Bastille Day 2007
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
We send you our greetings and wish you a fulfilling July 14th.
In Grenoble, the French Revolution began in 1788. The "Reign of Terror" started in September 1793 and lasted for nine months into July of the following year. But revolutionary violence really began in 1789 and didn't end until 1799, with Napoleon's coup d'état. The "Terror" was a period of Dictatorship by the Committee of Public Safety.
Some forty thousand Frenchmen lost their lives to the guillotine after being declared "enemies of the Republic." One exception was Abbé Sièyes, the author of Qu'est-ce que le tiers état?
(1789), who voted for the execution of the king in 1792. In 1795, he was elected to the Committee of Public Safety,
but he refused to serve. In 1800 he was chosen President of the Senate under the Empire, where he served until he was exiled to Brussels from 1815 to 1830, for his participation in the regicide of 1792. He reentered France in 1830, and before he died in Paris in 1836, he was asked what his great accomplishment was during the months of Terror. He replied simply, "I survived."
Despite the high volume of executions by guillotine during the "Terror," almost all of which were done without due process, the Dictatorship of the Terror faced a hopeless situation. It is almost certain that the Revolution would not have survived without the "Reign of Terror," which served to reorganize the army and to ruthlessly pursue internal dissidents. It succeeded to secure the French Republic, but only for its eventual downfall at the hands of Napoleon.
Meanwhile, the French guillotine continued to slice off heads. The last public execution by guillotine was carried out in France in 1939, outside the St-Pierre Prison, now part of the Palais de Justice in Versailles. The execution was illegally filmed, and the spectacle led the government to put a stop to public executions. The guillotine continued to be used, however, inside prison courtyards. The last execution by guillotine was in the prison court yard at des Baumettes Prison, in Marseille, in 1976, under the eyes of French President Giscard d'Estaing, who told the prisoner, Christian Ranucci, when he was declaring his innocence up to the end : "Je ne me suis jamais trompé...!"
Another moment of survival in French history is described in The Journal of Military History
(Oct, 2001) by Michael Peszke
, author of Poland's Navy, 1918-1945 :
As a boy, I lived in Vichy France (June 1940 through January 1941) and have, inspite of my youth, memories of the country and its people, both in small towns such as Perpignan and large cities like Toulouse. There was a significant food shortage, but apart form that the country seemed at peace. The only time I saw uniformed Germans was Luftwaffe personnel strolling through Toulouse as tourists. As far as I could see they were not ostensibly armed. They neither acted as arrogant occupiers nor were treated with resentment. I well remember American military personnel in London after the war acting in a very similar fashion, gaping and strolling among local denizens.
From a historical point of view, it is erroneous to compare France, at least until November 1942, as a typical occupied country. I am not aware of any other occupied country with the exception of Denmark, that had an army, air force, and most significantly a navy. I am not aware of any other occupied country that fought off the Allies (Dakar), resisted Allied troops (Syria), and bombed British bases (Gibraltar). This was hardly a typical occupied country.
In fact I was always impressed at the political guile of the French who, after suffering a humiliating defeat in June 1940, being very close to a German co-belligerent, transmogrified their status into a major Allied power, with an occupation zone in Germany and a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations.
Of the 330,000 Jews living in France at the time of war, 75,000 (many of whom were not French citizens) were deported to Auschwitz, including several thousand children, of whom only 1,500 survived. These deportations, among other crimes, represent a disturbing heritage for the French nation, for whom a national history of the resistance movement represents the only political salvation.
We at CEIMSA would like to take this historic moment, on the 218th anniversary of the French Revolution, to draw attention to the conflicting lessons that might be learned from the French history of survivors. Certainly one important lesson is the need to carefully evaluate the relationship between "means" and "ends", to determine the degree to which the means employed to achieve a chosen objective might indeed contaminate the final outcome of the action, sometimes altering the initial goal beyond recognition. The ironies of history should serve us to better inform our strategies and tactics for bringing real democracy (with its real concerns for liberty, equality and fraternity) into the corporate institutions which we inhabit today, instead of accepting the shallow representations of a phony democracy (imposed from the top down) in a political attempt to replace grassroots democracy with astroturf !
a digital political communication
United Nations Security Council
an analog political communication
The differences between phatic communication
, relying on empathy and associated with natural hierarchies and dialectical materialism, and digital communication
associated with the rules of formal logic have been the topic of much discussion in communication theory. The superiority of one cultural expression over the other has led to a great number of debates in recent years: some arguing that analog communication
originates from a different part of the human brain and is less aggressive and ultimately promotes symbiotic relationships with the environment, while others have argued that digital communication
is more efficient and more successful in important operations like short-term self-defense and conquest. While analog behavior
seems to have a greater potential for assuring collective longevity, much superior to predominantly digital societies, digital behavior
has a decidedly superior capacity to annihilate oppositions and differences. In fact, it is compelled to eradicate the predominantly analog societies because it is governed by either/or
injunctions. In order to fulfill its capacity, digital behavior must win competitions by subduing all that is different. In achieving this aim, of course, it will ultimately destroy itself, as no entity can be a "winner" in isolation.
An optimistic exit from this conundrum is what Professor Anthony Wilden
has called the practice of iconic communication
, by which he means the combination of digital and analog
thinking in a fashion that subordinates either/or
dichotomies to both/and
ways of behaving. In the iconic mode of thinking, competition is a means that can only be legitimized by accomplishing a cooperative social objective. Competition can never be an end in itself (competition for the sake of competition, guided simply by a desire to "win"). The ultimate objective for iconic thinking, according to Wilden, is to create win-win relationships
, taking into account the wider context of society and its environment. This thinking embodies cooperative relationships, rather than win-loose relationships
, and all competitions are ultimately in the service of public interests. Here we find the force of mathematical calculations and the energies of individual ambitions directly linked to the well being of society and its environment. (Put another way, Wilden suggests that we compete in order to better cooperate, rather than cooperate in order to better compete.)
The 8 items
below speak to the pseudo-democratic forces
that impose corporate policies from above and solicit our approval (based on narrow self-interests) in order to create an artificial "order" which would violate both the human and civil rights of most people in the name of corporate profits and political expediency. There is no one in modern times who is untouched by these violations
--both the so-called "winners" and the "loosers" must witness together the deterioration of their society and its environment, ravished by a system under corporate political control that creates artificial scarcity,
then promotes private greed
and brutal manipulation
, thereby giving rise to a general spiritual sickness that instrumentalizes human relationships and reduces all of us to the status of a billiard ball
, responsive to the rules of a game over which we have no influence. Our own well being and the well being of our society and of our environment is no longer on the table for discussion. The political agendas of corporate interests are more or less dictated to us, for us to accept as token citizens of a "democracy" or to ignore at great peril.
In this game, we must all
suffer --the "winners" and the "loosers" alike are dependent on the same society and its environment.
is an article by Alestair Cook on "Our biggest mistake in the Middle East," sent to us by Professor Edward Herman
is a copy of Ronnie Kasrils speech to S. African Parliament on 40th anniversary of occupation, sent to us by Professor Bertell Ollman.
is an article by the recently fired New York Times
reporter, Chris Hedges on "A Declaration of Independence From Israel," sent to us by Professor Herman
are two articles on U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton sent to us by Professor Herman
and William Blum
is an article by Dahr Jamal
on the looming water shortage for crops grown in Iraq.
is the pod cast from Democracy Now !
featuring an hour-long interview with Ralph Nader,
discussing the corrupting influence of U.S. corporate power in America's political economy, following the conference on "Taming the Giant Corporation."
And finally item G.
is an essay on radical humor. Professor Ollman
has sent us the script from the political comedy team, The Yes Men
, who risk arrest for their biting satire on U.S. corporate executive decision making.
We conclude this bulletin by inviting our readers :
1) to hear CEIMSA associate Professor Jean Bricmont, author of Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War, who was recently interviewed by George Kenney, producer of Electric Politics :
and 2) to read the penetrating psychological profile of Vice-President Cheney by two clinical psychologists reporting on "the psychological side of Dick Cheney."
Our Second Biggest Mistake in the Middle East
Hamas: Unwritten Chapters by Azzam Tamimi · Hurst, 344 pp, £14.95.
Where Now for Palestine: The Demise of the Two-State Solution ed. Jamil Hilal · Zed, 260 pp, £17.99.
Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by Sara Roy · Pluto, 379 pp, £16.99.
"The situation in Gaza is dangerous, and the danger is that Hamas will take over and turn Gaza into 'Hamastan' – into a kingdom of thugs, murderers, terrorists, poverty and despair." This was the reaction of Ephraim Sneh, Israel’s deputy defence minister, to Hamas’s seizure of a number of key security institutions in Gaza in the days leading up to 14 June, when Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah, dismissed the unity government. But, despite what much of the media says, this is not a ‘civil war’, and Hamas is not made up of ‘gangs beyond the control of their leaders’. Hamas’s action was conducted with the aim of removing the influence of just one of Fatah’s security forces in Gaza, the militia controlled by Muhammad Dahlan, Abbas’s national security adviser. Hamas has insisted that this has not been a conflict with Fatah in general, and it was notable that neither the Palestinian security forces – effectively the Palestinian ‘army’ – nor the police in Gaza were targets of the recent violence.
The origins of the Hamas action in Gaza lie in the reaction of the international community, and of Fatah, to Hamas’s overwhelming victory in the parliamentary elections of January 2006. Fatah, Yasir Arafat’s movement, saw itself as the founder of the Palestinian Authority; it believed it was the natural party of government; and it had fought a long battle with Arab neighbours to establish itself as synonymous with the PLO, and therefore, implicitly, as the ‘sole representative of the Palestinian people’. Some within Fatah were unable to come to terms with their loss of power, or to reconcile themselves to the claim that, on the basis of the election result, an Islamist party best represented the views of the Palestinian people. At this crucial juncture, the International Quartet intervened: they pressed President Abbas not to yield to Hamas, to hang onto power; and they promised to support him if he did so.
Not only was Abbas not to yield security control to the government and its Interior Ministry, as the constitution provided, but the International Quartet also demanded that he claw back powers from the new government and embody them in the presidency: financial responsibilities would be removed from the Ministry of Finance; the salaries of government officials would be paid by the president’s office; all key policy decisions would be enacted by presidential decree. The government was to be rendered powerless. As Azzam Tamimi notes in Hamas: Unwritten Chapters, the Hamas government had no police force at its disposal, and no authority over frontier crossings.
At the same time, the West imposed financial sanctions on the government and isolated it politically, insisting on conducting business and channelling funding exclusively through Abbas. In short, instead of helping Fatah through the transition and facilitating Palestinian unity – and taking advantage of a real chance to include Hamas, Islamism’s moderates, in the political process – the international community pursued an aggressive policy of internal division that established the conditions for the recent violence in Gaza. Europeans may wring their hands at what they see on their TVs, but European policy, acting in concert with the US, bears a large measure of responsibility for what has happened.
The US and some European countries, including Britain, also chose to finance, train and arm the security apparatus led by Muhammad Dahlan, whom many Palestinians suspected – rightly – was being groomed as the ‘strong man’ who would eventually assume the presidency and restore Fatah to power. The ultimate aim was to build a Fatah militia around Dahlan that could confront Hamas militarily – and win. American officials hoped in the meantime to place Fatah in a position to depose Hamas from power – in other words, to promote a soft coup d’état against the government. A strategy document prepared by one of the US-led coalition of ‘moderate’ Arab states which was circulating among Palestinians in March 2007 said that the US objective was to have Abbas dismiss the Hamas government in August. The International Quartet endorsed these plans in principle. The support the US and Europe give to Fatah is considerable and arrives by a variety of routes: through NGOs and development agencies; through Fatah reform initiatives; through youth development programmes; through information and media projects; and – most significantly – through a large programme aimed at recruiting, training, equipping and financing Fatah security cadres, Dahlan’s chief among them. In addition, every NGO contract has a clause inserted into it by USAID requiring the organisation to pledge that it ‘will not engage in activity with groups deemed as terrorists’.
In the scathing final report he wrote before resigning in May as UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Alvaro de Soto said: ‘The US clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas, so much so that, a week before Mecca’ – where the two factions met in February and under the auspices of King Abdullah agreed a unity government – ‘the US envoy declared twice in an envoys’ meeting in Washington how much “I like this violence,” referring to the near civil war that was erupting in Gaza in which civilians were being regularly killed and injured, because “it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas.”’ It was this situation that pushed Hamas into pre-emptive action. With Fatah refusing to delegate constitutional authority over the security services, and with the build-up of the Dahlan militia, the military arm of Hamas moved to seize all the key assets associated with Dahlan and his colleagues in Gaza. Having achieved complete control, the elected government is now finally in a position to provide security in Gaza.
There is a price, of course; but it has nothing to do with damage to the so-called ‘prospects for peace’. There was no peace process. And, in the view of most Palestinians, there is little prospect of one. On the contrary, the leadership of Hamas – like their colleagues in Hizbullah – are preparing for the long hot summer of regional conflict that inevitably lies ahead. The real cost of Hamas’s military putsch against the Dahlan militia is the weakening of that significant faction within Fatah which, for some time, has been uncomfortable with Dahlan’s and Fatah’s co-option by US and Israeli interests, and has – until now – advocated real co-operation between Fatah and Hamas. But now that Fatah has been humiliated the grass-roots are unlikely to be in a mood to support anyone who argues for a working partnership with Hamas. It is one thing to be perceived by fellow Palestinians as a Western proxy: to be regarded as a failed Western proxy is far worse.
It is too early to judge, but it is possible that the Hamas putsch will come to be seen by Muslims beyond Palestine as an event as significant as the outcome of the Israeli-Hizbullah war last July. The next few weeks may see the beginnings of efforts at mediation on the part of other Arab states, in an attempt to form a fresh unity government in Palestine. If this happens, the issue of security has already been decided: Hamas has settled the facts on the ground. The Americans and Europeans, however, can be expected to continue to resist any transformation of the political dispensation. What they want, and remain wedded to, is a reversion to the status quo ante of Oslo, however discredited its processes now are. But in attempting to ensure Fatah’s continued hold on power, they risk schism, renewed violence, and a fracturing of the Palestinian body politic for years to come.
A peace process with Israel, were that ever to become a reality, cannot be built on Palestinian division and internal conflict. The action of previous US envoys – such as General Zinni and George Tenet – served only to increase these divisions. The lesson has not been learned. President Abbas’s dismissal of the government on 14 June and his declaration of an emergency government – both decrees of questionable legality – brought an end to what remained of Palestinian unity. And did so at a moment when Hamas, in common with moderate Islamist movements throughout the region, is trying to deal with the radicalising of its constituency and a widespread questioning of the value of electoral participation.
The West could not have chosen a worse time to try to make Fatah a proxy dependent on Western financial subsidy and Israeli ‘concessions’ to make up for the popular support it patently lacks. The largest Hebrew newspaper, Yediot Aharnot, noted on 14 June that ‘in Nablus, Jenin, Hebron and Ramallah, the people of the Fatah al-Aqsa Brigades are in control, much thanks to the Israeli General Security Services who have jailed anyone vaguely smelling of Hamas.’ European policy-makers – to judge by their public statements – are largely oblivious to the rising tension in the region. Instability is feeding instability; and the American and European imposition of a bank freeze that left the Palestinian government unable to gain access to its funds – including those from Muslim countries – will trigger new and potentially dangerous disturbances in the region.
Western commentators – prompted by Fatah loyalists – are still inclined to see the 2006 election result as no more than a severe rap on the knuckles for the hitherto dominant Fatah on the part of an electorate angered by its corruption and mismanagement. Since 1993, Palestinians have been living under a one-party system: patronage, jobs and government have been in the gift of Fatah, and it is to its members that these benefits have been distributed. The election outcome, however, was not primarily a judgment on Fatah’s corruption, even if this was a significant factor. I recall a leader in a refugee camp in Lebanon saying: ‘You will see . . . what this victory for Hamas represents is the final rupture of the Palestinians’ faith in the international community. We no longer believe that the Americans or the Europeans ultimately can be counted on to do the right thing by us. We know that we must rely only on ourselves now.’ Hamas had recognised for some time that the Palestinian constituency that voted Fatah a monopoly of power and of armed force in 1993, following the Oslo Accords, no longer existed. Hardly any Palestinians now believe that Palestinian ‘good behaviour’ – as promised to Israel by Fatah – will induce the US to ignore its domestic Israel lobby and exert pressure on Israel to withdraw from the lands occupied in 1967. ‘Hamas had predicted all along that Israel would not fulfil its bargain,’ Tamimi writes, ‘and that it was using peacemaking in order to expropriate more land.’
Palestinians have seen their putative state in the West Bank salami-sliced away by settlements, army posts, military zones, fences and Israeli-only roads that cut the territory into enclaves in which 2.5 million Palestinians are confined, their movements heavily curtailed. A map of the West Bank recently published by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows that the Israeli system of settlements and protective infrastructure has rendered 40 per cent of the West Bank off-limits to Palestinians. Palestinians have seen the US and Europe do nothing about this. The US and the EU argued that Palestinian violence was the problem; but the Palestinians noted that in periods of quiet more rather than less of their land fell to the Israeli salami-slicer – yet still the international community remained silent. Any optimism from Oslo had long faded by 2006, when the Palestinians voted in Hamas. There is no longer a significant ‘peace camp’ that believes in gradual progress towards a Palestinian state.
Against this background of disenchantment, the contributors to Jamil Hilal’s Where Now for Palestine? The Demise of the Two-State Solution point either towards a binational state in Israel/Palestine, or to a further chapter of armed resistance, or both. Ziad Abu Amr argues that the ‘Palestinian Authority is becoming a façade hiding an actual Israeli occupation, and a tool to help Israel regulate its occupation policies.’ Jamil Hilal argues that ‘Israel’s policy has amounted to a systematic negation of the basic conditions necessary for a viable and sovereign Palestinian state,’ and Ilan Pappe, looking for the roots of Israeli policy, concludes that ‘occupation proceeds from the same ideological infrastructure on which the 1948 ethnic cleansing was erected.’ None of these contributors thinks that the psychological and political conditions for a two-state solution any longer prevail. The adoption of demands for a new Israeli constitution by Adalah, a human rights organisation based in Israel, is a further signal of radicalisation. ‘The Democratic Constitution’ – a discussion document that has generated widespread interest among Palestinian citizens of Israel, and outrage in some parts of the Israeli press – calls for a constitution that conforms to democratic principles, is bilingual and multicultural, and which, above all, enshrines the right to complete equality of all residents and citizens, thereby making Israel no longer an exclusively Jewish state, or even a state that affords special privileges to Jewish citizens.
One reason for Fatah’s election defeat was its failure to recognise that the Bush administration was different from the Clinton administration. Fatah persisted in its assumption that, at bottom, the Bush administration shared its vision of a Palestinian state based on Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967. The leadership continued to assume that if they pleased the US they would eventually be rewarded by pressure on Israel to concede a viable Palestinian state. It has long been obvious to most Palestinians, including many in Fatah, that the vision Bush shared was not Fatah’s, but that of Tel Aviv, and it sees Israel remaining in the West Bank for ever.
Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, an institute funded by foreign governments to conduct opinion surveys in Palestine, conducted three crucial polls that affected perceptions in Washington in the early parts of June, September and December 2005. They all showed Fatah leading Hamas by a comfortable margin. In June, Shikaki showed Fatah ahead by 44 per cent to Hamas’s 33 per cent; in September Fatah’s share had gone up to 47 per cent as against Hamas’s 30; by December, one month before the election, he gave Fatah 50 per cent and Hamas 32. In the election, however, Hamas won 74 parliamentary seats and Fatah 45 in a 132-seat chamber. Hamas’s own assessment of November 2005 anticipated that they would win between 70 and 80 seats.
It is difficult to know whether it was the European and American refusal, on the basis of these polls, to acknowledge that Palestinian perceptions had changed which influenced the actions of certain Fatah leaders after the election. Or whether Europe’s friends in Fatah, such as Dahlan, with his claim to be able to deal with Hamas, persuaded Europeans to shut their eyes to the revolution in Palestinian sentiment. Dahlan, Al-Ahram Weekly recently reported,
tacitly admits that he has been behind much of the lawlessness and security chaos in Gaza: ‘I just deploy two jeeps, and people would say Gaza is on fire . . . Hamas is now the weakest Palestinian faction. They are whining and complaining. Well, they will have to suffer yet more until they are damned to the seventh ancestor.’
Whatever the cause, Europeans embarked on one of their greatest policy mistakes in the region – second only to their support for the invasion of Iraq – with their dogged determination to isolate Hamas and attempt to return Fatah to power.
Hamas had argued during the election campaign that Fatah’s promise to Israel of an end to violence would bring Fatah only Israeli contempt for what it would perceive as Palestinian ‘weakness’. As Hamas sees it, a just solution will emerge only when Israel comes to ‘respect’ its adversaries; meanwhile Fatah’s pleading to be Israel’s peace partner is indirectly contributing to Israel’s hegemonic ambitions. Hamas therefore argues for continued resistance, and for a reversal of the Arafat doctrine, which held that Palestinian institutions should not be established until a state had been achieved. It believes that good governance now, and the unity it will bring, is the path to a Palestinian state. With its record of effective and corruption-free local government, it has been keen to put this into practice at the national level: it may now have its chance in Gaza.
The problem for Hamas is that its constituency – the rank and file – and the wider Islamist movement have now embarked on a period of introspection. What is apparent – and this can be ascertained on any number of Islamist websites – is that the mainstream Islamist strategy of pursuing an electoral path to reform is now being questioned. This will have an impact well beyond Palestine – most obviously in Egypt and Jordan. Three events have triggered this reassessment: the sanctions imposed on the Hamas government; last summer’s US-backed war to destroy Hizbullah in Lebanon; and the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which raises not a peep of protest from Europeans. Continued Western hostility towards all Islamists, however moderate their policies, has also frustrated the grass-roots.
At a conference held in Beirut in April, the senior Hamas official present, Usamah Hamadan, was strongly criticised by Fathi Yakan, the leader of Jamaat Islamiyah in Lebanon, for having embarked on the electoral route in the first place. Yakan pointed to the failure – experienced by all Islamists without exception – of those who have participated in their national parliaments. No MP or deputy, from Islamabad to Cairo, or anywhere in between, has succeeded in bringing any significant change to their society. At the same time, young Egyptians in the Muslim Brotherhood have been debating whether their eighty-year-old movement has lost its way. Commentators have been arguing that for it to sit in parliament – while its leaders are being interned, its economic base is being attacked, and legislation is being passed aimed at excluding movements with a religious basis from elections – undermines its credibility and invites derision. The movement, it’s suggested, is too big, rigid and ungainly, and needs to be rethought – and perhaps broken up.
At issue in these discussions is whether moderate Islamist groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah will manage to retain their influence over this process of radicalisation; and whether they will survive as a cohesive, disciplined political bloc. Sunni Islamist movements are increasingly concerned at the spread of small Salafist groups that verge on the nihilistic in their disdain for political ideology and in their belief that to set fire to the remnants of colonial power is in itself enough to raise the revolutionary consciousness they hope for. Salafist groups are beginning to make inroads in Gaza, as they have already done in Iraq, Lebanon and North Africa.
What will happen is far from clear. A return to the violent vanguardism of the 1960s and 1970s, detached from popular legitimacy and support, seems unlikely. More plausibly, moderate movements such as Hamas and Hizbullah will encourage popular resistance while also striving to maintain their political presence. Hamas’s armed resistance in Gaza to what they perceive as a Western campaign to depose them is an example of the way an Islamist movement can satisfy a radicalised constituency increasingly angry at American interference in their societies in the interest of what Hassan Nasrallah has termed the ‘Western project’.
One indication of what voters now want can be gauged from Nasrallah’s speeches. ‘In our region,’ he said in Beirut in March, ‘we witness the serious threat . . . presented by the US administration to achieve its scheme for the control of our resources, countries, decisions and destiny . . . Today we no longer hear talk about elections and democracy . . . They discovered that, if free and honest elections were to take place in the Muslim world, patriots who are hostile to US policy and who refuse to succumb to US hegemony will win in every country whether they are Islamists or not due to the general mood in the Islamic world.’ In other words, the test will be whether individuals and states acquiesce to US policy, or ‘refuse to succumb’.
The activities of the US are fundamental to the present crisis. Iraq continues to radiate instability and is exacerbating tensions between the Shia and Sunni everywhere. US and EU policy in Palestine and Lebanon is driving internal tension and polarisation, and the risk of conflict involving Iran and possibly Syria overshadows everything else in the region. In all, the Americans and Europeans are engaged in six internal conflicts in Muslim societies – in Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine – in each case providing finance and weapons for one faction to use against another. As I write, Hizbullah is preparing for the possibility of renewed conflict with Israel, and Syria and Iran have also reached the conclusion that conflict is a real and imminent prospect, and are actively preparing for it.
When all parties begin to see conflict as inevitable, then the ‘inevitable’ becomes self-fulfilling. Americans are fond of comparing the situation in the region to the 1930s and the rise of totalitarianism; but perhaps Europe in 1914 is a better metaphor: the situation is such that some small, unexpected autonomous event might trigger a sequence of events that even the great powers of the region could find it beyond their ability to control. In the past, after all, a car accident (in the case of the first intifada) and a cinema fire (triggering the Iranian revolution) have unleashed consequences that no one could have foreseen.
Israel, too, seems oblivious to its position. It believes that the Palestinian conflict can be sustained, and it continues to enjoy a growing economy and a healthy tourist trade. Israelis have arrived at a modus vivendi with their peculiar circumstances: life can go on, they sanguinely presume. In Failing Peace, which charts the psychological and human costs of occupation and prolonged violence, Sara Roy warns that
prior to Oslo there was a belief among Israelis that peace and occupation were incompatible but this has changed. In recent years more and more Israelis are benefiting from the occupation. Their lives, for example, have been facilitated by the vast settlement road network built in the West Bank and by an improved economy . . . hence, Israelis no longer feel uncomfortable with the occupation at a time when the occupation has grown more repressive and perverse. This contradiction is dangerous and unsustainable.
Roy’s warning is timely. Over the middle term it is possible to predict that a greater number of Palestinian citizens of Israel will become radicalised, as well as members of the Palestinian population as a whole. Israel’s ‘moderate’ friends among Arab leaders may disappear. It may also encounter Islamists not only in the Palestinian government, but at the Jordanian and Egyptian frontiers; and conflict with Iran, were it to occur, might finish up by sweeping away many of the region’s landmarks.
This prospect may not disturb the slumbers of the Europeans, who will dismiss it as alarmist, even if their record of reading events in the area has been less than inspired. But these are the scenarios that are being taken seriously by thoughtful Islamists in the region. We should hope – that may be all we can now do – that moderate Islamist movements manage to navigate these turbulent times, in spite of European attempts to prevent Islamism, which is clearly now the dominant regional current, from reshaping Middle Eastern societies. These attempts are opening space, not for the moderate pro-Western secularists whom Europeans seek to empower, but for those who believe that to build a new society you must first burn down the old one.
Alastair Crooke, who helped facilitate a number of ceasefires in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict between 2001 and 2003, was a member of the Mitchell Commission on the causes of the second intifada and a special adviser to Javier Solana.
from Bertell Ollman :
Subject: Ronnie Kasrils speech to S. African Parliament on 40th anniversary of occupation.
Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007
Electronic Intifada 6 June 2007
For the web site from a very interesting source.
Ronnie Kasrils' speech to S. African Parliament
on 40th anniversary of occupation
[The following is a speech given to the South African Parliament by Minister Ronnie Kasrils, MP, on 6 June 2007]
Madam Speaker, Honourable members, this speech is dedicated to the memory of David Rabkin, South African freedom fighter, who died in Angola.
Forty years ago this week Israel's military unleashed lightning attacks against Egypt, Jordan and Syria, alleging provocations as justification for its strikes.
Within six days the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Golan Heights had been captured.
Apart from the Sinai from which Israel withdrew in 1977, the other areas remain under Israeli military occupation and control to this day.
Whilst some justify Israel's actions on the grounds of pre-emptive self-defence, the obverse was the truth. From the horse's mouth we learn whom the aggressor was:
Israel's military Chief of Staff, Yitzhak Rabin stated: "I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent into Sinai on May 14  would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it." 
Menachem Begin, later Israel's Prime Minister, reminisced that the Egyptian army deployment in the Sinai did not prove that Nasser was about
to attack Israel. "We must be honest," he explained. "We decided to attack him." 
General Moshe Dayan explained that "many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel." He said that the kibbutz
residents who pressed the Government to take the Golan Heights ... did so less for the security than for the farmland ..." 
These are clearly statements of an aggressor. Nevertheless, some claim that Israel is justified and obligated, from its birth as a state in 1948 in fact, to defend its land and people by force whenever necessary. But where is the morality in this? Fortress Israel, a militarist aggressive state, defends a stolen land that belonged to another people.
Moshe Dayan unabashedly explained: "Before [the Palestinians'] very eyes we are possessing the land and villages where they, and their ancestors, have lived ... We are the generation of colonizers, and without the gun barrel we cannot plant a tree and build a home." 
Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, stated in the 1950s: "Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: We have taken their country.
Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them. Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, its true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis ... but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country." 
Such statements contextualise Israel's position and show it has not been interested in real peace terms. In 1897 the founding father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, stated that once in power the aim would be to: "Spirit the penniless population (the Palestinians) across the borders." 
Therein lies the fundamental cause of the conflict -- lest anyone remains unclear. It stems from the Zionist world view -- its belief in a perpetual anti-Semitism that requires that Jewish people around the world -- a faith group -- should have a national home of their own. The biblical narrative was evoked to proclaim Palestine as the promised land reserved exclusively for God's "chosen people" and their civilizing mission. It sounds all too familiar as a vision the Voortrekkers had in this country. It gives rise to racism, apartheid and a total onslaught on those who stand in your way, whether blacks or Arabs or red Indians. Many Jews do not agree with this Zionist world view, and declare that being anti-Zionism and critical of Israel does not equate with anti-semitism.
Far from being a land without people, as Zionist propaganda falsely proclaimed, to attract and justify colonial settlement, the fact was that an indigenous people -- the Palestinians -- lived there, developed agriculture and towns since the Canaanite Kingdom over 5,500 years ago.
Indeed a delegation of skeptical Vienna rabbis traveled to the Holy Land in 1898 to assess the Zionist vision and cabled home: "The Bride is indeed beautiful but already married." 
This did not deter the Zionists who plotted to abduct the bride and murder or expel the groom by whatever means necessary; and then defend what they had stolen at all costs by creating a supremacist Fortress State.
That exactly sums up the bloody and tragic history that befell the Palestinian people, and their Arab neighbours, at the hands of a rapacious, expansionist Zionist project that has been the source of war and untold suffering in the Near East for the past sixty years, and is the root cause of the conflict that threatens the entire region and
With the adoption of the United Nations Partition Plan of November, 1947, a Jewish homeland was accorded 56 percent of the territory although they owned only seven percent and were one-third of the population (most of whom had recently arrived as Holocaust refugees from Europe). The Palestinian majority were given 44 percent and were never consulted nor had they anything to do with the abominable suffering of the European Jews. The Zionists accepted partition with alacrity but never intended to
honour the decision.
According to the Zionist's strategy, which has become public record with the declassification of documents, the intention was to roll-out a systematic reign of terror, massacres, dispossession and expulsion. This drove out the Palestinian population in a horrific episode of ethnic cleansing that saw over 750,000 or two-thirds of the indigenous people at that time becoming penniless refugees, as Herzl had promised. By the 1949 Armistice the Israeli state had expanded to 78 percent of the territory.
That was almost 60 years ago. The result of Israel's war of aggression of forty years ago this week, an extension of 1948, saw Israeli military occupation of the remaining 22 percent of the land.
The people within the West Bank and Gaza are literally imprisoned under the most unjust conditions suffering hardships and methods of control that are far worse than anything our people faced during the most dreadful days of apartheid. In fact any South African, visiting what amount to enclosed prison-ghettoes -- imposed by a Jewish people that tragically suffered the Nazi Holocaust -- will find similarity with Apartheid immediately coming to mind; and even more shocking, comparisons with some of the methods of collective punishment and control devised under tyrannies elsewhere. An Israeli cabinet Minister, Aharon Cizling, stated in 1948, after the Deir Yassin Massacre: "Now we too have behaved like Nazis and my whole being is shaken." 
If anyone has any doubt what the 1948 and 1967 wars were about, listen to Ben Gurion who stated in 1938: "after we become a strong force, as the result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine."
And mark these words of Moshe Dayan: "Our fathers had reached the frontiers which were recognized in the UN Partition Plan of 1947 [56 percent of the land]. Our generation reached the frontiers of 1949 [78 percent of the land]. Now the Six Day Generation [of 1967] has managed to reach Suez, Jordan and the Golan Heights. This is not the end." 
Indeed the saga of agony for the Palestinians continues, inevitably creating insecurity for Israelis as well; because as we know from our own South African experience -- injustice and repression generates resistance. It is no good blaming the victims when they hit back.
The Palestinian people's fate clearly reflects that of South Africa's indigenous majority during the colonial wars of dispossession of land and property, and the harsh discrimination and suffering of the apartheid period classified as a crime against humanity and violation of international humanitarian law. Israel is as guilty as the Apartheid regime. Israel's conquest and occupation, with the latest land grab caused by its monstrous Apartheid Wall and continued construction of the illegal settlements has reduced the West Bank into several disconnected pockets amounting to 12 percent of former Palestine. No wonder that Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Tutu and others compare the situation to Apartheid and the infamous Bantustans -- which gave 13 percent of land for South Africa's indigenous people.
This people's Parliament should be unanimous in calling for Israel's immediate withdrawal from the occupied territories -- lifting the physical, economic and financial blockade and siege of Gaza and the West Bank -- removing the physical impediments to the freedom of movement of Palestinians including the Wall and over 500 check-points -- dismantling the illegal settlements -- releasing 10,000 political prisoners (113 women and children amongst them) -- negotiating a just solution with the
elected representatives of the Palestinian people and implementing the UN Resolutions, including Resolution 194 of 1948, concerning the Right of Return of the Refugees. These are necessary steps to create lasting peace, justice and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike reinforced by international guarantees, so they may live in harmony.
Since 1988, when Chairman Yasser Arafat and the PLO agreed to accept 22 percent of historic Palestine in the interests of peace they show they have! been ready for negotiations.
Let us unanimously extend our solidarity and support to the forty-two members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, including the Speakers of the West Bank and Gaza, who together with ten Ministers have been summarily detained without trial, most for nearly a year, by the Israeli security forces. This is a shocking illustration of Israel's disrespect for parliamentary democracy, the law and basic human rights so reminiscent of what we suffered under apartheid. We call for their immediate and unconditional release; and all prisoners held by both sides.
In support of these demands let us join with the people of our country, and the international community, in the solidarity marches, rallies and demonstrations this week, the 40th anniversary of Israel's unjust occupation. And we make it clear to our Jewish community, these peaceful and disciplined actions, are aimed solely at that government. The struggle for freedom and justice is against a system and not a people.
Let me conclude with the words of President Mandela, who declared in 1998 during the visit to South Africa by Chairman Yasser Arafat: "We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians." 
 David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch
 Naom Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle
 New York Times, 11 May 1977
 Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel
 Nathan Goldman, The Jewish Paradox
 The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, Vol 1, p 86
 Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall
 Tom Seger, The First Israelis
 London Times, 25 June 1969
 Speech by Nelson Mandela at the Banquet in Honour of President Yasser Arafat of Palestine on 11 August 1998
from Edward Herman :
Subject: A Declaration of Independence From Israel--hedges
Date: Sat, 7 Jul 2007
Reading this for just 30 seconds and you will understand why Chris Hedges no longer works for the New York Times.
A Declaration of Independence From Israel
By Chris Hedges
srael, without the United States, would probably not exist. The country came perilously close to extinction during the October 1973 war when Egypt, trained and backed by the Soviet Union, crossed the Suez and the Syrians poured in over the Golan Heights. Huge American military transport planes came to the rescue. They began landing every half-hour to refit the battered Israeli army, which had lost most of its heavy armor. By the time the war was over, the United States had given
Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid.
The intervention, which enraged the Arab world, triggered the OPEC oil embargo that for a time wreaked havoc on Western economies. This was perhaps the most dramatic example of the sustained life-support system the United States has provided to the Jewish state.
Israel was born at midnight May 14, 1948. The U.S. recognized the new state 11 minutes later. The two countries have been locked in a deadly embrace ever since.
Washington, at the beginning of the relationship, was able to be a moderating influence. An incensed President Eisenhower demanded and got Israel's withdrawal after the Israelis occupied Gaza in 1956. During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes bombed the USS Liberty. The ship, flying the U.S. flag and stationed 15 miles off the Israeli coast, was intercepting tactical and strategic communications from both sides. The Israeli strikes killed 34 U.S. sailors and wounded 171. The deliberate attack froze, for a while, Washington's enthusiasm for Israel. But ruptures like this one proved to be only bumps, soon smoothed out by an increasingly sophisticated and well- financed Israel lobby that set out to merge Israeli and American foreign policy in the Middle East.
Israel has reaped tremendous rewards from this alliance. It has been given more than $140 billion in U.S. direct economic and military assistance. It receives about $3 billion in direct assistance annually, roughly one-fifth of the U.S. foreign aid budget. Although most American foreign aid packages stipulate that related military purchases have to be made in the United States, Israel is allowed to use about 25 percent of the money to subsidize its own growing and profitable defense industry. It is exempt, unlike other nations, from accounting for how it spends the aid money. And funds are routinely siphoned off to build new Jewish settlements, bolster the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories and construct the security barrier, which costs an estimated $1 million a mile.
The barrier weaves its way through the West Bank, creating isolated pockets of impoverished Palestinians in ringed ghettos. By the time the barrier is finished it will probably in effect seize up to 40 percent of Palestinian land. This is the largest land grab by Israel since the 1967 war. And although the United States officially opposes settlement expansion and the barrier, it also funds them.
The U.S. has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems and given Israel access to some of the most sophisticated items in its own military arsenal, including Blackhawk attack helicopters and F-16 fighter jets. The United States also gives Israel access to intelligence it denies to its NATO allies. And when Israel refused to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, the United States stood by without a word of protest as the Israelis built the region's first nuclear weapons program.
U.S. foreign policy, especially under the current Bush administration, has become little more than an extension of Israeli foreign policy. The United States since 1982 has
vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members. It refuses to enforce the Security Council resolutions it claims to support. These resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
There is now volcanic anger and revulsion by Arabs at this blatant favoritism. Few in the Middle East see any distinction between Israeli and American policies, nor should
they. And when the Islamic radicals speak of U.S. support of Israel as a prime reason for their hatred of the United States, we should listen. The consequences of this one-sided relationship are being played out in the disastrous war in Iraq, growing tension with Iran, and the humanitarian and political crisis in Gaza. It is being played out in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is gearing up for another war with Israel, one most Middle East analysts say is inevitable. The U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is unraveling. And it is doing so because of this special relationship. The eruption of a regional conflict would usher in a nightmare of catastrophic proportions.
There were many in the American foreign policy establishment and State Department who saw this situation coming. The decision to throw our lot in with Israel in the Middle East was not initially a popular one with an array of foreign policy experts, including President Harry Truman's secretary of state, Gen. George Marshall. They warned there would be a backlash. They knew the cost the United States would pay in the oil-rich region for this decision, which they feared would be one of the greatest strategic blunders of the postwar era. And they were right. The decision has jeopardized American and Israeli security and created the kindling for a regional conflagration.
The alliance, which makes no sense in geopolitical terms, does makes sense when seen through the lens of domestic politics. The Israel lobby has become a potent force in the American political system. No major candidate, Democrat or Republican, dares to challenge it. The lobby successfully purged the State Department of Arab experts who challenged the notion that Israeli and American interests were identical. Backers of Israel have doled out hundreds of millions of dollars to support U.S. political candidates deemed favorable to Israel. They have brutally punished those who strayed, including the first President Bush, who they said was not vigorous enough in his defense of Israeli interests. This was a lesson the next Bush White House did not forget. George W. Bush did not want to be a one-term president like his father.
Israel advocated removing Saddam Hussein from power and currently advocates striking Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. Direct Israeli involvement in American military operations in the Middle East is impossible. It would reignite a war between Arab states and Israel. The United States, which during the Cold War avoided direct military involvement in the region, now does the direct bidding of Israel while Israel watches from the sidelines. During the 1991 Gulf War, Israel was a spectator, just as it is in the war with Iraq.
President Bush, facing dwindling support for the war in Iraq, publicly holds Israel up as a model for what he would like Iraq to become. Imagine how this idea plays out on the Arab street, which views Israel as the Algerians viewed the French colonizers during the war of liberation.
"In Israel,' Bush said recently, 'terrorists have taken innocent human life for years in suicide attacks. The difference is that Israel is a functioning democracy and it's
not prevented from carrying out its responsibilities. And that's a good indicator of success that we're looking for in Iraq.'
Americans are increasingly isolated and reviled in the world. They remain blissfully ignorant of their own culpability for this isolation. U.S. 'spin' paints the rest of the world as unreasonable, but Israel, Americans are assured, will always be on our side.
Israel is reaping economic as well as political rewards from its lock-down apartheid state. In the 'gated community' market it has begun to sell systems and techniques that allow the nation to cope with terrorism. Israel, in 2006, exported $3.4 billion in defense products-well over a billion dollars more than it received in American military aid. Israel has grown into the fourth largest arms dealer in the world. Most of this growth has come in the so-called homeland security sector.
"The key products and services,' as Naomi Klein wrote in The Nation, 'are hi-tech fences, unmanned drones, biometric IDs, video and audio surveillance gear, air passenger profiling and prisoner interrogation systems-precisely the tools and technologies Israel has used to lock in the occupied territories. And that is why the chaos in Gaza and the rest of the region doesn't threaten the bottom line in Tel Aviv, and may actually boost it. Israel has learned to turn endless war into a brand asset, pitching its uprooting, occupation and containment of the Palestinian people as a half-century head start in the â€?global war on terror.' '
The United States, at least officially, does not support the occupation and calls for a viable Palestinian state. It is a global player, with interests that stretch well beyond the boundaries of the Middle East, and the equation that Israel's enemies are our enemies is not that simple.
"Terrorism is not a single adversary,' John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote in The London Review of Books, 'but a tactic employed by a wide array of political groups. The terrorist organizations that threaten Israel do not threaten the United States, except when it intervenes against them (as in Lebanon in 1982). Moreover, Palestinian terrorism is not random violence directed against Israel or â€?the West'; it is largely a response to Israel's prolonged campaign to colonize the West Bank and Gaza Strip. More important, saying that Israel and the US are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around.'
Middle Eastern policy is shaped in the United States by those with very close ties to the Israel lobby. Those who attempt to counter the virulent Israeli position, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, are ruthlessly slapped down. This alliance was true also during the Clinton administration, with its array of Israel-first Middle East experts, including special Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk, the former deputy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, one of the most powerful Israel lobbying groups in Washington. But at least people like Indyk and Ross are sane, willing to consider a Palestinian state, however unviable, as long as it is palatable to Israel. The Bush administration turned to the far-right wing of the Israel lobby, those who have not a shred of compassion for the Palestinians or a word of criticism for Israel. These new Middle East experts include Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, the disgraced I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and David Wurmser.
Washington was once willing to stay Israel's hand. It intervened to thwart some of its most extreme violations of human rights. This administration, however, has signed on for every disastrous Israeli blunder, from building the security barrier in the West Bank, to sealing off Gaza and triggering a humanitarian crisis, to the ruinous invasion and saturation bombing of Lebanon.
The few tepid attempts by the Bush White House to criticize Israeli actions have all ended in hasty and humiliating retreats in the face of Israeli pressure. When the Israel
Defense Forces in April 2002 reoccupied the West Bank, President Bush called on then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to 'halt the incursions and begin withdrawal.' It never happened. After a week of heavy pressure from the Israel lobby and Israel's allies in Congress, meaning just about everyone in Congress, the president gave up, calling Sharon 'a man of peace.' It was a humiliating moment for the United States, a clear sign of who pulled the strings.
There were several reasons for the war in Iraq. The desire for American control of oil, the belief that Washington could build puppet states in the region, and a real, if misplaced, fear of Saddam Hussein played a part in the current disaster. But it was also strongly shaped by the notion that what is good for Israel is good for the United States. Israel wanted Iraq neutralized. Israeli intelligence, in the lead-up to the war, gave faulty information to the U.S. about Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. And when Baghdad was taken in April 2003, the Israeli government immediately began to push for an attack on Syria. The lust for this attack has waned, in no small part because the Americans don't have enough troops to hang on in Iraq, much less launch a new occupation.
Israel is currently lobbying the United States to launch aerial strikes on Iran, despite the debacle in Lebanon. Israel's iron determination to forcibly prevent a nuclear Iran
makes it probable that before the end of the Bush administration an attack on Iran will take place. The efforts to halt nuclear development through diplomatic means have
failed. It does not matter that Iran poses no threat to the United States. It does not matter that it does not even pose a threat to Israel, which has several hundred nuclear weapons in its arsenal. It matters only that Israel demands total military domination of the Middle East.
The alliance between Israel and the United States has culminated after 50 years in direct U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. This involvement, which is not furthering American interests, is unleashing a geopolitical nightmare. American soldiers and Marines are dying in droves in a useless war. The impotence of the United States in the face of Israeli pressure is complete. The White House and the Congress have become, for perhaps the first time, a direct extension of Israeli interests. There is no longer any debate within the United States. This is evidenced by the obsequious nods to Israel by all the current presidential candidates with the exception of Dennis Kucinich. The political cost for those who challenge Israel is too high.
This means there will be no peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It means the incidents of Islamic terrorism against the U.S. and Israel will grow. It
means that American power and prestige are on a steep, irreversible decline. And I fear it also means the ultimate end of the Jewish experiment in the Middle East.
The weakening of the United States, economically and militarily, is giving rise to new centers of power. The U.S. economy, mismanaged and drained by the Iraq war, is
increasingly dependent on Chinese trade imports and on Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury securities. China holds dollar reserves worth $825 billion. If Beijing decides to abandon the U.S. bond market, even in part, it would cause a free fall by the dollar. It would lead to the collapse of the $7-trillion U.S. real estate market. There would be a wave of U.S. bank failures and huge unemployment. The growing dependence on China has been accompanied by aggressive work by the Chinese to build alliances with many of the world's major exporters of oil, such as Iran, Nigeria, Sudan and Venezuela. The Chinese are preparing for the looming worldwide clash over dwindling resources.
The future is ominous. Not only do Israel's foreign policy objectives not coincide with American interests, they actively hurt them. The growing belligerence in the Middle East, the calls for an attack against Iran, the collapse of the imperial project in Iraq have all given an opening, where there was none before, to America's rivals. It is not in Israel's interests to ignite a regional conflict. It is not in ours. But those who have their hands on the wheel seem determined, in the name of freedom and democracy, to keep the American ship of state headed at breakneck speed into the cliffs before us.
Copyright (c) 2007 Truthdig A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion. Editor, Robert Scheer. Publisher, Zuade Kaufman.
from Edward Herman and William Blum :
Subject: Blame the puppet
Date: 9 July 2007
from Dhar Jamal :
Subject: MidEast Dispatches: Have the Tigris and Euphrates Run Dry?
Date: 9 July 2007
Have the Tigris and Euphrates Run Dry?
Inter Press Service
By Ali al-Fadhily
[BAGHDAD, Jul 9 (IPS) - Two of the largest rivers of the region run through Iraq, so why are Iraqis desperate for lack of water?]
The vast majority of Iraqis live by the Euphrates river, and the Tigris with its many tributaries. The two rivers join near Basra city in the south to form the Shat al-Arab river basin. Iraq is also gifted with high quality ground water resources; about a fifth of the territory is farmland.
"The water we have in Iraq is more than enough for our living needs," chief engineer Adil Mahmood of the Irrigation Authority in Baghdad told IPS. "In fact we can export water to neighbouring countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan -- who manage shortages in water resources with good planning."
But now Iraqi farmers struggle to get water to their crops. There is severe lack of electricity to run pumps, and fuel to run generators.
"The water is there and the rivers have not dried up, but the problem lies in how to get it to our dying plantations," Jabbar Ahmed, a farmer from Latifiya south of Baghdad told IPS. "It is a shame that we, our animals and our plants are thirsty in a country that has the two great rivers."
Iraq now imports most agricultural products because of lack of irrigation.
"I used to sell fifty tonnes of tomatoes every year, but now I go to the market to buy my daily need," Numan Majid from the Abu Ghraib area just west of Baghdad told IPS. "I tried hard to cope with the situation, but in vain. One cannot grow crops in Iraq any more with this water shortage."
Some Iraqis talk of the times when this region taught the world how to use water.
"Sumerians were more advanced than we are now," Mahmood Shakir, a historian from Baghdad University told IPS. "Over seven thousand years ago, the Sumerians dug channels to water their wheat farms and Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, brought water to his great Suspended Gardens in a way that made them one of the seven wonders."
According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation, Iraq has a total area of 438,320 square kilometres and 924 km of inland waters. It is topographically shaped like a basin between the Tigris and the Euphrates. Ancient Mesopotamia where Iraq now stands means literally the land between two rivers.
Now it is another story around those two rivers. "This gift from God is not used properly by the authorities because of the UN sanctions and then the chaos that followed U.S. occupation of the country," said Jabbar Ahmed.
The U.S. company Bechtel, whose board members have close ties to the Bush administration, was to carry out reconstruction and rehabilitation of Iraq's water and electrical infrastructure. But it left the country without carrying out most such tasks.
The average household in Iraq now gets two hours of electricity a day. About 70 percent of Iraqis have no access to safe drinking water, and only 19 percent have sewage access, according to the World Health Organisation. Unemployment stands at more than 60 percent.
Many Iraqi professionals blame the occupation, and companies that it brought in, such as Bechtel.
Amidst all this, the government is funding study of agricultural practices.
"The government is spending huge amounts of money on research into agriculture and irrigation," Dr. Muath Sadiq, a researcher in agricultural reform in Baghdad told IPS. "I think that is simply a way to steal more money from the government budget."
The research is not much good, he said, because the real problem "is clearly the shortage in electricity and fuel. To be more precise, the reason is the occupation and the corrupt governments it brought to the country."
(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region)
from Democracy Now! :
Subject: Tamming the Giant Corporations.
10 July 2007
The race for the 2008 election is on and all we hear about is the race for
the money. Presidential hopefuls are vying with each other to raise tens of
millions of dollars for what is projected to be the most expensive election
in history. But hardly anyone is talking about where this money comes from
or where it ends up. Fewer still have asked persistent questions about
corporate America's grip over not just the elections, but most policy
decisions out of Washington, DC.
Today, we spend the hour with a man who has spent the last four decades
doing all of this and more. I'm talking about consumer advocate, corporate
critic, and three-time (will it be more?) presidential candidate Ralph
Nader. We spoke with him in June at the end of a conference called "Taming
the Giant Corporation."
from Bertell Ollman :
Subject: EXXON'S PLAN B FOR CLIMATE CALAMITY: BURN PEOPLE
Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007
Another for the CEIMSA web site. With all the justified talk about Moore SICKO (a terrific film ... and lecture by the way), here's another good example of the effective use of radical humor. These guys deserve to be much better known than they are.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EXXON PROPOSES BURNING HUMANITY FOR FUEL
IF CLIMATE CALAMITY HITS
[Conference organizer fails to have Yes Men arrested
Text of speech, photos, video: http://www.vivoleum.com/event/
GO-EXPO statement: http://newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2007/14/c5086.html
Press conference before this event, Friday, Calgary: http://arusha.org/event/7214
More links at end of release.
Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC) representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen at GO-EXPO, Canada's largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta, today.
The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the major highlight of this year's conference, which had 20,000 attendees. In it, the "NPC rep" was expected to deliver the long-awaited conclusions of a study commissioned by US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee
Raymond, who is also the chair of the study. (See link at end.)
In the actual speech, the "NPC rep" announced that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil
industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.
"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said "NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.
"Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production," noted "Exxon rep" "Florian Osenberg" (Yes Man Mike Bonanno). "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left."
The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit "commemorative candles" supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an "Exxon janitor" who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles
after his death, and all became crystal-clear.
At that point, Simon Mellor, Commercial & Business Development Director for the company putting on the event, strode up and physically forced the Yes Men from the stage. As Mellor escorted Bonanno out the door, a dozen journalists surrounded Bichlbaum, who, still in character as "Shepard Wolff," explained to them the rationale for Vivoleum.
"We've got to get ready. After all, fossil fuel development like that of my company is increasing the chances of catastrophic climate change, which could lead to massive calamities, causing migration and conflicts that would likely disable the pipelines and oil wells.
Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."
"We're not talking about killing anyone," added the "NPC rep." "We're talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year. That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel."
Security guards then dragged Bichlbaum away from the reporters, and he and Bonanno were detained until Calgary Police Service officers could arrive. The policemen, determining that no major infractions had been committed, permitted the Yes Men to leave.
Canada's oil sands, along with "liquid coal," are keystones of Bush's Energy Security plan. Mining the oil sands is one of the dirtiest forms of oil production and has turned Canada into one of the world's worst carbon emitters. The production of "liquid coal" has twice the carbon footprint as that of ordinary gasoline. Such technologies increase the likelihood of massive climate catastrophes that will condemn to death untold millions of people, mainly poor.
"If our idea of energy security is to increase the chances of climate calamity, we have a very funny sense of what security really is," Bonanno said. "While ExxonMobil continues to post record profits, they use their money to persuade governments to do nothing about climate change. This is a crime against humanity."
"Putting the former Exxon CEO in charge of the NPC, and soliciting his advice on our energy future, is like putting the wolf in charge of the flock," said "Shepard Wolff" (Bichlbaum). "Exxon has done more damage to the environment and to our chances of survival than any other company on earth. Why should we let them determine our future?"
About the NPC and ExxonMobil: http://ga3.org/campaign/lee_raymond/explanation
About the Alberta oil sands: http://www.sierraclub.ca/prairie/tarnation.htm
About liquid coal: http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/liquidcoal/