Archive for July, 2009

Ilan Pappe: Disarm Israel

July 31, 2009

A Utopia or a Vision for Peace

By Ilan Pappe | ZNet, July 28, 2009

Ilan Pappe’s ZSpace Page

[Contribution to the Reimagining Society Project hosted by ZCommunications]

Whenever the possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state is mentioned by Israeli politicians, they take for granted that their interlocutors understand that the future state would have to be demilitarized and disarmed, if an Israeli consent for its existence is to be gained. Recently, this precondition was mentioned by the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to President Barrack Obama’s two states vision, presented to the world at large in his Cairo Speech this June. Netanyahu made this precondition first and foremost for domestic consumption: whoever has referred in the past to the creation of an independent state alongside Israel, and whoever does so today in Israel envisages a fully armed Israel next to a totally disarmed Palestine. But there was another reason why Netanyahu stressed the demilitarization of Palestine as a sine qua non: he knew perfectly well that there was no danger that even the most moderate Palestinian leader would accept such a caveat from the strongest military power in the Middle East.

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US Adviser: Time to Leave Iraq

July 31, 2009

Keeping Troops in Iraq Not Worth the Effort, Memo Advises

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, July 30, 2009

Colonel Timothy Reese, a senior US military adviser in Iraq, has issued a memo urging the US to dramatically speed up its pullout from Iraq, saying it should be announced that all troops will be out of the nation by August 2010.

Col. Timothy Reese

In the blunt memo, Col. Reese says keeping 132,000 US troops in Iraq “isn’t yielding benefits commensurate with the effort and is now generating its own opposition,” he also noted that “guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,” while reminding the reader that US troops have now been in Iraq for over six years. He also mocked the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for “childish chest pounding.”

During the campaign the Obama Administration had originally had a similar pullout strategy, saying they would have all troops out by May 2010. This was quickly revised after taking office, however, to removing all combat troops from the nation. This was further revised to note that the troops remaining would still be conducting combat missions, but wouldn’t be officially called combat troops.

Though his administration has hardly removed any troops at all since taking office, President Obama maintains that the pullout remains “on schedule.” The Reese memo will almost certainly raise further questions of whether that schedule needs dramatic revision, particularly at a time when Maliki is openly talking about keeping the troops in Iraq past 2011.

Three Good Reasons To Liquidate Our Empire

July 31, 2009

We (the US) are like the British at the end of World War II: desperately trying to shore up an empire that we never needed and can no longer afford, using methods that often resemble those of failed empires of the past — including the Axis powers of World War II and the former Soviet Union, notes Chalmers Johnson.

Chalmers Johnson, The Huffington Post, July 31, 2009

Ten Steps to Take to Do So

However ambitious President Barack Obama’s domestic plans, one unacknowledged issue has the potential to destroy any reform efforts he might launch. Think of it as the 800-pound gorilla in the American living room: our longstanding reliance on imperialism and militarism in our relations with other countries and the vast, potentially ruinous global empire of bases that goes with it. The failure to begin to deal with our bloated military establishment and the profligate use of it in missions for which it is hopelessly inappropriate will, sooner rather than later, condemn the United States to a devastating trio of consequences: imperial overstretch, perpetual war, and insolvency, leading to a likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union.

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Obama’s empire

July 31, 2009

An Unprecedented Network of Military Bases That is Still Expanding

Catherine Lutz, New Statesman, July 30, 2009

The 44th president of the United States was elected amid hopes that he would roll back his country’s global dominance. Today, he is commander-in-chief of an unprecedented network of military bases that is still expanding.

In December 2008, shortly before being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama pledged his belief that, “to ensure prosperity here at home and peace abroad”, it was vital to maintain “the strongest military on the planet”. Unveiling his national security team, including George Bush’s defence secretary, Robert Gates, he said: “We also agree the strength of our military has to be combined with the wisdom and force of diplomacy, and that we are going to be committed to rebuilding and restrengthening
alliances around the world to advance American interests and American security.”

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UN: Sharp rise in Afghan deaths

July 31, 2009
Al Jazeera, July 31, 2009

May was the deadliest month in Afghanistan
with 261 civilians killed [AFP]

The civilian death toll in Afghanistan has risen by 24 per cent this year, the United Nations has said.

In a new report released on Friday, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) blamed bombings by the Taliban and air raids by international forces for the majority of the killings.

The report said that 1,013 civilians were killed on the sidelines of their country’s armed conflict from January to the end of June, compared to 818 in the first half of 2008 and 684 in the same period in 2007.

Commenting on the report, Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said it was critical that steps be taken to shield Afghan communities from fighting.

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Tehran police attack protester memorial

July 31, 2009
Morning Star Online, Thursday 30 July 2009

Iranian police have fired tear gas and beat anti-government protesters with batons to disperse thousands of people attending a memorial of a woman whose killing made her an icon of the opposition movement.

The memorial service marked the end of the 40-day mourning period under Islam for 10 people killed in protests and clashes on June 20.

The service took place at the grave of one of the victims Neda Agha Soltan, who was shot to death on that day.

The 27-year-old music student’s dying moments were filmed and circulated widely on the internet and her name became a rallying cry for the opposition.

“Neda is alive, Ahmadinejad is dead,” some of those at the ceremony chanted, referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who the opposition claims won the June 12 election by fraud.

Plain-clothes forces charged at them with batons and tear gas, some of them chanting: “Death to those who are against the supreme leader.”

Police also barred opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi from joining the crowd around her grave.

When Mr Mousavi arrived at the site, hundreds of police surrounded him.

As several hundred supporters chanted his name, police forced him to leave the vast cemetery on Tehran’s southern outskirts where many of those killed in the nearly seven-week-old crackdown have been buried.

Before the clashes, police arrested two prominent Iranian filmmakers when they tried to lay flowers at Ms Soltan’s grave.

One of them was Jafar Panahi, best known for his film The Circle, which was critical of the treatment of women under the Islamist government and was banned in Iran.

Female documentary maker Mahnaz Mohammadi was arrested with him.

Anger over the abuse of opposition supporters has spread even to conservative government supporters.

Some critics have even compared the government crackdown to the torture and oppression under Iran’s former ruler, the US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown in the 1979 revolution that led to the creation of the Islamic Republic.

The Urumchi Unrest Revisited

July 31, 2009

The violence in Xinjiang took place almost a month ago, but it continues to generate interesting commentary (see, for example, this thoughtful essay by Pallavi Aiyar). The early July events have also recently had two reverberations in Australia, as Jia Zhangke and two other Chinese filmmakers pulled out of a Melbourne film festival where a documentary expected to present a sympathetic view of one of the people Beijing blames for the unrest was to be shown, and then hackers attacked the festival’s website to protest that film’s inclusion in the line-up. In light of this, we asked James Millward, a leading specialist in the history of Xinjiang who has written about related issues for us before, to share with the readers of China Beat his take on what happened in early July and how it should be understood.

By James Millward | The China Beat, July 29, 2009

The ugly mob violence that roiled the western Chinese city of Urumchi in Xinjiang on July 5th was rather quickly suppressed, and Urumchi is now quiet. Thanks to an unprecedented degree of openness to the international press, moreover, we have a better idea specifically what happened than we have for other such incidents in China.

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Re-imagining Palestine

July 30, 2009

Self determination, Ethical De-colonization and Equality[1]

By Omar Barghouti | ZNet, July 29, 2009

Omar Barghouti’s ZSpace Page

[Contribution to the Reimagining Society Project hosted by ZCommunications]

INTRODUCTION

With Yassir Arafat’s departure, the doubling of the population of Jewish-Israeli colonial settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory, the latest Israeli slow genocide in Gaza and the fast disintegration of the last vestiges of Israeli “democracy,” the two-state “solution” for the Palestinian-Israeli colonial conflict is finally dead. Good riddance! This was never a moral or practical solution to start with, as its main objective has always been to win official Palestinian legitimization of Israel’s colonial and apartheid existence on top of most of the area of historic Palestine. It is high time to move on to the most just, morally sound and sustainable solution: the secular, democratic unitary state.

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10,000 Uighurs disappeared during unrest in China, exiled leader claims

July 30, 2009

Rebiya Kadeer says undercover snatch squads targeted Uighurs during Urumqi clashes

Rebiya Kadeer in TokyoRebiya Kadeer, head of the World Uighur Congress, gives a press conference in Japan. Photograph: Junji Kurokawa/AP

Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled Uighur leader, today claimed that almost 10,000 Uighurs had “disappeared” during ethnic unrest in China‘s north-western region of Xinjiang earlier this month and called on the international community to launch an inquiry.

Speaking during a controversial visit to Japan, Kadeer said Chinese authorities had used undercover “snatch squads” to target Uighurs during clashes between Uighur and Han Chinese in the city of Urumqi on 5 July.

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Obama And The Deadline For Closing Guantánamo: It’s Worse Than You Think

July 29, 2009

Andy Worthington, July 29, 2009

Barack Obama signs the Executive Order relating to the closure of Guantanamo, January 2009

When the Obama administration’s Detention Policy Task Force, established by Executive Order on the President’s second day in office, conceded last week that it would miss its six-month deadline to issue its recommendations about how to close Guantánamo, many observers focused on whether this meant that Obama would fail to meet his deadline of Jan 21, 2010 for the closure of the prison, and missed the bigger story, which was only revealed through close scrutiny of the Task Force’s five-page interim report (PDF).

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