Posts Tagged ‘Helen Thomas’

Maidhc Ó Cathail: The United States fights and pays for Israel’s wars

October 22, 2010

By Kourosh Ziabari, Foreign Policy Journal, Oct 21, 2010

Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely published Irish author and journalist. He has been living in Japan since 1999. Ó Cathail’s articles and commentaries have appeared on a number of media outlets and newspapers including Antiwar.com, Arab News, Foreign Policy Journal, Khaleej Times, Information Clearing House, Palestine Chronicle, Tehran Times and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Maidhc joined me in an exclusive interview and responded to my questions about the 9/11 attacks, the influence of the Israeli lobby over the U.S. administration, the prospect of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the prolonged controversy over Iran’s nuclear program, and the freedom of press in the United States.

The U.S. recently agreed to sell Israel 20 F-35 jet fighters. (AP)The U.S. recently agreed to sell Israel 20 F-35 jet fighters. (AP) 

Kourosh Ziabari: The Iranian President’s recent proposal for the establishment of a fact-finding group to probe into the 9/11 attacks stirred up widespread controversy in the United States. American politicians reacted to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s plan with frustration. Is it because they are aware of some evidence which suggests that Israel was behind the attacks?

Maidhc Ó Cathail: I would say that most American politicians are totally unaware of the Israeli “art students,” the so-called “dancing Israelis,” the Odigo warnings and other facts that point to Israeli involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Therefore, they probably considered Ahmadinejad’s questioning of the official 9/11 narrative to be yet another unwarranted provocation of the United States by the Iranian leader.

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Moral Failure of American Liberals: A Defence of Helen Thomas

June 10, 2010

Jonathan Cook,  Redress.cc,  June 10, 2010

Helen Thomas does not deserve to be pilloried and blacklisted.

The ostracism of Helen Thomas, the doyenne of the White House press corps, over her comment that Jews should ‘get the hell out of Palestine’ and ‘go home’ to Poland, Germany, America and elsewhere is revealing in several ways. In spite of an apology, the 89-year-old has been summarily retired by the Hearst newspaper group, dropped by her agent, spurned by the White House, and denounced by long-time friends and colleagues.

Ms Thomas earnt a reputation as a combative journalist, at least by American standards, with a succession of administrations over their Middle East policies, culminating in Bush officials boycotting her for her relentless criticisms of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. But the reaction to her latest remarks suggest that, if there is one topic in American public life on which the boundaries of what can and cannot be said are still tightly policed, it is Israel.

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Obama, the war president

February 9, 2010

by Helen Thomas, The Albany Times-Union (New York), Feb 8, 2010

President Barack Obama does have a foreign policy. It’s called war.

The President has not defined any real difference between his hawkish approach to international issues and that of his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.

Where’s the change we can believe in?

Bush left a legacy of two wars, neither of which was ever fully explained or justified. Obama has merely picked up the sword that Bush left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the struggle against terrorism, one might say, “Who cares?”

One group that cares consists of Americans who follow the rules and think we should honor all the treaties we have promoted and signed over the years.

The President gave short shrift to foreign policy in his State of the Union address, mentioning neither the lives lost nor the cost of the global hostilities that the U.S. has involved itself in. He also didn’t mention U.S. policies in the Middle East, though those are the root cause of many of our problems.

While U.S. special envoy George Mitchell has a hopeful outlook for the resumption of the stalemated talks between the Israelis and Palestinians after a year of trying, Obama seems to have temporarily thrown in the towel.

Obama said he was keeping his promise to leave Iraq by the end of August.

Meanwhile, frequent suicide bombings continue in that beleaguered country.

Afghanistan is a different story. U.S. forces there are involved in manhunts of al-Qaida and Taliban leaders. But the cost in civilian life is heavy when drones are used and whole families have been wiped out to get one suspected leader.

The U.S. seems to have convinced the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan that it’s their war too. The Washington Post said the loss of Hakimullah Mehsud has dealt a fatal blow to his followers.

The U.S. military web has spread to Yemen, where American intelligence teams have joined Yemeni troops in planning missions against al-Qaida elements. Scores have been killed there.

Then there’s the ramped-up U.S. saber-rattling toward Iran.

In his speech, Obama warned Iran of “consequences” if it didn’t play ball and co-operate on nuclear inspections. It’s unclear whether those consequences are of the financial variety or of a pre-emptive military strike by the U.S. or Israel.

All this comes at a time when the U.S. has bolstered its naval presence in the Persian Gulf and the neo-conservatives are calling for “regime change” in Iran.

But neo-con Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment, sees the possibility of peaceful regime change in Iran. Organic regime change could change the Iranian equation, Kagan concludes in a Washington Post article.

Iran, reacting to Western pressure or from fear of an attack, recently offered to send its uranium abroad for enrichment for industrial use.

There are new tensions in other parts of the world. China is upset with the U.S. $6 billion-plus arms sale to its nemesis, Taiwan. China’s also irked at Google for its belated push-back against Chinese hacking into Google’s G-mail accounts.

So while the President’s Democratic base of support mutters about his abandonment of health reform and immigration reform, Obama can take solace in support from the Republican Party whenever he flexes U.S. military muscle.

And so this president takes his place among other U.S. chief executives who have sought the glory of leading the nation in military conflict. He has attained the desired status of “War President.”

© 2010 Albany Times-Union

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: helent@hearstdc.com.  Among other books she is the author of Front Row at The White House: My Life and Times.

President Obama ignores torture

July 29, 2009

By Helen Thomas | Times Union, July 29, 2009

Secrecy is endemic in all governments. It goes with the turf, especially if their leaders hope to hide illegal or immoral behavior, such as torture of foreign prisoners.

Many Americans heaved a sigh of relief last January when President Barack Obama banned the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It made the administration look more humane than the Bush-Cheney team. But that is not the whole story.

Obama left unaddressed the possibility of torture in secret foreign prisons under our control as in Abu Ghraib in Iraq or Bagram in Afghanistan, not to mention the ‘black sites” sponsored by our foreign clients in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Thailand and other countries.

“The United States will not torture,” Obama said in his directive. But he has been silent on the question of whether the U.S. would help others do the torturing.

Members of Congress knew a lot about U.S. torture practices. But Republicans loyal to the Bush administration and Democrats, too, played along and kept silent at the horror of it all.

Why did no bells ring for the U.S. lawmakers — particularly those privy to the brutality — when briefed on the abusive treatment of the captives. Did they owe more allegiance to the CIA than to the honor of our country?

There are hair-raising reports of methods that Americans — including private contractors — have used to coerce information from our prisoners.

They include slamming a prisoner against a wall; denying him sleep and food; waterboarding him under so-called enhanced interrogation; and keeping him in a crate filled with insects.

I remember when President Ronald Reagan, marveling at the courage of American soldiers, used to say: “Where do we get such men?” And I have to ask: “Where did we get such people who would inflict so much pain and ruthlessness on others?”

William Rivers Pitt, a best-selling author who wrote “The Greatest Sedition is Silence,” recently raised the emotional question of whether U.S. adoption of torture has debased the international standards for treatment of prisoners and that our enemies may now feel that they can torture Americans. Pitt specifically expressed concern about Army Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan last month.

American military leaders had warned President Bush over and over that U.S. torture of prisoners could boomerang against our troops. But he would not listen.

Obama has blocked publication of pictures of the harsh treatment of prisoners from our two ongoing wars — in Iraq and Afghanistan — but the word still gets around.

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: helent@hearstdc.com.

What are U.S. goals in Afghanistan?

March 14, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is making a big mistake in escalating U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan where he already has acknowledged he doesn’t believe victory is possible.

We should ask: What are we doing there seven years after the 9/11 attacks by the al-Qaida network? Historically, the country has lacked a strong central government and has been governed by locally strong tribal leaders and warlords.

Al-Qaida was able to take advantage of this loose structure and turn Afghanistan into the plotting ground for the terrorists who struck the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York.

But what are our goals there in 2009?

While the U.S. is supposed to wind down its presence in Iraq in 19 months (rather than the 16 months promised by Obama on the campaign trail), the president has ordered a military buildup in Afghanistan to more than 50,000 troops, both from the U.S. and other NATO members.

He would leave 50,000 Americans in Iraq to cope with the resistance there. Such was the folly of President George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq after his hawkish neoconservative advisers told him we would triumph in a few weeks.

To this day none of Bush’s reasons for attacking Iraq have held up to examination. There were no weapons of mass destruction, no Iraqi ties to al-Qaida and no threat to the United States.

There have been no apologies from Bush or his cohorts.

When Obama visited Afghanistan last summer as a presidential candidate, he joined several other senators in a get-tough statement that said: “We need a great sense of urgency because the threat from the Taliban and al-Qaida is growing and we must act. We need determination because it will take time to prevail. But with the right strategy and the resources to back it up, we will get the job done.”

What exactly is the job that he says needs to get done? What is the U.S. exit strategy? Does anyone in power remember the lessons we were supposed to have learned from Vietnam?

Afghanistan is known as the “graveyard of empires” because of the repeated failure of invaders over the centuries to achieve their goals in that rugged country.

U.S. prowling around in Afghanistan hasn’t aroused anti-war protests as did the March 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. I am puzzled about this. It seems to me we are leaping out of the frying pan into the fire!

American public aversion to our military adventures in Afghanistan has been fueled by our shock at the toll that U.S. planes and aerial drones have inflicted on Afghan civilians.

There have been indications that Obama may start diplomatic overtures to the Taliban at a time when the human and financial costs of the two wars are wearing down the U.S. as it struggles with an economic depression that has no end in sight.

According to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, the president is evaluating the situation in Afghanistan.

Obama would do well to study the trajectory that took us into the Vietnam War and the terrible price we paid there. We lost the war and fled by helicopters from Saigon.

Both Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon thought that they could win in Vietnam, but they were brought down as much by the American people — who rebelled against the war — as they were by the North Vietnamese.

Obama could go deeper in history and check out President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s career for a lesson on how to end a war.

When running for the White House in 1952, when the American public was growing frustrated about the long U.S. involvement in the Korean War, Eisenhower told voters: “I shall go to Korea.”

And he did. The Korean War ended in a standoff in 1953 — much to the relief of the American people.

Despite some ensuing skirmishes in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas, a truce has endured ever since.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama indicated that he was willing to speak to all parties in the military or diplomatic disputes we were involved in. He was criticized for his plan for outreach to the militants in Afghanistan.

But there is no alternative.

Sooner or later American presidents should learn that people will always fight for their country against a foreign invader. And peace should be the only goal.

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: helent@hearstdc.com. Copyright 2009 Hearst Newspapers.

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