Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Real Causes of Endless War

Sometimes "peace talks" are a way to cover up more war. This is especially true when one side has all the military power and no incentive to resolve the conflict. The Annapolis talks between the Palestinians and Israelis are an example of war making dressed up like peace negotiations.

Israel holds all the cards. It has the fourth most powerful military in the world, with all the latest fighter jets and tanks that American tax dollars can buy. Moreover, It has 200 nuclear weapons, and the unquestioning support of the world's only superpower. The Palestinian people are virtually powerless, prisoners in their own land. This year, Israel killed 650 Palestinians while suffering 27 fatalities. Human rights groups estimate that 80% of Palestinians were civilians.

Israel just sent 30 tanks into Gaza on another killing spree, murdering 8 "gunmen." In addition, Israeli Minister of Housing announced that 307 more units would be added to the illegal Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem on Jabal Abu Ghunaym. This is reminiscent of the Clinton era "peace talks," during which Israel doubled its Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.

And the hope of real peace keeps receding, as senators like Clinton and Schumer spend more time boosting Israel than New York State. Israel recently won a new arms deal with the US, getting $6 billion aid in one year. The Israeli lobby and their allies in our government are the real causes of endless war in the Middle East.

Fred Nagel


Israel faced a battery of calls yesterday to alleviate what the Red Cross unusually called a "deep human crisis" by easing restrictions on Palestinian movement.

The World Bank and the Western-backed emergency Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, warned that the $5.6bn (£2.7bn) they hope the conference will pledge in Paris on Monday will not reverse the collapse of the Palestinian economy unless there is a significant reduction in checkpoints and closures.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which prides itself on its neutrality, said that Israel's "harsh security measures" came at an "enormous humanitarian cost" and that the "dignity of the Palestinians is being trampled underfoot day after day, both in the West Bank and Gaza."

And the NY Times? It runs a story about an Israeli boy who was injured by a Palestinian rocket. All the criticisms of Israel are just left out.

What don't we hear about Israel? This year, Israel killed 650 Palestinians while suffering 27 fatalities. Human rights groups estimate that 80% of Palestinians were civilians.

Israel just sent 30 tanks into Gaza on another killing spree, murdering 8 "gunmen." In addition, Israeli Minister of Housing announced that 307 more units would be added to the illegal Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem. This is reminiscent of the Clinton era "peace talks," during which Israel doubled its Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.

But American media keeps Israel's image clean, something that is impossible to do in the rest of the world. Many countries actually have a much greater freedom of the press than we do.


GENEVA - A United Nations investigator said on Thursday he strongly suspected the CIA of using torture on terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, suggesting many were not being prosecuted to keep the abuse from emerging at trial.

On a visit to the U.S. detention centre in Cuba last week, Martin Scheinin, U.N. special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, attended a pre-trial hearing of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s former driver.

“Bringing them to court would bring to the court’s attention the method through which the evidence, including the confessions, were obtained. So this is one further affirmation of the conclusion that the CIA or others have been involved in methods of interrogation that are incompatible with international law,” he said.

And the NY Times? Martin Scheinin? Never heard of him!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

This bill would establish a Commission to study and report on "facts and causes" of "violent radicalism" and "extremist belief systems." It defines "violent radicalism" as "adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change." The term "extremist belief system" is not defined; it could refer to anything.

"Ideologically based violence" is defined in the bill as the "use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs." Thus, "force" and "violence" are used interchangeably. If a group of people blocked the doorway of a corporation that manufactured weapons, or blocked a sidewalk during an antiwar demonstration, it might constitute the use of "force" to promote "political beliefs."

The bill charges that the Internet "has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens." This provision could be used to conduct more intrusive surveillance of our Internet communications without warrants.
National Lawyers Guild


Getting bad coverage of the election? All about Hillary, Ophra and Obama? Consider what you aren't being told by our media:

Is health care reform really on the table? Hillary gets 1 in 4 of her campaign dollars from the healthcare industry. It is 1 in 5 for Obama. For Edwards, it is 1 in 20. Any wonder that Edwards doesn't get much coverage by the corporate controlled media?

Hillary has always maintained that we need to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely. Obama wants US forces to stay in the Middle East with an "over the horizon" capability to reinvade. Neither mentions any deadline for pulling all our troops out. Peace candidates?

Hillary is receiving more money than any other candidate from the defense and energy sectors. Obama is second. Edwards, who is more critical of the occupation of Iraq and planned attacks on Iran is much further down the list.

Polling data consistently show that Edwards has the best chance against ALL republican candidates. Moreover, he does much better than Hillary and Obama in key battleground states like Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio.

Hillary has remarkable negatives in the general population. Over 50 percent of Americans polled consistently say they would NEVER vote for her. So why does our media concentrate on the Hillary Obama "horse race"? Could be that Edwards is not as trusted by the corporations that run our media and our country.
Z Magazine Dec. 2007

Burmese military rule hard to understand? Not if you look at the natural gas desposits discovered in 1982 in the Yadana field. A pipeline was completed in 1998 by a consortium including Unocal, a Us corporation, and French oil company TOTAL. During Clinton's presidency, companies already doing business with Burma were exempted from international sanctions, despite the gross human rights violations.

Chevron (the second-largest U.S. energy company) and Total (French) are, in fact, refusing to pull out of Burma. Other investors in the natural gas industry include companies from Australia, China, India, Janan, and Russia.

Sales of natural gas account for the single largest source of revenue to the military government. Gas exports accounted for fully half of the country's exports in 2006.

But why little mention of Chevron and the natural gas industry in our extensive media coverage of Burma (Myanmar)? Corporate gas and oil interests almost always trump our democratic right to know, and our media is to blame.
Z Magazine Dec. 2007

Quote from the NY Times (September 29, 2007): "But in a sign of how limited Washington’s leverage is against the country, which has long been the target of American sanctions, officials said they were concerned that China, a trading partner and neighbor of Myanmar, would block any serious effort to destabilize the Burmese government...Given the dearth of American investment and trade with Myanmar, the financial levers appear limited, officials acknowledged."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


H.R 1955: the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 recently passed by the House-a companion bill is in the Senate-is barely one sentence old before its Orwellian moment: It begins, “AN ACT - To prevent homegrown terrorism, and for other purposes.” Those whose pulse did not quicken at “other purposes” have probably not read George Orwell.

Future “other purposes” will undoubtedly be justified by the Act’s use of the term “violent radicalization,” which it defines as “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence . . .” or by the folksy, Lake Wobegonesque “homegrown terrorism,” defined as “the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born [or] raised . . . within the United States . . . to intimidate or coerce the United States, the civilian population . . . or any segment thereof .

In the service of some self-serving “other purposes,” will “extremist beliefs” become any belief the temporary occupants of the White House consider antithetical and threatening to their political agenda?

Where is our national media when free speech is under attack? Same place it has always been, supporting the powers that profit from shutting us up.


US Says It Has Right to Kidnap British Citizens. A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.

Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.

There was concern this weekend from Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP, who said: “The very idea of kidnapping is repugnant to us and we must handle these cases with extreme caution and a thorough understanding of the implications in American law.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said: “This law may date back to bounty hunting days, but they should sort it out if they claim to be a civilized nation.”

This story, like many that cast the US in a bad light, never made it to the NY Times.


WASHINGTON, DC - November 30 - Green Party leaders called on President Bush to cancel an order directing the CIA to interfere with a December 2 voters' referendum in Venezuela and to cease actions intended to stabilize the Chavez government.

"President Chavez and the people of Venezuela are not America's enemy. We demand that the White House respect the sovereignty of other countries and the democratic will of the Venezuelan people, who have repeatedly affirmed their support for President Chavez and his policies," said Jill Bussiere, Wisconsin representative to the Green Party's International Committee.

"The memo describes secret US-supported actions against the Chavez government that constitute acts of war against a nation at peace with the US. These operations are consistent with other US acts of aggression against Venezuela, including the failed 2002 coup attempt, to which the Bush Administration lent active support," Ms. Bussiere added.

But the NY Times continues to Chavez as a "strongman" and never questions the US attempts to undermine his elected government.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Congressman Bill Delahunt and the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, held a hearing Nov. 15 on the case of Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban terrorist currently living in Miami. The hearing was to understand why Posada, unlike other accused terrorists, has so far been able to escape being held accountable for his crimes.

What did he do? His worst crime was the midair bombing of a civilian airliner in 1976 that resulted in the deaths of 73 civilians.

Peter Kombluh from the National Security Archive testified that declassified records show that Posada had foreknowledge of the bombing, was in possession of a surveillance report on Cuban targets (including the plane), received coded messages immediately after the plane crashed from men who had planted the bombs. He was also identified as one of the two masterminds of the attack.

But this story puts the US in a bad light (protecting, and even possibly paying for terror against other nations). The NY Times wouldn't touch it.


The Madison Avenue jewelry store LEVIEV New York was again the site of protests by human rights activists angered by Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev's settlement construction in Palestine, and other abusive practices in Angola and New York City. Tuesday evening’s protest, on the second day the store was open to the public, followed a noisy, surprise protest at LEVIEV New York’s gala opening on November 13 which derailed the evening for the celebrities and socialites in attendance.

Riham Barghouti, a spokesperson for Adalah-NY, explained that “This new campaign is a strong local response to the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It shows the willingness of more individuals in the US in general and in New York City in particular to carry out effective action to oppose the building of Israeli settlements on confiscated Palestinian land, and other Israeli human rights violations.”

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth has also reported that Leviev is a primary donor to the right-wing Israeli organization the Land Redemption Fund. The Fund spends its large budget to secure Palestinian land for Israeli settlement expansion, allegedly with the aid of deceit and strong arm- tactics.

The Israeli press can cover Leviev's misdeeds, but not the NY Times. In fact, what the NY Times covers is hard to stomach, a long article in the Magazine section applauding him as a self made man and "legendary philanthropist."


One of the curiosities of the New York Times is its habit, since George W. Bush took office, of assigning a gal reporter to the White House, apparently to generate warm and fuzzy puff pieces about the Commander in Chief.

The current Times ingénue assigned to this beat is Sheryl Gay Stolberg, whose latest softball was a Veterans Day feature entitled "Bush and Relatives of Fallen Lean on Each Other."

Stolberg’s story starts with Melissa Storey of Palmer, Mass. - whose husband, Army Staff Sgt. Clint Storey, "fell" after a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq. It then rambles on through 73 column inches, including two photos of the president hugging "folks," as Bush likes to call them, whose husbands, fathers, sons and daughters he has sent to their deaths. This is a lot of news space for meetings, according to White House staffers quoted by Stolberg, that are "deeply private" and never, ever publicized.

What went wrong here? How did these "deeply private" meetings with Mrs. Storey and so many other "folks" get exposed? Who leaked?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Sunday's story about the coming "crisis" in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (All Things Considered: 5:00 - 6:00 pm on November 18) was little more than a misleading polemic.

NPR blithely accepted the premiss that Social Security would be bankrupt in a few years, and that all three programs were unsustainable. But many economists (like Paul Krugman of the New York Times) have called this assumption a "big lie" promoted by Wall Street and conservative think tanks, eager to take apart the last vestiges of the New Deal.

Shame on NPR for not mentioning that a very small increase in Social Security taxes paid by those earning more than $100,000 per year would make the program solvent for generations. And how about the trillion dollars earmarked for the wars in the Middle East? And the billions in corporate tax breaks? All things considered? Hardly. This story was almost pure propaganda, another stain on NPR reporting.


In an exclusive interview with CNA earlier this week, Bishop Thomas Wenski (US Conference of Catholic Bishops) took time to explain why the Bishop’s Conference supports a two state solution to bring peace to the Holy Land. The USCCB Chairman of the Committee on International Policy made his comments in light of the upcoming Annapolis peace conference, due to begin on November 27.

Bishop Wenski lamented the fact many factors are contributing to “the continuing stalemate in the region.” Among the causes he cited were the building of the security wall by the Israelis, and the continuing expansion of Jewish settlements in the Western bank.

In addition, “Israel seems to be reducing the Palestinian territories into a series of cantons…and cutting them off from each other,” the bishop said.

Another obstacle to peace is “the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where most of the population lives on less than a dollar a day, threatens the sustainability of any political settlement and thus the security of Israel,” the leaders wrote.

This pronouncement by the Catholic Bishops didn't make it through the main Israeli lobby filter for US news, that is the New York Times.


US military officials are putting huge pressure on interrogators who question Iraqi insurgents to find incriminating evidence pointing to Iran, it was claimed last night.

Micah Brose, a privately contracted interrogator working for American forces in Iraq, near the Iranian border, told The Observer that information on Iran is 'gold'. The claim comes after Washington imposed sanctions on Iran last month, citing both its nuclear ambitions and its Revolutionary Guards' alleged support of Shia insurgents in Iraq.

'My impression is they're just trying to get every little bit of ammunition possible. If we get something here it fits the overall picture. The engine needs impetus and they're looking for us to find the fuel - a particular type of fuel."

US trying to build a case for war against Iran? Newsworthy for American citizens to read? Not to the NY Times.,,2208997,00.html


In what has become the nation’s largest annual gathering for peace and human rights, over twenty thousand people protested outside the gates of Fort Benning, GA on November 18, 2007. Fort Benning is the site of the internationally notorious U.S. Army training school for Latin American military and security personnel.

The eleven people who crossed onto the grounds were arrested by military police. The eleven, ranging in age from 25 to 76, are scheduled for federal criminal trial January 28, 2008 for trespass - punishable up to six months in federal prison. Over two hundred people have served federal prison time for civil disobedience at prior protests - dozens of others arrested have served years of supervised federal probation.

And the NY Times report on these protests? Never happened: it just wasn't fit to print...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Democracy is dying right here in America

The French learned more from their experience in Algeria than the US did from Vietnam. Both occupations killed tens of thousands of occupying soldiers and millions of civilians before they ended.

But what the French learned is that the tactics they used to occupy Algeria came home. That is, the manipulation of the media, the detention camps, the arrests without charges, the spying on civilians, the militarization, the corruption of the political process all came back to infect French society. Jean Paul Sartre wrote that if a country doesn’t respect human rights and self determination abroad, those concepts are slowly undermined at home. Occupation, in other words, destroys democracy in both countries.

Perhaps the occupation of Iraq will be our learning experience. We know that our phones and e-mails are monitored by huge computers. We read the false stores planted in our press. We see the pictures of Guantanamo and know that any one of us could end up as an "enemy combatant" and disappear. We watch as our own government approves the use of water boarding, a sinister form of torture.

And the militarization of our society? Hillary Clinton, while espousing peace, gets more campaign contributions from US weapons makers than any other candidate in the presidential race. The corruption of our political process by the military industrial complex is nearly complete.

Iraq is in chaos; we see it on TV. Less obvious is the fact that democracy is dying right here in America.


Monday, November 12, 2007

FANTASY LAND: US Media Nov. 14

WASHINGTON - A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear programme, and thus make the document more supportive of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts of the process provided by participants to two former Central Intelligence Agency officers.

But this pressure on intelligence analysts, obviously instigated by Cheney himself, has not produced a draft estimate without those dissenting views, these sources say. The White House has now apparently decided to release the unsatisfactory draft NIE, but without making its key findings public.

Cooking the intelligence again for a new war? Same as last time? Not that readers of the NY Times would worry about this, since the nation's newspaper of record did not print the story.


Last week, the UN First Committee passed, by an overwhelming majority, a resolution highlighting concerns over the military use of uranium.

The resolution entitled 'Effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium' was passed by 122 votes to six at the UN First Committee in New York; with 35 abstentions. The resolution urges UN member states to re-examine the health hazards posed by the use of uranium weapons.

In March this year, Belgium became the first country in the world to introduce a domestic ban on the use of uranium in all conventional weapon systems. The decision by Brussels to take this step sent a clear message to all NATO members and users of uranium weapons that the continued use of chemically toxic and radioactive weapon systems is incompatible with international humanitarian legal standards.

But to the NY Times, such stories are just off the radar. Depleted Uranium? The newspaper of record just doesn't want you to know about it, since if is being used by the ton in Iraq.


Claims are going the rounds that sectarian violence in Iraq has fallen, and that the U.S. military "surge" has succeeded in reducing attacks against civilians. Baghdad residents speak of the other side of the coin - that they live now in a largely divided city that has brought this uneasy calm.

"Baghdad has been torn into two cities and many towns and neighborhoods," said Ahmad Ali, chief engineer from one of Baghdad’s municipalities. "There is now the Shia Baghdad and the Sunni Baghdad to start with. Each is divided into little town-like pieces of the hundreds of thousands who had to leave their homes."

"If the situation is good, why are five million Iraqis living in exile," says 55- year-old Abu Mohammad who was evicted from Shula in West Baghdad to become a refugee in Amiriya, a few miles from his lost home.

And who did the ethnic cleansing? The militias trained and paid for by the US. Retired Col. James Steele served as advisor to Iraqi security forces under former U.S. ambassador John Negroponte, who supervised the training of these forces. Both men were involved in the death squads in Central America during the 1980's.

Such reporting, however does not make it into the mainstream media, including the NY Times.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

NY Times and state propaganda

Date: Tue Nov 6, 2007 11:34 am ((PST)

This story is my favorite example of the NY Times and state propaganda:
UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations General Assembly Tuesday snubbed the United States for its hostility towards Cuba, amid fresh calls for an end to the 45-year economic and financial embargo imposed on the socialist island.

On Tuesday, as many as 184 countries voted in favor of a General Assembly resolution demanding the U.S. lift 45-year-old restrictions on international trade with Cuba. The vote broke last year's record, when 183 countries endorsed the resolution against the U.S. embargo. The 192-member General Assembly has adopted 16 similar resolutions since 1992. Like last year, in addition to the United States itself, the negative votes were cast by just three countries: Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

Fit to print in America's the "newspaper of record"? We only get stories of Bush lecturing Cuba about democracy. We have to look closely at the role of the NY Times in hiding truths from the American people in return for government favors and access. Our media is often involved in spreading propaganda, and certainly considers this more important than providing "all the news that's fit to print."

Another great example is today's half page story about General Suharto, former dictator of the Indonesia. What was missing in the NY Times coverage? Why the political purges and the deaths of millions of Indonesian leftists and Chinese-Indonesians.

Reading the NY Times article we get a view of a kindly old man who has outlived his era. No mention of attempts to try him on charges of genocide that have failed due to his poor health. Nor is there mention of the role of the US and England in the coup and subsequent butchery. Even the CIA (in declassified documents) called it: "one of the worst mass murders in the twentieth century."

But none of this sees the light of day in NY Times reporting. Contrast this propaganda with articles by the BBC that fully expose British involvement in the slaughter.

UNITED NATIONS - A U.N. human rights expert is calling on the United States to prosecute or release suspects detained as "unlawful enemy combatants" and to move quickly to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Martin Scheinin, the U.N.'s independent investigator on human rights in the fight against terrorism, said in a report released Monday that he's concerned about U.S. detention practices, military courts and interrogation techniques.

He urged the U.S. government to end the CIA practice of extraordinary rendition, in which terrorism suspects are taken to foreign countries for interrogation. Scheinin said he was also concerned about what he termed "enhanced interrogation techniques reportedly used by the CIA," saying that under international law "there are no circumstances in which cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment may be justified."

For the NY Times, this was another story not fit to print.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Organizing Slaughter

The US media has made the leap from selling the Iraq War to explaining it’s catastrophic failure. Both the selling and the explaining are based on the same false premise, that America tries to do what is right in its dealings with the rest of the world.

According to our media, the US invaded Iraq to "save" its people from Saddam Hussein, to "restore" democracy, and to protect the world from weapons of mass destruction. The fact that these reasons have all proven to be false has not stopped the next round of propaganda: describing US failures as stemming from an excess of idealism.

Having killed a million Iraqis and made four million homeless, such protestations of innocence might seem to be preposterous. But America loves its fairy tales of self-sacrifice, benevolence, and legality. Facts like huge, permanent bases being build by the US around Iraq's oil fields are just not reported. Why spoil our national infatuation with righteousness?

To really end the the occupation of Iraq, we will have to start questioning our naive assumptions about war and empire. Not only do our leaders lie to us through the media, they get filthy rich in the process. The war crimes perpetrated against Iraq have brought billions in profits for our politicians and corporate heads. Whether it is the weapons makers, the oil companies, the defense contractors, or the mercenary armies, their intentions are little better than organizing slaughter to satisfy obscene greed.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Iraq and Palestine

Wars and occupations are never completely alike. Yet future historians will marvel over the similarities between the US occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Both occupations involve taking what belongs to other nations. The US wants Iraq’s oil and Israel wants Palestine’s water and land. Both involve incredible suffering of occupied populations. After four years, Iraq is without basic services like water and electricity. Four million have fled. In Palestine, the human suffering has gone on for decades, creating one of the largest refugee populations in the world (six million).

The US and Israel employ many of the same tactics including unlimited detention without charges, torture, and daily assassinations that almost always involve civilian deaths. Neither country bothers to count the the number of civilians made homeless or killed. It simply doesn’t matter.

Both occupying countries use high tech weaponry to keep their own troop casualties at a minimum. Both occupying countries use fear to keep people back home from questioning the butchery being committed in their names.

Both occupations are being paid for by the same country, the United States. The occupation of Iraq has cost at least 450 billion with no end in sight. US payments to Israel have exceeded 130 billion, or more than $20,000 for each Israeli citizen. These numbers are well beyond anyone’s imagination, but represent the wealth of the world’s most powerful nation being used for war and oppression.

Antithesis of a Democracy

Michael Moore's recent documentary, "Sicko," describes both desperate patients and a broken healthcare system. He doesn't mince words about why things are so bad. It is the insurance and drug companies. Their money buys Congress, and the corporate media covers it all up. The average American doesn't even know that the rest of the developed world has universal healthcare, and that it is vastly superior to our own.

Of course, the same is true for most problems Americans face, from high gas prices to pollution. Corporations hire armies of lobbyists and give millions in campaign contributions to make sure their voices are heard over ours.

Weapons makers are probably this country's most effective lobbyists, spending millions to get billions in contracts for weapons programs that don't work and that we don't need. And what will make the most money for these companies? Think endless war.

There is only one dominant group that isn't controlled by US corporations, and that is the Israeli lobby (AEPAC). It uses its vast wealth to intimidate Congress, (certainly our two US Senators) into funding Israel's war machine. It lobbied hard for the Iraq war and is now leading the charge towards Iran. AEPAC has had people in all the right places (think Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, Lewis Scooter Libby, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and David Wurmser).

All these lobbying groups have one thing in common. They don't listen to us or care the least bit about our interests. The antithesis of a democracy.

Reasons for Gullible Public

What makes the American public so gullible about going to war?

Let's dispense with the obvious. The media, especially TV, has been dumbed down and manipulated by the same corporations that run our government. The more TV we watch, the more misinformation we get.

But there is more going on than that. It is much easier to believe what the media is telling us then to look for the truth elsewhere. Five minutes of TV news is all the time we need to spend. The stories are simple; the bad guys and good guys are there in black and white. People in charge, the good guys, are bombing and shooting the bad. On to "American Idol."

Were it merely intellectual laziness, however, making war would not be as compelling as it is. There is also an emotional component, and that is the fantasy of revenge. What adventure movie is without this most satisfying way of spilling the blood of others. "Make my day." We are strong; we are just; and we have a moral imperative to murder. The ecstasy of war is like a drug.

Like most drugs, however, it has a nasty hangover. The war movie we were starring in is suddenly lost. The body bags coming home make us feel uncomfortable and ashamed. Blood on our hands?

Most troubling, we suspect that the butchery in Iraq does not belong solely to the madmen in the White House. It belongs to us all.

Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians

H. Lee Wind's recent letter confuses "biased reporting" with the printing of facts that one might not like. Did the Nakba happen? Most historians who don't have an ideological ax to grind admit the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948. Try Zochrot , a Israeli organization dedicated to making this history better know.

There hasn't been a half century of catastrophe for the Palestinian people since the Nakba? Millions living in refuge camps in the largest and most concentrated ghetto in the world? Child hunger figures that approach starvation? Constant attacks by tanks, bulldozers and helicopter gunships? Amnesty International recently stated that over half of the more than 650 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers in 2006 were civilians, 120 of them children and young people under 18. I don't know H. Lee Wind's definition of a catastrophe for an entire people. Must it become an actual genocide?

And calling the reporting of Palestinian suffering a "decidedly unilateral and simple-minded approach" sounds like obfuscation and political spin. Plenty of people referred to Jewish suffering before the Second World War as too complex and complicated to become involved with. Once the war started, trying to stop the genocide became "disruptive" to the war effort and was never actively pursued by Allied Forces. What will Americans be saying when eventually confronted with the fact that their tax dollars (over 3 billion a year) supported this kind of racism in occupied Palestine?

Are there two morally acceptable points of view in an impending genocide? The Jewish and the German? The Tutsi and the Hutu, the Armenian and the Turkish? The Palestinian and the Israeli? Only in H. Lee Wand's imagination.

Twenty First Century

It certainly looks like a winning hand. Ronald Reagan found it to be, that potent combination of populism, racism, and nationalism that made him so popular, and that continued to undermine wages, civil liberties and peace right through the three administrations that followed.

The approach has a hidden agenda, that of corporate domination and special privileges for the very wealthy. That is why the Reagan formula is continuing its way through Europe in Italy, England and now France with the victory of Sarkozy It can be applied wherever there is identifiably different race or religion that can be blamed for society’s shortcomings. By getting the people to vent their economic frustration on the few, they are quite willing to give up their rights to fair wages, civil liberties, and any other benefits that democratic societies should provide.

The origin of such tactics has not been right wing economic thought from the University of Chicago. These theories merely make palatable what was the genius of the Third Reich, the use of fear and nationalism to mask the totalitarianism at the heart of corporate dominance. Perhaps the Twenty-First Century will be seen as merely a continuation of the bloodshed and inhumanity of the Twentieth, only to be interrupted by depressions and world wars.

To survive, we need another model. One freed from the profit motive, the current religion of our economic elite. Perhaps our salvation will spring one day from the ashes of the millions sacrificed to this false god.

Americans on Iraq

Much has been revealed in the last four years about the reasons behind our misguided invasion of Iraq. We have seen the giant oil US companies making billions as they have gained ownership over the incalculable wealth of Iraq's oil fields. We have watched the weapons manufacturers and defense contractors making similar fortunes from the occupation, with no end in sight. Finally, we can document how the Israeli lobby, that curious and deadly combination of Jewish and Christian fanaticism, pushes hard for war and is doing so again with Iran. The money and power of these dominant groups made the invasion of Iraq all but inevitable. Politicians like Hillary knew about the war lies from the start but understood whom she must serve. We have a broken political system, with both parties pretty much sold to the highest bidder.

But the most startling fact of all is how little the average American knows about these major influences controlling US foreign policy. Many still think that we invaded for noble reasons, and that we must stay until we have brought peace and democracy to the Middle East. Most Americans simply can't tell simplistic and feel good propaganda from the ugly truth. They get their news from TV and other forms of mainstream media. They are well meaning, even idealistic. But in the end, they are childishly naive and easily fooled. And therein lies the real danger to our democracy. We the people have lost control of our destiny.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Mother Load of Evil Deeds

Some people have questioned the effectiveness of torture for the truly wicked terrorists threatening America. But the confessions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed have changed all that. Several years of beatings and near drownings have produced the mother load of evil deeds. It turns out that Khalid planned almost everything that happened in the last ten years, as well as several things that didn't.

It almost makes one wish that we had tortured him a little longer. There are still unsolved mysteries that plague our nation, like the anthrax attack on Congress, the election fraud in Florida, and the murder of JonBenet. Why leave things hanging if you have someone willing to sing to the authorities?

There are a few problems with all these confessions by one person. What will we accuse Osama of if we ever catch him? Moreover, what will we ever charge those 400 poor slobs in Guantanamo Bay with, the ones wearing dog collars around their necks? There isn't really much left. Indecent exposure?

The Pentagon will figure something out. We will never really get to hear or read what these leftover prisoners say anyway. National security you know. So in a couple of years, the Pentagon will have them confessing to the same crimes and the majority of Americans aren't going to remember that Khalid said that too. If Americans had better memories, our kids wouldn't be dying in Iraq and a band of criminals and liars wouldn't be running our country.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Not Far Away Enough

Perhaps it wasn't her stories as much as the film. Feryal Abu Haikal, a headmistress at a girls' school in Hebron and guest this weekend at a church in New Paltz, told of trying to shepherd her young students to school through groups of the rock throwing settlers. But the film showed the settlers kicking and taunting the young girls and heaving rocks at them. One ten your old was hit in the face while Israeli soldiers stood by laughing.

Far away? Not far enough. Many of the settlers are from Brooklyn. The money for the illegal settlements on Palestinian land comes from right wing extremist religious groups in the United States, both Christian and Jewish. The soldiers' weapons, their jeeps and the bulldozers they use on Palestinian homes are all paid for by US tax dollars. UN resolutions against this racism have been routinely vetoed by our government. Our politicians, heavily financed by these extremist groups, pass resolution after resolution supporting Israel. And our national media completes the hometown support for throwing rocks at little kids. Palestinian suffering is always hidden from the American people.

Israel wants to remove millions of Palestinians from the West Bank and replace them with Jewish settlers, a recipe for endless bloodshed in the Middle East. But American support is key; it just couldn't happen without us.

So the next time a US politicians heaps praise on Israel, ask them who they are working for, extremist groups who fund them or US citizens.


Marketplace on NPR:

Your report from the West Bank today (2/16/07) was offensive in any number of ways. You interviewed a number of "settlers" who waxed eloquent about their reasons for moving to illegal settlements on Palestinian land (the country is beautiful, neighborhoods are new, and almost everyone speaks English). But the settlers were also upset by a number of developments (Palestinians "throw stones," and threaten terrorist attacks, all of which have reduced property values).

No Palestinian was interviewed. No mention was made of the violations of international law involved in these "settlers" taking land that doesn't belong to them. Certainly there was no hint that these settlers, backed by the Israeli Defense Force routinely harass, beat, and shoot Palestinians.

No, your report was just about a nice group of people who have a few real estate problems. Like a backed up sewer system.

I can't imagine the level of racism it must have taken to do this report. Marketplace's casual acceptance of apartheid is morally intolerable.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Attacks on President Carter

No surer proof of the strength of the Israeli lobby in the US can be found than the scope of the relentless attacks on former President Carter. His most recent book, "Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid" is not a diatribe against Jewish people, but a simple telling of the truth about life in occupied Palestine. He goes so far as to overlook the gross racism directed at Palestinians in Israel itself to concentrate on the West Bank and Gaza.

But none of this is enough for the fanatics, both right wing Christians and Jews. Even the "NY Times" attempts to make Carter appear anti-Semitic by reporting that he is critical of "American Jewish" power. He is, of course, critical of the Israeli lobby and not of American Jewish power. does a similar trashing of Carter's reputation. In a space used for a short publisher's description of a book, one finds a highly critical screed against the former president that is twenty paragraphs long. It is written by an Israeli citizen, a former Israeli Defense Force guard for Palestinian prisoners. All this isn't about selling books. It's about the might of the Israeli lobby in this country.

Many Israelis worry about the Fascist tendencies of their government, as many Americans fear their own highly militaristic, right wing administration. Whatever our race or religion, we must oppose the violence and slaughter that both these governments have wrought in the Middle East.

Dear President Carter:

Please do not think you are alone in your stand for peace and justice in occupied Palestine. All across this country, groups like the one I belong to (Middle East Crisis Response: are being formed to bring an awareness of Palestinian suffering to the American People.

The 14 members of the Carter Center's advisory board who resigned are only for human rights when it is comfortable and familiar. Applied universally, and especially to Israel, their solemn commitment to human rights evaporates.

Your book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" does more than expose the mistreatment of the Palestinians. It holds to light an ugly side of an American political system that is bought and sold by the Israeli lobby. People like Alan Dershowitz function as its intellectual brown shirts.

I commend you, President Carter. You are an honest and brave man who has honored the presidency when so many have disgraced it.

Rhinebeck, NY

Propaganda Not News

The problem with our media is that is promotes the idea of civil discourse as a excuse for providing only one side of almost every important issue confronting Americans.

"Let's not be shrill and divisive" our media warns. Yet, in the preparation for the war on Iraq, almost no one in the media confronted the obvious lies being foisted on the American public. Perhaps if our media could have been a little more "divisive," this calamitous war would not have happened.

When is the last time you saw an article in a major media publication that questioned our giving 500 billion a year to the Pentagon? This is a highly militarized state and we spend more on making war than the rest of the world combined. Yet our media would never debate that. Too shrill.

And how about stories of corporate irresponsibility? It takes a meltdown the size on Enron to expose the obscene machinations of the corporate controlled ruling class. Too divisive.

Spend some time reading the media in many other countries. The Israeli press debates racism directed at the Palestinians. Not here. The Guardian in the UK runs detailed reports of how the Bush administration lied about WMD's. Not here. I spent a month in Amsterdam and learned about freedom of the press. For the first time in my life, I read mainstream media that discussed Cuba. Now, I can read about Cuba here, but it will be stories created in the Pentagon. We get propaganda from our media, not news.