive tunnel network on which Hamas depended to receive needed supplies as well as to collect tax revenues required to administer Gaza. Egypt in recent months has been cooperating with Israel and the United States, including in relation to control of the passage through the Rafah crossing to Egypt, which is the only escape route available to the people of Gaza, including those needing medical attention only available in Cairo. I believe that the Israeli attack occurred at this time principally for reasons of Israeli state policy, and would have taken place without regard to the attitudes of the leadership in Cairo.

With 1.8 million people trapped in an overcrowded war zone, it should be obvious that the Israeli jets' attacks constitute a blatant violation of international humanitarian law. Yet, once again, Israel is allowed to get away with murder because it enjoys US diplomatic backing as well as US military and financial support. As such, doesn't this make the United States just as complicit in crimes against humanity as Israel itself?

I do agree that the United States for the reasons you give is definitely complicit in relation to the criminal nature of the Israeli attack. Whether this kind of complicity involves legal culpability, as well as moral and political complicity is an open question. The United States is not, so far as is known, directly involved in planning and carrying out this "aggression" against Gaza and "collective punishment" against its people. Giving military assistance or providing military equipment to a foreign government does not by itself constitute a sufficient connection with the attack as to satisfy legal tests of complicity.

What is clear is that the continuing and unconditional diplomatic support given by the US to Israel, including shielding Israel from formal censure at the UN, and the failure to discourage war crimes being committed, results in much blood on American hands. Activist opponents of this American policy are now more committed to calling upon churches and universities to divest from corporations doing business with the settlements or facilitating Israeli militarism, and there are increasing national and international calls for an arms embargo on Israel, which would be of mainly symbolic force, given Israel's robust arms industry, which is supplying weapons to many countries, with the grotesque selling point that they have been "field-tested," that is, used, in Gaza.

Hamas has been faced with a similar situation before, yet, every time it gets into a military confrontation with Israel, it seems to be emerging stronger than before. Should we expect things to be any different this time around?

It is difficult at this point to say. What the encounter did reveal was that Hamas and other militias in Gaza have a considerable supply of longer-range missiles able to strike any city in Israel, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It also seems that Israel's reliance on air attacks and naval shelling was not able to curtail the numbers of rockets being fired. True, despite firing more than 1,000 rockets, no Israeli has yet been killed by a Palestinian rocket (apparently the only Israeli so far killed died from a mortar shell fired from Gaza while he was rushing to a shelter, an option Gazans do not have) [as of interview conducted on July 19]. At the same time, the psychological and political effects of being unable to stop the launch of rockets has damaged Israeli prestige, and may push it to pursue more ambitious goals than destroying tunnels into Israel from Gaza, the stated objective of Operation Protective Edge, the code name Israel has given for its military operation. The high proportion of civilians among the Palestinian casualties (75 to 80 percent) also suggests that Hamas has become more sophisticated in protecting its militants from Israeli firepower as compared to the results of the two earlier attacks.

Of course, to the extent that Israel is politically weaker, Hamas emerges stronger, withstanding the mighty Israeli military onslaught, demonstrating resilience under the most difficult circumstance, and mounting stubborn resistance that frustrates Israel's announced war goals.

Has Israel become a "fundamentalist" state, betraying all dreams and aspirations that led to its original founding?

I think Israel has definitely moved gradually in the direction of a maximalist understanding of the Zionist project, which is now quite clearly intended to exercise permanent sovereign control over "Judea and Samaria," what the world knows as "the West Bank." The new president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, due to take over very soon from Shimon Peres, belongs to the right wing of Netanyahu's Likud Party. He is an undisguised advocate of an enlarged Israel that claims the whole of biblical Palestine and repudiates all diplomacy associated with establishing peace on the basis of a Palestinian state, in effect, a one-state approach with Palestinians as permanent minority. Additionally, the Israel of today has moved far to the right; many Israelis have developed a consumerist mentality, and the conflict with Palestine, except during crises as at present, has posed serious threats in recent years to the stability and serenity of the country. Also, due to high fertility rates and the importance of the settler movement, religious Judaism has been playing a larger role, and injects a certain measure of religious extremism and ethnic intolerance into Israeli political and social life.

The two-state solution, long proposed by supporters of the Palestinian cause, including the late Edward Said, seems to be a dead end - at least in my own eyes. Do you agree with this assessment, and, if so, what is the alternative for securing lasting peace among Israelis and Palestinians?

To clarify Edward Said's position: He did favor for a time in the late 1980s, as did the PLO, the two-state solution, but in the last years of his life he strongly endorsed a single, secular bi-national state as the only workable arrangement allowing the two peoples to live together in peace and dignity. Said rejected the idea of an ethnic state for either people, and believed that Zionist claims to have a Jewish state in historic Palestine would never result in a just and sustainable peace that acknowledged Palestinian rights under international law, including the right of return and equality for the Palestinian minority living in Israel.

I share Said's latter assessment, and believe that the scale and resolve of the settlers is such as to make their removal politically impossible. For this reason, I have opposed the sort of direct negotiations that the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, pushed so hard a year ago as creating false expectations and artificial pressures. The political preconditions for two states with equal sovereign rights living side by side definitely do not presently exist, and may never have existed. To negotiate with that awareness of futility is to play Israel's game of endless talks, while the building cranes in the settlements continue their unlawful work at an accelerated pace. Time has never been kind to the Palestinians. Their territorial prospects have been continuously diminished and have now reached the point of a virtual zero. Recall that the UN partition plan in 1947 seemed unfair to the Palestinians when it offered them only 45 percent of Palestine, which then was reduced to 22 percent by the outcome of the 1948 war, and related expulsion of the Palestinians, and still further by "the facts on the ground" (settlements, wall, settler only roads) steadily created since 1967.

The best hope of the Palestine national movement at this time is to proceed via a unity government, also engaging the refugee and exile community of 7 million, by working together with the global solidarity movement that is growing rapidly. In other words Palestinian prospects in the future will depend on the continued mobilization of global civil society to support nonviolent coercive action on a worldwide scale. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign has been growing at a rapid rate recently, with analogies to the anti-apartheid struggle that toppled a racist regime in South Africa against all odds and expectations becoming more relevant. This shift in Palestinian tactics in the direction of what I have called "waging a legitimacy war" seems reinforced in its plausibility by the growing global outrage in response to Israel tactics, especially in callous disregard of Palestinian civilian innocence.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 1 points by trashyharry (3082) from Waterville, NY 3 years ago

Good post.TYVM.

[-] 0 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

"US Complicity Brought Up to Date" in Israel's War Against Gaza

Monday, 21 July 2014 10:51
By Anton Woronczuk, The Real News Network | Video Interview


More at The Real News



ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore.

Deaths in the Gaza Strip now total 265, most of them civilians, and the first IDF soldier has died as Israel began its new ground invasion into the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials are saying that the purpose of the invasion is to deal with tunnels dug by Hamas along the border with Israel. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, quote,

"I urge Israel to do far more to stop civilian casualties. There can be no military solution to this conflict."

Meanwhile, Jordan has called for a UN Security Council emergency meeting, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning that the operation could widen.

Now joining us to give her analysis of the situation is Phyllis Bennis. Phyllis is a fellow and the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She is the author of many books, including Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer.

Thanks for joining us, Phyllis.

So, Phyllis, let's get your response to the news that Israel is launching a new ground invasion into Gaza.

PHYLLIS BENNIS, FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: This was the escalation that everyone was expecting. It came in the middle of the night. It's been a dramatic escalation in the air war in particular, as well as the ground invasion. From what we understand, the troops, the Israeli troops are remaining relatively close to the edges of Gaza. They have not gone completely to take over the Strip yet. But the bombing from the air and from the sea, from Israeli naval ships, has intensified dramatically overnight. I think 20 or so children were killed. The numbers are just enormous, the casualties from this attack. Another hospital has been attacked. People have had to be moved out of UNRWA schools where they had tried to take shelter, because those schools appear to be targeted, and they're having to be moved by the United Nations into other shelters. Basically Gaza has nowhere to run.

The Israelis have made a great deal of propaganda value out of the fact that they notify people, sometimes with flyers and with cell phone, very frightening cell phone messages, calling people by name and saying, your house is going to be bombed, you have five minutes to get out, and they have time to only grab their children and run out the door before their entire house and everything in it is blown up, blown to smithereens. The other kind of message they have been using is what the Palestinians have been calling the "knock on the roof", which are small bombs dropped on the roof of a building as a, quote, warning, and followed by the massive bombs that destroy a building altogether.

This is what was done yesterday at the Al Raffah hospital, which is the only rehabilitation clinic in the Gaza Strip. There were 17 patients that could not be moved. They were almost all comatose. They're all paralyzed, many of them on the ventilators, dependent on electricity, on medicines. And they had the bombs dropped on their roof. This was clear evidence that this was not a mistake of what the target was. This was a deliberate targeting of that hospital. The bombs were dropped on the roof as a message, and a call came in: we're giving you an hour. They said, we can't get people out of that time. They managed to get the 17 patients out to a smaller clinic, not really able to manage the kind of care they need, but out of the building. And all but one floor of that hospital has now been destroyed. It's clear war crimes that are being committed.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

WORONCZUK: And what has the U.S. administration been doing about this over the past ten days? I think the most that I tend to hear is that they say that Israel has the right to defend itself and that they find the deaths of Gazan civilians regretful.

BENNIS: Yes, that's what they say. What they do has been to add a third of a billion dollars more to the $3.1 billion in military aid that the U.S. already gives Israelis this year. This was just approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee a day or two ago. This is to help Israel further work on its missile defense system, etc., etc. So it's simply escalating the military aids, making its endorsement, its uncritical endorsement of what Israel is doing in Gaza a reality, so that the U.S. complicity has been, shall we say, brought up to speed, brought up to date.

WORONCZUK: Okay. And I want to turn to an op-ed that was published in The Jerusalem Post this morning. Its author is Gilad Sharon, who is the son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. Let me read an exerpt to you. In it he says,

"THE DESIRE to prevent harm to innocent civilians in Gaza will ultimately lead to harming the truly innocent: the residents of southern Israel. The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren't hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences."

Later he goes on to say,

"We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn't stop with Hiroshima--the Japanese weren't surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too."

I mean, a really--just a sober reading of that just sounds like it's just a call for genocide. Do you think that this is representative of, like, the actual debate that's taking place right now in Israel?

BENNIS: I think the debate is over. I think this is a reflection of the actual public opinion widespread throughout Israel. Recent polls have indicated 91 percent support for what the Israelis, what the military is doing in Gaza. And even this kind of, as you say, direct call to genocide is not coming simply from some fringe elements that are easy to dismiss. This is coming from the highest levels. This is a dramatic escalation of the kind of rhetoric that we've been hearing.

There was a member of the Knesset a few days ago who gave a major speech in which he said that Hamas is not our enemy, the people of Gaza are our enemy--very similar to the young Sharon's view in this Jerusalem Post op-ed. And she said--she was asked about killing women, and she said, yes, women too, because otherwise they will continue to give birth to what she called "little snakes". "Little snakes" was her term for Palestinian babies. It was so reminiscent of the kind of language that was heard in the United States during the wars of genocide against Native Americans, when Indians were considered vermin. And there was a famous statement from one of the generals, who was asked, what about the children? And he said, "nits make lice"--kill the children, too. This is the same language that we're hearing in Israel now, and it has become very, very mainstream.

The efforts by some in the Israeli establishment to claim that, among other things, the horrific murder of the young Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem, now last week--it's almost been dwarfed by so many other crimes, but that one was a particularly horrific crime because of the way he was tortured to death. And there were calls from Israel saying, this does not represent us, this is not what Israelis do, Jews don't do this. Well, it turns out Israelis and Jews do exactly this, do exactly this. And the notion that this is somehow a fringe element that can be dismissed or can be disregarded or we can somehow distance ourselves from it simply doesn't match the reality of where political opinions are right now inside Israel.

WORONCZUK: Okay. And now let me give you the big question, which is: what do you think is possible, or what can be done right now to bring an end to violence, and what needs to be done for there to be a longstanding, more permanent ceasefire?

BENNIS: Hamas has made very clear what its demands are. They're actually surprisingly modest. I was expecting more difficult demands, if you will. Essentially, all they're actually asking for is an end to the already illegal eight-year-long blockade of Gaza, meaning that the openings between Gaza and Israel, and particularly Gaza and Egypt, be opened; and number two, the release of prisoners, narrowly defined to only those prisoners who had been released in the big prisoner exchange two years ago and who were rearrested in the last several weeks in the massive raids across the West Bank, in which over 800 Palestinians were arrested, about 28 of them Parliamentarians, and about 50 of them people who had been released from prison in that prisoner exchange and were now picked up again, no charges brought, not charged with anything, but simply being held in prison. So they're asking that those prisoners be released and an opening of the Rafah Crossing to Egypt. Those are very, very small demands.

What I'm afraid of, what we're going to see again, as we did the other night when we saw that sort of fake call for a ceasefire, which I think was very clearly designed by Israeli collaboration with Egypt, along with Tony Blair and some from the U.S. that were involved in planning it, initiating a call for a ceasefire, knowing that the Palestinians could not accept it because it didn't match any of their very small demands, but it made Israel look very good--we said there was a cease-fire, we stopped firing for six hours; what more do they want? Well, what they want is an end to the illegal siege, not a return to what it was the day before this massive bombardment began, and the release of prisoners who never should have been arrested in the first place--very small demands.

What has to happen to make that possible is massive pressure on Israel. Now, we know that's not going to come from the United States. So one of the key questions is Europe. Europe has already in recent months been escalating--very, very slowly, very, very gradually, very hesitantly, but nonetheless escalating their pressure on Israel. They have engaged in a number of efforts to deny access to European funding to institutions in the occupied territories, for instance. There needs to be enormous pressure on Europe, which is already coming from organizations across Europe, to escalate in a far more urgent, far more serious way their pressure on Israel, with real threats of boycotts and divestment from Israeli companies, from investments in Israel, and trade arrangements. There has got to be an end to this free trade agreement between Israel and the European Union.

That doesn't mean we should let the United States off the hook, the pressure on the Obama administration and on Congress, which is passing resolution after resolution using this language that you mentioned earlier--we stand with Israel, Israel has the right to defend itself, Palestinians have no rights, Palestinians must only be suppressed, all of the rights belong to Israel. And this is coming again and again from every committee in town, here on the Hill. But we're not expecting that to lead to serious pressure on Israel. So there's got to be continuing pressure to end the military aid, let alone the escalating military aid, and pressure globally. There is a global movement underway right now to escalate on every government to stop buying weapons from Israel, to end the arms trade with Israel and in fact impose an arms embargo, something that was called for at United Nations many years ago. There's calls for all of this. The question is political will. It's not hard to figure out what has to happen. The problem is what countries are going to be prepared to stand up to the United States and make it real.

WORONCZUK: Okay. Phyllis Bennis from the Institute for Policy Studies, thanks for joining us.

BENNIS: Thank you.

WORONCZUK: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.