Posts Tagged ‘support for Israel’

No Partner for Peace: Our American Problem

November 7, 2009

By Jeff Halper, ZNet, November 7, 2009
Source: MRZine

Jeff Halper’s ZSpace Page

It was as if some official, perhaps one of President Obama’s “czars,” like the Czar for Demolishing American Credibility, had orchestrated a systematic campaign to isolate the US from the rest of the world, make it a political laughingstock and, finally, render it a second-rate power capable of throwing around tremendous military weight but absolutely incapable of leading us to a better future.  The Israel-Palestine conflict, while not the world’s bloodiest, constitutes, for many people of the world, a unique gauge of American interests and intentions.  So consider the messages this string of actions sent out to the world:

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Endless War

March 5, 2009

by Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report, March 4, 2009

Why are more Republicans happy with Obama’s policies on government secrecy, wiretapping, non-withdrawal from Iraq, unqualified support for Israel and a host of other policies than most of the Democratic party’s own base?

What do they know that many of us don’t, or perhaps do not wish to know?
“There will still be American troops in Iraq, up to 50,000 of them.”

If John McCain and other Republicans are happy about an Obama administration initiative and Democrats are not, it is safe to say that something very bad is taking place. That something is Obama’s announcement that he will continue the occupation of Iraq indefinitely.

Of course, the president didn’t actually use any of those words. In a speech delivered at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, President Obama announced, “…by August 31, 2010 our combat mission in Iraq will end.”

As always, the president chose his words very carefully. The parsing was so clever that it fooled many people into celebrating when there is no reason for joy. There will still be American troops in Iraq, up to 50,000 of them. “As I have long said, we will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq. Initially, this force will likely be made up of 35-50,000 U.S. troops.”

It isn’t clear how “conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions” will not be considered combat. Congressman Dennis Kucinich pointed out the obvious problem with the president’s words. “You cannot leave combat troops in a foreign country to conduct combat operations and call it the end of the war. You can’t be in and out at the same time.”

“Obama never expressed any intention of fully withdrawing from Iraq.”

Obama’s one time political rival, Republican senator John McCain, was extremely pleased with the president’s timetable and with the level of troop commitment. “I believe that the administration should aim to keep the full complement – 50,000, as briefed by Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen – and not succumb to pressures, political or otherwise, to make deeper or faster cuts in our force levels.” While McCain and other Republicans waxed enthusiastically, Congressional Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer, who are not known for progressive politics, expressed concern about the number of troops scheduled to remain in Iraq.

While Democrats openly questioned the president’s policy, Republicans were enthusiastic supporters. During the presidential campaign John McCain was excoriated by Democrats when he said the United States should continue its presence in Iraq for 100 years. It was easy to sneer at the hapless McCain, but the Obama plan could lead to an American presence that may not last 100 years, but for a very long time nonetheless. The snickering directed at McCain should also have been directed at Obama, who never expressed any intention of fully withdrawing from Iraq.

His statement at Camp Lejeune was a repetition of his words on the stump as a presidential candidate. He reminded his foolishly smitten yet now disappointed supporters that he was an anti-war candidate only in their dreams. “Well, what I would say that is that they maybe weren’t paying attention to what I said during the campaign.”

The damage done by the complete capitulation of many progressives to Obama is now bearing fruit. He is able to dismiss them and his own party without suffering any political damage. He said as much in a PBS interview with Jim Lehrer.

JIM LEHRER: You’re not the least bit uneasy over the fact as John McCain and John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House, have praised your plan while the Democrats are criticizing it?

BARACK OBAMA: You know, I don’t – I don’t make these decisions based on polls or popularity. I make the decisions based on what I think is best.

In other words, the Democrats can go to hell. He doesn’t care what they think. He doesn’t have to care what they think because they gave him carte blanche to say and do anything he wanted during the campaign. McCain and Boehner are now his cheerleaders and Democrats have to be happy with whatever their leader deems to be acceptable.
“Many more will die in the name of fighting terror.”

Dennis Kucinich, among those who can be ignored, made another important point about the Obama plan. “We must bring a conclusion to this sorry chapter in American history where war was waged under false pretense against an innocent people. Taking troops out of Iraq should not mean more troops available for deployment in other operations.”

The other operation is of course in Afghanistan, where an additional 17,000 troops are headed. Afghanistan is also under occupation, its civilian population is the target of U.S. military action that has killed thousands of human beings. Many more will die in the name of fighting terror, and to benefit the same corporations that will turn their country into another cash cow for war profiteers.

Barack Obama proves that there is only one political party in this country when foreign policy decisions are being made. George W. Bush may no longer be in the White House, but because of capitulation to the Obama administration, his grand plan for endless war will be a reality for a very long time to come.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.

A new Middle East under Obama?

November 5, 2008
Al Jazeera, Nov 5, 2008

Many in Egypt remain sceptical that change will come to the Middle East [EPA]

Even though Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States, there are some in the Middle East who believe his policies towards the region will differ little from those of his defeated Republican rival, John McCain.

Al Jazeera asked a number of people in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, whether Obama would bring change to the US presidency.

Omar Kamel, musician

“In terms of actual policy, I do not think there is much difference at all when it comes to Obama or McCain’s Middle Eastern viewpoints.They have both committed themselves publicly and explicitly to the Zionist cause, with Obama promising Aipac an ‘undivided Israeli Jerusalem’ as a goal.

More so, they have both said that ‘nothing is off the table’ when dealing with Iran, which implicitly means they both consider a military attack on Iran a strategic option.

That Obama has implied he would not want to use nuclear weapons is a small consolation when we consider the devastation wrought on Iraq by ‘conventional’ warfare.

Obama has also made it quite clear that he is a subscriber to the whole ‘war on terror’ notion – which to the rest of the world simply means he will continue the march of Empire Amerika.

Unfortunately, there is a geist of optimistic negative-racism that chooses to see Obama as an actual opportunity for change – when in fact he offers absolutely nothing new save for his skin colour and relative eloquence.

Obama reminds me far too much of Clinton. Clinton, quite literally, got away with murder simply because the world found him charismatic and charming.

Clinton helped destroy Iraq with sanctions and was an accomplice to the murder of over 500,000 Iraqi children and yet most people in the Middle East still like the murderer, still believe that, somehow, he was a good man.

That is my fear with Obama, that he will pacify the world as he rapes it.

At least with McCain, like Bush, the world would have been acutely aware of its rape.”

Abdel-Rahman Hussein, journalist

“There is an apathy among Egyptians regarding the US election because many say it makes no difference who wins. The US will always pursue the same policies in the region.

Even with a Democratic win in the White house, it is American – and almost by default Israeli – interests which will always come first.

The fulcrum of American policy in the region is support for Israel above all else, and both parties unequivocally adhere to that.

Additionally, as opposed to Great Britain where the divide between left and right has become less pronounced in recent years, the American political spectrum has always been more centrist.

One position both candidates straddled quite comfortably is their staunch support for Israel.

Obama’s promise to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) that Jerusalem will remain the “undivided” capital of Israel does not bode well for the future of the peace process which is currently proposing East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Nevertheless, Jewish and pro-Israel groups remain sceptical about Obama and feel he is merely paying lip service to secure the election, so again it is difficult to surmise exactly how it will pan out.”

Jen Zaki Hanna, university professor

“Unfortunately, I do not believe that Obama will have significantly different foreign and financial policies.

I considered the one person who could have brought about real change in the Middle East, to be Ralph Nader.

Nader dissected the real problem with America’s financial policies – that being the unfettered control of the transnational corporations and their lack of respect for human rights and environmental rights at home and globally.

Unfortunately, every time Nader tries to enter the presidential race he is called a spoiler for the Democrats. This just goes to shows me, and I believe others around the world and in the Middle East, that the Democrats and Republicans are one and the same.

Perhaps Hillary Clinton was the lesser of the two evils than Obama who has changed his mind multiple times on issues such as Iraqi troop withdrawal.

Both parties will always be loyal first and foremost to Israel as a necessary ingredient to US foreign policy and according to most Middle Easterners it has always meant one thing: there will be no progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

There has yet to be a Democratic or Republican party in the US which has demonstrated a real significant move on a two-state solution.

I do not think things will change now.”

Yousef Gamal il Din, broadcast journalist with NileTV

“There is also … a belief that the foreign policies of both candidates do not really vary much.The debates did not highlight key differences that will help regional problems in the Arab World, Afghanistan, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine.

My impression from talking to Egyptians who are well-read in international affairs and business is that they perceive McCain to be hawkish (more so than Obama) and that his policies would have been less-suitable for Arab interests.

Obama appears to be better for our region, but the key word here is appears.

The Middle East would look different under Obama but it will be difficult to judge because the rhetoric during the campaign does not necessarily translate into decisions or policies once the candidate reaches the White House.

Once candidates are confronted with certain realities in the White House or realities that emerge later on, they may have to adapt their policies. The international arena is very dynamic, things change very quickly.

It is difficult to accurately predict US foreign policy.”

Ahmed Samy, marketing analyst

“Israel won’t be that happy that Obama won because they might not trust that he would fully back them, even though he has said before that he would fully support them.

As for the Middle East, not much would change with Obama in office.

The situation in the region might stay the same or get a bit better or put on hold till the following elections.

The American people are the only ones to benefit if Obama wins.

Now Obama being the first black president in America is a history-making event; if he stays in office the full term, that is good. But if he gets assassinated or something like that, then it will be a tragedy.”

Ahmed Kafafi, author

“An Obama win doesn’t mean so much to me because whoever comes to power will never dare to change certain basics in the US foreign policy and assuming there will be any, those will be slight changes that would never reverse the situation in the Middle East.

I do not think Egypt and the Middle East will look any different; there is a fear that things will move from bad to worse. The financial crisis has peaked and the wealth of the Middle East is the only way out for the US.

Egyptians see the US as working for its own interests and is a big supporter of Israel. For them the US is a big power that will never ever work for their interest, so it doesn’t matter if Obama or McCain is in power.”

Christians United for Israel and Attacking Iran

August 19, 2008

Dedrick Muhammad and Farrah Hassen | Foreign Policy In Focus, August 18,

2008Though the national sentiment favors wrapping up the Iraq War, there exists a small but powerful movement for starting a new military conflict with Iran. The bipartisan drumbeats for aggression reverberate throughout the corridors of Congress. House Resolution 362 and Senate Resolution 580, for example, call on the United States to prevent Iran from “acquiring a nuclear weapons capability through all appropriate economic, political, and diplomatic means.”

Christians United
Photo by Dedrick Muhammad.

The House’s Iran resolution, sponsored by Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY), demands the president impose “stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran.” This legislation effectively requires a blockade on Iran which is considered by international law as an act of war. The Senate’s Iran resolution, sponsored by Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), would require a ban on “the importation of refined petroleum products to Iran.” Neither resolution offers evidence on Iran’s alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Both neglect to mention any sanctions against the only country known to actually have developed nuclear weapons in the Middle East: Israel.

Evoking Orwellian 2+2=5 logic, both Congressmen have offered sanctions as the means to avoid war by applying economic pressure on Iran. Yet sanctions rarely achieve their intended objective. For instance, unilateral U.S. sanctions failed to topple the Cuban, Iraqi and Libyan governments. They punished (and in Cuba’s case, continue to punish) civilians instead.

Washington-Israel Summit

The “squeeze Iran” and “confront Iran” positions are strongly encouraged by the increasingly powerful Zionist Christian Fundamentalist community. About 5,000 people from across the United States attended the third annual Washington-Israel Summit, organized by Christians United for Israel (CUFI). There, the “Iranian threat” loomed as a pervasive theme.

“What do you do with a maniac like Ahmadinejad? I’m not sure diplomacy works,” Gary Bauer, President of American Values and a CUFI executive board member, told the crowd during the July 22 “Middle East Intelligence Briefing.” Another panelist, Representative Mike Pence (R-IN), urged the attendees to make their support for HR 362 known to their members of Congress.

We attended this “the Rapture” meets “Clash of Civilizations” session – on the only day open to the press. We listened to the never-ending chorus from Bauer, Pence, Representative Elliot Engel (D-NY), and The Weekly Standard editor William Kristol who kept telling the assembled crowd why Americans must fear “Islamo-fascists”/”Islamo-radicals”/”death worshippers,” and their other scary names for Muslims. Panels curiously closed to the press at the three-day conference included “Iran: Eye of the Storm,” “Radical Islam: In Their Own Words” and “How to Stop Funding the Enemy: Divestment, Sanctions and Boycotts.”

As Muslims, we attended the summit to learn more about CUFI. What we found was disturbing. Being well-received and courteously treated by the pleasant staff of a conference that talks of Muslims as “death worshippers” was a truly paradoxical experience. We also found it ironic that the organization’s acronym, CUFI, is pronounced like kufi, an Arabic word for the short, rounded prayer cap worn by devout Muslim men.

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