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Labor Politics and the Captive Electorate of 2012

 March 14, 2012 

Back in 2010, Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFT), lashed out at President Obama who she said was part of the “blame the teacher crowd” of education reform.

“I never thought I’d see a Democratic president, whom we helped elect, and his education secretary applaud the mass firing of 89 teachers and staff,” she said – referring to the firing of all teachers at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island earlier that year.

Last month, the AFT executive council unanimously voted to endorse Obama for reelection.

“While we have not agreed with every decision President Obama has made, he shares our deep commitment to rebuilding the middle class and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to achieve the American dream,” Weingarten said. Never mind those 89 teachers or the thousands more whose “opportunity to achieve the American dream” is under the gun of Obama’s school “reform” agenda.

Last year, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka criticized Obama for aligning with the right and cutting social programs.

“If they [Obama administration] don’t have a jobs program, I think we’d better use our money doing other things,” the leader of the nation’s largest union federation said, threatening to withhold labor’s support for Obama. Less than two months later, Trumka told reporters that the AFL-CIO would most likely endorse the reelection campaign, saying, “President Obama has been a friend for us.”

On Tuesday the AFL-CIO’s executive board unanimously voted to endorse Obama.

“Although the labor movement has sometimes differed with the president and often pushed his administration to do more – and do it faster – we have never doubted his commitment to a strong future for working families,” Trumka said in a statement announcing the endorsement.

None of this should surprise anyone who is familiar with labor’s captivity in the machinery of the Democratic Party. What appears to be schizophrenic in the real world is normal behavior in the world of organized labor and electoral politics.

But this election comes after a year of unprecedented attacks on workers.

Both Republicans and Democrats have been ratcheting up the war against unions, a fact that is making it increasingly difficult for union leaders to justify their support for Obama to their rank-and-file members.

“Notwithstanding all our disappointment with the Obama presidency, it’s clear that the clowns on the Republican side would be devastating to working people,” a Communication Workers of America (CWA) official told In These Times last month. “But we’re anticipating a tougher challenge motivating people because there is a lot of disappointment and letdown,” he admitted.

That’s probably because workers are hard-pressed to imagine what could be more “devastating to working people” than what they’ve seen in the last year alone. Workers have faced the erosion of collective bargaining rights, the first state in the Midwest passing “Right to Work” legislation, an FAA reauthorization bill signed by Obama that makes it more difficult for airline workers to organize, plans for massive layoffs of postal workers nationwide, and ramped-up attacks on public education.

And that’s by no means an exhaustive list of the recent blows suffered by the labor movement.

In addition to the AFT and AFL-CIO, major unions that have declared their endorsement for Obama’s reelection include SEIU, AFSCME, Laborers’ International Union (LIUNA), United Food and Commercial Workers, CWA, the Machinists, United Farm Workers, United Steel Workers, and the National Education Association. The list is sure to grow as the election season moves forward.

“We’ve been treading water as a labor movement,” says Chris Townsend, Political Action Director of United Electrical Workers (UE). “At best, supporting Democrats is a strategy to buy time. And union leaders won’t admit to their members that they are stuck,” he adds, echoing a point he made in a recent interview on Al-Jazeera’s Inside Story.

Townsend is one of the few union officials in the labor movement who forcefully criticizes labor’s allegiance to the Democratic Party. He points out that the more unions continue the bankrupt strategy of supporting a party that is often ambivalent or hostile to the movement, the harder it will be for them to beat back the right-wing agenda to destroy unions altogether.

How many more times is labor going to go back to the members and tell them to vote for some Democrat that has left us hanging? It’s no wonder that many union members and workers are not buying the Obama-Biden rhetoric this time. Instead of tackling the corporations and the Republicans head-on, the White House stands by in silence while organized labor is subjected to a life and death struggle in Wisconsin and Ohio. If union members get stuck voting for Obama because Romney is so much worse, we should just tell the truth. We are trapped in a profoundly corrupt and rigged political system. By going back again and again and hanging the union seal of approval on candidates who are not supportive of our cause, we merely hasten our own demise.

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported that labor leaders are talking about “shifting” their tactics by spending less on politics and more on movement-building. The Times reports that the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents some 190,000 transit workers in the U.S. and Canada, “has shifted ‘the culture of [the] union from…political activity to broader coalition building,’”

Meanwhile, an election battle is brewing within AFSCME, a union that represents 1.6 million public sector workers and which spent more money during the 2010 elections than any other group. One of the candidates vying to replace the outgoing President Gerald McEntee says he wants to put an end to the “checkbook unionism” that has so closely tied the union to the Democratic Party.

But the political landscape since the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision has seen unlimited spending on politics in the form of “Super PACs.” And it’s not just corporations that are taking advantage of the new terrain. At the end of January the ALF-CIO’s “Workers’ Voice” Super PAC had raised up to $4 million.

Of course, union leaders will not be able to mobilize their membership the way they did in 2008. Four years ago, the AFL-CIO sent 250,000 volunteers knocking on doors for Obama and other Democratic candidates. Much of that base of members and allies is deeply disenchanted with the Obama administration. And for good reason.

Before he dropped labor’s biggest priority in 2009 by abandoning the Employee Free Choice Act, Obama was busy stacking his administration with Wall Street insiders. More recent corporate additions include the anti-union General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt who chairs the president’s “Jobs Council.”

Over the past few years teachers from California to Chicago to New York have essentially been held at gunpoint by austerity-driven governors and mayors whose cuts and test-based reforms are supported by Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan.

In the private sector, American Airlines is using Chapter 11 bankruptcy to tear up union contracts, “restructure” pensions and cut up to 13,000 jobs. And for his reelection, Obama has received nearly $29,000 from AT&T, a company that is looking to layoff hundreds of workers in the Southeast.

Last year, Democrats in Indiana fled the state and successfully stopped a bill that would have made Indiana the first “Right to Work” state in the union-heavy rust belt. But this year, the Democrats chose to stand down, giving the green light to employers to bleed members and money from the unions.

But it seems Democrats can rely on Obama’s celebrity and eloquence to win back the hearts of labor leaders. Introducing Obama at the recent United Auto Workers conference, UAW leader Bob King praised Obama as “the champion of all workers.” Yes, the champion of all workers.

If King feels he owes Obama a bit of gratitude, it’s because the president extracted huge concessions from his members in exchange for “saving the industry.” So King’s job is safe, even if hundreds of thousands of workers suffered massive layoffs and cuts to wages and benefits. Years of outsourcing, two-tier wage structures and other concessions have led to job loss and stagnant wages throughout the industry. Now the UAW has joined Obama in celebrating the return of some outsourced jobs thanks to these “competitive wages.”

In an apparent mission to turn the U.S. into a source of cheap labor, policymakers in both political parties have for decades demonstrated their commitment to permanently lower working-class living standards. And recently Obama has been less shy about his role in this effort, touting his own policies for helping to make the U.S. more competitive with low-wage countries. Indeed, the cover story in the latest issue of Mother Jones magazine, documenting journalist Mac McClelland’s time working in an online retail warehouse, leaves readers wondering how far the U.S. working class is from experiencing the same grueling conditions that have made Apple factories in China so famous.

Manufacturing isn’t the only target, though. The logic of Obama’s “Race to the Top” (RTTT) program – offering education funding to states in exchange for teacher evaluations based on student test scores and opening more charters – has permeated school districts across the country, with devastating effects for students, teachers and their unions. In many cities, as “underperforming” teachers are fired and “underperforming” schools face closures and “turnarounds,” low-income students of color are being impacted the most.

But even if RTTT is aimed at privatizing public education and undermining teacher unionism, AFT President Weingarten is more likely to be heard giving her qualified praise for the program. That’s not the only reason AFT’s exuberant endorsement of Obama is unsurprising. After all, in addition to running the second-largest education union in the country, Weingarten is an active member of the Democratic National Committee. The fact is that countless other paid Democratic Party functionaries cycle through the upper echelons of the labor movement. But they are a lot less powerful than the corporate forces in the party, which begs the question: who is working for whom?

No wonder, then, that labor has at times had trouble relating to the Occupy movement. Reasonable concerns about cooptation aside, the movement includes ultra-left elements who claim to represent the “89 percent” – that is, excluding what they call the “privileged” minority of workers who are union members.

Such anti-union rhetoric used to be the exclusive domain of conservatives aimed at antagonizing union and non-union workers. But with labor leaders so visibly entrenched in the Democratic Party, maybe it isn’t so astonishing that leftist activists who fail to differentiate between union leadership and the rank-and-file are prone to such ideas.

Clearly, more rank-and-file involvement is needed to both challenge union officials and undercut misconceptions on the left about the labor movement.

Ultimately, real union power is not displayed by workers canvassing for Democrats. It’s exercised by workers on the job, like the 70 UE factory workers who again occupied their workplace last month and won their demands to keep the plant open while they find a new buyer, or perhaps run the factory themselves. Or the nearly 500 Seattle port truck drivers who went on strike for two weeks in February in protest against abuse and deregulation that has prevented them from organizing with the Teamsters. Or the teachers in New York City and Chicago who, along with Occupy protesters, have led fiery demonstrations against budget cuts and school closures.

Sometimes there are tactical reasons for unions to engage in electoral politics, but trade unionism is not about electing Democrats. Workers join unions to enforce decent pay and working conditions on the job. Organizing in an active union also raises the consciousness of workers around working-class issues beyond an individual workplace, like national healthcare policy and globalization. And like other social justice movements, labor cannot attribute much of its success to voting within the corporate confines of the two-party system.

Real power for workers and the oppressed exists in the streets and in the workplace, in the form of militant grassroots struggle.

Every national election points to the urgency for radicals to free the muscle of the union movement from the grip of the Democratic Party – to tighten the grip of the working class around the machinery of profit.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Attorney General Eric Holder: Wrong on the Law, the Politics, and on the Wrong Side of History

By Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D. | Black Agenda Report | March 14, 2012

During a speech at Northwestern University’s Law School, Attorney General Eric Holder explained that the American government can kill American citizens abroad under the following conditions:

”First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.”

There’s one small problem with Holder’s analysis. It’s called the Constitution. Holder is wrong on the law, wrong on the politics, and on the wrong side of history.

Section 1 of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution says in part, “No State shall… deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Holder went on to explain that when it comes to national security ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same. First, this distinction is not made in the Constitution and second, the Constitution guarantees “due process of law” not just due process.

Black’s Law Dictionary 5th Edition defines “due process of law” as “Law in its regular course of administration through courts of justice.” It also states, “… no person shall be deprived of life… unless matter involved first shall have been adjudicated against him upon trial… ” For Holder to state due process of law does not involve judicial process conflicts directly with established law. As a graduate of Columbia Law School he knows better. Even a first year law student would be banished to the law library if they made such a ridiculous argument.

Even more basic than the 14th Amendment argument is the Article 1, Section 9 argument. It states, “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. No Bill of Attainder… shall be passed.” A Bill of Attainder is a government declaration that a person is guilty of a crime that carries the death penalty without the benefit of a trial. What else is a government determination to kill an American citizen without any judicial proceedings other than a Bill of Attainder?

As the Obama administration spokesperson for the Justice Department, Holder is wrong on the politics. Senator and candidate Obama characterized the national security policies of the Bush administration as “draconian,” “ineffective” and “counter to the values of the United States.” Candidate Obama railed against his predecessor’s counterterrorism techniques such as domestic warrantless wiretapping, waterboarding, military tribunals, and indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay. Making these assertions, Holder sounds a lot like former Bush administration counsel John Yoo, the author of the opinion justifying torture. Candidate Obama promised the American people “change we can believe in.” The more these policies change, the more they look like the Bush administration, and the more they appear to have been politically motivated.

During his speech at Northwestern Holder said, “… the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.” The problem with this rationale is that America is not at war so what war principles is he referring to? The Constitution divides war powers between the Congress and the President. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states, “The Congress shall have Power: To declare War… ” If Holder was referring to The “War on Terror” that is just a marketing scheme devised by the Bush administration to convince Americans that the powers of the Executive Branch post 9-11 needed to be expanded. Congress has authorized military action but has not formally declared war.

Holder’s comments are even more disturbing when considered in the context of President Obama signing the 2012 Defense Authorization Act (DAA). Section 1021 of the Act allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens and/or anyone who commits a “belligerent act” against the U.S. As stated above, Article 1, Section 9 states, “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” By signing the 2012 DAA President Obama reaffirmed Bush’s suspension of habeas corpus instead of overturning it. So now, not only can American citizens be indefinitely detained, they can also be assassinated by their own government at the will and whim of their President.

The framers of the Constitution endorsed these protections to insure that a president could not act like a monarch or dictator and unilaterally violate a citizens civil rights and liberties. In the 1960’s FBI Director Hoover spied upon and disrupted the efforts of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement by creating the Counter Intelligence Program or COINTELPRO. Hoover’s misguided fears, personal bigotry, and sense that members of the movement were “enemy combatants” engaged in “belligerent acts” against the United States resulted in the harassment and false imprisonment of conscience citizens, and many believe the assassinations of Dr. King, Malcolm X, and others fighting for equality in America. Holder is on the wrong side of history.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “those who will sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” If a US President can order the assassination of an American citizen without judicial approval he has become no better than the dictators that we have invested invaluable time, blood, and treasure to overthrow. With these pronouncements we have met the enemy and the enemy is us.

~

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with WilmerLeon,” and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Go to Dr-Leons-Prescription@facebook.com, http://www.wilmerleon.com, email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. Or http://www.twitter.com/drwleon

© 2012 InfoWave Communications, LLC.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 4 Comments

CIA: We Do Not “Concede or Not Concede” that Waterboarding is Illegal

ACLU | March 13, 2012

On Friday, the ACLU appeared before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to argue that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires the CIA to release documents describing its use of waterboarding. The simple question at the heart of the hearing was this: is waterboarding an “intelligence method” that can be protected from disclosure under FOIA? We argued that the answer — of course not — is easy because even the president himself has declared that waterboarding is illegal. Exposing official misconduct to public scrutiny is the chief purpose of FOIA. But it cannot serve that purpose if even officially confirmed illegality is protectable.

The CIA disagreed and offered a truly astonishing view of what our laws on transparency were meant to protect from the public’s view. Under its theory, the agency may protect just about any type of activity — legal or illegal — as an “intelligence method,” and thus conceal such activities from the public. It does not matter that President Obama has declared waterboarding to be illegal, and it does not matter that the United States has prosecuted waterboarding as a war crime in the past. Even the most egregiously unlawful interrogation techniques could be kept secret as “intelligence methods” of the CIA.

Was the CIA really making this argument? We would soon find out that even the CIA’s lawyer seemed uncomfortable with the extraordinary breadth of the claim, resorting to smoke and mirrors to distract the court’s focus. Toward the end of the hearing, the three judges and the CIA’s lawyer recessed for a 40-minute classified session to discuss the documents we are seeking. When the public hearing resumed, the CIA’s lawyer made the mystifying claim that the CIA “does not concede or not concede” that waterboarding is illegal.

We scratched our heads trying to understand what exactly this meant. President Obama declared waterboarding to be illegal shortly after releasing the Bush administration’s torture memos in 2009. And the CIA never once disputed the unlawfulness of waterboarding in its filings in this case. The only possibility was that the government was trying to have it both ways. It wants to win this case without having to argue publicly that illegal conduct can be a protectable “intelligence method.”

At its core, the CIA’s argument is that the agency should be permitted to decide for itself which information should be released, and which should be suppressed. The agency believes that courts should simply defer to its decisions about secrecy. There is a time and place for that kind of deference, of course, but when it comes to public disclosure of the CIA’s illegal conduct, the CIA’s claim to immunity is fundamentally at odds with our system of checks and balances. Only through public scrutiny of official wrongdoing can the governed hold the government accountable. And only through robust judicial enforcement of our transparency laws will the public have access to the information necessary to do so.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 2 Comments

The U.S. Empire’s Achilles Heel: Its Barbaric Racism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | March 14, 2012

The American atrocities in Afghanistan roll on like a drumbeat from hell. With every affront to the human and national dignity of the Afghan people, the corporate media feign shock and quickly conclude that a few bad apples are responsible for U.S. crimes, that it’s all a mistake and misunderstanding, rather than the logical result of a larger crime: America’s attempt to dominate the world by force. But even so, with the highest paid and best trained military in the world – a force equipped with the weapons and communications gear to exercise the highest standards of control known to any military in history – one would think that commanders could keep their troops from making videos of urinating on dead men, or burning holy books, or letting loose homicidal maniacs on helpless villagers.

These three latest atrocities have brought the U.S. occupation the point of crisis – hopefully, a terminal one. But the whole war has been one atrocity after another, from the very beginning, when the high-tech superpower demonstrated the uncanny ability to track down and incinerate whole Afghan wedding parties – not just once, but repeatedly. Quite clearly, to the Americans, these people have never been more than ants on the ground, to be exterminated at will.

The Afghans, including those on the U.S. payroll, repeatedly use the word “disrespect” to describe American behavior. But honest people back here in the belly of the beast know that the more accurate term is racism. The United States cannot help but be a serial abuser of the rights of the people it occupies, especially those who are thought of as non-white, because it is a thoroughly racist nation. A superpower military allows them to act out this characteristic with impunity.

American racism allows its citizens to imagine that they are doing the people of Pakistan a favor, by sending drones to deal death without warning from the skies. The U.S. calls Pakistan an ally, when polls consistently show that its people harbor more hatred and fear of the U.S. than any other people in the world. The Pakistanis know the U.S. long propped up their military dictators, and then threatened to blow the country to Kingdom Come after 9/ll, if the U.S. military wasn’t given free rein. They know they are viewed collectively as less than human by the powers in Washington – and, if they don’t call it racism, we should, because we know our fellow Americans very well.

The U.S. lost any hope of leaving a residual military force in Iraq when it showed the utterly racist disrespect of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison, the savage leveling of Fallujah, the massacres in Haditha and so many other places well known to Iraqis, if not the American public, and the slaughter of 17 civilians stuck at a traffic circle in Nisour Square, Baghdad. What people would agree to allow such armed savages to remain in their country if given a choice?

The United States was conceived as an empire built on the labor of Blacks and the land of dead natives, an ever-expanding sphere of exploitation and plunder – energized by an abiding and general racism that is, itself, the main obstacle to establishing a lasting American anti-war movement. But, despite the peace movement’s weaknesses, the people of a world under siege by the Americans will in due time kick them out – because to live under barbarian racists is not a human option.

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima whitewash betrayed trust of NPR listeners

By Linda Lewis | Enformable | March 12, 2012

Last week, National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast a report on the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant meltdowns. The report whitewashed failures of the utility and government by ignoring essential facts of the disaster and its impact on health.

Sunday was the first anniversary of the March 11, 2011 disaster at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. For months, utility and government officials held back the truth, but finally admitted that three meltdowns had occurred. Those truths—potentially poisonous to industry plans to build more nuclear plants, — may not enjoy the sunlight for long. Propagandistic op-eds and reports in U.S. news media are attempting to sweep Fukushima’s history under the rug and, sadly, NPR is one of those wielding a broom.

The following claims were presented in NPR’s March 9 report by science reporter Richard Harris.

(1) Health risks are “too small to measure”

[H]ealth effects from radiation turn out to be minor compared with the other issues the people of Fukushima prefecture now face. {snip} We all watched frightening TV images, and clouds of radioactive steam and gas did erupt from the plant. That material did sometimes move over the countryside and into populated areas, so it looked like a horrible disaster. But, in the case of radiation, the dose matters. It’s true, there is no bright line that separates a safe dose of radiation from a dangerous dose, but at some point, a dose is so small that any potential health risk is simply too small to measure.

(Richard Harris, NPR, March 9)

Harris does not identify the source of that conclusion, but it’s a long-time favorite of the industry that promoted the fantasy of “too cheap to meter.” (The bill for Fukushima is estimated at $77 billion and counting.) Listeners are kept blissfully ignorant of dissenting views, including those of the National Academies of Science. However, it’s well known that cancers due to radiation exposure may take decades to develop. Equating a low rate of illness in the first year with a negligible health risk is decidedly premature.

(2) “Quick actions” were taken by Japanese officials”

Harris quotes John Boice, “a cancer epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University,” in assessing the Japanese government’s actions to protect the public from radiation, including measures like evacuation.

One big cloud did blow inland, up toward the northwest. But most of the 170,000 residents in the area were quickly evacuated. Boice says that helped limit dangerous doses. So did other quick actions by the Japanese government.

(NPR, March 9)

A “quick” evacuation is one where authorities get the public out of the area as soon as a situation arises that might result in a radioactive release. Japanese authorities instead delayed evacuation until May 15 for residents of the area around Itate, where the cumulative radiation (the estimated first year dose) was 20 millisieverts (2000 millirem) or higher. Japanese officials also failed miserably in implementing another protection action, the distribution of potassium iodide pills.

(3) “Release of “any” food with excessive radiation was “prohibited”

They prohibited the release of any food that had had increased levels of radiation in them,” [Boice] says.

(NPR, March 9)

In fact, the Japanese government failed to keep radiation-contaminated food out of the marketplace. Bloomberg Business News reported that officials failed to ban cattle shipments from Fukushima until July 19–after some beef from the area had been shipped to shipped to supermarkets. At that time, the government reported finding beef with “as much 2,300 becquerels of cesium a kilogram,” well over the government’s limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram.

Rice contaminated with cesium also made it into the marketplace, and inspectors in Singapore detected radiation “nine times the limit in cabbages imported from Japan” (Reuters). “Spinach, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tea, milk, plums and fish have been found contaminated with cesium and iodine as far as 360 kilometers from Dai-Ichi” (Bloomberg). Those, surely, were just the tip of the iceberg because Japan had no central system for checking food for radioactive contamination. It left that task to farmers and local officials–on a voluntary basis.

(4) Smoking is “a far bigger risk to their health”

According to the NPR report, “If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day for a year, you’re getting an internal radiation dose of about 30 millisieverts.

That’s more than half the dose they got through occupational exposure. But cigarette smoke is also filled with cancer-causing chemicals, so smoking is a far bigger risk to their health.”

(NPR, March 9)

A graphic in the report shows that the radiation dose from cigarettes exceeds the expected dose from some CT (computed tomography) scans. Thus, the occupational exposure at Fukushima (which likely was greater due to poor dosimetry) also exceeded the dose from CT scans. This is noteworthy because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been urging caution in ordering CT scans due to the associated cancer risk.

The effective doses from diagnostic CT procedures are typically estimated to be in the range of 1 to 10 mSv (millisieverts). This range is not much less than the lowest doses of 5 to 20 mSv received by some of the Japanese survivors of the atomic bombs. These survivors, who are estimated to have experienced doses only slightly larger than those encountered in CT, have demonstrated a small but increased radiation-related excess relative risk for cancer mortality.”

(FDA website, 11 Mar 2012)

Harris reference to cigarettes is a bit of a red herring but appears to be tied to his earlier claim that the health risk is too small to measure. That resembles a claim, popular with the nuclear industry, that FDA addressed in its discussion of CT scans.

There are some that question whether there is adequate evidence for a risk of cancer induction at low doses. However, this position has not been adopted by most authoritative bodies in the radiation protection and medical arenas.

(5) “Trauma, not radiation” is the key concern

Harris correctly acknowledges the importance of recognizing and treating stress and mental health impacts that may accompany a disaster. But, it is equally important to recognize why radiation is stress inducing.

Radiation is invisible. The average person has no means to detect it and lacks the training to understand the results. He/she must rely on a profit-minded utility and government agencies—typically captured by industry–to reveal facts that could be lethal to the corporate bottom line. As one would expect in such circumstances, deception is common.

Arguably, the most primary public health concern is not, as Harris suggests, the trauma of radiation. It is the abuse of public trust that undermines every effort to properly assess, communicate and mitigate health risks. From that point of view, NPR’s deceptive report is a public health menace as well as a disappointment to listeners seeking the “highest standards of public service in journalism.” A reminder from listeners of NPR’s mission statement is in order.

Linda Lewis is a radiological emergency planning specialist and policy analyst. B.S., Emergency Management and Administration; B.S. Geoscience.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima Roulette

One Year and Counting

By JOHN LaFORGE | CounterPunch | March 14, 2012

It’s been a year since the reactor meltdowns and catastrophic radiation releases from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor complex, and news of their far-reaching consequences still makes headlines the world over. Radioactive hot spots are still being discovered far beyond the official 13-mile “exclusion” and 18-mile “cautionary” zones surrounding the 6-reactor compound.

Recalculated estimates of massive radiation releases are repeatedly doubled, tripled or quadrupled. The National Science Foundation has said, “The release of radioactivity from Fukushima — both as atmospheric fallout and direct discharges to the ocean — represents the largest accidental release of radiation to the ocean in history.”

The list of radioactively contaminated foods, waters, soils, vegetation and export goods continues to grow longer, and government-established allowable contamination rates appear wildly arbitrary. For example, Japan intends in April to lower its permissible level of cesium in milk to 50 becquerels per kilogram from the 200 Bq/Kg that is permitted now. Evidently, an amount of contamination deemed permissible for both robust and vulnerable populations for the past year, will become four times too dangerous to consume — on April Fool’s Day.

Unprecedented and seemingly chaotic efforts to limit the spread of radiation are announced every few days. Contaminated topsoil and detritus from the forest are to be placed in metal boxes which may be stored “temporarily” in wooded areas. A plasticized wind barrier may be placed like a giant tent over the entire Fukushima Daiichi complex to retard further release of radiation to the air. The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) began in March pouring tons of concrete from ships onto the seabed outside the destroyed reactors in an attempt to slow the spread of radionuclides that were dumped into the sea in the panicky early days of the crisis.

Broadly accepted but faulty government explanations for the meltdowns leave 400 reactors operating worldwide vulnerable to similar failures of emergency generators. Tepco is still dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water on the three uncontrolled reactors, and the waste fuel pool of reactor 4, all with extremely hot and ferociously radioactive fuel wreckage at the bottom of what used to be called “containments.” The unprecedented earthquake turned them into cracked and leaking sieves that are still vulnerable to Japan’s daily earthquakes.

A selective review of the news is all that space allows:

July 12-18: Beef contaminated, consumed, banned

Beef contaminated with cesium was sold at markets before a ban and recall was issued. Tests on straw at a farm in Koriyama city in Fukushima Prefecture showed cesium levels as high as 378 times the legal limit. Tokyo’s metropolitan government said high levels of cesium, nearly five times what’s permitted, were detected in meat from a cow shipped to a packing plant in Tokyo from a farm in Koriyama. 

Sept. 9: Japan triples its radiation release estimate

Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency reported that radioactive cesium-137 and iodine-131 released into the Pacific Ocean by Fukushima’s operators between March 21 and April 30 amounted to 15,000 trillion becquerels, or “terabecquerels” — more than triple the amount (4,720 terabecquerels) earlier estimated by the Tepco. (See chart at end)

Oct. 2: Plutonium fell far beyond evacuation zone

Plutonium, was been detected 24 miles from Fukushima according to government researchers. The official exclusion zone is only 12.4 miles wide.

Oct. 15: Hot spots in Tokyo

Independent groups found 20 radioactive “hot spots” inside Tokyo, 150 miles from the disaster zone, that were contaminated with cesium as heavily as parts of the exclusion zone around Chernobyl, in Ukraine, site of a similar radiation disaster in 1986. Kiyoshi Toda, a radiation expert and medical doctor at Nagasaki University told the New York Times, “Radioactive substances are entering people’s bodies from the air, from the food. It’s everywhere.”

Oct. 27: Worst oceanic contamination ever recorded

France’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety reported that the amount of cesium-137 dispersed to the Pacific Ocean was the greatest single radioactive contamination of the sea “ever observed.” The institute estimated that 27 “petabecquerels” (27 million billion becquerels) of cesium-137 poured into the sea. This is equal to a staggering 729,000 curies.

Nov. 17: Sale of contaminated rice banned

The sale of rice from 154 farms in Fukushima Prefecture was banned after it was found contaminated with cesium exceeding

government limits. The same week, the journal of the National Academy of Sciences said that levels of cesium in the region’s soil would “severely impair” food production in all of eastern Fukushima and even neighboring areas.

Nov. 26: Cesium in fallout fell all over Japan

Radioactive cesium dispersed by Fukushima fell over the entire territory of Honshu, Japan’s largest and most heavily populated island, the major daily Asahi Shimbun reported.

Dec. 6: Cesium in baby food on shelves 7 months

The giant food company Neji Holdings announced the recall of 400,000 cans of its powdered baby milk formula after it was found poisoned with cesium-137 and cesium-134. Packaged in April, toward the end of Fukushima’s worst radiation releases, the baby food was distributed mostly in May and could have been repeatedly consumed by infants for seven months.

Dec. 12: Tokyo schoolyard’s 9-month cesium hazard

The concentration of cesium found in a Tokyo schoolyard, 150 miles from Fukushima was over 10 times the government-established level requiring disposal. From April to December, highly contaminated tarps were evidently left in a heap beside the school’s gym. The Environment Ministry gave official permission to incinerate the covers, but tons of radioactively contaminated incinerator ash has caused broad public protest because of objections to its being disposed of in forested areas.

Dec. 12: Sea contamination 50 million times normal

A study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Society published in Environmental Science & Technology found that concentrations of cesium-137 at Fukushima’s discharge points to the sea peaked at more than 50 million times expected levels. Concentrations 18 miles offshore were higher than those measured in the ocean after Chernobyl. Lead author and Woods Hole senior scientist Ken Buesseler told Forbes, “We don’t know how this might affect benthic [bottom dwelling and subsurface] marine life, and with a half-life of 30 years, any cesium-137 accumulating in sediments or groundwater could be a concern for decades to come.”

Dec. 19: Up to 14,000 U.S. deaths linked to fallout

The peer reviewed International Journal of Health Services reported that as many as 14,000 excess deaths in the United States appear linked to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. The rise in reported deaths after March 17 was largest among U.S. infants under age one. The 2010-2011 increase for infant deaths in the spring was 1.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 8.37 percent in the preceding 14 weeks. The study by Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention’s weekly reports, was the first on Fukushima health hazards to be published in a scientific journal.

Feb. 11: Scouring fallout from 8,000 square miles

The New York Times reported in its business section that Japan intends to “rehabilitate” contaminated areas that total over 8,000 square miles — an area nearly as big as New Jersey.

Feb. 26: One-quarter of U.S. reactors can’t survive likely quakes

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported that 27 of 104 operating reactors in the United States face current earthquake magnitude predictions more powerful than the reactors were designed and built to withstand.

Feb. 28: Cesium limits for rice will not be enforced

The government said farmers would be allowed to plant rice on land with cesium contamination above the new 100 becquerels-per-kilogram limit for crop land. The new limit takes effect in April, long after Japan arbitrarily set a contamination limit of 500-Bq/Kg following last year’s massive radiation releases.

2011: Emergency backup generators ‘not designed to work’

The official explanation for Fukushima’s loss-of-coolant and radiation releases is that back-up diesel generators were wrecked by the March 11 tsunami. In his Nov. 2011 book Vulture’s Picnic (Dutton), Greg Palast smashes this theory — and highlights reactor vulnerability everywhere — writing that the diesels may have destroyed themselves just by being turned on. Since aerial photos now show that the buildings housing the diesels were not wrecked, Palast recounts that 30 years ago he and diesel expert R. D. Jacobs suspected problems with the diesels proposed for U.S. nukes. They forced the builder of New York’s Shoreham reactor to test its three generators under emergency conditions. One after another, all three failed when their crankshafts snapped, just ad Jacobs predicted. Shoreham never went online.

Interviewing another diesel engineer, Palast found that the diesels were “designed or even taken from, cruise ship engine rooms or old locomotives.” They need 30 minutes to warm up and time to build crankshaft speed, before adding the “load” of the generator. In a nuclear emergency, the diesels have to go from stationary to taking a full load in less than ten seconds, Palast reports. They’re not made for a “crash start.” He asked the expert, “You’re saying emergency diesels can’t work in an emergency?” His answer was, “Actually, they’re just not designed for it.”

— New resources: “Lessons from Fukushima,” Feb. 2012, by Greenpeace; and “Fukushima in review: A complex disaster, a disastrous response,” March 2012, by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Radiation amounts FYI:

1 becquerel = 1 atomic disintegration per second

37 billion becquerels = 1 curie

1 trillion becquerels (1 terabecquerel) = 27 curies

1 million billion becquerels (1 petabecquerel) = 27,000 curies

An area far beyond the official 18-mile restriction zone around Fukushima has been declared in need of decontamination. Besides power washing urban areas, this will involve removing about 2 inches of topsoil from local farms as well as dead leaves and other debris from radiation-laden forest floors. The government has announced it intends to clear about 934 square miles of soil — an area larger than greater Tokyo (above). “So far, nobody has any idea where any contaminated soil will be dumped,” reported The Economist, in “Hot spots and blind spots: the mounting human costs of Japan’s nuclear disaster,” Oct. 8, 2011.

John LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and anti-war group in Wisconsin, and edits its Quarterly.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli police escort Harvard tour from Bethlehem village

Ma’an – 13/03/2012

BETHLEHEM – Israeli forces stopped a group of 55 Harvard University students touring Bethlehem village al-Walaja on Tuesday, witnesses told Ma’an.

Security guards manning bulldozers that are building Israel’s separation wall surrounding the village stopped the bus of students as they drove along the planned route of the wall, al-Walaja popular committee member Shireen Al-Araj said.

“The students came to learn about the wall and the settlements around al-Walaja … to see the facts of the ground,” she said.

Police arrived to escort the bus to the Israeli military checkpoint outside the village, while briefly detaining Al-Araj in Atarot police station, she told Ma’an. Forces warned her she will be fine 5,000 shekels if she fails to follow orders again, she added.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Study: Israeli ‘state land’ illegally taken from West Bank

Ma’an – March 14, 2012

BETHLEHEM – Israel has designated some 900,000 dunams of the occupied West Bank as Israeli state land, using procedures that break local and international laws, an Israeli human rights group said Wednesday.

“Large swaths of land have been classified state land and designated for use by settlements, despite the fact that they belong to Palestinian individuals or communities,” according to a new report by B’Tselem.

The study says Palestinian land “was taken from their lawful owners by legal manipulation and in breach of local law and international law alike.”

After an Israeli court ruled the state could not build settlements on private Palestinian land in 1979, Israel’s state attorney office redefined the requirements for designating land state-owned, the study says.

The report reviews Israeli policies in light of relevant laws in the West Bank before it was occupied by Israel in 1967.

B’Tselem says Israel disregarded community rights to land used for grazing, redefined what was classified as ‘cultivated land’ and extended the requirement for continuous cultivation of the land.

Israel’s legal stance increased state land in the West Bank from 527,000 dunums prior to Israel’s occupation, to more than 1.427 million dunams, an expansion of more than 170 percent, the report says.

Under international law, state land does not belong to Israel, and should be used to benefit Palestinians while the West Bank is under military occupation, B’Tselem adds.

“Despite this obligation, the percentage of state land that Israel has designated for Palestinians is negligible. Virtually all state land has been designated for exclusive use by the settlements,” the report notes.

The Israeli rights group says a recent deal to move a settler outpost to state land is thus illegal, calling on the Israeli government to revoke the agreement.

After months of negotiations, on Sunday the government agreed with Migron settlers that they relocate a few kilometers away, to meet a high court ruling that ordered the outpost be removed by by March 31, 2012 as it lies on land with demonstrated Palestinian-ownership.

The families are relocating to another already-established West Bank settlement a few kilometers away.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

A Palestinian Christian response to Michael Oren

By Faysal Hijazeen – Ma’an – 14/03/2012

As the parish priest of Ramallah, an op-ed by Israel’s envoy to the US gave me pause for thought. Michael Oren’s article spoke volumes of Israel’s unending misrepresentation of Palestinian daily life.

The presence of our 13 Latin Patriarchate Schools throughout the West Bank and Gaza, for over 150 years, is a living witness to the coexistence of Palestinian Christians and Muslims.

We have never faced in our schools or society the supposed persecution of Christians by Muslims to which Mr Oren referred in “Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians,” published Friday in the Wall Street Journal.

Contrary to Oren’s statements, the persecution of Christians here is caused mainly by the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory. This occupation humiliates us, destroys our economy, causes demographic changes and deprives millions of the freedom of movement and their right to decent lives, in addition to the confiscation of land.

These are the main ways Christians are persecuted in Palestine.

As anyone with eyes can see, the wall that Israel has imposed has negatively affected the lives of Palestinians and has confiscated a large amount of what is left of Palestinian land.

Oren claims that Israel “allows holiday access to Jerusalem’s churches to Christians from both the West Bank and Gaza.” In reality, the countless fixed and flying checkpoints have turned our lives into hell.

Israeli obstacles and practices do not differentiate between Muslims and Christians, and are imposed over a whole nation. The bullets that are fired against Palestinians do not differentiate between Christians and Muslims.

But it is these imposed Israeli obstacles which strengthen the ties between Christians and Muslims. Christian students share the same classrooms with Muslim students and all school activities involve both religions.

For example last week at one of our schools, the al-Ahliyya College in Ramallah, we held a concert with peace songs, and 180 pupils of both faiths joined in the event.

The oppression of Christian communities is indeed “an injustice of historic magnitude.”

Israel could begin righting this wrong by setting an example: Offer freedom to the Christian communities under its occupation before criticizing Muslim oppression in other countries in the Middle East.

No such oppression exists in Palestine.

The author is the director-general of the Latin Patriarchate Schools in Palestine and the parish priest of Ramallah.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Dear Mr. President: Letters from Israel partisans that took America to war

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | March 14, 2012

According to its June 3, 1997 Statement of Principles, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was created to advance a “Reaganite foreign policy of military strength and moral clarity,” a policy PNAC co-founders, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, had advocated the previous year in Foreign Affairs to counter what they construed as the American public’s short-sighted indifference to foreign “commitments.” Calling for a significant increase in “defense spending,” PNAC exhorted the United States “to meet threats before they become dire.”

The Wolfowitz Doctrine

The idea of preemptive war also known as the Wolfowitz Doctrine—subsequently dubbed the “Bush Doctrine” by PNAC signatory Charles Krauthammer—can be traced as far back as Paul Wolfowitz’s Ph.D. dissertation, “Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East,” which was based on “a raft of top-secret documents” his influential mentor, Cold War nuclear strategist Albert Wohlstetter, somehow “got his hands on” during a post-Six Day War trip to Israel. The “top-secret” Israeli documents supposedly showed that Egypt was planning to divert a Johnson administration proposal for regional civilian nuclear energy into a weapons program. Among those who signed PNAC’s Statement of Principles were Wohlstetter protégés Francis Fukuyama, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Wolfowitz, who despite having been investigated for passing a classified document to an Israeli government official through an AIPAC intermediary in 1978 would be appointed Deputy Secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush administration, where he would be the first to suggest attacking Iraq four days after 9/11; Wolfowitz protégé I. Lewis Libby, who later “hand-picked” Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff mainly from pro-Israel think tanks; Elliott Abrams, who would go on to serve as Bush’s senior director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs, his mother-in-law, Midge Decter, and her husband, Norman Podhoretz; and Eliot A. Cohen, who would later smear Walt and Mearsheimer’s research on the Israel lobby’s role in skewing U.S. foreign policy as “anti-Semitic.”

On January 26, 1998, PNAC wrote the first of its many open letters to U.S. presidents and Congressional leaders, in which they enjoined President Clinton that “removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power […] now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.” Failure to eliminate “the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use” its non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the letter cautioned, would put at risk “the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil.” An additional signatory this time was another Wohlstetter protégé, Richard Perle, a widely suspected Israeli agent of influence whose hawkish foreign policy views were shaped when Hollywood High School classmate and girlfriend, Joan Wohlstetter, invited him for a swim in her family’s swimming pool and her father handed Perle his 1958 RAND paper, “The Delicate Balance of Terror,” thought to be an inspiration for Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.

Having helped sow the seeds of the Iraq War five years before Operation Iraqi Freedom, PNAC wrote a second letter to Clinton later that year. Joining with the International Crisis Group, and the short-lived Balkan Action Council and Coalition for International Justice, they took out an advertisement in the New York Times headlined “Mr. President, Milosevic is the Problem.” Expressing “deep concern for the plight of the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo,” the letter declared that “[t]here can be no peace and stability in the Balkans so long as Slobodan Milosevic remains in power.” It urged the United States to lead an international effort which should demand a unilateral ceasefire by Serbian forces, put massive pressure on Milosevic to agree on “a new political status for Kosovo,” increase funding for Serbia’s “democratic opposition,” tighten economic sanctions in order to hasten regime change, cease diplomatic efforts to reach a compromise, and support the Hague tribunal’s investigation of Milosevic as a war criminal. Now that “the world’s newest state” (prior to Israel’s successful division of Sudan) is run by a “mafia-like” organization involved in trafficking weapons, drugs and human organs, there appears to be much less concern for the plight of the ethnic Serbian population of Kosovo.

A New Pearl Harbor

One year after the publication of its September 2000 report, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” the “new Pearl Harbor” PNAC implied might be necessary to hasten acquiescence to its blueprint for “benevolent global hegemony” occurred on 9/11. Nine days after that “catastrophic and catalyzing event,” it wrote to endorse President Bush’s “admirable commitment to ‘lead the world to victory’ in the war against terrorism.” However, capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, the letter stressed, was “by no means the only goal” in the newly-declared war on terror. “[E]ven if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq,” cautioned the PNACers. “Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.” Disingenuously characterizing Israel’s enemy Hezbollah as a group “that mean[s] us no good,” the Israel partisans called on the administration to “consider appropriate measures of retaliation” against Iran and Syria if they refused to “immediately cease all military, financial, and political support for Hezbollah.” Touting Israel as “America’s staunchest ally against international terrorism,” they counseled Washington to “fully support our fellow democracy in its fight against terrorism.” The letter concluded by urging President Bush “that there be no hesitation in requesting whatever funds for defense are needed to allow us to win this war.”

PNAC’s concern for “America’s staunchest ally” was even more evident in its next letter to the White House. On April 3, 2002, it wrote to thank Bush for his “courageous leadership in the war on terrorism,” commending him in particular for his “strong stance in support of the Israeli government as it engages in the present campaign to fight terrorism.” Evoking the memory of the September 11 attacks “still seared in our minds and hearts,” the Israel partisans thought that “we Americans ought to be especially eager to show our solidarity in word and deed with a fellow victim of terrorist violence […] targeted in part because it is our friend, and in part because it is an island of liberal, democratic principles—American principles—in a sea of tyranny, intolerance, and hatred.” Returning to its favorite theme of regime change in Iraq, PNAC cautioned, “If we do not move against Saddam Hussein and his regime, the damage our Israeli friends and we have suffered until now may someday appear but a prelude to much greater horrors.” Prefiguring the cheerleading of Kristol and Kagan et al. for the “Arab Spring,” they assured Bush that “the surest path to peace in the Middle East lies not through the appeasement of Saddam and other local tyrants, but through a renewed commitment on our part […] to the birth of freedom and democratic government in the Islamic world.”

PNAC Redux

Having “developed, sold, enacted, and justified” a disastrous war over non-existent WMD, PNAC’s final report in April 2005 entitled “Iraq: Setting the Record Straight” claimed that “the case for removing Saddam from power went beyond the existence of weapons stockpiles.” Smugly concluding à la Madame Albright that “the price of the liberation of Iraq has been worth it,” PNAC soon after quietly wound up its operations. However, in 2009, PNAC co-founders Kristol and Kagan were instrumental in setting up its successor organization, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), whose self-appointed mission is to address the “many foreign policy challenges” facing the United States “and its democratic allies,” allegedly coming from “rising and resurgent powers,” such as China and Russia, and, perhaps most significantly, from “other autocracies that violate the rights of their citizens.”

FPI’s February 25, 2011 letter to President Obama gave a clear indication of the significance of that mission statement. Approvingly citing the president’s declaration in his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech that “Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later,” they told him that he “must take action in response to the unfolding crisis in Libya.” Warning of an impending “moral and humanitarian catastrophe,” the letter recommended establishing a no-fly zone, freezing all Libyan government assets, temporarily halting importation of Libyan oil, making a statement that Col. Qaddafi and other officials would be held accountable under international law, and providing humanitarian aid to the Libyan people as quickly as possible. “The United States and our European allies have a moral interest in both an end to the violence and an end to the murderous Libyan regime,” averred FPI. “There is no time for delay and indecisiveness. The people of Libya, the people of the Middle East, and the world require clear U.S. leadership in this time of opportunity and peril.”

With Libya in the midst of a genuine catastrophe brought on by that “humanitarian intervention,” FPI turned its attention to the foreign-stoked strife in Syria. On February 17, 2012, it joined the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank closely aligned with the Israel lobby whose leadership council is dominated by PNAC alumni, in urging President Obama “to take immediate steps to decisively halt the Assad regime’s atrocities against Syrian civilians, and to hasten the emergence of a post-Assad government in Syria.” Acknowledging that Syria’s future is “not purely a humanitarian concern,” the letter writers revealed their primary concern about Syria in their remark that “for decades, it has closely cooperated with Iran and other agents of violence and instability to menace America’s allies and partners throughout the Middle East.”

Wars of Muslim Liberation

Commenting on Obama’s reluctance to intervene in Libya, Bill Kristol mocked the president’s “doubts and dithering” about “taking us to war in another Muslim country.” Declared the founder of the Emergency Committee for Israel, “Our ‘invasions’ have in fact been liberations. We have shed blood and expended treasure in Kuwait in 1991, in the Balkans later in the 1990s, and in Afghanistan and Iraq—in our own national interest, of course, but also to protect Muslim peoples and help them free themselves. Libya will be America’s fifth war of Muslim liberation.” In a follow-up note to the Weekly Standard, Paul Wolfowitz had “one minor quibble”: “Libya, by my count, is not ‘America’s fifth war of Muslim liberation,’ but at least the seventh: Kuwait – February 1991, Northern Iraq – April 1991, Bosnia – 1995, Kosovo – 1999, Afghanistan – 2001 and Iraq – 2003.” With Syria awaiting its “liberation” in 2012, perhaps it’s too early yet to say, “Shukran, Israel.”

Maidhc Ó Cathail writes extensively on the Israel lobby’s influence on U.S. foreign policy.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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