Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No Defense for Israel

It's quite possible Israel was a doomed state from its inception. It's tough to walk into a land, determined to take it from those that live there, on the justification of discrimination elsewhere and a sense of divine privilege. Yet that's pretty much how Israel was created, when, partially in reaction to the holocaust and partially because they felt it was their biblical heritage, the Jews marched in and battled Arabs to create Israel.


Needless to say, it was not easy, and the hostility they encountered exaggerated the already dominant "us against the world" psyche that seems to permeate Jewish tradition. The fact that they had, in fact, dispossessed another people in much the same way that they themselves were dispossessed in Europe no doubt fed into the notion that they must beat down those they displaced, who were clearly all too justified in their animosity.


So Israel starts, morally, from behind the eight ball. Not all Israelis know this, but their leaders certainly do. But, as is so often the case in situations like this, once created, the country existed and could claim a right to keep existing. It's here that there were many, many opportunities for Israel to reclaim the high ground, negotiate and support a separate Palestinian state, and reinstitute its own morality. Yet at every juncture those in power not only failed to do that but worked quite hard to ensure that it could not happen. They used the 1967 war to try to increase their borders, speckling settlements throughout the West Bank explicitly so that it could not become a Palestinian state and would instead be subsumed under the banner of "Greater Israel". Their right wing worked hard, and successfully, to torpedo any chance of the Oslo Accords' success, despite the fact that this could hardly be considered a fair agreement for the Palestinians.


This is not to say that the Palestinians, and especially their leadership, are blameless. But Israel, while lamenting its lack of a negotiating partner, has never, in its history, been an honest negotiating partner itself. And as for the Palestinian "terror": very few countries have systematically terrorized a people as thoroughly and regularly as Israel has the Palestinians, so there's no point in even going there.


So when I see all the nonsense in the American media attempting to justify Israel's attacks on Gaza and Lebanon as "self defense" due to a few captured soldiers and rockets fired across the border, you'll have to excuse my lack of sympathy. Israel has perfected the art of kidnapping and killing its opposition. You reap what you sow.


Like a bully that laments that nobody likes him as he beats up everybody that looks at him the wrong way, Israel seems destined to forever be a country that complains of persecution as it oppresses and destroys all opposition, always avoiding honest and fair diplomacy. It's unfortunate; despite it's equivocal beginnings it could have developed into a great country that could have led the world in a positive direction. Instead, it is intent on promoting endless violence and war in the Middle East, and supporting a mind-numbing propaganda campaign to garner acceptance for the injustices it perpetuates.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Iran: A Cast of Characters

A while ago I wrote that it was amazing how hell-bent everyone seemed on bombing Iran. Luckily, that has not yet happened, and it's clear there are plenty of people who are trying to prevent it. Many, many good articles have come out on this topic, and a pretty clear picture is emerging.


In some ways the easiest way to understand the current situation is to simply list and discuss the main protagonists. So here's a simplified, but I think useful, effort at doing this.



  • Iran: Iran's real goal is to establish itself as an internationally recognized actor in the region. It attempted to do this by negotiating with the US in 2003, and was summarily rebuffed by the neocon controlled administration. It is currently trying to use nuclear power as a wedge to achieve the same goal. While it would like to have nuclear weapons, it is a fairly stable, if oppressive, government and does not pose a regional threat, either directly or through terrorist organizations.

  • The Neocons: The neocons, which still have the bulk of control within the administration, are adamant that there must be "regime change" in Iran, and are currently using covert action of various kinds within Iran to attempt to achieve this. Given the likelihood that this will fail, they are pushing for a bombing campaign to move things along. There is no real reason to think bombing will work, but they have that "when in doubt, bomb" doctrine. Their ultimate goal is to control all of the energy resources in the Middle East in order to ensure Western corporate hegemony and America's status as the world's sole superpower, their long stated aim.

  • The Realists: The "realists", old guard Republicans who advocate a more moderate foreign policy, want to simply negotiate with Iran and achieve a workable diplomatic solution. Because of the failure in Iraq they hold more sway than they used to, but it's not clear they have enough clout to actually stop the bombing.

  • Israel: The Israeli right is pushing for the bombing option, and feels they may have to take the initiative themselves should Washington not go that route. They want desperately to remain the only nuclear power in the area.

  • The Military: The military is strongly opposed to the bombing. They understand how foolish it is, but it's unclear how long they can stand up to their civilian leadership.

  • The Democrats: The Democrats, while not loving the idea of attacking Iran, are, for the most part, under the sway of the right wing AIPAC lobby, which is adamant that we bomb. So they will offer very little opposition.

  • The Media: The mainstream media is dutifully playing along, tying the words "defiant Iran" and "crisis" together every chance they get so that people will think something really needs to be done.

  • Europe: Europe wants some sort of negotiated settlement; they are working with America ostensibly to restrain Iran but really are more concerned with limiting America's destructive actions.

  • Russia and China: Russia and China are trying to organize a counterweight to the overtly imperialistic American goals and are using the SCO, along with a general arms buildup, to achieve this. There is no question they will do anything short of war to try to stop the expanding US influence, and thus the ratcheted up rhetoric against them.

  • The Dollar: Iran, by selling oil in euros, and Russia, by selling in rubles, are trying to set up alternatives to the dollar for global reserves and weaken the US financially. China, of course, could cause a dollar collapse by selling its dollar holdings but that would create a worldwide recession that would cripple everyone, so it is reluctant to do this and is even resisting US pressure to loosen its currency.


At least the good news is that the vast majority seem to understand that bombing would accomplish virtually nothing positive and has a huge number of negatives. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Buzzsaw

Keith Olberman said in a recent interview that, essentially, the market was a great protector of the freedom of the press:



But the protection of money at the center of everything, including news to the degree that it is now, is that as long as you make the money, they don't care what it is you put on the air.



About two years ago, one of my sons, George, asked me how I could believe what I read in the press, given that they were owned by big corporations. I repeated, essentially, Olberman's argument: they were market driven, and would respond to those forces, not some external agenda unrelated to that.


Unfortunately, I have found out since that this is untrue. To most of America, and even most in the press, it can seem to be true because it often is. But there are unquestionably limits, and very important ones. And while the situation is no doubt worse now, these limits have been in place for quite some time.


Kristina Borjesson's book, "Into the Buzzsaw", is a collection of stories that describes people who have run across those limits, mostly during the Clinton administration, which by all accounts fostered a more benign atmosphere that the current one.


Here's Borjesson's definition of what she calls "the buzzsaw":



The buzzsaw is a powerful system of censorship in this country that is revealed to those reporting on extremely sensitive stories, usually having to do with high level government or corporate malfeasance. It often has a fatal effect on one's career. ... A journalist who has been through the buzzsaw is usually described as "radioactive", which is another word for unemployable.



She would know. She encountered it, when CBS assigned her to cover the explosion of TWA800. Two chapters in her book describe investigations into that event, one by her and one by David Hendrix. The importance of these investigations is not what happened to TWA800, which most likely was inadvertently brought down by a missile fired during a naval exercise (here is a good web site for info on this). What's important are the mechanisms used to repress that story, and promote a false one: eventually the "spark in the main fuel tank" myth was decided upon, evidently after the "bomb on board" story was considered and then rejected.


As a background, the TWA800 incident happened during an election campaign, on July 17, 1996. In addition to the defense department not wanting the embarrassment of accidentally killing hundreds of Americans, you can bet that Clinton was not eager to have this exposed during an election campaign. In fact, Hendrix reports that the Dole people were extremely interested in his findings, though they were never able to capitalize on them. So the censorship is not a partisan practice.


What she found is what I've seen as a pattern in the American press. First, after such an event, a great deal of honest reporting and investigation is done. At some point, however, the fix comes in, and that reporting is suppressed or marginalized while the "official" government version of the story, which is invariably a fabricated cover in these situations, is touted. The evidence discovered in the initial investigation is dismissed as inaccurate. It is a this point that those who persist in attempting to reveal the actual events can run into trouble. Borjesson herself was fired from CBS, as was a congressional aide who attempted to help in the investigation. Another journalist was arrested and convicted of stealing evidence. And, the part that Borjesson most loathes, is that after the official version comes out any journalist who attempts to contradict it encounters a smear campaign that illegitimately attacks them and tarnishes their reputation.


She is not alone. Others in the book have encountered the same process. Even very mainstream figures, such as Mary Mapes and Dan Rather, are not immune, as their experience in exposing Bush's national guard record on 60 minutes showed.


Another example is Greg Palast, who found that American papers would not cover his report on Jeb Bush's felon purging list after the 2000 election. His story on this list has since been verified, and was even mentioned in a New York Times editorial at one point as accepted fact, after the very same newspaper contributed to the suppression of the story three years earlier. Despite this, when he tried to submit a report on vote fraud in the 2004 election to the New York Times, he got an email back with the following questions: “Are you a conspiracy nut?” and “Are you a sore loser?”. Very professional - that's the New York Times showing its true colors. At the same time they put out a number of articles attempting to discredit any claims of vote fraud (here's one example), despite the extensive evidence on the ground that election fraud of many types had taken place (here are some links).


One can see it happening right now, in fact. In this article that came out a few days ago in USA Today, those finding problems with the official story of 9/11 are dismissed as gullible students who fall for "revisionist theories on the 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists". Stories such as these have nothing to do with honest journalism, and in fact are very much a part of the 9/11 operation, whether or not their authors understand that. When those disputing the government version start to be heard, attack stories dismissing them as "wacky conspiracy theorists" start to come out to counter that and the stifling of real investigation is even more rigorously enforced. It was recently reported that "The New York Times Tokyo Bureau Chief, Jim Brooks, said that he couldn't attend an official press function about 9/11 or he would be fired". Impossible to verify, of course, but quite believable. Especially as this was on the heels of some reasonable coverage of 9/11 in the Tokyo Journal.


This censorship is getting so bad that it's getting more recognition. Sonoma State University has a media research group called "Project Censored" which has a site and puts out a yearly book outlining the most important unreported and underreported stories of that year. The internet, of course, is a great repository for alternate media outlets; wading through them, with their often accompanying quirks and biases, can be difficult, but at least the information is out there if one makes the effort to find it. But unfortunately, most people who see only mainstream media outlets are under the illusion that they are getting honestly reported journalism, which is far from the truth.


Luckily, those "gullible students" seem to understand this. And I definitely have a better answer for George next time he asks that question.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Site Reviews: Some Interesting Sites with Quirks

From now on I'll tend to do site reviews in groups - there are so many out there, I think this will work out better than trying to cover each is a separate blog. Today's reviews focus on a set of interesting sites that have some distinct caveats. I've found that in order to get the true story behind the mainstream news, it can be helpful to wade through sites that contain some strange points of views and odd material. People who distrust and want to look beyond the mainstream news tend to have idiosyncratic personalities and relish the role of the outsider; it's the nature of the beast. That doesn't mean they don't have good information or should be totally dismissed.


The first two sites I discuss, Madsen's and Hopsicker's, are essentially investigative sites.


The second two are sites with some analysis and lots of news links, and both are sites that have major caveats. Despite these, I find them useful and visit them often.


Wayne Madsen Report


Site: www.waynemadsenreport.com


Primary author: Wayne Madsen


Madsen focuses on investigative work in Washington DC. He often comes up with original material, and while it can be difficult to verify, I suspect that much, though not all, of it is accurate. He can be pretty opinionated, and occasionally he does seem to blow things out of proportion. The site can also be full of the minutiae about the details of his investigations. For example, he might list the check numbers of every financial transaction tracked down in a "follow the money" trail, or the plane numbers of every plane involved in a CIA rendition or drug smuggling operation. That can be a lot to wade through. But he does come up with original information, and he tends to update his reports daily, so I typically visit this site a few times a week.



Mad Cow Morning News


Site: www.madcowprod.com


Primary Author: Daniel Hopsicker


Like Madsen, Hopsicker does a lot of original investigative work. He has achieved a significant amount of fame in conspiracy circles for his investigation into Mohammed Atta, which is described in his book "Welcome to Terrorland". This book is, essentially, a very interesting piece of investigative journalism written in a trash novel sort of way. Luckily, the core of his findings, that the FBI timeline involving Atta and its depiction of him as a devout practicing Muslim are totally false, have been recognized and disseminated quite widely. The book also gives some insight into how the local press, after an event such as 9/11, initially does some good investigative work before that is shut down and reversed. And his investigations into the people surrounding Atta and the airports he trained at gives a feeling for the seamy side of the people involved in at least one level of the 9/11 operation.


He continues to do investigative work, almost entirely Florida based (and there's a lot going on down there to investigate), and this site publishes the results of those investigations. Unlike Madsen's reports, these come back only sporadically, so the site need not be checked frequently to keep track of what Hopsicker's up to.



What Really Happened


Site: www.whatreallyhappened.com


Primary Author: Michael Rivero


I view Rivero as being part of the "right wing" branch of conspiracy theorists, though I'm not sure that's a fair characterization - I just tend to group the anti-gun control guys that way. His site has a lot of interesting analyses on all sorts of events, and they're usually quite good; he also updates his news links every day. But there are some major caveats. The biggest is that he has an extreme - well, let's say, "focus" - on Israel, and especially Israeli spying and the Israeli influence on the US. I'm not so sure I'd go so far as to call him anti-semitic, but there's no question it's personal. His first wife was Jewish. I'm guessing it wasn't such a good experience. He's also a bit of a sarcastic wise guy.


Nonetheless, he updates the site daily with interesting news and opinion links, and I go there pretty much every day. And his own analyses of "conspiratorial" events are pretty involved and insightful. If you can get past the Israel obsession and the sarcasm, the site has a lot to offer.



Prison Planet


Site: www.prisonplanet.com (related sites: www.propagandamatrix.com, www.infowars.com)


Primary Editor: Alex Jones


Alex Jones is one of these outlandish "the world is a police state" type of radio hosts that I would have thought was crazy 10 years ago. But, alas, the powers that be have done more than meet him halfway, so his site now seems moderately, if not totally, sane. He occasionally writes an "I told you so" article. The site is also heavily commercialized, and as he gains in success due to the desire for this kind of information he gets even more shameless about peddling his wares.


The site tends to have lots of news links in this "police state" theme, and some fairly over the top articles. Jones also interviews many people, most legitimate, who are involved in attempting to expose things such as 9/11 - I can't say I've listened to these, as they're an option that requires a paid subscription, though I've read some transcripts, and they tend to be OK if you ignore the Alex Jones part. Jones himself is obsessed with such conspiracy red herrings as "Bohemian Grove" and the "Illuminati". Despite this, Jones' site does offer a lot of interesting news links, interviews, and occasionally some new information, so I tend to check it out pretty often.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Some Responses

Most of the responses I get to what I write come to me via email to articles that are published in OpEdNews, not to this blog, so I thought I'd write about them briefly here.


By far the most came to the Israel Lobby piece. They come out of the woodwork for that kind of stuff. (By the way, the NY Times, the Great Satan of the printed press, actually had a pretty good oped piece about that a few days ago, and Normon Solomon wrote an excellent article on it - almost as good as mine.) The response to that was essentially half favorable, a quarter calling me an anti-semitic Israel hater, and a quarter calling me a zionist Israel lover. Can't please everybody.


Surprisingly, I've gotten a number of responses to my little Go Army ditty. Pretty much a number people saying "right on, put those MFers in the brig". There's a lot of pent up anger out there - good to know I'm not the only one.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

GO ARMY!!!

If anyone had told me, years ago, that I'd be behind a military coup in America, I would've laughed in their faces. Are you kidding? Please.


But right now, I'd welcome one. The people in uniform are so much better, so much more in touch with reality, than our civilian leadership.


There's a reason for this. They experience war. It's their friends that die. It's their friends that are maimed. They understand war firsthand.


Right now, they're calling for Rumsfeld's resignation. Good call. Excellent call.


As usual, there are public reasons, and private reasons.


The public reasons are that he's screwed up Iraq and intimidates our soldiers' leaders into following his ill-laid plans. Those are excellent reasons, and do cut to the heart of the matter.


But there are other reasons that do not show up in the news.


I think the main one, and the one that is driving the issue and its publicity right now, is the plan to bomb, and very possibly nuke, Iran.


This has been reported for a while, and has been brought to the attention of the mainstream media by Seymour Hersh's article about it.


This seems to have drawn a line for those in service. There have been so many travesties, and this was the last straw. They had to speak up.


Bad enough to kill Americans by doing 9/11. Bad enough to bring false pretenses to start a war in Iraq. Bad enough to foment a civil war in Iraq in order to weaken the country and keep it under American control.


But nuking a country? Breaking that taboo? That was crossing a line even a good soldier has trouble crossing.


I want to give my greatest thanks to the generals that are standing up, and standing for what is right in America. We'd be a lot better off if they were in charge.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

JFK and 9/11

Doug Thompson recently recounted a discussion he had many years ago with John Connally, the Texas governor who was shot during the Kennedy assassination.



Connolly was both gracious and charming and told us many stories about Texas politics. As the evening wore on and the multiple bourbon and branch waters took their effect, he started talking about November 22, 1963, in Dallas.


"You know I was one of the ones who advised Kennedy to stay away from Texas," Connally said. "Lyndon (Johnson) was being a real asshole about the whole thing and insisted."


Connally's mood darkened as he talked about Dallas. When the bullet hit him, he said he felt like he had been kicked in the ribs and couldn't breathe. He spoke kindly of Jackie Kennedy and said he admired both her bravery and composure.


I had to ask. Did he think Lee Harvey Oswald fired the gun that killed Kennedy?


"Absolutely not," Connally said. "I do not, for one second, believe the conclusions of the Warren Commission."


So why not speak out?


"Because I love this country and we needed closure at the time. I will never speak out publicly about what I believe."



I'd gone back and forth on the JFK thing, it seemed possible to make arguments both ways. But once I started researching 9/11, and understood more about how this kind of thing is done, it became quite obvious that JFK, as well as RFK, were not shot by "lone gunmen".


When I'd looked at this before, it didn't seem that relevant. At worst, a historical injustice.


My point of view has changed.


In many, many ways, the JFK assassination set the stage. It proved to those who did it that you could do something that dramatic, that heinous to the average citizen, and get away with it. It proved that you could fabricate a cover story and that the press would cooperate . It proved that you could quash dissent and investigation. And it proved that you could do it in America.


There seems to be a strong feeling on the left that, somehow, 9/11 is irrelevant. That to focus on it distracts from "real" issues such as Iraq and domestic spying. Again, almost to minimize the importance of 9/11, treat it as bygone history, and concentrate only on the misuse of the event by the administration.


There are a number of problems with this approach. It leaves in place the people that did it, and the mechanisms used for covering it up. It leaves in place the use of the "war on terror" as justification for the current administration's abuses, and allows the 9/11 rallying cry to continued to be used, and often accepted, to justify these abuses. And it leaves open the very distinct possibility that this kind of attack will be used again to justify further abuses.


There's a misconception that there is no proof for 9/11 being an inside job. There's plenty of proof. Obstruction of investigation before and after the fact, the NORAD failure, buildings collapsing in ways that could only be explained by planted explosives, planes being flown in ways the alleged hijackers could not have flown them, some of those very hijackers still being alive. There isn't just one smoking gun here - there are dozens of them (this is a good place to start research). What the left seems to want is some sort of "official" acknowledgement, one that will never come - just as Connally would never acknowledge publicly what he knew.


There is a strong tendency to deny and try to explain away the evidence. Part of the difficulty in accepting the reality behind 9/11 is confronting the significance not just of the nature of the event but what it and the surrounding cover-up implies. The harder part is not necessarily believing that some people in our own country would do such a thing, but that the entire government and media would assist in the deception that followed. An essay in 911truth.org says it best:



Understanding the full truth of 9/11 seems to require two separate awakenings.


The first, awakening to the fraudulence of the "official 9/11 story," is a pretty simple brain function and only requires a little study, logic or curiosity. ...


The second step, however, consciously confronting the implications of that knowledge -- and what it says about our media, politics and economic system today -- is by far the harder awakening ...



I found that reflected exactly what I had to go through. After seeing the overwhelming evidence on 9/11, it was Kristina Borjesson's essay on her experience investigating TWA800 in her book "Into the Buzzsaw" that was the final straw. It showed that the prototypical "conspiracy theorist" mechanisms of false investigations by the FBI and suppression of investigation by the media were, in fact, in place well before 9/11; that even under the Clinton administration, one that was far less repressive than the current one, such things occurred.


This is one of the reasons it is important to confront 9/11 directly. In a sense it is like a flare that was sent up to illuminate and expose those willing to do such an act and those willing to go along with it. Not acknowledging it means living under the illusion that the media honestly reports the news, something that I've learned is patently false. And this dishonesty is pervasive: most people understand that Fox distorts the news; far fewer realize that the New York Times does as well.


One of the keys to changing the current system is to discuss events such as 9/11 as openly as possible. To not be afraid of the "conspiracy theorist" label, which is exactly one of the fears those doing this use to try to socially isolate and ridicule people who understand their actions and try to publicize them.


What they do works because they create a world view, a "reality", so that people who question it, especially about something so important, seem crazy. As a Bush aide once said, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality". Nowhere was this more successfully done than with 9/11. Given the patriotic fervor the cover story for the event generated, it was relatively simple to suppress any expressions of doubt in its veracity.


But this changes as more and more people begin to connect the dots and see how the administration uses 9/11. Most of those trying to publicize problems with the official version now, such as David Ray Griffin and Steven Jones (1,2), only looked into it when they noted the abuse of the event by the government; many more are doing that every day, and the notion is not nearly as outlandish to most now as it might have seemed a few years ago.


There is a fairly direct lineage from the perpetrators of the sixties assassinations, through the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, to 9/11; the group of people who seem to enjoy and are able to implement covert actions in the name of maintaining power and modifying policy is alive and well and stronger than ever. They're currently attempting to consolidate their control through vote fraud, an effort that started showing results in the 2000 elections. There's no reason to think they won't continue to use these techniques if they continue to go unrecognized and unpunished.


There have been a number of false terrorist attacks abroad since 9/11, and domestic ones still appear to be on the table as an option. A GOP memo conjectured how another "terrorist" attack might help Bush's ratings, and Cheney discussed the possibility of a 9/11-like event precipitating an attack on Iran. As more people catch on, it makes the selling of the false reality of an attack difficult, and the attack less likely to take place. So, for example, when Ron Paul says "Fear of imaginary nuclear weapons or an incident involving Iran – whether planned or accidental – will rally the support needed for us to move on Muslim country #3" he may actually be lessening the possibility of such a "planned incident".


A lot is at stake here. Jim Garrison once said that "fascism will come to America in the name of national security." Incredibly prescient; that's exactly what's happening now. It's no coincidence that this administration has borrowed on the "big lie" technique perfected by the nazis. In fighting it, it's best to face reality, and not believe one of their biggest lies.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Two and a Half Men

I guess one somewhat eccentric actor is ok. So CNN Showbiz Tonight was allowed, for three nights, to give interviews with Charlie Sheen, who was questioning 9/11, generally a taboo media topic unless huge "Conspiracy Theory" headlines accompany it.


But they crossed the line when, in pursuit of the stellar ratings they were getting, Ed Asner was to follow up on a fourth night. A little too much credibility from the old papa bear type of guy. So that was killed from the top. It would be hard to say the "prostitute loving, cocaine sniffing Asner" in the inevitable disparaging tin foil hat stories that follow such interviews.


And in a rather foolish attempt to deflect the Sheen coverage, we have Moussaoui, possibly equipped with a stun belt (just to make sure), suddenly deciding that, after all this time, he was not just the 20th hijacker, but was to have joined shoe bomber Richard Reid and commandeer a fifth plane into the White House. Sacre bleu! Never mind that nobody, in their wildest dreams, could think these two patsies are capable of doing that. But it serves as a distraction, and, perhaps, might reinforce the 9/11 myth in people's minds.


But some damage has already been done. Articles are beginning to come out that have good information in them(1,2). More crucially, after 4 years of seeing what 9/11 has been used to justify, more and more people are no doubt willing to step back and look at the wild "conspiracy theories" more seriously. That's what happened to me. I was completely on board with the bin Laden scenario for over 3 years until it started seeming way too convenient, too serendipitous, that he did exactly what this administration needed done.


I'll be writing a number of blogs on 9/11 down the road. About how the evidence that it was an inside job is truly overwhelming; how the mechanisms for spreading the cover story and suppressing investigation were already in place. There's already a lot out there on this; here are a few good places to start(1,2). But it's important to try to spread the word. The "war on terror" is just an Orwellian ruse, and understanding that 9/11 happened to initiate an imperialist and fascist agenda having nothing to do with terrorism is key to understanding what is going on in the world today.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Israel Lobby

What is our country based on, but freedom of expression, freedom of ideas? Seems to be a pretty important principle.


The effect of the Israel lobby is getting some coverage right now, due to the publication - in England, of course, no American outlet would touch it - of the paper "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy". It's by two fairly well respected professors and discusses the influence of the Israeli lobby on the American government and media.


First, a quick disclosure. I'm Jewish, and a pro-Israel sort of guy. But that country, like our own, has been hijacked by an immoral right wing group that tries to justify imperialism, brutality, and curtailment of civil liberties in the name of national security. So it's very important to be honest and not let the threat of accusations of anti-semitism suppress legitimate criticism.


I read the article, and felt that overall it was excellent and said a number of things that really needed saying. The basic points are:



  • The pro-Israel lobby, and in particular AIPAC, has enormous influence on our government, to the point of being able to dictate certain policies and curtail debate.

  • They also have a huge influence in the American media, which portrays an overly pro-Israel view of the middle east conflict.


Honestly, these things are fairly well known to Washington insiders and those who pay close attention. But the paper is significant exactly because what it says is quite true, and as a result of this it is difficult for respectable, objective sources to publish this kind of information. Because the influence of the lobby is not openly discussed the net effect is that there is a powerful and often hidden warping of both our foreign policy and news reporting. As the paper says, "the Lobby boasts of its own power and then attacks anyone who calls attention to it".


Nothing proves the point better than the reaction to the paper itself. As I mentioned, the authors found it virtually unpublishable in America. The American mainstream media has ignored it (with a few notable exceptions), and I don't buy for a second that it's because it's not newsworthy. The Jewish media have tried to smear it by deriding its academic qualifications and making much of the fact that David Duke likes it, an obvious attempt to taint it by association with the truly anti-semitic "Jews control the world" crowd. Harvard has already been pressured into disassociating itself from it.


What more need be said? The opponents of the paper are doing an excellent job of vindicating one of its main theses.


The paper is off on certain points. As with many analyses of this nature, it does over-emphasize its arguments. Clearly, the war in Iraq was as much for American hegemony via energy resource control as it was about Israel. All one has to do is look at the makeup of the PNAC to understand that there are a number of agendas in the neocon policies that dovetail very nicely. And the hypocrisy of the administration and the brutality of the Iraq war have had at least as much to do with the fall of America's standing in the Islamic community as our support of Israel. And finally, of course, it assumes the Western backed terrorist attacks are solely Islamist based, and so erroneously asserts our support for Israel is the cause of these.


But overall it says quite soundly something that needs to be said. And suppressing or smearing this kind of reasoned discourse merely pushes America farther down the repressive road it's already on.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Spooked

I recently got this email about my piece "Cold Blooded Killers" on Paul Wellstone's death:



I always thought it was a hit and I'm glad to read your commentary on it. It always seemed statistically unlikely that Paul Wellstone would die in a plane crash. There aren't that many plane crashes and if there is going to be one, and it will be the death of a Senator, what's the probability that it will be the one Senator who had the gut to stand up to the Bush and his cabal. Maybe this is why the rest of the crowd has lost its nerve. Thanks.




This brought to mind something that a Democratic congressman told Michael Ruppert soon after the crash, while discussing the possibility that Wellstone was murdered:



I don't think there's anyone on the Hill who doesn't suspect it. It's too convenient, too coincidental, too damned obvious. My guess is that some of the less courageous members of the party are thinking about becoming Republicans right now.




Along these lines, I have hunch about the actions of Mark Dayton, the other Democratic senator from Minnesota. In July, 2004, he bacame the first senator to challenge the 9/11 commission's report. Then, in the fall, he suddenly ups and leaves Washington until the election due to "terrorist threats" that nobody else in Washington seems too worried about. I remember when that happened: everybody who was paying attention, including me, thought it was very odd. Of course at the time I still had no idea what was actually going on; it took me a long time to catch on.


What I suspect is that he, too, had finally figured it out. 9/11, the anthrax attacks, Wellstone's murder, the whole bit. He finally realized it was true. Perhaps he even got threatened directly. One way or the other, he felt his life was in particular danger, not because of Arab terrorists, but because he finally knew who was really behind these events and knew that, as a maverick questioning the 9/11 commission, Washington was not a safe place to be. It may seem like a stretch but - perhaps not.