Saturday, October 31, 2009

Who Said This?

"[People] are fed up -- frustrated and fed up and angry about the way in which our government does not work, about the way in which we come down here and get into a lot of political games and seem to -- partisan tugs of war and forget why we're here, which is to serve the American people. And I think the filibuster has become not only in reality an obstacle to accomplishment here, but it also a symbol of a lot that ails Washington today."
"But I do want to say that the Republicans were not the only perpetrators of filibuster gridlock, there were occasions when Democrats did it as well. And the long and the short of it is that the abuse of the filibuster was bipartisan and so its demise should be bipartisan as well."
"The whole process of individual senators being able to hold up legislation, which in a sense is an extension of the filibuster because the hold has been understood in one way to be a threat to filibuster -- it's just unfair."
He's even more of a hypocritical sleazebag than previously thought.

Clinton Faces Pakistani Anger at Drone Attacks.

Why is it that politicians of both political stripes in the US appear to find this so hard to understand?

Clinton put her case directly to the public Friday in televised appearances in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, fielding angry questions about the alleged activities of U.S. contractor Blackwater in Pakistan, the tough conditions that came with a $1.5 billion-a-year American aid package and alleged U.S. favoritism toward Pakistan's archenemy, India.

One tribesman bluntly told her: "Your presence in the region is not good for peace."

"We are fighting a war that is imposed on us. It's not our war. It is your war," journalist Asma Shirazi told Clinton during the women's meeting. "You had one 9-11. We are having daily 9-11s in Pakistan."

Large swathes of the Pakistani public do not support the war on terror and it's things like this which don't help:

One woman asked Clinton how she would define terrorism.

''Is it the killing of people in drone attacks?'' the woman asked. Then she asked if Clinton considered both the U.S. missile strikes and militant bombings like the one that killed more than 100 civilians in the city of Peshawar earlier in the week as acts of terrorism.

''No, I do not,'' Clinton replied.
If drone attacks were taking place in New York City or in London, then I am sure there are few of us who have any doubt what Clinton would refer to them as. Why is it so different if the attacks are taking place in Pakistan?

This Israeli inspired argument that the fact that terrorists "hide amongst the civilian population" somehow removes any moral obligation from the people firing rockets to avoid civilian casualties at all costs is simply repugnant nonsense. Indeed, it is that very attitude which has people demanding that war crimes charges be brought against the IDF.

The killing of innocents anywhere is to be condemned, whether it is caused by a Palestinian rocket, an Israeli bomb or an American drone. And Clinton's flippant dismissal of the deaths of so many innocent Pakistanis will hardly win many round to her cause.

Click here for full article.

Beck's Bizarre Attack on Net Neutrality.

Whenever I hear Glenn Beck talk about net neutrality, I am left wondering if he has any idea what he is talking about.

He seems to find the whole notion of the government regulating Internet providers so that they cannot limit public access to the Internet as somehow a blow against democracy.

He appears to be arguing that net neutrality is some kind of attack on free speech, when it is actually the complete and utter opposite.

So what's he actually arguing? That we should not have net neutrality? That corporations should be allowed to limit access to the Internet? Net neutrality actually guarantees the preservation of free speech which Beck claims to be attempting to guard, so I am going to have to conclude that this is yet another subject which Beck simply doesn't have a clue about.

Europe leaders incensed by David Cameron's letter.

Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and José Luiz Rodríguez Zapatero have all criticised David Cameron for a private letter which he is believed to have sent to the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, encouraging him not to ratify the Lisbon treaty.

It is understood that Cameron encouraged the Czech president to delay ratification of the Lisbon pact by setting out Tory policy to hold a referendum in Britain on the treaty if it had not yet been ratified by all member states.

The sources told the Guardian that:

• Sarkozy was overheard telling Gordon Brown that he was incensed by Cameron's letter, which the French saw as an attempt to wreck the Lisbon treaty.

• Merkel was also said to be upset by the Tory leader's letter. The German chancellor is understood to have echoed the concerns of senior figures in her Christian Democratic Union party, such as the former president of the EU parliament Hans Gert Poettering, that Cameron's behaviour had been untrustworthy.

• Zapatero, who addressed the Labour party's recent conference in Brighton and will have to negotiate directly with Cameron if the Tories win the general election – because Spain holds the EU's rotating presidency until July 2010 – made clear to diplomats that he regarded Cameron's letter as an attempt to scupper the treaty.

This is just a taster of what life will be like if we elect a Tory leader. Their feverishly anti-Euro stance will put us at odds with the rest of the continent.

As Brown pointed out yesterday:
Brown yesterday used his appearance at the summit to launch a strong attack on the Tories' approach to Europe. Speaking of the Tory decision to abandon the main centre-right EPP grouping in the European parliament in favour of a smaller group consisting mainly of fringe parties from the hard right in eastern Europe, the prime minister said: "The Conservative party are standing apart from the mainstream in Europe. They are part of a very small group of minorities – of 23 people apart from the Conservative party. They are standing on the fringes of Europe. That is a huge mistake for British interests."
The Tory party have been at war with each other over Europe ever since Heath joined the Common Market, and Cameron has now aligned them with the lunatic fringe of Europe in the hope of keeping the more extreme parts of his party satisfied until he is elected, when I fully expect him to move back to the centre and for all out war to break amongst the Tory rank and file.

In Europe, people are already dreading what lies ahead should Cameron come to power.
"A British Conservative cabinet would hugely complicate the government of Europe," said Charles Grant, director of pro-European think tank the Centre for European Reform. "You'll have a government that will probably try to unpick part of the Lisbon Treaty, maybe withhold budget payments, block accession (of new EU member states), who knows? They'll just create problems."

Grant told AFP that Cameron would likely soften his eurosceptic stance if he takes power, but warned this could take some time, saying his first few years in office could be "very disruptive".
British membership of Europe has always been regarded as suspect, due to our relationship with the United States and our refusal to sign up for the Euro; and the election of a Tory government, seeking to opt out from European social and employment laws, will only exacerbate the situation.

Cameron has not even been elected yet and he is already annoying Merkel and Sarkosy, two European right wing leaders who one would normally expect to be in Cameron's camp.

But Cameron is seeking to reinstate the British opt-out which Blair gave up in 1997, something which could only be restored with the agreement of all member states. That agreement will not be forthcoming.

We are, once more, going to become Europe's pain in the arse. And all because the Tories find the notion that human beings should have rights somewhat repulsive.

It's lunacy. But I suppose that's what happens if we elect people who are simply insane on the subject of Europe to represent us there.

Click here for full article.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hannity & O'Reilly Witch Hunt On Judge Chen

Hannity and O'Reilly are becoming more ridiculous by the day as they search for reasons to oppose Obama's every nomination.

Are judicial nominees now to be chosen according to their taste in music? Hannity and O'Reilly simply couldn't get any more banal than they are now being.

J Street, Obama, and Israel.

I find the arrival of J Street onto the scene at this moment in time fascinating. They seem to offer another view of the Israel-Palestine conflict, one which doesn't correlate with the AIPAC/Likud line which for so long has been the line which it was demanded that one take or risk being called "anti-Israel".

But, at the time of Obama, and a new realism regarding what must be done to ensure peace in the Middle East, this group of Jewish realists appear to be stepping up to the plate, decrying Israel's expansionist and obstructionist policies, and offering a fresh hope that Israel will embrace international law and give up her desire for ever more Palestinian land in the hope of forming Eretz Israel.

And more and more American Jews are making their voices heard:

The J Street philosophy is that there is a kind of "silent majority" of US Jews who aren't happy with Israel's expansionist polices and intransigence, and who don't believe they're represented properly by right-leaning groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Milling around, I spoke to a number of those in attendance. A couple of rabbis, from Massachusetts and California, said that the conference was an opportunity to meet with like-minded, liberal, pro-peace Jews. "When I stand up in my pulpit, with any kind of criticism of Israel, over settlements, Gaza, to say anything other than, 'Go, bomb them when you want,' it's considered anti-Israel," saud Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater from Pasadena. "So it's thrilling to be here, to say, 'We love Israel, we believe in Israel's security, but the status quo isn't acceptable."

That about sums up J Street's message.

It's a message that most of us on the left can agree with. We all want a secure state of Israel, but we also want to see the historic wrong that has been foisted on the people of Palestine corrected and to see them have their own state.

But, until now, Israel has insisted that one must see her problems as part of the wider war on terror, casting the Palestinians into the role of "terrorists", rather than that of an occupied people seeking their liberation.

It's a false choice that many of us have always felt extremely uncomfortable with.

And, as someone who has argued for years that solving this problem will do more to undermine terrorism that anything else that I can think of, I was especially pleased to hear this sentiment being expressed by Obama's representative to the conference.
The highlight of the conference was an address by General James Jones, the US national security adviser, who pledged that the Obama administration will take part in future J Street events as well. "You can be sure this administration will be represented at all future conferences," said Jones. In his speech, Jones pronounced the standard boilerplate about the unbreakable bond between Israel and the US, but for the most part the liberal audience sat on its hands, erupting into applause instead when Jones spoke forcefully about the crisis in Gaza and about the importance of creating a "contiguous," viable, independent Palestinian state. Jones also said that if he could tell President Obama to solve any single one of the world's many problems, "This would be it." (Of course, Jones can tell that to Obama.) The Israel-Palestine conflict affects many, many other problems around the world. "This," he stressed, "is the epicenter."
One of the reasons why I first found myself supporting Barack Obama, although I admit at times it was like trying to read tea leaves, were the few comments he made regarding this conflict. He always gave out hints that he understood the importance of achieving a lasting peace here and that he also understood that this peace would never be achieved if one stuck to the standard Likud line.

For much as we have all been taught that the Israelis are seeking a "partner in peace", one only has to look beneath the standard Likud line on any issue to realise that peace is the last thing which they actually desire. The Likud line actually embraces the West Bank and Gaza as part of Israel, everything else they say is blatant bullshit.

And, at the J Street conference, there were many young American Jews stating that they have woken up to this fact:

Rachel Jones spent the past week in Washington, DC, at the first annual conference for the new progressive Jewish organization J Street. She was passing out literature for Meretz USA, an American nonprofit that supports the platform of one of Israel's most left-wing political parties.

Politically and socially, Meretz USA is a far cry from Jones's upbringing as a devout Jew in small-town Iowa. The only story Jones, now 24, heard while growing up in her tiny community--a story she now calls "right wing"--was that Israel's borders included Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, and that Jewish identity was staked on the country's defense.

Her transformation from a conservative Zionist to a J Street volunteer is a product of the two years she spent in Israel. "I came to it from such a place of love and admiration and desire, and I wanted to just be completely embraced by my homeland, and all these romantic and idealistic pictures of what Israel was supposed to be for me," she said. But instead of finding her "homeland," Jones found the 2006 Lebanon war. The violence she witnessed deeply challenged her religious faith and her confidence in Israel's actions.
I don't know if Obama's presidency has produced J Street or if Israel's actions, especially her recent wars in Lebanon and Gaza, have made this movement inevitable, but the ground is definitely shifting in the way in which this dispute is now viewed.

For too long it was plain heresy to question Likud's extremist policies. The arrival of Obama - and now J Street - are a long overdue correction of that bias.

It was notable that, whilst Obama sent along his national security adviser, Michael Oren - Israel's ambassador to the United States - declined to attend.

Likud and AIPAC aren't going to give up their ground easily. Indeed, the very fact that Orin refused to attend shows that battle lines are being drawn.

I am with Obama and J Street.

We have tried the Likud line for over forty years. It has produced nothing other than further Israeli grabbing of Palestinian land. It will never produce peace because it is built on the false premise that Judea and Samaria actually belong to Israel.

J Street offers a new path. It is one that Israel should embrace.

Tony Blair's bid for EU presidency sinks.

Tony Blair's hopes of assuming the presidency of the European Union appeared to be slipping away fast last night as the right wing governments of France and Germany listed the reasons why a British politician was not ideal:

"The UK is not in the eurozone, nor in the Schengen [free travel area in the EU] and it has a number of opt outs. These are not advantageous in this search for a candidate."
And Europe's left wing politicians made it very clear that they do not think that Blair is the man for the job:
Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's foreign minister, said: "Now in the United States, Obama is the president, it is no more Mr Bush. We have a new treaty, we have to reset Europe and we need to start with some new ideas. There is and will remain a link for the next generation between Iraq, Bush and Tony Blair."
The truth is that Europe, with the exception of Spain and the United Kingdom, did not back the Iraq war. That war truly belonged to the US and the UK.

With Barack Obama determined to take the US in a new direction, it would be perverse in the extreme to ask him to have to deal with one of the architects of that war as Europe's chief representative.

Even Gordon Brown is now admitting that Blair's star is rapidly fading:

Brown hinted that Blair's candidacy was fading when he qualified his strong backing for his predecessor by saying that there were also other candidates for the job. "Of course it may not happen; there are other candidates as well," he said.

The prime minister's remarks came after an acrimonious meeting of European centre-left leaders. Brown was understood to have had a tense exchange with Martin Schulz, the German leader of the Socialists in the European parliament, who wants the left to assume the EU's new foreign policy post, leaving the presidency to the centre right.

Brown told the meeting: "You need to get real. This is a unique opportunity to get a progressive politician to be the president of the council."

But it soon became clear that Blair had no support on the left, let alone on the centre right.

Why would anyone on the European left support Tony Blair? He was always a politician of the centre right persuasion, selling himself as a supposed progressive.

But, when push came to shove, Tony was always - reluctantly - on the side of the right wingers. Whether it was invading Iraq , or charging students for a university education, Tony always found himself pushing the right wing line, whilst telling the rest of us that the Tories would only offer a more extreme version of what he was selling us.

Tony was the British version of Clinton's triangulation taken to the extreme. He seemed to operate from the presumption that the right wing were right and that our job as progressives was to simply hold them back from their worst excesses.

It simply never occurred to him that they might be wrong.

The collapse of the financial markets and the election of Barack Obama has heralded a new dawn for progressive politics. It would be perverse in the extreme were Europe to choose this moment to have Tony Blair as their international representative.

I am delighted that Blair's hopes of being the new European president are fading. I could think of nothing worse than Tony finding himself once more at the centre of the world stage, pedalling that right wing bullshit and pretending that he represents the left wing side of any argument.

Click here for full article.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Obama Is Right About Fox News.

I didn't think I'd ever live long enough to find this in the Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal; An article entitled: "Obama is Right About Fox News".

It starts describing the mindset over at Fox where, "To all the usual journalistic instincts it adds its grand narrative of Middle America's disrespectful treatment by the liberal elite. Persecution fantasy is Fox News's lifeblood; give it the faintest whiff of the real thing and look out for a gale-force hissy fit."

He describes how Fox have reacted to the Obama administration refusing to talk to them; and their ludicrous comparisons between this and "Nixon's enemies list".

They should remember that it wasn't just the keeping of a list that made Nixon's hostility to the media remarkable. Nearly every president—and probably just about every politician—has criticized the press at some point or other.

What made the Nixon administration stand out is that it also sued the New York Times to keep that paper from publishing the Pentagon Papers.

It schemed to ruin the Washington Post financially by challenging the broadcast licenses for the TV stations it owned.

It bugged the office of Joseph Kraft, a prominent newspaper columnist.

One of its most notorious henchmen was G. Gordon Liddy, who tells us in his autobiography that under certain conditions he was "willing to obey an order to kill [columnist] Jack Anderson."
The comparison between Obama refusing to talk to Fox and Nixon's infamous enemies list is simply absurd on it's face. Simply put, Fox is not behaving like a normal news organisation, therefore they don't deserve to be treated like one.

Indeed, between the Obama administration and Fox News, it is the latter that maintain the connections to the Nixon camp.
In fact, the network sometimes seems like a grand electronic homage to the Nixonian spirit: Its constant attacks on the "elite media," for example, might well have been inspired by the famous pronouncements on TV news's liberal bias made by Mr. Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew.

And, of course, the network's chairman, Roger Ailes, was an adviser to Mr. Nixon in the 1968 presidential campaign; his signature innovation back then was TV commercials in which Mr. Nixon answered questions from hand-picked citizens in a town-hall style setting.

But he concludes - again, in a Murdoch owned newspaper - that Obama is right in what he says about Fox News and only the most partisan Republican supporter could dare to pretend otherwise.
To point out that this network is different, that it is intensely politicized, that it inhabits an alternate reality defined by an imaginary conflict between noble heartland patriots and devious liberals—to be aware of these things is not the act of a scheming dictatorial personality. It is the obvious conclusion drawn by anybody with eyes and ears.
How long before Bill O'Reilly rounds on the "liberal" Wall Street Journal?

Click here for full article.

Joe, the No.

Rachel takes on the sleazeball that is Joe Lieberman. Quite how this man could ever have been considered a Democrat is simply lost on me.

He's now threatening to filibuster any healthcare reform which includes a public option. And he's doing this after campaigning for John McCain against Barack Obama in the recent election. And yet he is still allowed to caucus with the Democrats? Astonishing.

They should strip him of every chairmanship he posseses and throw him out on his ear. What is the point of pretending that he is inside the tent if he can't back something as essential to progressives as universal healthcare?

As Glenn Greenwald points out in this clip, should Lieberman go ahead with this he will be going against the overwhelming majority of voters in his own state.

I have loathed this man ever since he betrayed Obama to side with McCain.

When he faced a challenge from Ned Lamont, his campaign staff practically "begged" Obama to appear with him, which is something which Obama did, with no obvious advantage to himself.

Top Lieberman officials have admitted that Obama's support was crucial to Lieberman being elected:

"We needed him to strongly validate us as a candidate that liberal Democrats should not desert," the official tells me. "We went to the Obama operation with a very urgent plea for him to come out for us."

It's well known that Obama's 2006 endorsement was important. But it's not widely understood just how urgently the Lieberman people begged for Obama's help at a critical moment in Lieberman's career -- and in that light, just how much of a back-stabbing Lieberman's attacks on Obama now represent.

"It was a favor as huge as we could have gotten -- it was like a drowning man getting thrown a life preserver," the Lieberman official continued. "Just when Ned was trying to establish himself as a credible alternative on the war, Barack Obama came in and said, `Hey, I disagree with him on the war, but you should send him back to the Senate.'"
And now the sleazeball snake is proposing this. There are very few US politicians who I hold in lower regard than this jackass.


The Young Turks take on this.

'Lamentable' failures led to Nimrod crash that killed 14.

A new report into one of the worst disasters in recent British military history has concluded that it happened because of "incompetence, complacency and cynicism" and the report states that the covenant between the country and it's soldiers has been broken.

Fourteen service personnel were killed when their Nimrod spy plane crashed in Afghanistan in 2006 – the largest single fatality since the Falklands War – because the Ministry of Defence (MoD) sacrificed essential safety for the sake of saving money, the review said. The independent investigation, led by Charles Haddon-Cave QC, named 10 people who contributed to the "systemic breach of the military covenant" – the duty the nation owes to its armed forces. Five of those came from the Ministry of Defence – including two senior military officers of four-star rank – three from BAE Systems and two from QinetiQ.

The Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, told the Commons that two RAF officers have been removed from their posts because of their roles in the crash of aircraft XV230. They have been moved to staff positions without any safety aspects. The RAF is now considering what further action needs be taken against them.

The Nimrod MR2 exploded in mid-air near Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, shortly after air-to-air refuelling. The crew and passengers were on a mission to support Nato and Afghan forces in an operation against the Taliban in Helmand. A military board of inquiry found the crash was caused when leaking fuel came into contact with a hot-air pipe.

Yesterday Mr Haddon-Cave, a leading aviation lawyer, found there had been serious corporate shortcomings which led to the "lamentable" failures of a safety review carried out a year before the crash. Procedures were "riddled with errors" and the "best chance to prevent the accident to XV230 was, tragically, lost."

This really is about as damning a report as I have ever read, especially as it clearly states that this accident took place because costs took precedent over safety.

The MoD's safety system was "not fit for purpose". There was serious weakness among the personnel; an "unsatisfactory" relationship between the MoD and industry; an "unacceptable" procurement process, and a culture which "has allowed business priorities" to overcome concentrating on airworthiness.

The report stated: "BAE Systems deliberately did not disclose to its customer the scale of the hazard" and only "gave vague recommendations that 'further work' was required". The work carried out by the company was "poorly planned, poorly managed and poorly executed".

The customer, the MoD, also "bears substantial responsibility for the failure of the Nimrod Safety Case" and "failed to do its essential job of ensuring the safety of the Nimrod fleet".

Mr Haddon-Cave pointed at a time between 1998 and 2006, when financial targets appeared to take precedence over safety.

The QC quoted a former senior RAF officer who told his inquiry: "There was no doubt that the culture of the time had switched. In the days of the RAF chief engineer in the 1990s, you had to be on top of airworthiness. By 2004 you had to be on top of your budget if you wanted to get ahead."

Incidents like this undermine the right wing claim that the private sector can do everything better than any government body ever could. In this case, when the maintenance of these aircraft was the responsibility of the RAF, the main priority was airworthiness. Once BAE and QinetiQ were in charge everything appears to have become about reducing costs and maximising profit. As a direct result of that, 14 people are dead.

Robert Dicketts, the father of Lance Corporal Oliver Dicketts , said: "I think what we found the most sad was that saving money was put before safety.

"I wonder how many people would get onto a civil flight if they are told that we have cut as much cost as possible, and airworthiness is something which comes secondary."

Putting profit before all else has always been a disaster waiting to happen. We saw it in the financial collapse brought about by the manifest greed of a deregulated market, and now we see it again here. Only in this case people haven't simply had their lives ruined, they have had them ended.

Click here for full article.

Iran jails British diplomat over summer uprising.

It sometimes feels as if Ahmadinejad wants the entire planet lined up against him, whether it's his stupid claims that the Holocaust didn't happen or the fact that he thinks that there is no such thing as a gay Iranian. And now we hear of this:

Britain's relations with Iran worsened last night after a senior UK diplomat in Tehran was reportedly sentenced to four years' imprisonment for orchestrating the mass protests that followed June's bitterly disputed presidential election that returned the hardliners to power.

Britain denies that Hossein Rassam, its chief political analyst at the Tehran embassy, was involved in the demonstrations that angered and embarrassed the Iranian regime.

The notion that any one person could have been behind the protests, which broke out all over Iran, is simply nonsensical. How could any one person have such influence?

But there is such a history in Iran of blaming Britain for every ill that Ahamdinejad might actually get away with this.

Resentment at many levels of Iranian society towards Britain runs deep, fuelled by the perception that the UK has for decades meddled in its internal affairs, at first over oil and then as part of London's political closeness to the United States.

The protests happened because there was a widespread feeling in Iran that the election was stolen, it certainly didn't need any British intervention to get people to take to the streets.

After Rassam's arrest the Fars news agency, which has close ties to the hardline Revolutionary guard, claimed that he was the "kingpin" and key strategist behind a purported embassy attempt to foment street demonstrations after the 12 June poll.

He was also accused of "acting against national security", a vague catch-all charge often brought against political detainees. Britain has denied the claims against Rassam.

So there we have it. There was actually no suspicion that the election was stolen, it was simply the evil Brits fomenting discontent.

As I say, nonsensical.

Click here for full article.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Powell lashes out at Palin -- I'm from the South Bronx and there is nothing wrong with my values.

Powell states that Palin has pushed the Republicans to the right and that the Republican party needs to "stop shouting at the world" if they are ever to be re-elected.

Powell represents a side of the Republican party which has all but disappeared from public discourse. And I think Palin had a lot to do with that.

However, I also think the intellectual wing of the Republican party have taken for cover since the recent financial collapse destroyed faith in the Reagan economic model. If they can't argue for "deregulate, deregulate, deregulate" then I really think they are at a loss as to what it is that they actually believe in.

As a party, they appear to me to have lost their language, and it's no great surprise that the lunatics have rushed in to fill the void.

The Glenn Beck Cartoon Show: 'We've raised a generation of would be killers.'

Glenn Beck thinks that young people today are the "me" generation and that the US "have raised a generation of would be killers."

I would have thought that Beck would applaud the "me" generation. After all, isn't putting yourself first at the very heart of the "rugged individualism" which Republicanism thrives on?

Apparently, the problem with this generation - I kid you not - is that they weren't spanked enough.

It's all the problem of liberalism you see. Beck laments that we have not taught this most recent generation "compassion" because they dare to say criticise, "this abyss which was created by our elders stupidity."

Because, of course, this abyss was created precisely by the stupidity of people like Beck.

The young generation today are inheriting a massive debt which was brought about by the very Reagan policies which Beck continues to proscribe to.

And, arguing for universal healthcare is actually a very generous act, if one is wealthy enough to be able to afford private insurance. In truth, it's Beck who is selfish and part of the "me" generation. He's saying, "I've got mine and why should I pay for you?" whilst accusing others of the very sin which he is indulging in.


Spot on comment over at Crooks and Liars.

If Harvard offered a Ph.D in projection, these rightwing carnival barkers would all be honorary recipients.

Obama's Afghan strategy hit by deaths and dissent.

Call me a cynic, but I never really believed in Obama's Afghanistan campaign claims. I know that al Qaeda operate out of Afghanistan and Waziristan but, nevertheless, I thought Obama made his claims about Afghanistan as a way of highlighting what was wrong with the war in Iraq, whilst refusing to give the Republicans a stick to beat him with by claiming that he was soft on national defence.

I never believed for a second that Obama was foolish enough to think that this war was in any way winnable.

And the recent news from Afghanistan only highlights the danger of the US's continued presence in that field.

Taliban militants killed six UN foreign staff in an assault on an international guest-house in Kabul today, raising questions about security for a presidential election run-off due in less than two weeks.

Rockets were also fired at a foreign-owned hotel in the Afghan capital, forcing 100 guests into a bunker.

An increasingly resurgent Taliban have vowed to stage attacks ahead of the run-off on 7 November and as US President Barack Obama weighs sending more soldiers to Afghanistan to fight an insurgency that has reached its fiercest level since 2001.

"The number right now is six dead, all of them UN staff," said Adrian Edwards, Afghanistan United Nations mission spokesman, adding at least nine others were wounded in the attack on the guest-house.

Obama meets on Friday with military chiefs to decide whether to increase troop levels in that place, with Republicans like Dick Cheney, John McCain and Sarah Palin all demanding that he send more troops without hesitation.

But the feeling on the ground appears to be far from convinced that this war has any purpose.
For Matthew Hoh, the sacrifice has simply become so pointless that he felt no alternative other than to become the first US diplomat known to have resigned over the war, citing reasons that reflect not just his own doubts over the conflict, but those of an increasingly disillusioned American public.

"I have lost understanding of, and confidence in, the strategic purposes of the United States presence in Afghanistan," says the resignation letter of the former Marine captain and Iraq veteran, who joined the State Department to work as the top American official in Zabul province in eastern Afghanistan, close to the border with Pakistan.

The US involvement was simply fuelling the insurgency, Mr Hoh wrote, and was causing American servicemen to die "in what is essentially a far-off civil war", or more accurately a number of small local wars in which the sides are united only in their resentment of a foreign intruder. His problem was not how Washington was pursuing the war – the issue Mr Obama is grappling with in round after round of consultations with his top national security and military advisers – "but why and to what end" his country was fighting it in the first place.

It is said that the Obama administration went to great lengths to try to persuade Hoh not to resign, and certainly not to do so whilst stating this as his reasoning.

But the facts on the ground remain resolutely harsh:
On Friday the President is to hold a further meeting with his military chiefs. He will be doing so at the end of the bloodiest single month in the conflict. The latest deaths bring to 55 the number of troops already killed in October, more than the previous high of 51 in August. They came the day after 14 US personnel died in separate helicopter accidents. In all more than 900 US soldiers have so far lost their lives in an eight-year war whose end is not in sight.
I'd love to know what people think could be achieved by a continuance of this war that could not have been achieved already during the past eight years.

The truth is that Cheney, McCain, Palin and - yes - even Obama, are playing politics with this war. It's all about positioning. Can they make the other look weak, hesitant? If Obama backs away can the Republicans hand him their failure?

Like Hoh, I admit that I have lost all understanding of the purpose of this war. I have certainly lost all sight of where the US could ever plant a flag and claim victory.

It seems to me that, facing an enemy as loathed as al Qaeda, the US is simply unwilling and unable to ever admit that the time has come to leave: that Cheney, McCain, Palin and others are only making the noises they are making so that they can blame Obama for any future attack on US soil should he ever do the sensible thing and pull out.

I understand the political difficulty Obama faces, and will understand if he feels compelled to send more troops so that he is seen to be "doing something". But hopes of military success seem beyond wishful thinking to me.

Hoh's resignation letter: 'This reminds me horribly of Vietnam'

"In the course of my five months of service in Afghanistan... I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purpose of the United States' presence in Afghanistan.

"My resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing the war, but why and to what end... I fail to see the value or worth in continued US casualties... in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year-old civil war.

"Like the Soviets we continue to bolster a failing state, while encouraging an ideology and system of government unknown and unwanted by its people.

"If the history of Afghanistan is one great stage play, the United States is no more than a supporting actor, among several previously, in a tragedy that... has violently and savagely pitted the urban, secular, educated and modern of Afghanistan against the rural, religious, illiterate and traditional.

"The Pashtun insurgency... is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The US and Nato presence and operations... provide an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified.

"The bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but... against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes.

"[This] reminds me horribly of our involvement with South Vietnam... against an insurgency we arrogantly and ignorantly mistook as a rival to our own Cold War ideology."

Click here for full article.

Ehud Olmert could face war crimes arrest if he visits UK.

As someone who has already said that I think this man has committed war crimes, I shouldn't be surprised by the news that lawyers are stating that, should Olmert ever visit Britain, there is a very good chance that he could be arrested and face trial for war crimes.

Neither Olmert nor Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister during the Cast Lead offensive, and a member of Israel's war cabinet, would enjoy immunity from prosecution for alleged breaches of the Geneva conventions, predicted Daniel Machover, who is involved in intensifying legal work after the controversial Goldstone report on the three-week conflict. Neither are ministers any longer.

Prosecutions of Israeli political and military figures remain likely despite the failure to obtain an arrest warrant for Ehud Barak, the defence minister, when he visited the UK earlier this month, he said. In the Barak case a magistrate accepted advice from the Foreign Office that the minister enjoyed state immunity and rejected an application made on behalf of several residents of the Gaza Strip.

"This needs to be tested at the right time and in the right place," Machover said. "One day one of these people will make a mistake and go to the wrong country and face a criminal process — and then it'll be a matter for the courts of that country to give them a fair trial: that's what the Palestinian victims want."

This is the kind of news which will unite all Israeli politicians in outrage. After all, Olmert and Livni mainly took part in this action to prove to the Israeli public that they could be just as hard as Netanyahu during the latest Israeli election. In the end it did them no good as Netanyahu was the one who was able to form a government.

And there is a certain irony to the fact that it is Netanyahu who is now left publicly defending actions which were undertaken in the hope of denying him power.
The death toll for the war was some 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Israel insists it acted in legitimate self-defence in response to rocket attacks by Hamas.
There was nothing legitimate about this war. It was a war fought as part of an electoral campaign.

Netanyahu is currently outraged that his electoral rivals may face prosecution should they travel abroad. Indeed, Netanyahu is outraged that anyone should seek to impose any limitations on the way his state chooses to "fight terror". To this end he is threatening Obama that no peace negotiations of any kind can take place as long as the Goldstone Report remains on the table.
The development of universal jurisdiction has been boosted by the Goldstone report, which urged Israel to conduct an independent inquiry into alleged war crimes. Failing that, other governments were advised to try suspects using universal jurisdiction. Another option was for the UN security council to refer allegations to the international criminal court. Israel refused to co-operate with the report, which also accused Hamas of war crimes.
I am all for the notion of universal jurisdiction. I supported the arrest of Pinochet and was very disappointed that a Labour government devised ways to allow him to slip free.

Society is very harsh in it's treatment of common criminals, but seems averse to prosecuting people who have engaged in the much more serious business of war crimes.

That strikes me as perverse.

Why should a person who has illegally killed thousands be less likely to be prosecuted than someone who has killed his wife?

It would only take one prosecution for politicians to realise that they are not above the law. If that were to happen maybe they would think twice before engaging in acts of blatant illegality as Blair, Olmert, Bush and Cheney have done.

And if reticence to engage in illegality was the end result, that would only be a good thing.

Click here for full article.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reid Announces Opt-Out Public Option In Merged Senate Bill.

It looks like the Democrats might deliver on this after all. If Obama can pull this off I will be seriously impressed. I wonder what states would dare to opt out? And how quickly would it's citizens rebel when they realised what other states were enjoying which they were being denied?

Israel accused of denying Palestinians access to water.

The 450,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank consume as much as, or more, water than the 2.3 million Palestinians who live there, according to Amnesty International.

The Palestinians often consume a mere 70 litres of water per day compared with the WHO recommended level of 100 litres and the Israeli consumption of 300.

This is another reason why people like myself get so angry when it comes to the subject of Israel's settlers. It's not simply the land grab which upsets me, it's the unfair way in which all of the land's natural resources are tilted to favour the settler community which reeks of unfairness.

Palestinians struggle to find enough water to survive whilst settlers enjoy irrigated land and swimming pools.

The report adds that between 180,000 and 200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities – especially in the Israeli controlled "Area C" which comprises 60 per cent of the West Bank – have no access to running water. According to Amnesty, the Israeli military "often" prevents them from accessing rainwater – for example by destroying water-harvesting cisterns or even confiscating water tankers.

In Gaza, the report says 90-95 per cent of the water from the coastal aquifer which has traditionally supplied it, is now unfit for human consumption. It adds that Israel's refusal to allow water to be exported from the West Bank to Gaza, now compounded by the embargo on materials for infrastructure development and repair, have brought Gaza's water and sewage system to "crisis point."

And this is all occurring at a time when Netanyahu refuses to agree to a freeze in settlement building so that peace talks can take place.

Obama really needs to come down hard on Netanyahu. This crap should be stopped.
Donatella Rovera, author of the Amnesty report, called for an end to the restrictions and added that Palestinians were allowed "only a fraction" of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the West Bank, while "the unlawful Israeli settlements receive virtually unlimited supplies".
The Israelis have, of course, stated that the report is "biased and incorrect". Is there any report ever published anywhere these days concerning Israel which they do not claim is "biased and incorrect"?

Goldstone's report into war crimes is biased, and now this report on the distribution of water is also biased.

Indeed, even the lobbying group J Street are now being attacked for their "duplicity in trying to masquerade as a Jewish mainstream 'pro-Israel' organisation while consistently campaigning against the Jewish state."

Apparently, if one does not share the Likud party line, and if one is rash enough to think that the pursuance of peace is a good idea, then one is instantly unable to define oneself as pro-Israeli.

Indeed, if one does not share the viewpoint of the Likud right wing then you are "biased" and, by displaying such "bias", you are almost immediately labelled "anti-Israeli".

It really is the boy who cried wolf. Thankfully, not all Israeli politicians accept this Likud logic.

Obama has called for a two state solution and dinosaurs like Netanyahu will do everything in their power to stop this from being achieved. They are on the wrong side of history, claiming that every criticism of them is "biased and incorrect".

Obama needs to push on, despite the inevitable name calling, and establish a two state solution.

Click here for full article.

AA Gill shot baboon 'to see what it would be like to kill someone'.

It really is hard to imagine anything more moronic than this:

Animal welfare groups voiced outrage today after the restaurant critic AA Gill said he shot a baboon on safari "to get a sense of what it might be like to kill someone".

In a Sunday Times column, Gill recounted in detail how he shot the creature from 250 yards while hunting in "a truck full of guns and other blokes" in Tanzania. He said he felt the urge to be "a recreational primate killer" before shooting the animal through the lung.

What kind of moron wanders through life wondering "what it might be like to kill someone"? I mean, seriously, who has those kind of thoughts?
"I know perfectly well there is absolutely no excuse for this," he wrote. "There is no mitigation. Baboon isn't good to eat, unless you're a leopard. The feeble argument of culling and control is much the same as for foxes: a veil for naughty fun. I wanted to get a sense of what it might be like to kill someone, a stranger. You see it in all those films: guns and bodies, barely a close-up of reflection or doubt. What does it really feel like to shoot someone, or someone's close relative?"
See? It's "naughty fun" to end the life of another creature, so that you can, at last, fulfil your curiosity about what engaging in such an act might feel like.

Heaven forbid that Gill would have to live without knowing what it felt like to kill for killings sake. One would have to be a tree hugging Liberal to object to such an action.

After all, what Gill did was not easy:

"I took him just below the armpit. He slumped and slid sideways. I'm told they can be tricky to shoot: they run up trees, hang on for grim life. They die hard, baboons. But not this one. A soft-nosed .357 blew his lungs out."

This is why I could never be a right winger; indeed, it's why I despise most of them. He actually thinks what he did was difficult. He's congratulating himself for taking part in an act of barbarity.

He thinks that other creatures deserve to die for no better reason than to satisfy his own morbid curiosity about what it might be like to kill. This isn't about survival, it isn't about ensuring a food source, it's about - literally - killing for killings sake.

So he can know what that feels like.

Words fail me.

Click here for full article.

Guantánamo torture: UK wants claims of complicity to be heard in secret.

I read stuff like this and find myself shaking my head that this is taking place whilst a Labour government is in power:

The government wants allegations that it was complicit in the torture by the US of Britons held as terrorism suspects to be heard in secret.

In documents seen by the Guardian, lawyers for the government argue it must be allowed to present evidence to the high court with the public excluded, otherwise Britain's relations with other countries and its national security could be damaged. The government also wants its evidence kept secret from defence lawyers.

Lawyers for seven men who are now all back in the UK after the US released them without charge will tomorrow go to the high court in London to fight the government's attempt, which they say is designed to cover the embarrassment of ministers and the security services.

Surely we have the right to know whether or not our own government were engaged in any way in the torture of British citizens? On what George Orwell inspired planet is it possible for a British government to put forward the notion that it is not in our interests to know this?

The claims that the US would cease to share intelligence with us - should this information be made public - was recently dismissed by two senior judges and Miliband, our foreign secretary, is now contesting that ruling.

In the high court, lawyers acting for the seven will urge Mr Justice Silber to reject MI5 and MI6 arguments that they should be able to rely on secret "closed evidence" to make their case.

The government filed a witness statement from the Treasury solicitor David Mackie outlining its defence. In it he explains the damage ministers and their lawyers believe could be caused if information held by the security services is publicly released. Mackie says in his witness statement that informants and the agencies methods would be jeopardised: "Disclosure of the information … would be likely to assist those whose purpose is to injure the security of the UK and whose actions in the past have shown that they are willing to kill innocent civilians."

Mackie then details the damage the government believes could be caused if material held by the Foreign Office is disclosed: "The disclosure of some of the information held by the FCO could prejudice the United Kingdom's bilateral relationships. The effective conduct of international relations depends on maintaining trust and confidence between governments."

So, we are back to the "America won't share info with us if we give their secrets away" argument. The only problem with that argument is that the two senior judges have already told us that the information we are talking about is neither "secret" nor can it be considered "intelligence". This information is simply embarrassing, and it is for that reason that both the US and UK governments are seeking to keep it quiet.

National security is not at risk here. But Tony Blair's image might be severely dented were it to be known that the UK had assisted the US when it came to the torture of some of our own subjects.

Louise Christian, a lawyer who represents Mubanga, said: "We believe the government is not trying to protect national security but trying to protect itself from embarrassment and from being sued for complicity in torture."

Sapna Malik, a solicitor acting for Mohamed said: "That the government is seeking to introduce such unconstitutional and unfair measures by the back door only serves to further raise suspicions about what they are trying to hide."

As always, national security is the blanket cover the government claim to avoid anything becoming public which might make them look bad.

I have every faith that the judges will dismiss this blatant attempt by the government to cover their own tracks.

It really is Orwellian in the extreme that the government can even be making the case which it is making. We are now being told that it is not in our national interest to know if our own government engaged in or assisted in torturing it's own citizens. It simply couldn't get more Big Brother than that.

Click here for full article.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"America's Priorities," by the Beltway elite.

Speaking as a Brit, and as someone who enjoys free healthcare, I must admit that I am always astounded that various American governments get away with not giving the US what every other industrialised nation gives it's citizens as a matter of course.

The arguments used to justify this are usually blatantly false, with Republicans routinely claiming that the US enjoys better healthcare than Britain or Canada.

This is simply untrue. The truth is that the US is ranked by The World Health Organisation at a lowly 37, with Canada at number 30 and the United Kingdom at 18.

Glenn Greenwald touched upon the logic that the beltway journalists employ to enable them to argue that this fundamental failing to meet US's citizens medical needs continues.

A reader asked The Washington Post: "Why is it okay to finance wars with debt, asks our reader, but not to pay for health care that way?"

The Post's response is startling.

All this assumes that defense and health care should be treated equally in the national budget. We would argue that they should not be . . . Universal health care, however desirable, is not "fundamental to the defense of our people." Nor is it a "necessity" that it be adopted this year: Mr. Obama chose to propose a massive new entitlement at a time of historic budget deficits. In contrast, Gen. McChrystal believes that if reinforcements are not sent to Afghanistan in the next year, the war may be lost, with catastrophic consequences for U.S. interests in South Asia. U.S. soldiers would continue to die, without the prospect of defeating the Taliban. And, as Mr. Obama put it, "if left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans."
As Greenwald points out, a study by Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance recently showed that "nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance" in America.

So, the Post's logic makes utterly no sense. Unless one is arguing that a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda are going to kill 45,000 Americans every single year then the Post's priorities are way out of kilter.

If their real concern is keeping as many Americans alive as possible, then healthcare should actually, based on the figures cited, be a much greater priority than even the war on terror.

So according to The Washington Post, dropping bombs on, controlling and occupying Afghanistan -- all while simultaneously ensuring "effective governance, economic development, education, the elimination of corruption, the protection of women's rights" to Afghan citizens in Afghanistan -- is an absolutely vital necessity that must be done no matter the cost. But providing basic services (such as health care) to American citizens, in the U.S., is a secondary priority at best, something totally unnecessary that should wait for a few years or a couple decades until we can afford it and until our various wars are finished, if that ever happens. "U.S. interests in South Asia" are paramount; U.S. interests in the welfare of those in American cities, suburbs and rural areas are an afterthought.
It says something about how militarised the US are as a nation that a national newspaper can seriously put forward such a fact free argument, which disintegrates the moment one pulls on the tiniest string.

Military objectives matter more than the welfare of ordinary citizens. Even when it is known that more Americans die from a lack of health insurance than al Qaeda could ever hope to kill.

That strikes me as astonishing. And yet that is seriously the argument being put forward by The Washington Post.

Click here for Greenwald's post.

Brazile: GOP Has No Alternative To Health Reform, "Name A Bill"

Brazile gets this bang on the money. The Republicans are simply the party of no when it comes to healthcare. They are out to derail Obama's plans whilst bringing no credible plan of their own to the table.

Netanyahu Refuses to Investigate War Crimes.

Netanyahu has set up a small task force, not an inquiry committee, to look into the accusations brought against the IDF in the Goldstone commission.

Netanyahu instructed Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman to coordinate the task force, which will present its recommendations as to Israel's course of action on the Goldstone report and its ramifications.

The team will make recommendations on what should be done in the diplomatic, legal and public relations planes. The prime minister said during the meeting that the establishment of an investigation committee was "not an option."

"IDF soldiers and officers will not be subjected to investigation," he stressed.
An official at the prime minister's office said that there were "differing opinions on what should be done." Barak added that "we sent the fighters on the mission, and they deserve our full support."
This falls well short of what is required by the Goldstone commission, which demanded that Israel begin credible investigations of persons suspected of carrying out war crimes. Instead we have this.
"Israel is prepared to fight against the legitimacy of the Goldstone report. In addition, Israel will act to amend rules of war to adjust them to the battle against terrorists who fight from among civilians," he said.
Instead of looking into the possible war crimes, Netanyahu now seeks to make what Israel did legal in retrospect.

Let's remember how this war came into being.

After Hamas were democratically elected as the representatives of the Palestinian people, Israel began a blockade against the Gaza Strip, with the clear goal of bringing down the people whom the Palestinians had voted for. Israel and the US then started sending arms to Abbas and Fatah with the intention of making Fatah strong enough to militarily defeat Hamas. Not surprisingly, Hamas launched an early attack, leaving Fatah in charge of the West Bank and Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip.

When Hamas offered to extend a ceasefire which existed between it and Israel, on the understanding that the blockade must end, the Israelis refused.

Instead, claiming to be fighting to stop rocket launches into Israeli territory, the Israelis embarked on a mission to defeat Hamas. Of course, these rockets only began dropping into Israel after Israel broke a ceasefire which existed between itself and Hamas.

So, one of the reasons why this war attracted so much international disapprobation, was the feeling that this was never a truly defensive war; it was rather a war which Israel sought in order to bring down the Palestinian people's democratically elected government, because Israel disagreed with the choice which the Palestinians had made.

This is what makes such a mockery of Israel's claims that she was fighting to stop rocket attacks. The rocket attacks had stopped. The ceasefire was working - as even the Israeli governments own website attests - and it was only after Israel launched an attack and refused to agree to continue the ceasefire, that the rocket attacks resumed.

Netanyahu continues to insist that this is about Israel's right to defend itself, but many of us see this as Netanyahu insisting on Israel's right to do as it pleases within the Palestinian territories as long as it can claim that it is doing so to defeat terror. What Netanyahu sees as defence many others saw as simply persecution.
"Finally, the Mission considered whether the series of acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of sustenance, employment, housing, and water, that deny their freedom of movement and right to enter and leave their country, that limit their access [to] a court of law and an effective remedy, could be considered persecution, a crime against humanity."
It's no great surprise that Netanyahu should have chosen this route, but the international community - including even allies such as the United States, Britain and France - have all urged Israel to take these accusations seriously and launch investigations.

Netanyahu has given his response. I don't doubt that he has done so because he assumes that the Obama administration won't dare not to veto this when it comes in front of the Security Council. And, from the noises coming from the Obama team, Netanyahu has probably called that correctly.

Obama can't expect change in Israel's behaviour as long as there is no change in the behaviour of the US when it comes to employing it's veto in the Security Council.

Click here for full article.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bar'el: As occupier, Israel must face up to Goldstone report .

Zvi Bar'el has a really interesting article in today's Ha'aretz newspaper, talking about the Israeli reaction to the Goldstone report, and how the Israelis are wrong to view Goldstone's report as merely a reaction to the invasion of Gaza, but how, in fact, Goldstone uses the word "continuum", meaning that he is viewing the Israeli actions in Gaza as part of what Ber'el refers to as "a link in a chain as old as the occupation itself."

And that's a perfectly valid point. It's impossible for the Israelis to separate the occupation from the reaction of the people being occupied and yet that is what Netanyahu seems determined to do. He seeks to have the Israeli-Palestine conflict viewed as, somehow, part of the war on terror.

Unfortunately for us, the publication of this tome, not its content, has given rise to competition between Israel and other countries: The issue that concerns Israel is no longer the shocking description of the events, but if and where the report will be deliberated, and who will vote for or against. Israel has a score to settle with everyone except itself. Israel is fighting against the microscope.

And the medicine? That, too, is typical. After blaming the messenger, there is a need to look for a real culprit, who has already been found. The occupied and their violent messengers are to blame. They are the ones who attack from schools and mosques, who carry bombs in ambulances and who dare to oppose the occupation using unacceptable means, leaving no option but to kill them without discrimination. If this is so, then it is not the nature of warfare that needs to be changed but the laws that limit it. To legalize the illegitimate war. And a strategy to this end is taking shape called "asymmetric warfare" - an army against groups, an army against civilians; all that is left is for an army of legal experts to develop new legislation and provide new legitimacy to kill indiscriminately, sending Goldstone to the trash bin.
Netanyahu argues that Israel must have the right to defend itself from violent extremists, whilst ignoring the fact that the occupation is, in itself, an act of violence.

And Bar'el raises the interesting point that there have been no similar calls for a commission to examine the acts of US and British troops, even whilst they are in the middle of a war as unpopular as the one in Iraq.
The reason is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan enjoy international legitimacy, to some extent in the eyes of the local people. More importantly, the occupation in Iraq has a defined termination date. The Israeli occupation, on the other hand, gives off signs of being eternal. Disgust at this is powerful enough to affect even our friends.
I don't know if I agree with Bar'el's claim that the Iraq war is seen as legitimate in the eyes of the world community, but I certainly accept his notion that the Israeli occupation looks eternal, especially with Netanyahu doing everything in his power to resist peace talks.

Netanyahu seeks to portray Israel's treatment of the Palestinians as no different from how any other state would react to rocket attacks. But, in his version, the occupation is completely irrelevant to what is taking place, whereas to most of us, the occupation is the main reason why rockets fall into Israel.

Action produces reaction. And occupations have always been resisted. That's as old as time. And only people like Netanyahu continue to be puzzled as to why this is so. Which is why he continues to insist that one has nothing to do with the other.


One only needs to read this to see how warped Netanyahu's logic is when it comes to this dispute:
When asked about stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, Netanyahu lamented the loss of precious time due to the Palestinians' sudden "preconditions that weren't there for the last 16 years."

He explained that the Palestinians' key demand, that Israel freeze construction in settlements on Palestinian land, was in effect "committing in advance to the results of the negotiations."

"It's the old technique. Let's agree on what the results of the negotiations will be before the negotiations begin," he said.
He's totally ignoring the fact that the settlements are completely illegal under international law.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
And the illegality of these settlements has repeatedly been made clear in several UN resolutions, including resolutions 446, 452, 465, 471 and 476 all of which find the settlements to be illegal.

Note that this is of no import to Netanyahu; he finds the Palestinians insisting that he conform with international law to be an outrage. He's also ignoring the fact that President Obama has also asked that the settlement building stop so that talks could begin.

But he doesn't mention him, it's far easier to malign the Palestinians than a popular US President.

Click here for full article.