I have just received a very disappointing reply from my true-blue Tory MP to pleas for real government action over the slaughter in Gaza.
A similarly worthless response has been received in other parts of the country so I conclude that the ex-Etonian didn’t pen the twaddle himself. More likely it was the work, as usual, of a Foreign Office scribbler trained by Mark Regev’s hasbara unit in Tel Aviv.
“Israel has a right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks”, it said. But no such right can be claimed when Israel is the illegal occupier inflicting collective punishment on its victim — a war crime, as everyone knows. Civilian casualties indicate it is actually Israel’s bombardment that’s indiscriminate, even with state-of-the-art weaponry.
And, as my MP must be aware, Hamas are entitled to put up armed resistance against an invader with any weapons at their disposal.
He talks about “creating the space for wider discussions on how to resolve the underlying issues”. He and his mates in the British government show no sign of actually understanding what those issues are and have consistently failed to address them, despite their eye-wateringly expensive education. They could go back to Herzl and the Zionist Congress of 1897. They could go back to 1917 and Balfour. They could go back to 1947 and the absurd UN Partition Plan. They could go back to 1948, the Dalet Plan and Jewish terror operations that ethnically cleansed the Palestinian territories. They could go back to 2002 and the illegal Separation Wall that annexes further swathes of prime Palestinian land and resources.
Actually they only have to retrace their steps a short distance to 2005 for a pretty clear view of the underlying causes. I set those out in another article a week or so ago. But they bear repeating for the benefit of the dull-witted loafers who crowd the corridors of power in London and Washington. When Israel “disengaged” from Gaza in September 2005 (i.e. pulled out its ground troops and squatters while continuing to occupy Palestinian airspace, coastal waters and crossings to the outside world) it signed an Agreement on Movement intended to maintain and develop Gaza’s economy and set the scene for a viable Palestinian state. The Agreement, drawn up by the US and sponsored by the Quartet, was launched by Condoleezza Rice (US Secretary of State) and Javier Solana (EU High Representative) in Jerusalem on 15 November 2005.
Rice said the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza returned control of that territory to the Palestinian people and the EU would play an important role in implementing the scheme. “This agreement is intended to give the Palestinian people freedom to move, to trade, to live ordinary lives. The agreement covers six topics:
First, for the first time since 1967, Palestinians will gain control over entry and exit from their territory. This will be through an international crossing at Rafah, whose target opening date is November 25th.
Second, Israel and the Palestinians will upgrade and expand other crossings for people and cargo between Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. This is especially important now because Israel has committed itself to allow the urgent export of this season’s agricultural produce from Gaza.
Third, Palestinians will be able to move between Gaza and the West Bank; specifically, bus convoys are to begin about a month from now and truck convoys are to start a month after that.
Fourth, the parties will reduce obstacles to movement within the West Bank. It has been agreed that by the end of the year the United States and Israel will complete work to lift these obstacles and develop a plan to reduce them.
Fifth, construction of a Palestinian seaport can begin. The Rafah model will provide a basis for planned operations.
Sixth, the parties agree on the importance of the airport. Israel recognizes that the Palestinian Authority will want to resume construction on the airport. I am encouraging Israel to consider allowing construction to resume as this agreement is successfully implemented…
Israel failed to honour any of these promises.
Then, in 2012, Operation Pillar of Cloud ended with an agreement in which Israel promised to cease military incursions into Gaza by land, sea and air, cease the targeting of individuals, and “open the crossings and facilitate the movement of people and transfer of goods, and refrain from restricting residents’ free movement and targeting residents in border areas”. Israel fulfilled none of these obligations.
Government MPs keep saying — and mine said it again in his letter — that a negotiated two-state solution is the only way to resolve the conflict and “no other option exists”. Surely it is time to stop spinning this tired old lie. British governments have pursued a “negotiated” two-state solution for decades and never come close to delivering it. It is a discredited policy. The letter ends by saying: “I can assure you the UK will work with all parties to make progress towards this goal.” Well, we have seen the shoddy work his government does, shackled to the US-Israeli agenda for endlessly delaying action so that the occupation may become permanent. We hear precious little of justice, of Palestinian rights or Palestinian security, of implementing UN resolutions, of conforming with international law, of ending the occupation. This craven government couldn’t even bring itself to support a UN inquiry into war crimes committed in Gaza. No progress towards peace has been achieved. Nor will it ever be with leaders like Cameron whose undying loyalty is pledged to Israel.
Instead of covering the same old ground and uttering the same old mantra time and time again, trying to make the situation appear insurmountable, all the government and its international partners need to do is implement the 2005 agreement — and use sanctions, if necessary, to make it stick. Britain’s Conservatives are gung-ho with sanctions, often leading the charge… against Iraq, Iran, Burma, Libya, Syria, Russia, even Palestine (via the EU, remember?). The UK loudly condemns Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and has been at the forefront of EU measures to impose sanctions, including asset freezes, export restrictions and an arms embargo. But when the vilest terror regime of all illegally annexes Palestinian territory the UK rewards it and won’t hear of sanctions.
Just as I was signing off an unsolicited email from foreign secretary Philip Hammond arrived in my inbox. On the Gaza situation it says:
The current negotiations are not easy. But there is no other viable option than a comprehensive negotiated solution that will allow both Israeli and Palestinian people to live in peace and security.
Ultimately, we must see a return to talks on a negotiated two-state solution, which remains the only way to resolve the conflict and end the human suffering it causes once and for all.
See what I mean? Same old, same old waste of time. What is the point of negotiating new terms when the old ones have been ignored?
My MP says Britain is working with international partners to achieve an end to Israeli operations against Gaza. Does this mean an end to all harmful operations — the blockade, the continual overflying, the interference with fishing and other shipping and the constant invasion of Palestinian territorial waters? Will this international effort restore to Palestinians their seaport and airport, as per the 2005 promises?
While they’re about it, how about an end to operations against the West Bank too? No rockets coming from there.
Operation Protective Edge was not merely a military assault on a primarily civilian population. As in its previous “operations” (Cast Lead in 2008-9 and Pillar of Defense in 2012), it was also part of an ongoing assault on international humanitarian law (IHL) by a highly coordinated team of Israeli lawyers, military officers, PR people and politicians, led by (no less) a philosopher of ethics. It is an effort not only to get Israel off the hook for massive violations of human rights and international law, but to help other governments overcome similar constraints when they embark as well on “asymmetrical warfare,” “counterinsurgency” and “counter-terrorism” against peoples resisting domination. It is a campaign that Israel calls “lawfare” and had better be taken seriously by us all.
The urgency of this campaign has been underscored by a series of notable legal setbacks and challenges Israel has incurred over the past decade or so, beginning with the indictment of Ariel Sharon in 2001 by a Belgian court over his involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, for which he escaped trial. In the wake of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, when Sharon’s government oversaw the demolition of hundreds of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, the utter destruction of virtually all the infrastructure of Palestinian cities, the death of 497 Palestinians and the arrest of 7000 people, Israel was accused of war crimes, but succeeded in foiling a UN investigation.
In 2004, at the request of the General Assembly, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that Israel’s construction of the wall inside Palestinian territory is “contrary to international law” and must be dismantled. The ruling was upheld almost unanimously by the UN General Assembly, with only Israel, the US, Australia and a few Pacific atolls dissenting – though, again, it lacked any means of enforcement. In the second Lebanon War in 2006, after destroying the Dahiya neighborhood in Beirut, the Hizbollah “stronghold,” Israel announced its “Dahiya Doctrine.” Declared Gadi Eisenkott, head of the IDF’s Northern Command,
What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006, “will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on…. We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.… This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”
And it was applied again. The Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead concluded that
The tactics used by Israeli military armed forces in the Gaza offensive [of 2008-2009] are consistent with previous practices, most recently during the Lebanon war in 2006. A concept known as the Dahiya doctrine emerged then, involving the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations.
The Dahiya Doctrine violates two cardinal principles of IHL: The Principle of Distinction and the Principle of Disproportionality. The Principle of Distinction, embodied in the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional Protocols of 1977, lays down a hard-and-fast rule: civilians cannot be targeted by armies. On the contrary, they must be protected; violence to life and person is strictly prohibited, as are “outrages upon personal dignity.” The Principle of Proportionality, also embodied in the 1977 Protocols to the Fourth Geneva Conventions considers it a war crime to intentionally attack a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage. “The presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians,” says Protocol I, Article 50 (3), “does not deprive the population of its civilian character.”
Not only were these principles violated yet again in the current round of fighting – and the Israeli government, aware of this, has carefully prepared its defense before the UN Human Rights Council’s international committee of inquiry as well as before the International Criminal Court, should the Palestinian Authority turn to it – but an additional doctrine of intentional disproportionality has also been declared and perpetrated: the Hannibal Doctrine. This states that when an Israeli soldier is captured, rescuing him becomes the main mission, no matter how many civilians are killed or injured, how much damage is caused, or even if the captured soldier himself is killed or wounded by “friendly” fire. When, then, it was believed (falsely, it turned out) that an IDF soldier had been captured by Hamas in the Rafah area, the entire urban area came under massive Israeli artillery fire and air strikes, in which hundreds of buildings were destroyed and at least 130 people killed.
Violations of the Principles of Distinction and Disproportionality constitute grave breaches of international law – and we can only imagine what states would do if they were eliminated from the legal code or significantly watered down. But this is precisely what Israel aims to do. Using the Palestinians as their guinea pigs in a bold and aggressive strategy of “fixing” international law, it wants to create new categories of combatants – “non-legitimate actors” such as “terrorists,” “insurgents” and “non-state actors,” together with the civilian population that supports them – so that anyone resisting state oppression can no longer claim protection. This is especially relevant when, as British General Rupert Smith tells us, modern warfare is rapidly moving away from the traditional inter-state model to what he calls a “new paradigm” – “war amongst the people” – in which “We fight amongst the people, not on the battlefield.” A more popular term used by military people, “asymmetrical warfare,” is perhaps more honest and revealing, since it highlights the vast power differential that exists between states and their militaries and the relative weakness of the non-state forces confronting them.
But “the people,” those pesky “non-state actors,” also have rights. Back in 1960, the UN General Assembly’s Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples endorsed the right of peoples to self-determination and, by extension, their right to resist, even by armed force, “alien subjugation, domination and exploitation.” The push-back by governments over the years, and certainly since 9/11, led by the US and Israel, has been to delegitimize the right of non-state actors to resist oppression. Thus, when Obama or the EU uphold Israel’s right to defend itself, they do not include as part of that right that of an occupied people to defend itself. Indeed, non-state actors are cast as “terrorists” (the category into which Israel dumps all insurgents, revolutionaries and, by extension, any protesters threatening the powers-that-be), thus deprived of any legitimacy as “a side” to a conflict with whom negotiations are possible. When they seek the protection of international law, as did the people of Gaza, and take steps to hold state actors accountable for their illegal actions, they are engaging in what Israel defines as “lawfare”: when “terrorists” employ international law as a weapon against democracies. Israel’s campaign against lawfare attempts to cast non-state actors as the villains, of course, but “lawfare’ best describes Israel’s own efforts to bend IHL to its needs – a kind of asymmetrical lawfare to remove all constraints on states in their attempts to pursue wars against peoples.
Israel’s lawfare campaign is led by two Israeli figures. One is Asa Kasher, a professor of philosophy and “practical ethics” at Tel Aviv University, the author of the Israeli army’s Code of Conduct. Indeed, attaching a professional ethicist to the IDF provides the basis for Israel’s oft-stated claim to have the “most moral army in the world.” The second figure is Major General Amos Yadlin, former head of the IDF’s National Defense College, under whose auspices Kasher and his “team” formulated the Code of Conduct, and today the head of Military Intelligence.
It is completely appropriate and understandable that Israel should be leading the campaign to remove the protections enjoyed by non-combatant civilians, Kasher vigorously asserts. “The decisive question,” he says,
is how enlightened countries conduct themselves. We in Israel are in a key position in the development of law in this field because we are on the front lines in the fight against terrorism. This is gradually being recognized both in the Israeli legal system and abroad…. What we are doing is becoming the law. These are concepts that are not purely legal, but also contain strong ethical elements.
The Geneva Conventions are based on hundreds of years of tradition of the fair rules of combat. They were appropriate for classic warfare, where one army fought another. But in our time the whole business of rules of fair combat has been pushed aside. There are international efforts underway to revise the rules to accommodate the war against terrorism. According to the new provisions, there is still a distinction between who can and cannot be hit, but not in the blatant approach which existed in the past. The concept of proportionality has also changed….
I am not optimistic enough to assume that the world will soon acknowledge Israel’s lead in developing customary international law. My hope is that our doctrine, give or take some amendments, will in this fashion be incorporated into customary international law in order to regulate warfare and limit its calamities.
In order to provide a philosophical basis for undermining the Principles of Distinction and Proportionality, Kasher and Yadlin put forward a “new doctrine of military ethics” based on their version of a “Just War Doctrine of Fighting Terror.” Basically they privilege states in their conflicts with non-state actors by giving them the authority to deem an adversary “terrorist,” a term lacking any agreed-upon definition in IHL, thereby depriving it of any legal protection. They define an “act of terror,”
as an act, carried out by individuals or organizations, not on behalf of any state, for the purpose of killing or otherwise injuring persons, insofar as they are members of a particular population, in order to instill fear among the members of that population (‘terrorize’ them), so as to cause them to change the nature of the related regime or of the related government or of policies implemented by related institutions, whether for political or ideological (including religious) reasons.
If we remove the words “not on behalf of any state,” this definition of a terrorist act conforms precisely to Israel’s Dahiya Doctrine. According to Major General Giora Eiland, attacks against Israel will be deterred by harming “the civilian population to such an extent that it will bring pressure to bear on the enemy combatants.” Reducing a popular struggle to a series of discrete acts, moreover, makes it possible to label an entire resistance movement “terrorist” purely on the basis of one or more particular acts, with no regard to its situation or the justness of its cause. Once this is done, it is easy to criminalize non-state resistance, since terrorism is, in Kasher’s words, “utterly immoral.”
Israel’s attempts to have the Iranian Revolutionary Guards declared a “terror organization,” even though it is an agent of a state, shows the tendentiousness of Kasher’s and Yadlin’s philosophical definitions, since it does not fit into their very own “state/non-state” dichotomy. What, then, would prevent the international community from naming the IDF and various covert Israeli agencies such as the Mossad or the Shin Bet (the General Security Services) as “terror organizations”? The Goldstone Report itself concluded that Israel’s offensive against Gaza during Operation Cast Lead was “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”
Having de-legitimized state-defined “acts of terrorism,” Kasher and Yadlin then go on to further legitimize state actions such as those taken by Israel against Hizbollah, Hamas or, indeed, all Palestinian resistance, by invoking “self-defense” – again, a claim which, according to Just War Theory and Article 51 of the UN Charter, only a state can make. In order to do so, they begin the narrative of events leading up to the attacks on Gaza with the discreet acts that the “terrorist” organization had done by launching rockets on Israel without any regard whatsoever for 47 years of occupation, 25 years of closure, seven years of a self-described regime of semi-starvation and the attacks on Hamas that preceded the rocket fire – or, for that matter, the right of Palestinians to resist “alien subjugation, domination and exploitation.”
Kasher and Yadlin also imply that states cannot engage in terrorism – only because they are states which have a “legitimate monopoly” over the use of force. In fact, the non-state “terrorism from below” which so concerns them pales in scale when compared to “terrorism from above,” State Terrorism. In his book Death By Government, R.J. Rummel points out that over the course of the 20th century about 170,000 innocent civilians were killed by non-state actors, a significant figure to be sure. But, he adds,
during the first eighty-eight years of this [20th] century, almost 170 million men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners. The dead could conceivably be nearly 360 million people.
And that, written in 1994, does not include Zaire, Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Saddam Hussein’s reign, the impact of UN sanctions on the Iraqi civilian population and other state-sponsored murders that occurred after Rummel compiled his figures. It also does not account for all the forms of State Terrorism that do not result in death: torture, imprisonment, repression, house demolitions, induced starvation, intimidation and all the rest.
“We do not deny,” Kasher concedes, “that a state can act for the purpose of killing persons in order to terrorize a population with the goal of achieving some political or ideological goal.” However, he adds,
when such acts are performed on behalf of a state, or by some of its overt or covert agencies or proxies, we apply to the ensuing conflict moral, ethical and legal principles that are commonly held to pertain to ordinary international conflicts between states or similar political entities. In such a context, a state that killed numerous citizens of another state in order to terrorize its citizenry would be guilty of what is commonly regarded as a war crime [italics added].
Kasher’s caveat – “a state that killed numerous citizens of another state in order to terrorize its citizenry” – does not relate at all to a state that terrorizes its own citizens, and lets Israel off the hook, since the terrorized population of Gaza are not citizens of another state.
Israel’s strategy of lawfare rests on repeating illegal acts while continuing to justify them with “new military ethics.” “If you do something for long enough,” says Colonel (res.) Daniel Reisner, former head of the IDF’s Legal Department, “the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries…. International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassinations thesis [that extra-judicial killings are permitted when it is necessary to stop a certain operation against the citizens of Israel and when the role played by the target is crucial to the operation] and we had to push it. Eight years later it is in the center of the bounds of legality.” “The more often Western states apply principles that originated in Israel to their own non-traditional conflicts in places like Afghanistan and Iraq,” says Kasher, “then the greater the chance these principles have of becoming a valuable part of international law.”
A few years ago (2005) the The Jerusalem Post published a revealing interview with an Israeli “expert in international law” who, choosing to remain anonymous, explained:
International law is the language of the world and it’s more or less the yardstick by which we measure ourselves today. It’s the lingua franca of international organizations. So you have to play the game if you want to be a member of the world community. And the game works like this. As long as you claim you are working within international law and you come up with a reasonable argument as to why what you are doing is within the context of international law, you’re fine. That’s how it goes. This is a very cynical view of how the world works. So, even if you’re being inventive, or even if you’re being a bit radical, as long as you can explain it in that context, most countries will not say you’re a war criminal.
This, again, is serious stuff. Just as Israel exports its occupation – its weaponry and tactics of suppression – to such willing customers as US and European militaries, security agencies and police forces, so, too, does it export its legal expertise in manipulating IHL and its effective PR/hasbara techniques. Gaza itself represents little more than a testing ground for these varied instruments of suppression. It is the globalization of Gaza that is a key Israeli export. Exports, however, need local agents to package the product and create a market for it in the local economy. Thus, B’nai Brith in the US spawned “The Lawfare Project” under the slogan “Protecting Against the Politicization of Human Rights”, whose main strategy is to enlist prominent legal experts to delegitimize attempts to hold Israel accountable for its crimes under IHL.
Globalizing Gaza in both military and legal terms raises the slogan “we are all Palestinians” from one of political solidarity to literal accuracy. Its corollary also highlights a key element of international politics of which we must be keenly aware: our governments are all Israel.
Jeff Halper is the head of The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this week we posted Donnchadh Mac an Ghoill’s interview with Sadiq Al Timimi on the current conflict in Iraq, in historical, local, and international contexts. Given the mounting ex post facto justifications for another round of heightened US military intervention in Iraq, already well underway and with no defined limit in either the scope of possible actions to be undertaken, or a temporal limit for such interventionism, we opted to counter some of the dogma and myth-making that has been so effortlessly produced by those with ample practice—and interest—in justifying the further militarization and Americanization of Iraqi affairs.
More US intervention is the last thing that is needed in Iraq. The current phase of conflict (the rapid advance of the Islamic State forces, also referred to as either ISIS or ISIL) is in many ways the direct outcome of US and other international intervention in Iraq over the past quarter century at least (and the failed campaign to back the armed overthrow of the government of Syria). The effective partitioning of Iraq to separate the Kurdish zone is one consequence of the illegal no-fly zone instituted and enforced by the US and UK throughout the 1990s. The gradual and then drastic destruction of the Iraqi state, via international sanctions and then with the invasion and occupation that started in March, 2003, deliberately and intentionally created disorder. This was a grand act of vandalism, designed to terminate a unified, secular state that had been forced to oppose US interests. Arming and training sectarian militias as part of the “surge” and General Petraeus’ counterinsurgency strategy, opened the door to atrocious ethnic cleansing that has not ceased since it began under US tutelage. An unstable government in Baghdad, and inter-ethnic violence, is precisely what American victory looks like. If after Iran, and after Russia, the US chose to renew its military intervention, it is not because it feels threatened by disorder—it is only threatened by the disorder that it cannot efficiently manage to its own ends.
Otherwise, there is no special “humanitarian crisis” in Iraq other than the one which the US and other western powers have been deliberately implementing since 1990. The greatest humanitarian crisis suffered by Iraq thus far has been the unprovoked naked aggression of the US against Iraq, committing a crime of the first order of importance under international law with the 2003 invasion. The subsequent commission of numerous war crimes by the US military, and atrocities against civilans, including torture, mass detentions, and the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure, are all crimes for which the US remains to answer. Some sporadic air drops of water and food cannot erase that, and by the US government’s own acknowledgment, confirmed by facts on the ground, current US military intervention is no solution to Iraqi problems. It is, however, an open door to even greater intervention over the long term. Meanwhile, US plans for a political solution are inconclusive, inadequate, and generally poorly conceived.
As we see, the US is only bombing ISIS when it gets too near to US business interests in Kurdistan—which is not to say that the US should do something otherwise. Otherwise ISIS can do as they like, as they have in Syria with the support of Turkey, a member of NATO, and US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with US funding and equipment itself. Further US intervention can only further delegitimize the Iraqi state and army. For all its many faults, the Iraqi state has been developing an independent foreign policy over the last few years, having refused to become part of the US lynching of Syria, and building up economic relations with China, Iran and Russia. Now the US has clearly backed, if not engineered, a constitutional coup against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, adding further instability at a time of great political vulnerability. Iraq is well capable of dealing with ISIS—indeed, when left alone, it was almost most capable of dealing with such extremist movements. Even the Ba’ath Party, in the person of Izzat al-Douri, has declared ISIS a criminal element and condemned their sectarian atrocities, so ISIS has no real future in Iraq, and they certainly do not present an existential threat.
If Iraq looks like a “safe haven” for extremism now, it is as a direct result of US intervention. More US and western intervention will not solve the problems that such intervention caused in the first place, nor are the results we are witnessing innocently accidental and unforeseen consequences.
The US’ aims in Iraq have never been, and still are not, about saving poor civilians in Iraq.
“Hillary works for Goldman Sachs and likes war, otherwise I like Hillary,” a former Bill Clinton aide told me sardonically. First, he was referring to her cushy relationships with top Wall Street barons and her $200,000 speeches with the criminal enterprise known as Goldman Sachs, which played a part in crashing the U.S. economy in 2008 and burdening taxpayers with costly bailouts. Second, he was calling attention to her war hawkish foreign policy.
Last week, Hillary-The-Hawk emerged, once again, with comments to The Atlantic attacking Obama for being weak and not having an organized foreign policy. She was calling Obama weak despite his heavy hand in droning, bombing and intervening during his Presidency. While Obama is often wrong, he is hardly a pacifist commander. It’s a small wonder that since 2008, Hillary-The-Hawk has been generally described as, in the words of the New York Times journalist Mark Landler, “more hawkish than Mr. Obama.”
In The Atlantic interview, she chided Obama for not more deeply involving the U.S. with the rebels in Syria, who themselves are riven into factions and deprived of strong leaders and, with few exceptions, trained fighters. As Mrs. Clinton well knows, from her time as Secretary of State, the White House was being cautious because of growing Congressional opposition to intervention in Syria as Congress sought to determine the best rebel groups to arm and how to prevent this weaponry from falling into the hands of the enemy insurgents.
She grandly told her interviewer that “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Nonsense. Not plunging into unconstitutional wars could have been a fine “organizing principle.” Instead, she voted for the criminal invasion of Iraq, which boomeranged back into costly chaos and tragedy for the Iraqi people and the American taxpayers.
Moreover, the former Secretary of State ended her undistinguished tenure in 2013 with an unremitting record of militarizing a Department that was originally chartered over 200 years ago to be the expression of American diplomacy. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton made far more bellicose statements than Secretary of Defense Robert Gates did. Some career Foreign Service Officers found her aggressive language unhelpful, if not downright hazardous to their diplomatic missions.
Such belligerency translated into her pushing both opposed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and reluctant President Obama to topple the Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan dictator had given up his dangerous weapons and was re-establishing relations with Western countries and Western oil companies. Mrs. Clinton had no “organizing principle” for the deadly aftermath with warring militias carving up Libya and spilling over into Mali and the resultant, violent disruption in Central Africa. The Libyan assault was Hillary Clinton’s undeclared war – a continuing disaster that shows her touted foreign policy experience as just doing more “stupid stuff.” She displays much ignorance about the quicksand perils for the United States of post-dictatorial vacuums in tribal, sectarian societies.
After criticizing Obama, Mrs. Clinton then issued a statement saying she had called the president to say that she did not intend to attack him and anticipated “hugging it out” with him at a Martha’s Vineyard party. Embracing opportunistically after attacking is less than admirable.
Considering Hillary Clinton’s origins as an anti-Vietnam War youth, how did she end up such a war hawk? Perhaps it is a result of her overweening political ambition and her determination to prevent accusations of being soft on militarism and its imperial Empire because she is a woman.
After her celebrity election as New York’s Senator in 2000, she was given a requested seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. There, unlike her war-like friend, Republican Senator John McCain, she rarely challenged a boondoggle Pentagon contract; never took on the defense industry’s waste, fraud and abuse; and never saw a redundant or unneeded weapons system (often criticized by retired Generals and Admirals) that she did not like.
The vaunted military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned about, got the message. Hillary Clinton was one of them.
Energetically waging peace was not on Secretary of State Clinton’s agenda. She would rather talk about military might and deployment in one geographic area after another. At the U.S. Naval Academy in 2012, Generalissma Clinton gave a speech about pivoting to East Asia with “force posture” otherwise known as “force projection” (one of her favorite phrases) of U.S. naval ships, planes and positioned troops in countries neighboring China.
Of course, China’s response was to increase its military budget and project its own military might. The world’s super-power should not be addicted to continuous provocations that produce unintended consequences.
As she goes around the country, with an expanded publically-funded Secret Service corps to promote the private sales of her book, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton needs to ponder what, if anything, she as a Presidential candidate has to offer a war-weary, corporate-dominated American people. As a former member of the board of directors of Walmart, Hillary Clinton waited several years before coming out this April in support for a restored minimum wage for thirty million American workers (a majority of whom are women).
This delay is not surprising considering Hillary Clinton spends her time in the splendors of the wealthy classes and the Wall Street crowd, when she isn’t pulling down huge speech fees pandering to giant trade association conventions. This creates distance between her and the hard-pressed experiences of the masses, doesn’t it?
“Groups on the ground in St. Louis are calling for nationwide solidarity actions in support of Justice for Mike Brown and the end of police and extrajudicial killings everywhere.”
As they should. And we should all join in.
But “nationwide” and “everywhere” are odd terms to equate when discussing police militarization. Are we against extrajudicial killings (otherwise known as murder) by U.S. government employees and U.S. weapons in Pakistan? Yemen? Iraq? Gaza? And literally everywhere they occur? The militarization of local police in the United States is related to the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, which has now reached the point that bombing and “doing nothing” are generally conceived as the only two choices available. Local police are being militarized as a result of these factors:
- A culture glorifying militarization and justifying it as global policing.
- A federal government that directs roughly $1 trillion every year into the U.S. military, depriving virtually everything else of needed resources.
- A federal government that still manages to find resources to offer free military weapons to local police in the U.S. and elsewhere.
- Weapons profiteers that eat up local subsidies as well as federal contracts while funding election campaigns, threatening job elimination in Congressional districts, and pushing for the unloading of weapons by the U.S. military on local police as one means of creating the demand for more.
- The use of permanent wartime fears to justify the removal of citizens’ rights, gradually allowing local police to begin viewing the people they were supposed to protect as low-level threats, potential terrorists, and enemies of law and order in particular when they exercise their former rights to speech and assembly. Police “excesses” like war “excesses” are not apologized for, as one does not apologize to an enemy.
- The further funding of abusive policing through asset forfeitures and SWAT raids.
- The further conflation of military and police through the militarization of borders, especially the Mexican border, the combined efforts of federal and local forces in fusion centers, the military’s engagement in “exercises” in the U.S., and the growth of the drone industry with the military, among others, flying drones in U.S. skies and piloting drones abroad from U.S. land.
- The growth of the profit-driven prison industry and mass incarceration, which dehumanize people in the minds of participants just as boot camp and the nightly news do to war targets.
- Economically driven disproportionate participation in, and therefore identification with, the military by the very communities most suffering from its destruction of resources, rights, and lives.
But policing is not the only thing militarized by what President Eisenhower called the “total influence — economic, political, even spiritual” of the military industrial complex. Our morality is militarized, our entertainment is militarized, our natural world is militarized, and our education system is militarized. “Unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex” is not easily opposed while maintaining the military industrial complex. When Congress Members lend their support to a new war in Iraq while proposing that the U.S. Post Office and a dozen other decent things not be funded, they are speaking out of both sides of their mouths. The United States cannot live like other wealthy nations while dumping $1 trillion a year into a killing machine.
The way out of this cycle of madness in which we spend more just on recruiting someone into the military or on locking them up behind bars than we spend on educating them is to confront in a unified and coherent manner what Martin Luther King Jr. called the evils of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism. Not racism, extreme materialism, and what the military does to the local police. Not racism, extreme materialism, and what the military does to weapons testing sites. Not racism, extreme materialism, and what the military does to the people of Honduras causing them to flee to a land that then welcomes them with an attitude of militarism. Not any of these partial steps alone, but the whole package of interlocking evils of attitude and mindset.
There is a no-fly-zone over Ferguson, Missouri, because people in the U.S. government view the people of the United States increasingly as they view the people of other countries: as best controlled from the air. Notes the War Resister League,
“Vigils and protests in Ferguson – a community facing persistent racist profiling and police brutality – have been attacked by tear gas, rubber bullets, police in fully-armored SWAT gear, and tank-like personnel carriers. This underscores not only the dangers of being young, Black, and male in the US, but also the fear of mobilization and rebellion from within racialized communities facing the violence of austerity and criminalization.
“The parallels between the Israeli Defense Forces in Palestine, the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro, the Indian police in Kashmir, the array of oppressive armed forces in Iraq, and the LAPD in Skid Row could not be any clearer. . . .
“This is not happening by accident. What is growing the capacity of local police agencies to exercise this force are police militarization programs explicitly designed to do so. As St. Louis writer Jamala Rogers wrote in an article on the militarization of St. Louis Police this past April, ‘It became clear that SWAT was designed as a response to the social unrest of the 1960s, particularly the anti-war and black liberation movements.’ Federal programs such as DoD 1033 and 1122, and the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), in which St. Louis Police are active participants, provide weapons and training to police departments across the country, directly from the Pentagon. Commenting on the ominous growth of the phenomenon, Rogers continues: ‘and now, Police Chief [of St. Louis Police] Sam Dotson wants to add drones to his arsenal.’
“The events in Ferguson over these last few days demonstrate that the violence of policing and militarism are inextricably bound. To realize justice and freedom as a condition for peace, we must work together to end police militarization and violence.”
The War Resisters League is organizing against Urban Shield, an expo of military weapons for police and training event planned for Oakland, Calif., this September 4-8. The Week of Education and Action will take place in Oakland from August 30-September 5. Read all about it here.
David Swanson is a member of the National Committee of the War Resisters League. His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson.
A white police officer in the United States killed a black person on average of twice per week from 2005 to 2012, according to homicide reports offered to the FBI. But this data is limited, as only about 4 percent of law enforcement agencies contributed.
There was an average of 96 such incidents out of at least 400 police killings each year that local police departments reported to the FBI, according to analysis conducted by USA Today.
The analysis comes in the wake of the fatal police shooting by a white officer of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri that has set off national outrage over US law enforcement’s aggressive use of deadly force, incongruent targeting of minorities, and a militarized posture that treats citizens as the enemy.
The FBI report shows that 18 percent of African-Americans killed during those seven years were under the age of 21. Whites killed that were under the age of 21 came out to 8.7 percent.
As USA Today noted, only around 750 agencies – out of the 17,000 law enforcement entities across the United States – offered such data to the FBI.
On top of the limited participation, the self-reported contents of the database are considered incomplete. The data are not audited after submission to the FBI, and information on “justifiable” homicides has often been at odds with independent statistics gathered on police fatalities.
”There is no national database for this type of information, and that is so crazy,” said Geoff Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina. “We’ve been trying for years, but nobody wanted to fund it and the (police) departments didn’t want it. They were concerned with their image and liability. They don’t want to bother with it.”
Alpert added that the limited FBI data – the most complete record of people killed by US police – can show that a death had occurred, but it is reliable for little else.
“I’ve looked at records in hundreds of departments, and it is very rare that you find someone saying, ‘Oh, gosh, we used excessive force.’ In 98.9 percent of the cases, they are stamped as justified and sent along,” Alpert told USA Today.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police, on the other hand, said police use of force is blown out of proportion. Based on data from the Bureau of Justices Statistics in 2008, the group said less than 2 percent of 40 million people who had contact with police passed along complaints that officers used or threatened force.
“In large part, the public perception of police use of force is framed and influenced by the media depictions which present unrealistic and often outlandish representations of law enforcement and the policing profession,” the group said in a 2012 report.
Nevertheless, many independent studies of police shootings in major US cities have come to the conclusion that minorities are disproportionately targeted for police violence.
“We need not look for individual racists to say that we have a culture of policing that is really rubbing salt into longstanding racial wounds,” NAACP president Cornell Williams Brooks told Mother Jones.
Brooks added that in the US, many people suspected of minor crimes are confronted with “overwhelmingly major, often lethal, use of force.”
Meanwhile, officers are rarely convicted or sentenced for killing a suspect.
“Unfortunately, the patterns that we’ve been seeing recently are consistent: The police don’t show as much care when they are handling incidents that involve young black men and women, and so they do shoot and kill,” said Delores Jones-Brown, law professor and director of the Center on Race, Crime, and Statistics at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, according to Mother Jones.
“And then for whatever reason, juries and prosecutor’s offices are much less likely to indict or convict.”
The US Justice Department is investigating at least 15 police agencies in the US for systemic abuse, including allegations of excessive force, racial profiling or false arrest.
Actor Alan Cox reads Williams’ accusatory, vibrantly disturbing poem, “An Old Man and a Young Man in Gaza.” Click here for audio
A bearded old man holds a placard:
“You take my water, burn my olive trees,
Destroy my house, take my job, steal my land,
Imprison my father, kill my mother,
Bombard my country, starve us all,
Humiliate us all, but I am to blame:
I shot a rocket back.”
From the Zionist Book of Psalms
A selection of ungodly chants
Are used to justify the destruction
Of a country and its inhabitants:
“We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages
Destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water”
– Eli Yishai, former Deputy Prime Minister.
“There should be no electricity in Gaza,
No gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing…
We need to flatten entire neighborhoods…
Flatten all of Gaza”
– Gilad Sharon, Ariel Sharon’s son in the Jerusalem Post.
“There are no innocents in Gaza. Mow them down …
Kill the Gazans without thought or mercy.”
– Michael Ben-Ari, an ex-member of the Knesset.
Gaza should be “bombed so hard the population
Has to flee into Egypt”
– Israel Katz, a Minister of Transportation.
Gaza should be “wiped clean with bombs”,
– Avi Dichter, a Minister of Home Front Defense.
Israeli soldiers must “learn from the Syrians
How to slaughter the enemy”,
– Israeli Rabbi Yaakov Yosef.
Here is Ze’ev Jabotinsky, admirer of Mussolini
And the godfather of Zionist terrorism,
Justifying the flattening of Arab villages in 1948
And turning their inhabitants into refugees in vast numbers
“The world has become accustomed to the idea
Of mass migrations and has become fond of them.”
Jabotinsky adds, “Hitler, as odious as he is to us
Has given this idea a good name in the world.”
It is ironic that Jabotinsky used Hitler
As precedent for the transfer of the inhabitants
Since forcible expulsion
Was among the charges against Adolf Eichmann –
An architect of the Nazi Holocaust
Captured in Argentina, and tried and hanged in Israel.
Undeterred, the former chief rabbi,
Mordechai Elyahu, has urged Israel,
Its army and its government
To “employ the Nazi choice”
Against the Palestinians.
To carry out a series of carpet bombings
Of Palestinian population centres in Gaza;
He urges the “indiscriminate killing of civilians”.
On religious grounds.
The Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Schneerson,
A self proclaimed Messiah
Whose followers await his return from the dead,
(As if the Rabbi hadn’t preached
Enough when alive by his making the claim
That his religion heralded a new Master Race) –
Has a devoted and powerful acolyte, Rabbi Manis Friedman,
Who declares that the “only way to fight a moral war”
Is to “destroy the Arabs’ holy sites” and “to kill them.”
To “kill men, women and children”, and to eliminate anyone
Who stands in the way of a Greater Israel.
Friedman embraces Israel’s ruthless colonizing power
With an Old Testament ferocity –
With what Christopher Hitchens has called,
“The root of religious evil” –
Whereby the Torah can be misused
To mow down men in a mosque
With an automatic rifle,
And such vengeful triumphs
Given a country’s blessing:
Streets in Israeli cities
Are routinely named after armed cuckoos –
Murderous Israeli heroes
Who’ve evicted indigenous birds
From the Palestinian nest,
And then killed them.
The Head of Israeli’s National Defense College,
Professor Arnon Sofer,
Outlines his country’s Defense strategy:
“If we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill.
All day, every day.”
Colonel Yoav Gal, an Israeli Air Force pilot,
Tells Israel’s Army Radio
“I believe that it [Operation Cast Lead]
Should have been even stronger! Dresden! Dresden!
The extermination of a city!
Not even a stone will be thrown at us. Because we’re Jews.
I want the Arabs of Gaza to flee to Egypt.
This is what I want. I want to destroy the city.”
Ethnic cleansing is Israel’s origin
Netanyahu tells students at Bar Ilan University,
“Israel should have exploited the repression
Of the demonstrations in China,
When world attention focused on that country,
To carry out mass expulsions
Among the Arabs of the territories.”
“The Palestinians are like crocodiles,
The more you give them meat, they want more”
Says Ehud Barak, when Prime Minister of Israel.
Despondently, the philosopher Martin Buber
Once told a New York audience,
“When we followers of the prophetic Judaism
Returned to Palestine…the majority of Jewish people
Preferred to learn from Hitler rather than from us.”
Enflamed when Palestinians fight back
With increasing desperation
And despite overwhelming odds
To try to regain their ancestral land,
Israelis chant “Death to the Arabs”
“A Jew is a brother, an Arab is a bastard”.
In front of their Arab neighbours,
A song is sung by settlers at Purim
Praising Baruch Goldstein’s massacre
Of 29 Palestinians at prayer during Ramadan:
“Dr. Goldstein, there is none other like you in the world.
Dr. Goldstein, we all love you… he aimed at terrorists’ heads,
Squeezed the trigger hard, and shot bullets,
And shot, and shot.”
At this settler hero’s funeral, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin
Famously claimed that even one million Arabs
Are “not worth a Jewish fingernail”.
Goldstein’s mass murder created suicide bombers –
Some two hundred amongst ten million Palestinians –
Which led to Israel’s land-grabbing apartheid wall.
The Israeli lawmaker, Ayelet Shaked, calls
For the genocide of Palestinians on Facebook
And she advocates “the slaughter of Palestinian mothers
Who give birth to ‘little snakes,'”
“The entire Palestinian people is the enemy.”
She urges their complete destruction,
“Including its elderly and its women.”
The new media are used to demonize the innocent
And to host persistent irrationalities:
A Jerusalem city councillor in charge of municipal security, Aryeh King, publicly advocates the murder
And the mutilation of non-Jews:
“I am calling out to all the Pinchases that are here …
Every one of us has a mission …
The Rebbe, who is here with us, expects us to commit acts of Pinchas.”
Pinchas (Phineas in English) in the Torah was so incensed
By interracial (Jewish-Midianite) sex
That he took a sword and plunged it through both bodies
Of a couple in the middle of their lovemaking.
Then with a medieval fervor, Rabbi Noam Perel
Advocates scalping Arabs
By removing their genitalia –
A blood sacrifice to a mad mind-set
Of mystical thuggery.
Two Israeli girls hold up a banner
“Hating Arabs is not racism, it’s values!”
Placing the Hebrew word for “Arabs”, ARAVIM,
Into Twitter reveals young Israelis desiring
That Arabs die or be tortured to death.
The US House of Representatives
Votes unanimously to reaffirm its full support for Israel.
US jets duly declare war on Arab children
Whose futures they disintegrate.
In the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis,
Eight members of the Al Haj family
Are killed, including five children.
Four Arab children, fishermens’ children
First cousins from the Bakr family, aged nine to eleven,
Playing football on the Gaza beach in July, 2014,
Are shot dead by an Israeli gunboat.
A 12-year-old boy loses 18 members of his family in an air raid
From US planes including his father, a schoolteacher,
A photograph of Abdul Rahman Al-Batsh
Shows his shoulders slumped against a car.
It’s the moment that he’s discovered
That his father is amongst the dead.
Later Abdul Rahman would say,
“They think we are worth nothing. They are killers,
They have no humanity,
And one day I will avenge my father.”
Israel receives more aid from the US
Than the whole of the continent of Africa
Whilst the US population remains docile.
The Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman,
Says that Israel must “go all the way” in Gaza.
Comfortably seated on camp chairs and sofas
Some fifty Israelis gather to eat popcorn
And watch from a Sderot hilltop
As bombs rain down from US-supplied F-16s.
They clap and applaud each deadly blast
From 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs.
“We are here to see Israel destroy Hamas,” Eli Chone,
A 22-year-old American tells Allan Sørensen,
Of Kristeligt Dagblad, pointing to a dot of light in the sky.
“It is a fighter who is about to dive. This means that it is about to shoot.”
The conquerors’ fans draw up their chairs;
Swigging on beers as they tend their barbecue
And watch Gaza burn from their vantage-point
In Sderot (once the Palestinian village of Najd).
One says, “this is our entertainment.”
Someone points out that Hamas
(Rather than it having been elected)
Is “a death-cult” and Palestinians “enjoy martyrdom”
So “we’re doing the Arabs a favour.”
A lurid cocktail of triumphalist hatred,
Mixed with smoke from burning flesh,
Blinds them to Palestine’s righteous yearning
Their right in international law;
Their right to be unencumbered by occupation;
To be free from being Israel’s penal colony;
Free from being stateless in a brutalized Bantustan –
A colonized people who are jeered at and decried
For their minimal attempts to fight back.
Later that night a bomb would land on a Gaza care home
Filled with elderly patients who cannot move
And with children who are already disabled;
Both are bombed in their wheelchairs or in their beds.
The Rabbi Noam Perel, head of Bnei Akiva
The world’s largest religious-Zionist youth organization,
Urges on his Facebook page that the IDF,
The Israeli Defense Force be transformed
Into an army of avengers,
“Which will not stop at 300 Philistine foreskins”
A young man in Shuafat, Jerusalem,
A 16-year old boy with a knowing, elfin smile
Is pulled into a car
And kidnapped in East Jerusalem
While waiting to go into the mosque.
He is tied and beaten;
He has gasoline poured into his mouth
And he is burned alive.
His body is found in the Jerusalem Forest;
Battered in the head
And with soot deposits in the lungs
Suggesting he’s still breathing
When set on fire.
Ninety per cent of his body is burned.
Another victim of Israel’s slow motion genocide –
A holocaust which, this time,
Is being financed and uncritically supported
By ‘the good guys’,
By the internationally ‘great and the good’,
By the craven chorus of the compliant
Who ritually pipe up to defend
Israel’s right to defend itself –
To defend the indefensible,
And to supply the money
The weapons, and the excuses
To enable it to do so.
On Friday July 2014
The Israeli Defence Force
Invades Gaza by land.
An Israeli soldier posts a selfie
Of himself having black camouflage paint
Applied to his face.
He tweets, “From the Field: Our soldiers preparing to enter Gaza.
The whole nation stands behind us”
Another tweets: “We have hit Hamas hard,
And we will continue to hit Hamas hard.”
Tzipi Livni, Israel’s Justice Minister,
Says she backs the invasion “wholeheartedly”.
And expresses “love and confidence in our soldiers strength”.
Israel’s soldiers’ strength is misused
To produce genocide as well as a scorched policy
Whereby 800,000 olive trees in Occupied Palestine
Are destroyed to drive Palestinian farmers from their land.
King Herod revisits his massacre of the Innocents,
But this time round he has the mainstream media
On his side: his spin doctors have them swallowing
His party line that toddlers are terrorists if they’re Arab,
And Herod has journalists fired who don’t please him.
“Expel the Palestinians, and populate Gaza with Jews”,
Urges the Knesset’s deputy speaker, Moshe Feiglin,
“Israel must attack Gaza even more mercilessly”
To expel the population “with maximum force”.
The deputy speaker of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset,
Promotes war crimes as a state sanctioned tactic:
After “softening” the targets with firepower
He recommends the IDF “conquer the entire Gaza.”
He is emboldened by the US’s blank cheques,
And in their support of Israel’s heroism
In attacking a defenceless population,
Few see fit to mention that Israel’s
First victim in its ground invasion of Gaza
Is a five-month-old baby killed
By an Israeli tank in southern Rafah
On July 17, 2014 – almost as if King Herod
Has returned to rule his zombie state.
The “most moral army in the world”
Is reportedly targeting women and children,
And even animals.
A doctor speaking to Al Jazeera says that the Israeli army
“Is shooting at anything moving in Shujaiyah”
And consequently the streets of East Gaza are strewn
With dead bodies and severed limbs.
A Norwegian doctor in Shifa hospital, Mads Gilbert,
Is overwhelmed by the ground invasion:
By the carloads of those “maimed, torn apart, and bleeding; Shivering, and dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians,
All ages, all civilians, all innocent.”
“The heroes in the ambulances,” he continues,
“And in all of Gaza’s hospitals
Are working 12-24 hour shifts, grey from fatigue
And inhuman workloads – they care, they triage,
And they try to understand the incomprehensible chaos
Of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing,
Not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS!”
With these words Dr Gilbert addresses himself
to the President of the United States.
Predictably there’s no response.
Israel’s vision of itself was once
As a “light unto the nations”.
It has no need of the fearful hatred,
Fuelling its bombs and its bullets,
Unless it wishes to fade away –
Putting out the light that might enable it
To see the stranger as a friend.
Richard Nixon was a traitor.
The new release of extended versions of Nixon’s papers now confirms this long-standing belief, usually dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” by Republican conservatives. Now it has been substantiated by none other than right-wing columnist George Will.
Nixon’s newly revealed records show for certain that in 1968, as a presidential candidate, he ordered Anna Chennault, his liaison to the South Vietnam government, to persuade them refuse a cease-fire being brokered by President Lyndon Johnson.
Nixon’s interference with these negotiations violated President John Adams’s 1797 Logan Act, banning private citizens from intruding into official government negotiations with a foreign nation.
Published as the 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s resignation approaches, Will’s column confirms that Nixon feared public disclosure of his role in sabotaging the 1968 Vietnam peace talks. Will says Nixon established a “plumbers unit” to stop potential leaks of information that might damage him, including documentation he believed was held by the Brookings Institute, a liberal think tank. The Plumbers’ later break-in at the Democratic National Committee led to the Watergate scandal that brought Nixon down.
Nixon’s sabotage of the Vietnam peace talks was confirmed by transcripts of FBI wiretaps. On November 2, 1968, LBJ received an FBI report saying Chernnault told the South Vietnamese ambassador that “she had received a message from her boss: saying the Vietnamese should “hold on, we are gonna win.”
As Will confirms, Vietnamese did “hold on,” the war proceeded and Nixon did win, changing forever the face of American politics—-with the shadow of treason permanently embedded in its DNA.
The treason came in 1968 as the Vietnam War reached a critical turning point. President Lyndon Johnson was desperate for a truce between North and South Vietnam.
LBJ had an ulterior motive: his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, was in a tight presidential race against Richard Nixon. With demonstrators in the streets, Humphrey desperately needed a cease-fire to get him into the White House.
Johnson had it all but wrapped it. With a combination of gentle and iron-fisted persuasion, he forced the leaders of South Vietnam into an all-but-final agreement with the North. A cease-fire was imminent, and Humphrey’s election seemed assured.
But at the last minute, the South Vietnamese pulled out. LBJ suspected Nixon had intervened to stop them from signing a peace treaty.
In the Price of Power (1983), Seymour Hersh revealed Henry Kissinger—then Johnson’s advisor on Vietnam peace talks—secretly alerted Nixon’s staff that a truce was imminent.
According to Hersh, Nixon “was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government [of South Vietnam] making it clear that a Nixon presidency would have different views on peace negotiations.”
Johnson was livid. He even called the Republican Senate Minority Leader, Everett Dirksen, to complain that “they oughtn’t be doing this. This is treason.”
“I know,” was Dirksen’s feeble reply.
Johnson blasted Nixon about this on November 3, just prior to the election. As Robert Parry of consortiumnews.com has written: “when Johnson confronted Nixon with evidence of the peace-talk sabotage, Nixon insisted on his innocence but acknowledged that he knew what was at stake.”
Said Nixon: “My, I would never do anything to encourage….Saigon not to come to the table…. Good God, we’ve got to get them to Paris or you can’t have peace.”
But South Vietnamese President General Theiu—a notorious drug and gun runner—did boycott Johnson’s Paris peace talks. With the war still raging, Nixon claimed a narrow victory over Humphrey. He then made Kissinger his own national security advisor.
In the four years between the sabotage and what Kissinger termed “peace at hand” just prior to the 1972 election, more than 20,000 US troops died in Vietnam. More than 100,000 were wounded. More than a million Vietnamese were killed.
But in 1973, Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the same settlement he helped sabotage in 1968.
According to Parry, LBJ wanted to go public with Nixon’s treason. But Clark Clifford, an architect of the CIA and a pillar of the Washington establishment, talked Johnson out of it. LBJ’s close confidant warned that the revelation would shake the foundations of the nation.
In particular, Clifford told Johnson (in a taped conversation) that “some elements of the story are so shocking in their nature that I’m wondering whether it would be good for the country to disclose the story and then possibly have [Nixon] elected. It could cast his whole administration under such doubt that I think it would be inimical to our country’s best interests.”
In other words, Clifford told LBJ that the country couldn’t handle the reality that its president was a certifiable traitor, eligible for legal execution.
Fittingly, Clark Clifford’s upper-crust career ended in the disgrace of his entanglement with the crooked Bank of Credit and Commerce (BCCI), which financed the terrorist group Al Qaeda and whose scandalous downfall tainted the Agency he helped found.
Johnson lived four years after he left office, tormented by the disastrous war that destroyed his presidency and his retirement. Nixon won re-election in 1972, again with a host of dirty dealings, then became the first America president to resign in disgrace.
Israeli troops burst into family’s home looking for weapons. They didn’t find any, but made away with the gold
The time: 02:00 AM, late June, 2014, during Operation Brother’s Keeper. The place: the village of Einbus in the northern West Bank. A large group of soldiers burst into the house of Moyser Khassan Ahmed Khamed, and demanded that the residents all gather in one room. Then they pulled some of them for interrogation, which was carried out with yelling, and heard by the entire household.
The soldiers came to Khamed’s house for a clear and legal military purpose: searching for weapons. Naturally, they didn’t bother to present or even get a search warrant; such protection is invalid in the territories held – temporarily, of course – under occupation, for slightly more than 47 years. According to Khamed’s testimony, the soldiers caused widespread damage to the house. They destroyed three cellphones and an iPad; they broke some of the walls, smashed a kitchen table, ripped the coverings off chairs. Khamed’s daughter, Isra, had a doll collection, collected over some years; she asked the soldiers to leave the dolls unharmed. The soldiers, according to Khamed, broke the dolls nevertheless. For dessert, the soldiers smashed the doors of Khamed’s husband’s car, ripped out the fillings of the chairs, and dislodged the engine.
No weapons were found in this search. But when the Khamed household finished tallying the damage left by the IDF, the found that some items were missing. To begin with, some 5,000 NIS in cash went missing from a drawer, where they had been kept for Ramadan purchases. If this was a seizure of funds, and the IDF did say there has been a massive seizure of money – some 1.2 million NIS – then the soldiers were supposed to leave documents proving that that is what it was. In their absence, our assumption is that until proven otherwise, this is not a seizure, it’s looting.
Particularly when it comes not to cash, which can always be said to be used for nefarious goals, but jewelry. According to Khamed’s testimony, aside from the money, the following items were also missing: six golden bracelets, bought as gifts for her son’s engagement, as well as a necklace containing gold coins, and several rings. The worth of the taken jewelry – which, again. We assume were looted until proven otherwise – is some 15,000 NIS. Aside from that, a smartphone has also gone missing. Again, there may be a legitimate reason to seize the device – but such a seizure has to be supported by documentation, and none was presented.
The family intends to notify the MPCID. Yesh Din calls upon the MPCID to implement the conclusions of the Turkel Report, and carry out an efficient, thorough – and speedy investigation; and, assuming enough evidence against the looter or looters is gathered, file a severe indictment against them. Again, looting is a war crime.
Looting in the occupied territories has always been whispered about, not openly discussed. But this isn’t the first time we document cases of looted jewelry. Operation Brother’s Keeper was followed by a series of complaints about looting; our files document, so far, at least eight cases of seizure of property without proper documentation – that is, cases in which suspicion of looting has risen. We will keep on publishing these stories in the coming weeks. The Israeli media will not report them; but we think that you, the public community, hearing about this army, which claims to be the most moral in the world, ought to know what it actually does.
As the Israeli Central Court of Jerusalem releases three youth accused in the recent homicide of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, another young Palestinian is found stabbed to death in Silwan, while a 13-year-old child is arrested under the pretext of carrying a knife.
Over the past month, during Israel’s relentless and bloody aggressions on the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem area has become a crucible of violent confrontations between Palestinians and colonial Jewish settlers and police, with numerous reports of multiple raids and ensuing arrests continuing to surface throughout the West Bank region.
Just following the Israeli Central Court’s decision not to hold three youth who admittedly conspired in the brutal torture and burning of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudeir, in early July, local media reported that the police found the body of another young Palestinian in Silwan, south of the Old City of Jerusalem.
PNN sources say that the body had several visible stab wounds but that the Israeli police have declared that the motive behind the crime is not clear.
Meanwhile, Silwanic has reported that Israeli police took into custody one 13-year-old Daoud Sawalha, Thursday night, while he was at the barber shop, in the neighborhood of Ein Al-Lozeh, under the pretext of carrying a knife.
Each year, around 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system, with the majority of Palestinian child detainees being held on charges of throwing stones.
The same day, Silwanic reported that three Israeli settlers attempted to run over a Jerusalemite woman named Ola Alayan, as she was going home to her Bet Safafa residence, south of Jerusalem.
She was verbally assaulted by the settlers but was able to escape the area and safely reach the entrance of the village.
As in the case of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was also chosen at random and not for personal reasons, not all Jerusalemite Palestinians are so lucky.
On Thursday, July 31st, a young Palestinian man from Ras Alamoud was reported to have been assaulted by a group of Israeli settlers who attempted to kidnap him after tying him and dragging him to their car.
When the group failed to drag him to their vehicle, they assaulted 21-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Abbasi with a large amount of pepper spray.
Ali’s father confirmed that a fellow co-worker took his son to the hospital, after ambulance and police failed to respond.
The week prior, Amir Shwiki and Samer Mahfouz, both 20 years old and from Beit Khanina, were attacked by settlers with iron bars and baseball bats while walking to a Light Rail station, following the evening Ramadan meal.
The two were seriously wounded and lost consciousness during the beating, upon which they were hospitalized in Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, Jerusalem.
Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property is not new to the region, but has been in a state of extreme escalation since the beginning of Israel’s renewed series of attacks on Gaza’s civilian population, with mass solidarity protests resulting in further violent confrontations.
Reports of vandalism, including that of agricultural lands, homes and vehicles, as well as both Christian and Muslim holy sites frequently surface from numerous locations all across Israel and occupied Palestine, with the majority of such acts being perpetrated by colonial settlers, and often with the backing of Israeli military and/or police.
A recent statement by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reveals that 60-80,000 Palestinian Jerusalem residents have been without running water for months, with no further reports appearing in regard to appeals made to Hagihon and the Jerusalem Municipality.
Israeli policies against Palestinians have isolated entire communities and turned them into fragmented, isolated ghettos, leaving what remains of the occupied Palestinian territories to now appear as little more than large open-air prisons, from which militant resistance and defiance is the only defense.
On 4th August, the world marked 100 years since World War I, a conflict that resulted in 16 million deaths and was in many ways a prerequisite for World War II.
A century later, a new conflict is brewing, this time between Russia and Western countries, with Ukraine being the hotspot of military activity. Ever since a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest broke out in Kiev on 21 November 2013, Western leaders have blamed Russia for the escalation of conflict, imposing economic sanctions on the country. However one of the primary reasons for the intensification and continuation of this crisis is a complete lack of an attempt to understand Russia’s position. Instead of looking to communicate and engage with Russia to find a mutually beneficial solution, Western policy seems to be based on threatening Russia to do as the West tells them, or else bear the brunt of further sanctions. There has been a complete disregard towards Russia’s side of the story.
Russia is understandably aggravated about the events that took place in Ukraine, and for being blamed for the crisis. From their point of view, it is the West (primarily America) that is responsible for the situation Ukraine finds itself in. Russia is convinced that it was a Western organised coup that toppled former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich and led to the pro-Western Petro Poroshenko being chosen as the new leader. The Kremlin is certain that the US is pulling the strings in Kiev right now. It has good reasons to believe this.
Firstly, there are the billions of dollars and euros that the West has been providing to Ukraine for the past decade to promote Western ideology. This has been done through funding “pro-European” organisations and individuals. European Commission’s “Financial Transparency” website indicates that €496 million has been given to these groups between 2004 and 2013. During the Euromaidan protests in Kiev, scores of American and EU politicians visited Ukraine for “talks” with the opposition and openly encouraged protesters to keep going until they achieve their aims. Since the coup, the US administration has been open about providing financial and military aid to the new government in Kiev. To comprehend how Russia must have felt about these developments, one simply has to ask themselves how would the West react if Russia were to provide €496 million to the Euro-sceptic parties in Europe and have Russian politicians openly visit the EU during the recent European elections and call on the public to vote against the establishment. How would the EU and American leaders react if after the European elections, Russia provided financial support to parties like UKIP in the UK and Front National in France? The West would have been enraged if these events took place, yet they expect Russia to not react when the West did it in Ukraine. Add in the fact that the US has been carrying out regime changes all over the world ever since it became a hegemon in 1945, coupled with suggestions that the primary objective of the US is to overthrow Putin’s government, it becomes clear why the Kremlin feels indignant and unfairly treated, and is unlikely to alter its stance because of Western sanctions. For the Kremlin, this is a matter of Russia’s survival as an independent state, free from Western influence.
If a diplomatic solution is to be found, then three parties – Russia, Ukraine and the EU – need to have a discussion on how to come up with a solution that is favourable to all sides. The United States should not partake in these discussions, as this is a matter for the European continent.
For now, rather than talking to the Kremlin, the West’s policy is based primarily on the hope that Mr. Putin will eventually change course or that elite and public support for him will fracture. This policy is not in Europe’s interests. Already the EU has been feeling the negative effects of fractured relations with Russia. Germany reported a hefty drop in industrial orders. Meanwhile, Italy reported that it had fallen back into recession after two quarters of falling output. In London, the FTSE 100 index was down by more than 90 points – a drop of 1.4%. Shares were down by more than 1% in Paris and Frankfurt, and by more than 2% in Milan. Now that Russia has also imposed sanctions on Western agricultural produce, Europe’s fragile economy will be shaken even more.
Rather than continuing on the path that spirals towards complete breakdown of cooperation, the EU should be working towards re-establishing real channels of communication with Mr. Putin. From the Kremlin’s point of view, Russia wants to see a cease-fire in Ukraine and Kiev honouring its commitments to transfer power to regional governments in the east. Long-term, a conversation about the future of Ukraine should be held between Russia and the West. A neutral Ukraine that cooperates with both the EU and Russia would be favourable. From Europe’s point of view, these proposals would not undermine their position and aims (unless their real objectives are an anti-Russia Ukraine and NATO presence on the Ukrainian territory). Kiev’s government would still be run by a pro-Western President and Ukraine would remain intact, with more autonomy for the eastern regions.
Refusal to even consider discussing these proposals with Russia would confirm Kremlin’s fears that the West is not interested in a diplomatic solution, and simply wants to undermine and weaken Russia. Such a confirmation would result in a point of no return – a humanitarian disaster in Ukraine and unfixable relations between Russia and the West.
As the world remembers the tragic consequences of WW1 a century ago, understanding how to avoid similar conflicts in the future is imperative. A diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis is still alive but is slowly fizzling out as the weeks go by. Discussions need to take place urgently. A failure to do so will result in no other option but to use military means to solve the conflict. This would not be beneficial to anyone.
Alexander Clackson is the founder of Global Political Insight, a London-based think tank and a political media organisation.