The donkey that didn't bray
My next post will be about dogs, not donkeys. I promise!
UPDATE: Some Democrats kick ass! Here's hoping Tasini boots Hillary's.
Watch this ad from the Tasini campaign.
Local walks, global politics, and the adventures of a frolicsome border collie
Titled "Real Security," the political document calls for staged town hall events at military bases, weapons factories, National Guard units, fire stations and veterans posts.
"Ensure that you have the proper U.S. and state flags at the event, and consider finding someone to sing the national anthem and lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the event."
"Real Security" calls for Democrats to hinge the 2006 fall campaign on how the Republicans have failed us on the issue of national security. Harry Reid says Democrats should wrap themselves in the flag, use tanks as backdrop and then try to outflank the Republicans from the right with demands for increased military funding, a better fought war, tighter borders, and ports run by white American-born Christians, preferably free of radical organizers from the ILWU.
I of course read it with interest. This is what I think. I will be referring to the full text that appeared as a Faculty Research Working Papers Series by the Kennedy School of Government. I guess I am in the minority in the pro-Palestinian camp on this one; I am not thrilled to read the piece. Not that I do not subscribe to criticisms of US foreign policy, but that is not what the authors do. The authors seem intent on blaming all the ills in US foreign policy on the Israeli lobby. There are obvious problems with that approach: it seems to ignore or deny the ills of US foreign policy in regions outside the Middle East. It also absolves the US administration, any US administration, from any responsibility because they (the administrations) become portrayed as helpless victims of an all-powerful lobby. Thirdly, the approach does not take into consideration the interests that certain elements of the US establishment see in maintaining US foreign policy toward Israel. Fourthly, the approach does not situate US foreign policy in the Middle East into the context of the global role of the US, especially in the ear of Bush--and Clinton. And the piece, while significant because it comes from two mainstream academics, does not offer anything new or original.
Blaming the lobby
While many of the studies of the pro-Israel lobby are sound and full of awe-inspiring well- documented details about the formidable power commanded by groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its allies, the problem with most of them is what remains unarticulated. For example, when and in what context has the United States government ever supported national liberation in the Third World? The record of the United States is one of being the implacable enemy of all Third World national liberation groups, including European ones, from Greece to Latin America to Africa and Asia, except in the celebrated cases of the Afghan fundamentalists' war against the USSR and supporting apartheid South Africa's main terrorist allies in Angola and Mozambique (UNITA and RENAMO) against their respective anti-colonial national governments. Why then would the US support national liberation in the Arab world absent the pro-Israel lobby is something these studies never explain.
The United States has had a consistent policy since World War II of fighting all regimes across the Third World who insist on controlling their national resources, whether it be land, oil, or other valuable minerals.
The arguments put forth by these studies would have been more convincing if the Israel lobby was forcing the United States government to pursue policies in the Middle East that are inconsistent with its global policies elsewhere. This, however, is far from what happens. While US policies in the Middle East may often be an exaggerated form of its repressive and anti- democratic policies elsewhere in the world, they are not inconsistent with them.
Is the pro- Israel lobby extremely powerful in the United States? As someone who has been facing the full brunt of their power for the last three years through their formidable influence on my own university and their attempts to get me fired, I answer with a resounding yes. Are they primarily responsible for US policies towards the Palestinians and the Arab world? Absolutely not. The United States is opposed in the Arab world as elsewhere because it has pursued and continues to pursue policies that are inimical to the interests of most people in these countries and are only beneficial to its own interests and to the minority regimes in the region that serve those interests, including Israel.
(1) US foreign policy does not "mean well". It's not that American leaders have miscalculated, or blundered, causing great suffering, as in Iraq, while having noble intentions. Rather, while pursuing their imperial goals they simply do not care about the welfare of the foreign peoples who are on the receiving end of the bombing and the torture, and we should not let them get away with claiming such intentions.
(2) The United States is not concerned with this thing called "democracy", no matter how many times George W. uses the word each time he opens his mouth. In the past 60 years, the US has attempted to overthrow literally dozens of democratically-elected governments, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and grossly interfered in as many democratic elections in every corner of the world. The question is: What do the Busheviks mean by "democracy"? The last thing they have in mind is any kind of economic democracy, the closing of the gap between the desperate poor and those for whom too much is not enough. The first thing they have in mind is making sure the target country has the political, financial and legal mechanisms in place to make it hospitable to globalization.
(3) Anti-American terrorists are not motivated by hatred or envy of freedom or democracy, or by American wealth, secular government, or culture. They are motivated by decades of awful things done to their homelands by US foreign policy. It works the same all over the world. In the period of the 1950s to the 1980s in Latin America, in response to a long string of Washington's dreadful policies, there were countless acts of terrorism against US diplomatic and military targets as well as the offices of US corporations. The US bombing, invasion, occupation and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan have created thousands of new anti-American terrorists. We'll be hearing from them for a terribly long time.
(4) The United States is not actually against terrorism per se, only those terrorists who are not allies of the empire. There is a lengthy and infamous history of support for numerous anti-Castro terrorists, even when their terrorist acts were committed in the United States. At this moment, Luis Posada Carriles remains protected by the US government, though he masterminded the blowing up of a Cuban airplane that killed 73 people and his extradition has been requested by Venezuela. He's but one of hundreds of anti-Castro terrorists who've been given haven in the United States over the years. The United States has also provided close support of terrorists in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq and elsewhere, including those with known connections to al Qaeda, to further foreign policy goals more important than fighting terrorism.
(5) Iraq was not any kind of a threat to the United States. Of the never-ending lies concerning Iraq, this is the most insidious, the necessary foundation for all the other lies. This is the supposed justification for the preemptive invasion, for what the Nuremberg Tribunal called a war of aggression. Absent such a threat, it didn't matter if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, it didn't matter if the intelligence was right or wrong about this or that, or whether the Democrats also believed the lies. All that mattered was the Bush administration's claim that Iraq was an imminent threat to wreak some kind of great havoc upon America. But think about that. What possible reason could Saddam Hussein have had for attacking the United States other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide?
(6) There was never any such animal as the International Communist Conspiracy. There were, as there still are, people living in misery, rising up in protest against their condition, against an oppressive government, a government usually supported by the United States.
(7) Conservatives, particularly of the neo- kind (far to the right on the political spectrum), and liberals (ever so slightly to the left of center) are not ideological polar opposites. Thus, watching a TV talk show on foreign policy with a conservative and a liberal is not "balanced"; a more appropriate balance to a conservative would be a left-wing radical or progressive. American liberals are typically closer to conservatives on foreign policy than they are to these groupings on the left, and the educational value of such "balanced" media can be more harmful than beneficial as far as seeing through the empire's motives and actions.
Pro-Israel lobby in U.S. under attack
Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, author of "The Tragedy of Great Power Politics" and Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kenney School, and author of "Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy," are leading figures American in academic life.
They claim that the Israel lobby has distorted American policy and operates against American interests, that it has organized the funneling of more than $140 billion dollars to Israel and "has a stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress, and its ability to raise large campaign funds gives its vast influence over Republican and Democratic administrations, while its role in Washington think tanks on the Middle East dominates the policy debate.
And they say that the Lobby works ruthlessly to suppress questioning of its role, to blacken its critics and to crush serious debate about the wisdom of supporting Israel in U.S. public life.
Two of America's top scholars have published a searing attack on the role and power of Washington's pro-Israel lobby in a British journal, warning that its "decisive" role in fomenting the Iraq war is now being repeated with the threat of action against Iran. And they say that the Lobby is so strong that they doubt their article would be accepted in any U.S.-based publication.
Lieberman is a squirrelly little opportunist who backstabs his own party while his election coffers grow fat from the contributions of war profiteers his petty bellicosity has done so much to enrich.
Harkin Signs on to Censure Measure
“I haven’t made any final judgment,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said as he ducked into a Democratic Caucus meeting. A minute later, Bingaman reappeared to say, “I won’t support it.”
A Pomona College professor who is an outspoken critic of U.S. policy in Venezuela was questioned on March 7th by two agents from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in what he calls an act of intimidation.
"I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton."
"I can’t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can’t even see straight."
"As usual, the Democrats have forty good issues on their side and want to run on thirty-nine of them. Here are three they should stick to:
1) Iraq is making terrorism worse; it’s a breeding ground. We need to extricate ourselves as soon as possible. We are not helping the Iraqis by staying.
2) Full public financing of campaigns so as to drive the moneylenders from the halls of Washington.
3) Single-payer health insurance."
I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government. The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes! Bush and his team partied and delayed while millions of people were displaced, hundreds of thousands were abandoned to a living hell. Thousands more died of drowning, dehydration, hunger and exposure; most bodies remain unburied and rotting in attics and floodwater. Is this America the beautiful?
The risk of hurricane disaster was clearly predicted, yet funds for repair work for the Gulf States barrier islands and levee system were unconscionably diverted to the Iraq War. Money and manpower and ethics have been diverted to fight a war based on absolute lies! As a VA nurse working with returning OIF vets, I know the public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder; now we will have hundreds of thousands of our civilian citizens with PTSD as well as far too many young soldiers, maimed physically or psychologically—or both—spreading their pain, anger and isolation through family and communities for generations. And most of this natural disaster and war tragedy has been preventable ... how very, very sad!
In the meantime, our war-fueled federal deficit mushrooms—and whither this debt now, as we care for the displaced and destroyed?
Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence. This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil. Katrina itself was the size of New Mexico. Denials of global warming are ludicrous and patently irrational at this point. We can anticipate more wild, destructive weather to occur as a response stress of the planet. We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit. Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times.
"conduct consisting of speaking, writing, or acting against an established government or seeking to overthrow it by unlawful means."
"uh, isn't that what the US does all the time?"