Why is it when newspapers publish "classified" information it is always a threat to U.S. military personnel and an aid to America's "enemies?"
This is the response of politicians and government officials who hate to be embarrassed by information which casts doubt on their abilities and policies.
Witness Hillary Clinton's statement about the trove of classified information about the conduct of the Iraq War made public recently by Wikileaks. She said it was despicable and harmful. Oh yeah, right! This is the same response that the Obama people put out after the publication of information about the Afghan campaign. It was "illegal" and it could kill American soldiers and personnel of American allies. Has there been anyone who has been killed by the Afghan "classified" information? Do the uneducated cadres of the Taliban really sit down and read this stuff! Of course not!
The only reason for the sanctimonious huffing and puffing of American officials is because the public can see how incompetent the military and their supervisors in government really are.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Why is it when newspapers publish "classified" information it is always a threat to U.S. military personnel and an aid to America's "enemies?"
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Both The Financial Times and The New York Times have come out in the last few days supporting Nicolas Sarkozy's rash plan to require French workers to work until 62 before they can collect their government retirement payments. This is editorial hubris.
No one should be forced to go to work after age 60. The body slows down and is unable to do the manual and mental work as if it were 30. It was a mistake for the U.S. Congress to require that American workers stay on the job until age 67. French workers are right to protest Sarkozy's un-thought-out and rash plans to apply the same harsh work requirements upon French society.
Some 40,000 teachers will lose their jobs in Britain if David Cameron's budget cuts go through. This is bound to send the country into another sever recession, if not downright depression.
The Guardian reports on the draconian budget proposals.
Stop this destruction of the social fabric in the U.K.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
The militaristic government of Israel and many of its supporters here in their U.S. try to argue that Israel has every right to impose a blockade of food, petroleum, medicine and building materials on the Palestinians in Gaza. Their argument is that Israel's blockade is an effort to deny Hamas, a terrorist organization, materials that could in any way be used for attacks on Israeli towns and cities.
But if that were true, Israel could deny everything shipped to Gaza - medicines, construction materials, food, fuel, every thing. Because Israel could argue that anything allowed into Gaza helps Hamas.
Recall that the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza freely and democratically elected representatives of Hamas in January 2006. By blocking necessities of life to the ordinary Palestinian, Israel is trying to punish those who voted for Hamas as well as Hamas itself.
This is clearly a good example of odious "collective punishment."
No nation, including Israel, is allowed under international law to punish civilians as a way to punish the political government.
True, the U.S. and Britain did just this during WWII when Allied airplanes carpet-bombed Berlin, Dresden and Dusseldorf. Talk about "war crimes." Each German city suffered more than 50,000 souls incinerated in one night. We are talking women, children, men, all non-combatants.
Israel has no legal or moral right to continue the blockade. I congratulate the peace activists in recent days who tried to bring Palestinians some relief in their miserable existence caused by the Israeli government's foolish quest to punish citizens who voted for Hamas.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Instead of France, Germany and England walking out on a speech by Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad, how about listening to what he has to say, and then debate him on the issues. I know the Iranian government has illegitimately cracked down on citizens protesting the unfair recent election. I also know that Iran supports fellow Shiites in Hezbollah and that it imposes the death penalty even on juveniles. But is that any legitimate reason to walk out on the topic of nuclear weapons? What do my Iranian friends think?
Monday, April 19, 2010
Juan Cole in his Informed Comment gives cogent arguments why U.S. sanctions against Iran will never work. Furthermore, Cole dismisses, as I do, any positive benefit from a military strike against Iran. Obama, forget sanctions. Don't even think of military bombing. We need to negotiate with Iran and discuss more than just its nuclear program.
"The Obama administration is now moving tighten economic sanctions on Iran, as an alternative to a more direct approach. These measures include pressuring countries and firms not to buy Iranian petroleum and gas; pressuring them not to sell gasoline to Iran; and attempting to make it difficult for Iranian banks to interface with the world economic system.
"While these measures could impose costs on Iran, these costs can easily be borne by the country, and more especially by the regime."
Sanctions hardly work. They have not worked in Cuba and not have disturbed Fidel Castro's grip on power. They did not work in Iraq. And they will not work in Iran. Sanctions just raise the hackles on the backs of Iranians who would surely resent an outside nation (i.e., the U.S.) trying to force their government to change its nuclear development policy.
"Very few sanctions regimes have actually produced regime change or altered regime behavior. The US could not even accomplish this goal with regard to a small island 90 miles off its shores, Cuba. That an oil giant half way around the world with a population of 70 million that is as big as Spain, France and Germany can be effectively bludgeoned with sanctions is not very likely.
"The US needs to engage in comprehensive security talks with Iran, in hopes of striking a grand bargain. Because as Admiral Mullen rightly says, there are no good military options here."
I agree fully with Juan Cole. Both sanctions and military action are ineffective and counter-productive.
We need to sit down and talk with Iranian leaders. And we cannot continue to insist that we first come to an agreement on Iranian nuclear development before we will talk on other issues. Such pre-conditions are silly, without rational basis, and are insulting to Iranians, as they would be to anyone. By talking with Iranian leaders, we show respect to Iran and the Iranian people that we respect them because they are Iranians, a great people with thousands of years of culture and tradition.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
At Iran's nuclear summit today in Tehran, Pres. Ahmadinejad called for an end to all nuclear weapons including those possessed by the U.S. and Israel. He also said no nation (i.e., the U.S.) should threaten another (Iran) with nuclear weapons. He said that talks on nuclear weapons should from now on be controlled by nations that don't have nuclear weapons. Can Pres. Obama or anyone disagree with him?
Thomas Erdbrink reports today in The Washington Post on the Iranian conference.
"Ahmadinejad took particular aim at President Obama's announcement this month of a new U.S. policy that does not rule out the use of nuclear weapons against Iran and North Korea.
""Threatening with nuclear weapons only dishonored the American government officials and more fully exposed their inhumane and aggressive policies," he said."
Ayatollah Khamanei also sent a message to the attendees, reports Erdbrink:
"In a statement to the Tehran conference, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the top political and religious authority in the predominantly Shiite state, reiterated a fatwa, or religious edict, he had issued earlier against the use of nuclear weapons. He called the United States' nuclear weapons "tools of terror and intimidation."
"Fatwas are binding only on followers of the religious authority that issues them and can be changed if the situation requires, religious experts here say."
Ahmadinejad also complained about the veto power wielded exclusively by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. He said that each U.N. member should also be able to block or veto proposals that are unfair.
"Taking direct issue with the consensus reached in Washington to take steps to reduce the world's stock of nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad called for more rigorous action.
"He demanded an end to what he called the United States' "blind support" for Israel, which he said has 200 atomic warheads yet has not signed a nonproliferation treaty. Ahmadinejad also called for veto power for all members of the United Nations, a right now accorded only to the five permanent members of the Security Council.
"Talks on nuclear disarmament should from now on be controlled by states that do not have atomic weapons, Ahmadinejad said, adding, "The involvement of the government of America will prevent any new treaty from being fair.""
I don't understand the criticism of Judge Richard Goldstone for his Report on the Israeli attack on Palestinians in Gaza in January 2009. The U.S. State Department, the NYT's David Brooks, as well as the liberal J Street group -- all say that the Goldstone Report is biased against Israel. But they never say why or give examples. Have any of these critics ever read the Report? If so, they need to cite examples by giving page numbers and specific overstatements or untruths. Otherwise, their comments are what we called in law school worthless and "conclusionary."
Barry Bearak writes in The New York Times on some fallout faced by Judge Goldstone in his desire to attend his grandson's bar mitzvah in Johannesburg.
"Judge Goldstone, 71, is certainly no grandpa retreating into retirement. After the end of apartheid, he served on South Africa’s highest court until 2003. He was also the chief prosecutor for the United Nations’ war crimes tribunals on Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
"In early 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council selected him to lead an investigation into possible violations of international law during the three weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009. He said he was “shocked, as a Jew” to be chosen.
"The Goldstone Report, released last September, concluded that, based on the available evidence, both Israel and Hamas had taken actions amounting to war crimes. But the findings focused mostly on the Israelis. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel later said, “We face three major strategic challenges: the Iranian nuclear program, rockets aimed at our civilians and Goldstone.”
"Here in the judge’s home country, many Jews suddenly viewed him as a heretic. He was accused of faulty reasoning. He was accused of being co-opted. He was accused of being the worst kind of anti-Semite, a self-hating Jew."
The point of all of this is that these critics of Goldstone and his Report are engaging in all sorts of name-calling and slander. If a person disagrees with the Report, it is not enough to say that Goldstone is biased or self-hating Jew. The most important part of any argument especially this one is what follows "because," as in, "This report is biased against Israel because . . ."
Saturday, April 10, 2010
What's Hillary Clinton's problem with Cuba and the Castros? Obama needs to order the blockade to be lifted so that normal relations can begin. To say that Cuba must institute reforms before the embargo is removed is too humiliating for Cuban leaders and the Cuban people, and they will not comply as a matter of national pride.
The BBC reports on Clinton's latest statement:
"Cuba's leaders do not want to normalise ties with the US because then they would lose their excuse for the state of the country, says Hillary Clinton.
"Cuba's response to recent US efforts to improve relations had revealed "an intransigent, entrenched regime" in Havana, said the US secretary of state.
"The Cuban authorities have long blamed a 48-year US trade embargo for holding back the country's development.
"The US says the embargo will remain until Cuba improves human rights."
Why is every government that disagrees with policies of the U.S. called a "regime," and why is the Cuban government "intransigent" and "entrenched?"
Clinton never explains. All of Latin America is calling for the U.S. to lift the embargo which hurts the common Cubano trying to make a living. Medicines from the U.S. are scarce and spare parts on American products are impossible to get. This embargo has been going on for 48 years, and what has it produced? Just misery and deprivation for the ordinary Cuban.
The history of Cuban sanctions proves an important point. Sanctions hardly ever work in bringing about political change. The U.S. tried to bring down Fidel Castro by punishing ordinary Cubans economically. But the Castros are still in power. So where is Barack Obama on all of this? And where is his commitment to negotiate instead of waging war, albeit economic war?
The current U.S. policy as enunciated by Hillary Clinton and approved by Barack Obama is a huge failure and an embarassment in all of Latin America.
POPULAR UPRISING IN KYRGYZSTAN AGAINST CORRUPT LEADER, U.S. CONCERNED ONLY WITH ITS MILITARY AIR BASE
The recent events in Kyrgyzstan point up the continuing lack of realism in the State Department and thus in the Obama administration's foreign policy. The people in Bishek, Kyrgyzstan's capital, rose up to throw out a corrupt leader, and the only response from the United States was one of wondering whether the U.S. would be allowed to keep its airbase in the country.
Luke Harding reports for The Guardian:
"Protesters said they had been driven to revolt by the decision to raise communal charges for water and electricity. The hikes had been the last straw in the country of five million people already wrestling with mass unemployment and widespread poverty. The unrest began in provincial cities on Tuesday, with locals seizing regional government buildings, before riots erupted in Bishkek.
"Opposite the White House, Melis Deripasov was still incredulous at the security forces' reaction. "So many boys died. Two of my friends died. A young girl died just over there. The government used snipers against us," he said. "I'm unemployed. There is no work and no factories. Bakiyev stole everything. All that was left was the air we breathe.""
Friday, April 2, 2010
I call upon Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Brazilian President Lula to block the foolish and hypocritical drive by the west, especially by Barack Obama and the U.S., to impose sanctions on Iran. Sanctions will harm the Iranian economy and the Iranian people. The U.S. is unjustly seeking to block another nation from developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes.
Chris McGreal and Julian Borger report in The Guardian today on Obama's push for sanctions.
Write McGreal and Borger:
"Barack Obama has urged Beijing to "ratchet up the pressure" on Iran over its nuclear programme after a breakthrough for the US administration in persuading China to agree to talks on fresh sanctions against Tehran.
"Obama told CBS news that Iran was increasingly diplomatically isolated and that international unity was essential to ensuring it did not develop nuclear weapons.
""The idea is to keep turning up the pressure," Obama said. "We're going to ratchet up the pressure and examine how they respond but we're going to do so with a unified international community.""
The U.S. has been unilaterally imposing sanctions on Iran for the last 30 years and look at the result. Ditto for Cuba. And how about Israel's sanctions on the Palestinians in Gaza - a total blockade of life's necessities for 1.5 million Palestinians. Sanctions harm the ordinary populace and are immoral.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
The purpose of proposed American sanctions on Iran is to prevent Iran from exercising independent political power in the Middle East. So sanctions try to prevent Iran from developing refined gasoline plants. The U.S. cannot stand a country that has a sphere of influence independent of American interests. The U.S. like the school bully tries to maintain its military and political hegemony.
Julian Borger and Ewan Mac Askill write in today's The Guardian:
"The US had originally sought broad sanctions against Iran's energy sector. Russia and China have said the measures are targeted against individuals and institutions directly linked with Iran's nuclear and missile programme.
"Three rounds of sanctions have already been imposed on Iran. The US claims Tehran is covertly seeking nuclear weapon capability, while Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says the country's nuclear industry is for peaceful power generation."
I say, stop this foolish talk of sanctions on Iran and Iranians. For one thing, sanctions hurt only the ordinary people. Sanctions deny gasoline, medicine, food imports and other necessities of life. Sanctions never work. Consider the harsh sanctions on the Cuban people over the last 30 years. All sanctions do is create animosity and hatred towards the U.S. and Americans.
Second. Sanctions on Iran are hypocritical. Why can't Iran develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes? The U.S. government claims that Iran is developing nuclear weapons but to date there has been no credible evidence showing that this is so. Yet the U.S. and Obama don't apply sanctions on those nations with proven nuclear bombs in their arsenals. Consider Israel, China, Pakistan, India, France, Great Britain, Russia and the U.S. itself. So why should the U.S. punish Iran for nuclear weapons it does not have, yet not punish all the rest?
Obama, stop all this talk of sanctions, instead commit the U.S. to diplomacy. You claim that Ayatollah Khamanei did not respond to your letter for negotiation. But neither did you acknowledge Pres. Ahmadinejad's congratulatory letter to you personally upon your political victory in 2008.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The U.S. call for sanctions on Iran is hypocritical insofar as the U.S. and the Obama administration continue to support tyrants in the Middle East. Consider American support and "friendship" with Saudi Arabia where it is still a crime for an unmarried female to be with a male not a relative. Or where the punishment for certain crimes is to cut off a hand or a foot. Next consider the friendly relations of the U.S. with Musharraf in Egypt or with the royal family in Jordan. In both Egypt and Jordan, don't even think about freedom of speech or freedom from search and seizure. There are no human freedoms in either country.
So when Pres. Obama or his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton call for sanctions on Iran because it wants to develop its own nuclear power, unspoken is American support for leaders of countries in the same neighborhood as Iran that deny human freedom and impose draconian punishments on their citizens.
Mohamed El Baradei, former head of the IAEA, says the same in a report in The Guardian by Jack Shenker today.
""Western policy towards this part of the world has been a total failure, in my view. It has not been based on dialogue, understanding, supporting civil society and empowering people, but rather it's been based on supporting authoritarian systems as long as the oil keeps pumping."
"The 67-year-old added: "If you bet on individuals, instead of the people, you are going to fail. And western policy so far has been to bet on individuals, individuals who are not supported by their people and who are being discredited every day.""
Instead of supporting the people in each country, El Baradei says that the western countries wage war against individual heads of state, no matter that in the process, they kill hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens of that state. Ahmadinejad of Iran might be a terrible leader but that is no reason to impose sanctions on the population at large, or even to consider a military strike, as in "all options are on the table."
"The popularity in the Middle East of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, he said, should be seen as message to the west that its "policy is not reaching out to the people. The policy should be: 'We care about you, we care about your welfare, we care about your human rights.'""
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Henry Porter writes an interesting opinion piece on Pres. Barack Obama for The Guardian in which he says that Obama's speech to House Democrats on the eve of their historic vote on health care reform will go down as one of the best most-principled speeches in American politics.
"These days, when you hear so much from people about what, or who, they are going to vote against, while they complain bitterly that no politicians or set of policies match their particular requirements, it is worth listening to the words Barack Obama used to rally his Democrat troops before the health care vote last week. They represent the highest political endeavour and give the sense of a cause that remains just and noble despite all the compromises he had to make."
Republicans are foaming with anger over the very idea of health care reform, using words such as socialism, disaster, armageddon, budget buster. But Obama sees health care as the most pressing issue because it affects so many people and causes so much distress and misery when a person gets sick but does not have coverage.
Porter quotes from Obama's speech:
""Every once in a while," he said, "a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made in all those town meetings and all those constituency breakfasts and all that travelling through the district, all those people who you looked in the eye and you said, you know what, you're right, the system is not working for you and I'm going to make it a little bit better.
"And this is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service… we are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true.""
Health care reform is not some peripheral marginal subject for Obama. It goes to the very identity of the American people, the fabric of American society.
"What a wonderful phrase that is about vindicating all your best hopes for yourself and the country. This is the finest of political aspirations and as a whole the speech tells you a lot about the tough commitment required from politicians and the public to make democracy work properly today. The speech will bookmark the history of his presidency and do what the proclamation on the emancipation of slaves did for the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in 1862, and the Civil Rights Act for Lyndon Johnson in 1964."
Now the health care reform bill as passed is far from perfect, but it is the first step towards revising and re-creating health care in the U.S. We still need a government-run option offering low-cost plans to those who wish. We need insurance covering Latinos, documented as well as those without proper papers. We need the ability to buy in to Medicare or Medicare for all.
But health care reform as passed by the Congress goes a long way to make health care a right of all Americans, getting rid of the foolish laissez faire idea that it is only a privilege.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Israel's prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, claims that building 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem would in no way "harm Palestinians," Matthew Weaver and Daniel Nasaw report for The Guardian today.
"Speaking to Israel's parliament, Netanyahu said the construction of homes for Jews in the city's eastern sector "in no way" hurts Palestinians. His comments came after an admission by the Israeli ambassador to Washington that Israel's relations with the US are at their worst for 35 years."
I guess Netanyahu means that building settlements on someone else's land is not as destructive as exploding white phosphorous in the streets or shooting missiles at someone's roof.
But if you were Palestinian and you had your land seized during the 1967 War, and then you saw Israelis building settlements on your land and moving in, I think that you would feel the pain.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I tune into CNBC to see how the markets are doing but I studiously avoid checking in anytime I know that "the great American patriot," Larry Kudlow, is on air.
Kudlow is insufferable in his defense of capitalism and its attendant "values." Keep government out of health care, job creation, stimulus, financial regulation, ad nauseam.
I can only imagine how Kudlow feels about Social Security Retirement Income. I bet that he still opposes having the government return salary deductions to Americans who are over 65. This guy would deny his own mother social security retirement checks if they have the U.S. Treasury's seal on them.
And don't even mention Medicare. Kudlow is surely against it. If he had his way, there would be no Medicare for seniors. Just let the free market take care of itself.
Kudlow hates the stimulus, hates the unions, hates the proposed Obama health-care overhaul. If Larry Kudlow represents true Republican values, how can any thinking and caring person ever vote Republican?
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Karl Rove's defense of water-boarding and other "harsh interrogation techniques" in a BBC interview shows why Obama needs to come out and order the prosecution of all the Bush/Cheney people who adopted and defended torture. Otherwise, when these guys (i.e., almost Republicans) come back into power, the U.S. government will once again employ these same immoral, ineffective and cruel methods.
Monday, March 8, 2010
The New York Times today runs a story today about the travails of Blanche Lincoln, conservative senator from Arkansas. Shaila Dewan writes that Lincoln is getting negative feedback from both the right and the left. But I argue that this is no justification for characterizing Lincoln as a "centrist Democrat."
Blanche Lincoln is more conservative Republican than true Democrat. She voted against Obama's health care as well as against almost every Democratically-inspired proposal. I say, good riddance to Blanche Lincoln at the coming primary elections.
Blanche Lincoln is of the same cloth as Cong. Jim Matheson of Utah. Matheson likes to call himself a "Blue Dog," meaning he likes to portray his voting record as fiscally conservative. But look at Matheson's sorry record. Matheson voted for Bush's tax cuts, for funding the war in Iraq, for authorizing Bush's unjustified and immoral invasion, for making it harder for desperate people to file for bankruptcy relief, for a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage, and on and on.
Just as Democrats in Utah should boot Matheson out of elected office, so too Democrats in Arkansas should put an end to Blanche Lincoln's quest for re-election. Democrats simply cannot afford elected officials who call themselves "Democrats" but who vote like Republicans.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Radovan Karadzic calls the Serbian wars "just and holy." This is a most ridiculous and senseless assertion.
How could any war be just? All wars necessarily involve killing civilians and terming the result "collateral damage." The scholastics argued that a war was just if the ratio of civilians to combatants killed was "proportional." That argument can come only from scholastics and others who are on the winning side. Even if only one non-combatant is killed, that makes the war unjust. There can be no proportionality when even one civilian is killed.
Al Jazeera reports:
"Karadzic stands charged as the "supreme commander" of an ethnic cleansing campaign of Croats and Muslims in the Bosnian war in which 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million displaced.
"He is facing 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but though he denies any wrongdoing, he has refused to enter a formal plea.
"Among the charges against Karadzic are the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 7,000 captured Muslim men and boys, and the 44-month siege of the capital Sarajevo that ended in November 1995, leaving about 10,000 people dead."
Friday, February 19, 2010
How come Republican crazies have not denounced the IRS hater who crashed his single engine plane into IRS offices in Austin? Apparently to many Republican ideologues, the crasher does not qualify as a "terrorist" and his attempt to take lives of the IRS workers as "terrorism." Imagine if the perpetrator were a Muslim from the Middle East with a name like Omar or Muhammed!
Here is a story by the BBC on the crash.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Many observers suspect that the Hamas leader who was killed in Dubai was assassinated by Israeli agents clandestinely using passports of British citizens living in Israel. But Israel's Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, claims that there is no proof that Israeli agents were involved. Note the non-denial, just that there is no proof.
Here is the story as reported by Jonathan Marcus for the BBC:
"The operation was clinical. The hit-team successfully escaped Dubai. But they left telltale traces. The false foreign passports used by the alleged team of secret agents have been identified and six of them are British. That is diplomatic problem number one.
"Problem number two is identity theft. The passports used the names of real people, British citizens, with dual nationality, who happen to live in Israel, who had absolutely no knowledge of what was going on.
"Nobody yet of course has any proof-positive as to who carried out the operation. There may be no "smoking gun". Nonetheless what you might call the "smouldering passports" suggest that Israel has some questions to answer.
"If Israel was indeed behind this assassination then some, even in Israel, may well suggest that they have scored a costly own goal."
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Hillary Clinton implies that Iran and its people are building a nuclear bomb. Where is her evidence? Words without basis have lasting consequences - consider what words about Saddam Hussein's imaginary nuclear arsenal did to the Iraqis.
Here is the BBC report on Clinton's speech in Qatar:
"US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the US would welcome peaceful engagement with Iran but not "while they are building their bomb".
"She spoke at the US-Islamic World forum in Qatar during a trip to rally Arab support for tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.
"She said the West was "encouraging Iran to reconsider its dangerous policy decisions.""
Words like Clinton's will be taken by the militarists in Israel as a sign that they can attack and bomb Iran and in their zeal kill thousands of Iranians. Clinton more than implies that Iran is building a bomb. Stop this dangerous rhetoric until someone has proof and credible evidence.
Here is Al Jazeera's report on Clinton's comments:
"Speaking at a US-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar on Sunday, Clinton said there was mounting evidence that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon.
""The evidence is accumulating that that's exactly what they are trying to do," she said."
Clinton's assertions remind me of the same reckless charges that led up to the disastrous War in Iraq. There is no evidence whatsoever that Iran wants a nuclear weapon. If Israel does attack Iran, I will blame Clinton and the antagonistic foreign policy of the Obama administration which allows Clinton to get away with these assertions.
Monday, February 8, 2010
News out of Sri Lanka continues to distress. The general who challenged the incumbent in recent presidential elections was arrested today and accused of trumped-up charges. Sarath Fonseka was dragged by his hands and feet out of his office and thrown in jail. His real crime was having the temerity to stand as an opposition candidate against the ruling elite.
The BBC reports:
""Gen Fonseka's wife confirmed to the BBC that her husband had been detained after the security presence around his office in Colombo had been stepped up during the day.
"Gen Fonseka's secretary, Senaka de Silva, was also said to have been arrested. Gen Fonseka was meeting a number of politicians who had supported his candidacy.
The Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem told Reuters news agency: "He was dragged away in a very disgraceful manner in front of our own eyes." Mr Hakeem said the action was "authoritarian and vindictive"."
Pres. Obama ran on a campaign theme of "change you can believe in." But as to Iran, I see very little change in policy and approach as compared to the hated Bush/Cheney policy of making war threats. For Obama, there now should be "sanctions."
I have a suggestion to Obama and all his hard-line foreign policy advisors: recognize that Iran is a sovereign country just like Israel, India and China. If Iran wants to develop its nuclear industry, it has every right to do so.
Here's what the BBC writes about U.S. policy towards Iran:
"The US has said new sanctions against Iran are the "only path" after Tehran announced it was stepping up its uranium enrichment programme.
"Iran's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, earlier said Tehran had told the UN's nuclear watchdog it would start enriching uranium to 20% from Tuesday.
"The move heightens fears that Iran is moving closer to weapons-grade uranium.
"The US called on the international community to take new action and France called Iran's latest move "blackmail"."
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Republicans are claiming that the Obama administration was wrong to read the Christmas bomber his Miranda rights and was wrong to grant him civilian counsel.
Anne E. Kornblut reports the story in today's The Washington Post web site:
"Republicans have accused the Obama administration of treating him too lightly and failing to make the most of his arrest, first by reading him his rights and then granting him civilian legal counsel. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) devoted last week's radio response to the subject, saying the White House has a "blind spot" when it comes to terrorism -- and alleging that investigators had spent less than an hour questioning Abdulmutallab. In a follow-up statement Wednesday, Collins added that reports of a plea deal is in the works suggests the Obama administration is granting him a "measure of leniency.""
But when the Republicans say Obama is too soft on terrorism suspects, what they really want is resumption and reinstatement of the the hated Bush regimen of "harsh interrogation techniques" (a/k/a torture). For Republicans, equal protection and due process have no application to those accused of terrorism. It seems that Republicans would gut the Constitution in dealing with suspects having Islamic names.
I am proud that the U.S. government under Obama did not cave to these Republican extremist views.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Pres. Barack Obama continues to surprise and disappoint in foreign policy. It's hard to believe that he approves the U.S. sale of over six billion dollars of armaments to Taiwan. This move is sure to incite the government of China as well as the billion plus people in China to apoplexy and anti-American sentiment.
The BBC reports:
"Beijing said it would suspend military exchanges with the US, impose sanctions on companies selling arms, and review co-operation on major issues.
"Ties are already strained by rows over trade and internet censorship."
I voted for Obama principally because of what I thought (erroneously) as his pacific approach to American dealings with foreign countries. I did not vote for him so that he could facilitate a sale of missiles, war planes and tanks to Taiwan.
Imagine the reaction of the man in the street in the U.S. if Russia agreed to sell six billion dollars of arms to Cuba. We have seen the negative and hostile approach of U.S. lawmakers to Russia's sale of helicopters to Venezuela. The hostile reaction of China to this latest deal is perfectly understandable and reasonable.
I call upon Pres. Obama to cancel this deal. Stop the production and sale of weapons that are designed to kill.
Friday, January 29, 2010
I have long called for the Obama administration to end those notorious 2 AM raids on Afghani homes and villages. They inspire fear and generate deep and lasting animus towards Americans and the United States. When American troops bust in late at night, they violate the privacy of Afghani families and show disrespect for Afghan women, not to mention causing abject terror to Afghani children.
Andrew Lebovich blogs on this subject in Steve Clemons' The Washington Note. Writes Lebovich:
"The use of night raids by ISAF and non-ISAF American forces are among the most controversial aspects of the war effort in Afghanistan, because they sometimes result in the deaths or imprisonment of innocent Afghans.
"And while NATO has recently put in place new rules for night raids that are intended to prevent accidental deaths and cause less anger among Afghans, the raids will likely continue. As Gopal points out, many of the raids are carried out by American Special Operations Forces, who operate outside of NATO command and often with little oversight."
I don't understand the rationale behind U.S. sanctions restricting gasoline imports to Iran. I thought that both Sec. Clinton and Pres. Obama said that any possible sanctions would not target Iranian civilian society. But everyone uses gasoline. By cutting off gasoline supplies, these sanctions potentially impose harsh penalties on Iranian civilians.
Ladane Nasseri and Alexander Kwiatkowski write for Bloomberg.com today:
"Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, has to import at least a third of its fuel because it lacks refining capacity. It introduced gasoline rationing in 2007 to cut imports and domestic consumption."
Sunday, January 24, 2010
"There but for the grace of God . . ." How many times have we heard this platitude from believers? But what does it mean?
James Wood writes an op-ed in today's The New York Times about people's attributions of natural disasters to God, such as now when Haiti has just suffered the most awful earth quake.
Wood makes the point that attributing such natural disasters to "God" has the logical inference of making "him" into either a totally capricious force that snuffs the life of thousands of Haitians, many of them children and infants, sort of by accident, or that the deity is mean and vindictive, intent on ending people's precarious lives, probably because they or their nation committed a great sin or sins and so deserve divine wrath and retribution. (See Pat Robertson's comments.)
Enter now comments, certainly made in good if unthinking faith, by Pres. Barack Obama, where he says that, "but for the grace of God, there we go."
"In his speech after the catastrophe, President Obama movingly invoked “our common humanity,” and said that “we stand in solidarity with our neighbors to the south, knowing that but for the grace of God, there we go.” And there was God once again. Awkwardly, the literal meaning of Mr. Obama’s phrase is not so far from Pat Robertson’s hatefulness. Who, after all, would want to worship the kind of God whose “grace” protects Americans from Haitian horrors?
"The president was merely uttering an idiomatic version of the kind of thing you hear from survivors whenever a disaster strikes: “God must have been watching out for me; it’s a miracle I survived,” whereby those who died were presumably not being “watched out for.” That President Obama did not really mean this — he clearly did not — is telling, insofar as it suggests how the theological language of punishment and mercy lives on unconsciously, well after the actual theology has been discarded.
"Or has it? If the president simply meant that most of us have been — so far — luckier than Haitians, why didn’t he say that? Perhaps because, as a Christian, he does not want to believe that he subscribes to such a nonprovidential category as luck, or to the turn of fate’s wheel, which is really a pagan notion. Besides, to talk of luck, or fortune, in the face of a disaster seems flippant, and belittling to those who have been savaged by such bad luck. A toothache is bad luck; an earthquake is somehow theological."
Why God should favor Americans and keep them safe but disfavor Haitians and kill them in the thousands seems to be lost in Obama's comments. But as Wood points out the tradition of thanking God after natural disasters seems rooted in the religious point of view that ascribes God's providence and handiwork to all human events. If I were Haitian, I would resent not only Robertson's accusation of sinfulness or evil but also the line taken by those believers who thank God for sparing them, and too bad for those unfortunates who happen to be among those injured, killed or damaged by the quake.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Once again we receive reports that Iraq is imposing the death penalty on people convicted of major crimes.
Nada Bakri writes in today's The New York Times:
"A Baghdad court sentenced 11 Iraqis to death on Thursday for planning and carrying out a series of devastating attacks last summer.
"The bombings, on Aug. 19, struck Iraq’s Foreign and Finance Ministries in the heart of the capital and embarrassed the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki ahead of important parliamentary elections in March. the attacks also came less than two months after American combat troops withdrew from Iraqi cities, raising fears among many Iraqis that their security forces are not capable of maintaining security yet."
I don't care what the crime, governments should not be allowed to punish by taking a criminal's life. No matter if the convict is a mass murderer, the state should not be allowed to respond and take an eye for an eye. One evil does not justify the state to impose the same evil on the convict.
Furthermore, the death penalty is harsh and cruel. It has no place in a modern liberal democratic society.
Besides Iraq, other countries that still allow the death penalty include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Japan, China and the United States.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The New York Times has a report in today's paper by Dexter Filkins on the Afghan protests against combined U.S./Afghan military raids conducted several nights before. Afghan police apparently fired on the demonstrators and eight fell dead.
Writes Dexter Filkins:
"When the riot was over, at least eight protesters were dead and about a dozen wounded, shot by Afghan intelligence officers. Much of the town of Garmsir blamed the Americans.
"The episode, which American officers said they were investigating, highlighted how easily suspicions and resentment can flare out of control in an area as contested as the Helmand River Valley."
Juan Cole in his post today in Informed Comment places blame on the Taliban for inciting the villagers to near riot. Writes Juan Cole:
"Similar controversies over Qur'an desecration provoked anti-American rallies by the Muqtada al-Sadr group in Iraq some years ago. This cycle, of charges of foreign blasphemy, big rallies to protest it, and then the shooting of protesters, is a deliberate ploy by the Taliban to turn locals against NATO and the Afghan army."
I don't disagree with Juan Cole on the influence of the Taliban to stir up hornets nests against the American military. But I also feel that the American practice of conducting raids in the middle of the night which entail storming into homes of suspects, rousing the whole family, scaring the children, wrecking furniture and personal belongings, must of necessity lead to resentment and feelings of being humiliated.
Furthermore, many Afghans see American raids at 2 AM as violating the sanctity of their homes and especially offending their wives and women. This is no small matter in Afghan or Muslim society.
Dexter Filkins describes the events and aftermath of the raid:
"The protest began when several thousand Afghans gathered in the central bazaar in Garmsir, after reports of abuse by American servicemen during a raid at a nearby village two nights before. Local officials said the protest was organized by the Taliban’s shadow governor for Garmsir, Mullah Mohammed Naim.
"“The Taliban were provoking the people,” Kamal Khan, Helmand Province’s deputy police chief, said in a telephone interview. “They were telling the people that the Americans and their Afghan partners are killing innocent people, bombing their homes and destroying their mosques and also blaspheming their religion and culture.
"“The Taliban were telling the people, ‘This is jihad; you should sacrifice yourselves.’ ”
"No witnesses to the disputed raid could be located; it took place Sunday night in the village of Darweshan. American officers in Kabul said that Afghan soldiers conducted a nighttime operation in the village, with the Americans in support. But they said that no shots had been fired and that no one had engaged in any inappropriate conduct."
I thought Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus were aware of the severe and lasting damage to U.S. interests that raids at 2 AM can cause. Consider how you would feel if foreign troops banged on your front door at that hour and forced their way into your home, saying that they were searching for weapons or other contraband. How would your children react?
That's why I want to see Pres. Obama order an immediate end to U.S. forces entering anyone's home after 9 PM.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The BBC reports that Israeli premier Netanyahu is ordering the building of a wall along the Israeli/Egyptian border to stop "illegal aliens" from changing Israel's identity as a Jewish democracy. How can a modern liberal state define itself in religious terms? And how can Netanyahu think that a wall will stop immigration of those wishing to better their economic lives?
The BBC reports:
"On Sunday, Mr Netanyahu said he had approved the construction of sections of barrier that would block the main infiltration routes along the 266 km (166-mile) frontier, and the installation of advanced surveillance equipment.
"The project is set to cost $270m and take several years to complete.
""I took the decision to close Israel's southern border to infiltrators and terrorists. This is a strategic decision to secure Israel's Jewish and democratic character," the prime ministers (sic) said in a statement.
"Mr Netanyahu said Israel would "remain open to refugees" from conflict zones, but added: "We cannot let tens of thousands of illegal workers infiltrate into Israel through the southern border and inundate our country with illegal aliens.""
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The situation with persons caught up by ICE in immigration detention is beyond belief, like something horrible in Dostoevsky or Kafka.
Nina Bernstein describes many horrible events in today's The New York Times.
"The Obama administration has vowed to overhaul immigration detention, a haphazard network of privately run jails, federal centers and county cells where the government holds non citizens while it tries to deport them.
"But as the administration moves to increase oversight within the agency, the documents show how officials — some still in key positions — used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse.
"As one man lay dying of head injuries suffered in a New Jersey immigration jail in 2007, for example, a spokesman for the federal agency told The Times that he could learn nothing about the case from government authorities. In fact, the records show, the spokesman had alerted those officials to the reporter’s inquiry, and they conferred at length about sending the man back to Africa to avoid embarrassing publicity."
I hope that Pres. Obama takes decisive action in reforming the antiquated and medieval practices in the Immigration Service. But I must say so far, Obama has seemed to put immigration on the back burner. He has dissed Latinos by sending in U.S. troops to be based in Colombia, and he has shown no inclination to review the failed Bush policy to the Castro brothers and Cuba. Furthermore, he has let Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security which includes ICE, continue with the harsh policy of immigration raids on workers suspected of being without proper documents.