The “99% Spring” Brings Co-optation into Full Bloom
As the Occupy movement begins to come into full bloom across the country this Spring – with plans for massive days of action and demonstrations on May 1st, new campaigns for transit justice on both coasts, continued organizing against foreclosures and police violence, and a slight chance of a bank protest or two – there are several weeds sprouting in the prefigurative garden. Not least of which is the “99% Spring” campaign, led and funded by every corner of the modern Democratic Party machine. One might ask themselves “What is wrong with non-violent direct action?” or “How effective could the ‘Democratic Party machine’ actually be, anyway?” There is nothing inherently wrong with civil disobedience and it surely remains to be seen if this campaign can train 10,000 people let alone the 100,000 they plan to. The campaign director at MoveOn.org, Ilyse Hogue, an organization that seems to be the key player in the 99% Spring, has recently written in the Nation that “Occupy is Dead” and that the 99% Spring will succeed where Occupy has failed – while mimicking their slogans. What they lack in actual knowledge of Occupy’s health, they certainly make up for in co-optive obviousness. Fertilized by decades of expanding inequality, Occupy needs to bloom and transform in the coming months, without getting mired in conflict with the various failed institutions of the organizational Left. However, those flowers of resistance will have to rise above the weeds of a dying order, including the 99% Spring dandelions.
The organizations comprising this effort are a litany of individual trade unions, both trade federations, environmental groups, and a range of non-profits, including groups who have done very respectable work, such as Jobs with Justice. There likely isn’t unified intent on behalf of every actor in this campaign. In Oakland, I have heard of some local participants in the training having serious reservations about the effort, but are participating in it nonetheless. The (potential) intent of these organizations, or the people they will train who will choose to lie down and get arrested, over some other tactics, isn’t the issue. What matters is the effect of this effort in the existing political context of counter-insurgency, the dismissive, patronizing and divisive terms in which this is being put, and the timing – right before the presidential election. If successful, this will undoubtedly serve as a wedge over tactics, exacerbating the “good protester / bad protester” trope that is always used, and that we have heard in the last few months already – from liberal Mayors to Fox News and everywhere in between. This attempts to bring organizations with sordid histories into Occupy, who will invariably try to wrestle legitimacy from a popular, radical movement, into political groups that are reformist at best, wholly complicit with the current order at worst. Hogue has stated that the plans for this effort pre-dated the formation of the Occupy movement in the U.S. The original goal, likely, to generate systemically non-threatening actions to draw attention to inequality and injustice – not to stop it, but to gather votes for Democrats, who, ostensibly, address those issues. Now that the Occupy movement has already done that, inadvertently, they seek to employ the same campaign to contain and defang that movement while preserving their positions as mostly poverty pimps and lazy labor bureaucrats that think strikes have lost their usefulness.
The existing powers, who some of these same progressives have consistently stood against (from their political position), deeply need to weld a safety valve on Occupy. Homeland Security, who has been “advising” police and city governments nationally and who coordinated the mid-November 18-city raid on the Occupy movement, released an article this week entitled “The Occupy Movement: Rising Anarchy” which states:
“So far, Occupy protests in the United States exhibit a mostly peaceful nature. However, certain elements within Occupy that have been seen both here and abroad have the potential to inflict major damage to governments, people and the private sector. If not carefully monitored and mitigated, these elements pose a significant threat to modern democracies.”
The existing order needs an institutionalized, liberal super-hero-on-a-leash to be used (whether the organizations involved all intend to or not) disrupt, discredit and destroy, from the inside, those elements who organized the November 2nd General Strike in Oakland, the militant demonstrations against police violence in New York in recent weeks, or community-led, anti-capitalist efforts against foreclosures in Chicago, or those that set barricades aflame in Seattle on December 12, 2011, or the scores of lesser-reported militant action that have taken place in the last half-year, out of nowhere. They also want to suck in the tens of thousands of young people all over the country, hoping to be able to do the same thing in their cities, into a more palatable strategy. Those in power would like to see nothing more than for 100,000 people to be trained to chain themselves to local bank branches for 6-9 months, hooting about their “greedy side,” get disillusioned at how fruitless that is, and go back to playing video games and downloading pirated music after Obama’s re-election.
Counter-Insurgency by any other name
This is not primarily about tactics, it is about politics. MoveOn.org and reactionary unions are not spearheading this for no reason. Are we to believe that the same unions that discourage their members from taking non-violent direct action during labor disputes, have found both the time and the energy to do a solid favor for the radical Left, by resuscitating a movement they have mistakenly diagnosed as dead? This is primarily about co-option and division, about sucking in a large cross-section of Occupy into Obama’s reelection campaign, watering down it’s radical politics, and using these mass trainings as a groundwork to put forward 100,000 “good protesters” to overshadow the “bad protesters” (who actually take personal risks and/or have radical politics), to ease the State’s ongoing campaign to pick us off one by one. In the words of MoveOn.org’s own campaign director, it is unabashedly and overtly a campaign of clear co-optation. This is not a riding of the coattails of a hip social movement; this will be a form of counter-insurgency. This will be used to disrupt, divide, discredit and destroy the Occupy movement. The parameters of acceptable protest will be imposed, not by some local non-profit starving for funding or wanting to remain relevant, but by city officials, the police, the major media, Homeland Security, Chambers of Commerce, police front groups like “Stand for Oakland,” and on down the line.
The Occupy movement has broken with the Left’s long-standing, self-defeating tendencies of meaningless, police-choreographed marches, 1-day pageant strikes, movement discourse that thinks the logic of the lowest common denominator that wins elections will win social justice (99% frames not withstanding), and non-violent civil disobedience designed to curry favorable media attention that gets de-contextualized and buried in the sea on nonsense entertainment that is the media. This scares the hell out of capital and the State. 99% Spring is not part of some nefarious conspiracy theory with Homeland Security or “the illuminati.” 99% Spring is not Wall Street. But they sure as hell are doing their work, whether some of them want to realize that or not.
“Just Say, No” (to government-sponsored co-optation)
A New York lawyer and some folks from OWS have made an attempt to turn the direct democracy of Occupy into a representation democracy of elected “Occupy politicians” who would have a new-Constitutional Convention this July 4th weekend in Philadelphia, comprised of elected officials from the Occupy Movement (“rising anarchy,” be damned). In short time Occupy Wall Street, from which these charlatans emerged, publicly denounced this attempted event at a General Assembly, along with Occupy Philadelphia. We have (imperfect) emerging direct, democratic institutions in our cities that reflect the will of the movement. We should use them. We should address the Operation 99% Spring Co-optation initiative the same way that New York and Philadelphia dealt with the “new founding fathers.” It is time to weed out our garden, so that real, social justice efforts can bloom.
My knowledge of the Occupy movement is derived primarily from my experience in Oakland. We have seen counter-insurgent efforts of this type before: when Mayor Quan’s Block-by-Block campaign organization tried to set up a “peace camp” right before the raid of the second Occupy Oakland encampment; when the one singular thing reporters wanted to know from press contacts before the December 12th Port Shutdown was “How can we get the protesters to obey police orders?” or their myopic fixation on the property destruction that they consider “violence;” to Quan’s unheeded call for the “leaders of the Occupy movement” to condemn said “violence” (by which she means people carrying shields who were hit with projectiles and beaten, while groups of children were tear-gassed): or how permits, taken out behind Occupy Oakland’s back, were used to arrest people for possession of blankets in Oscar Grant Plaza – some of whom are facing prison time; to Quan’s use of non-profits as a palatable alternative to a violent, discredited, and costly movement in a press-release and subsequent “volunteer fair.” All of this counter-insurgent misrepresentation, baiting, discreditation, and divisiveness is wearying and something we need to get better at combating. It has also only been partially effective. An Oakland Tribune poll found that 94% of Oaklanders support Occupy Oakland, even after all of the efforts I outlined above. We shouldn’t find a false complacency in this. It should be noted that even though most of these were attempts at co-optation, most came from clearly demarcated enemies.
99% Spring is attempting to graft itself to Occupy and hollow it out from the inside out, imposing rigid norms of non-violence and deference to police authority, while watering down our politics and introducing well-funded and trained institutions that are either fully invested in, or dependent upon, the existing power structure – and have the resources, connections and will of self-preservation to navigate the Occupy ship into a doldrums from which it will never emerge. Despite the undemocratic and self-defeating norm of consensus, we, as an Occupy movement, still have a sense of what we came here to do. We didn’t come here to sign petitions or to get Obama reelected. We didn’t come here to “have a voice in the system”; we came here to flip it on its head. We will not be co-opted. We should not have our tactics determined by the Democratic Party. We should not let ourselves be undermined from within. We have the capacity to call the 99% Spring out for what it is – a deluded attempt by the Obama campaign to kill two birds with one stone, to take the hundreds of thousands in the street demanding real democracy (laying bare the utter failure of the Obama administration and the American State) and turn it into a vehicle to re-elect him. So that he can bomb Iran with impunity, or continue to deport more undocumented immigrants than any other president, or cover-up more massacres in Afghanistan, or think that half-baked rhetoric about inequality coupled with more tax breaks for businesses represents “Change we can believe in.”
The Occupy movement may not have the power to change the talking points of duplicitous, liberal Mayors. It may not have the capacity to change the preoccupations of the mainstream media. It certainly doesn’t have much say in the manner in which the police try to suppress it. But we do have control over what goes on in our own house. These people only become part of the Occupy movement if we let them continue to say that they are out of one side of their mouth, while the other side says we are directionless, un-strategic and “dead.” Every single Occupation that doesn’t want to turn into nothing more than an ample pool of chumps registering people to vote for the same Obama administration that has declared an all-out war against us, should bring forward a resolution at their General Assembly to condemn this clear attempt to destroy our movement. This isn’t about violence versus non-violence; this is about autonomy versus co-optation. History will not forgive us if we let the 99% Spring Trojan horse into out movement so that the injustices we rose up against can be perpetuated with our own sanction, in our own name.
Mike King is a PhD candidate at UC–Santa Cruz and an East Bay activist, currently writing a dissertation about counter-insurgency against Occupy Oakland. He can be reached at mking(at)ucsc.edu.
- Infiltration to Disrupt, Divide and Misdirect Is Widespread in Occupy (Part I) (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The 99% Spring aims to train 100,000 in direct action (dailykos.com)
My local MP, Henry Bellingham, is a Foreign Office minister whose responsibilities include the United Nations, the International Criminal Court and conflict resolution.
I take this to mean he’s tasked with keeping the British Government on the straight-and-narrow as regards international law, with ensuring dutiful conformity with the UN’s Charter and numerous resolutions, with saving our warmongering hotheads from the calaboose in The Hague, and with treading the path of peace at all times.
The International Criminal Court is, to say the least, challenging. The world is crawling with high-ranking war criminals but the ICC in its 10 year history has delivered only one verdict. As if to underline the Court’s utter uselessness as an instrument of justice, the ICC prosecutor has just rejected a bid by the Palestinian Authority to have the war crimes tribunal investigate Israel’s conduct during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in Gaza.
His excuse is that the status granted to Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly is that of “observer”, not a “Non-member State”. The fact that more than 130 governments and certain international organisations, including United Nation bodies, recognise Palestine as a state makes no difference.
Let’s see how quickly the UNGA, with Mr Bellingham’s help, can get their skates on and straighten out the simple matter of Palestine’s status so that Israel’s strutting psychopaths can finally be brought to book.
Hague’s Threats Costing Us Dear
A recent Reuters article, “Iran sanctions bring unintended, unwanted results” by their Political Risk Correspondent Peter Apps, points to Western sanctions against Iran having so far failed to deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear programme and generating instead unexpected side-effects and posing new problems.
It seems to me the consequences of sanctions were entirely predictable.
The expected loss of Iranian crude production has helped push oil prices to levels seen as threatening the global economy. And expert opinion seems to be saying that the ratcheting-up of economic pressure is not having the desired effect but simply increasing Tehran’s determination. “While Iranians may bear the brunt of the economic pain, people around the world are also feeling the knock-on effects of rising fuel prices that also drive food and price inflation.”
The message received is that whether sanctions work or not, “it may now be far from easy for Western states to significantly alter course to reduce or remove the restrictions, even if they want to.”
And Rosemary Hollis, head of the Middle Eastern studies program at London’s City University, is quoted as saying: “The terrible thing is that this is the moment there might be a possibility to at least begin to make progress. But we are going to miss it.”
The other day NASDAQ carried a Dow Jones report saying the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration had joined a panel of energy experts in dismissing the idea that a “quick fix” could reduce US gasoline prices, suggesting instead that rising demand for oil around the world and supply concerns stemming from Iran sanctions were driving prices at the pump.
The sanctions, coupled with other geopolitical events such as Libya’s civil war, are a source of “grave concern” for the oil markets said Daniel Yergin, chairman of energy research organisation IHS CERA.
Hague led the charge on oil sanctions and the imposition of other measures to make economic life a misery. They are backfiring. So that’s another fine mess the Cameron-Hague foreign policy mad-house has got us into.
And Now a Legal Quagmire
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers in a statement issued 26 November 2011, said it was deeply concerned about the threats against Iran by Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Referring to the most recent report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), IADL stated that:
(1) The threats by Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom are unacceptable, and are dangerous not only for all the region but for the whole of humanity.
(2) Article 2.4 of UN Charter forbids not only use of force but also the threat of force in international relations, and that the right of defence settled by the Charter does not include pre-emptive strikes.
(3) While Israel, is quick to denounce the possible possession of nuclear weapons by others, it illegally has had nuclear weapons for many years; and
(4) The danger to world peace caused by nuclear weapons is so great as to require the global eradication of all nuclear weapons, and to immediately declare the Middle East a nuclear free zone and a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, as required by UN Security Council resolution 687.”
What do UN Charter Articles 2.3 and 2.4 actually say?
• “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered”, and
• “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”.
It sounds crystal clear. What is it about this that Messrs Hague and Cameron don’t understand?
Let’s look a little closer at the settlement of disputes, one of Mr Bellingham’s specialisms. Article 33 of the UN Charter requires that “the parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means…”
I have asked the Government repeatedly, through Mr Bellingham, what efforts the Foreign Secretary made to meet and discuss with Iran’s ministers before resorting to economic ‘terror’ tactics.
• How many times has a British foreign secretary visited Tehran in the 32 years since the Islamic Revolution?
• Did Mr Hague go and talk before embarking on punitive sanctions?
He remains silent. Communication doesn’t seem to be Mr Hague’s strong point, except when lecturing. It was Hague’s decision to shut down the British embassy in Tehran and eject the Iranians from London. He had not in any case maintained a full diplomatic presence in Tehran and the embassy operated at chargé d’affaires level for several months after the previous ambassador left. Now we talk to Iran through a third-party country, Germany.
So much for his stated desire to improve relations, reach out and engage.
Negotiations in Bad Faith
I’m indebted to Dr David Morrison for reminding me that in 2003 the Foreign Ministers of the UK, France and Germany visited Tehran and initiated discussions with Iran on its nuclear programme. This of course was pre-Hague. In a statement issued at the time, the three EU states said they “recognise the right of Iran to enjoy peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty]” – i.e. Iran had a right to uranium enrichment on its own soil like other parties to the NPT. This was repeated and confirmed at the Paris Agreement in 2004. Iran agreed “on a voluntary basis” to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. The three EU states recognized the suspension as “a voluntary confidence building measure and not a legal obligation”.
However, proposals published by the UK, France and Germany the following year demanded that all enrichment and related activities on Iranian soil cease for good. In other words, Iran’s voluntary suspension of these activities was to be permanent. What had happened to the trio’s earlier commitment to “recognise the right of Iran to enjoy peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with the NPT”? Was Iran to be the only party to the NPT forbidden to have uranium enrichment on its own soil?
Yes. The West’s aim was to halt all enrichment in Iran. From now on Iran would be treated as a second-class party to the NPT, with fewer rights than the others.
Rewarding Evil in Our Name
As for the British Government’s enslavement to Israel, the following statement appears on the Foreign Office website:
“Israel is an important strategic partner and friend for the UK. The UK and Israel hold a number of important shared objectives across a broad range of policy areas and countries.
“These include: shared regional security concerns, including diplomatic efforts to deter Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons; international work to counter anti-Semitism; bilateral defence cooperation; academic, scientific and cultural partnership; the promotion of democratic governance, judicial independence and media freedom; and building and maintaining strong trade and financial links.”
Regional security concerns? This cosiness with a rogue military power in the most explosive region of the world actually undermines our national security.
Israel’s illegal and murderous blockade of Gaza, its closure of West Bank, the annexation of East Jerusalem, the relentless Juda-isation of the Holy City, the building of the Apartheid Wall, the demolition of Palestinian homes, and the illegality of the settlements… all demonstrate the lawlessness of the Israeli regime. In recent months, three internal EU reports by the EU Heads of Missions in the Occupied Territories have detailed shocking human rights violations committed by Israel
As for “democratic governance”, the Foreign Office surely knows that Israel pursues deeply racist policies and there is no such thing as justice for Palestinians who come before Israeli courts on trumped up charges, or are detained on no charges at all.
I have visited the Holy Land several times and seen for myself the brutality of the illegal Occupation and the human rights abuses inflicted daily on the Palestinian people. Yet Britain fails to hold the state of Israel to the same standards of human conduct expected of the rest of the international community.
“We do not hesitate to express disagreement to Israel where we feel necessary,” says the Foreign Office. “Although we do not agree on everything, we enjoy a close and productive relationship. It is this very relationship that allows us to have the frank discussions often necessary between friends.” What claptrap. The UK Government takes no action whatever to hold the Israelis to account. On the contrary, it continues rewarding their endless crime-sprees and recently relaxed our Universal Jurisdiction laws to protect Israel’s war criminals from arrest.
It is an outrage that the British Government, which is supposed to work for us the British people, aligns itself in our name with such evil. This revolting intimacy with the thugs of the Israeli regime is the scandal of our times. Since 1948 what exactly have those “frank discussions” achieved? Has Israel ended its illegal occupation and stopped its murderous assaults? No. Has it lifted its blockade of Gaza and closure of the West Bank? No. Has Israel brought its huge nuclear arsenal and other WMDs under international inspection and safeguards? No. Is Israel nice to its neighbours? No.
And what are the Government’s sanctions against Iran going to achieve? The cruel starvation of another half-a-million children like before, in Iraq?
In the last 24 hours there has been uproar in the UK over Government plans to snoop on every household’s emails, website visits and other private online activity. This sneaky intrusion by officialdom is said to be necessary to the war on terror.
But the best and cheapest way of protecting our national security is simply to eject the madmen from the Foreign Office and stop pimping for the US and its mad-dog protegé.
- The Real Nuclear Outlaws (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Israeli soldiers invaded Kufr Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, on Thursday at dawn, broke into and searched dozens of homes, and kidnapped 20 Palestinians, including two Palestinian Police officers.
Eyewitnesses told the Maan News Agency that dozens of armored military vehicles invaded the town before the soldiers violently broke into dozens of homes and ransacked them; one resident also accused the soldiers of stealing gold from his home.
Resident Ata Shteiwy said that the soldiers stole gold, worth 8.000 Jordanian Dinars (Approximately $11,315).
All kidnapped residents were roughed up before they were cuffed, blindfolded and taken to an unknown destination, eyewitnesses reported.
The kidnapped residents were identified as; police officers Thaer Shteiwy, 38, Riyadh Shteiwy, 38, in addition to Ibrahim Amer, 25, Hikmat Shteiwy, 35, his brother Nasfat, 26, Harb Mashour Jom’a, 18, Iqlima Jom’a, 23, Mohammad Majed Abdul-Mon’em, 17, Mojahid Abbas, 34, Ahmad Abdul-Qader Abdullah, 17, Salaam Taiseer Barham, 20, Yousef Mustafa Shteiwy, 17, Qais Shaher Jom’a, 16, Raslan Jom’a, 25, Waseem Shteiwy, 23, Wawis Amer, 24, Mojahid Barham, 22, Sabri Shteiwy, 22, Tareq Mohammad Taha, 19, Mohammad Mansour Shteiwy, 19.
The invasion and arrests are part of repeated Israeli violations against the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem, as soldiers conduct invasions and arrests nearly on a daily basis.
- Israeli occupation authority demolished 20 Palestinian homes in West Bank last week (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Thirty Palestinians killed by Israel in March, 300 imprisoned (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Brutality: Violent arrests of Palestinians in Hebron and disappearance of Dutch volunteer (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Last week Marwan Barghouti, the prominent Palestinian political prisoner and Fatah leader, called on Palestinians to launch a ‘large-scale popular resistance’ which would ‘serve the cause of our people.’
The message was widely disseminated as it coincided with Land Day, an event that has unified Palestinians since March 1976. Its meaning has morphed through the years to represent the collective grievances shared by most Palestinians, including dispossession from their land as a result of Israeli occupation.
Barghouti is also a unifying figure among Palestinians. Even at the height of the Hamas-Fatah clashes in 2007, he insisted on unity and shunned factionalism. It is no secret that Barghouti is still a very popular figure in Fatah, to the displeasure of various Fatah leaders, not least Mahmoud Abbas, who heads both the Palestinian Authority and Fatah. Throughout its indirect prisoners exchange talks with Israel, Hamas insisted on Barghouti’s release. Israel, which had officially charged and imprisoned Barghouti in 2004 for five alleged counts of murder – but more likely because of his leading role in the Second Palestinian Intifada – insisted otherwise.
Israel held onto Barghouti largely because of his broad appeal among Palestinians. In late 2009, he told Milan-based Corriere Della Sera that “the main issue topping his agenda currently is achieving unity between rival Palestinian factions” (as quoted in Haaretz, November 25, 2009). Moreover, he claimed that following a unity deal he would be ready to submit candidacy for the Palestinian presidency. Barghouti, is, of course, still in prison. Although a unity deal has been signed, it is yet to be actualized.
Barghouti’s latest statement is clearly targeting the political class that has ruled Palestinians for many years, and is now merely managing and profiting from the occupation. “Stop marketing the illusion that there is a possibility of ending the occupation and achieving a state through negotiations after this vision has failed miserably,” he said. “It is the Palestinian people’s right to oppose the occupation in all means, and the resistance must be focused on the 1967 territories” (BBC, March 27).
Last December, Jospeh Dana wrote, “Barghouti is a figure of towering reverence among Palestinians and even some Israelis, regardless of political persuasion.” However he did not earn his legitimacy among Palestinians through his prophetic political views or negotiation skills. In fact, he was among the Fatah leaders who hopelessly, although genuinely pursued peace through the ‘peace process’ – which proved costly, if not lethal to the Palestinian national movement. Dana wrote, “Barghouti’s pragmatic approach to peace during the 1990s demonstrated his overarching desire to end Israeli occupation at all costs” (The National, Dec 23, 2011).
Although his latest message has articulated a conclusion that became obvious to most Palestinians – for example, that “it must be understood that there is no partner for peace in Israel when the settlements have doubled.” – Barghouti’s call delineates a level of political maturity that is unlikely to go down well, whether in Ramallah or Tel Aviv.
So it’s not his political savvy per se that made him popular among Palestinians, but the fact that he stands as the antithesis of traditional Fatah and PA leadership. Starting his political career at the age of 15, before being imprisoned and deported to Jordan in his early 20s, Barghouti was viewed among Fatah youth – the Shabibah – as the desired new face of the movement. When he realized that the ‘peace process’ was a sham, intended to win time for Israeli land confiscation and settlements and reward a few accommodating Palestinians, Barghouti broke away from the Fatah echelons. Predictably, it was also then, in 2001, that Israel tried to assassinate him.
Marwan Barghouti still has some support in Israel itself, specifically among the politically sensible who understand that Netanyahu’s rightwing government cannot reach a peaceful resolution, and that the so-called two-state solution is all but dead. In a Haaretz editorial entitled ‘Listen to Marwan Barghouti,’ the authors discussed how “back when he was a peace-loving, popular leader who had not yet turned to violence, Barghouti made the rounds of Israeli politicians, opinion-makers and the central committees of the Zionist parties and urged them to reach an agreement with the Palestinians.” The authors recommended that ‘Jerusalem’ listen to Barghouti because he “is the most authentic leader Fatah has produced and he can lead his people to an agreement” (March 30).
In his article entitled ‘The New Mandela’, Uri Avnery wrote that Barghouti “is one of the very few personalities around whom all Palestinians, Fatah as well as Hamas, can unite” (Counterpunch, March 30). However, it is essential that a conscious separation is made between how Barghouti is interpreted by the Palestinians themselves and Israelis (even those in the left). Among the latter, Barghouti is presented as a figure who might have been involved in the “murderous terror” of the second Intifada (Haaretz) but who can also “lead his people to an agreement” – as if Palestinians are reckless multitudes desperate for their own Mandela who is capable, through his natural leadership skills, of uniting them into signing another document.
For years, but especially after the Oslo peace process, successive Israeli governments and officials have insisted that there was “no one to talk to on the Palestinian side.” The tired assertion was meant to justify Israel’s unilateral policies, including settlement construction. However Barghouti is a treasured leader in the eyes of many Palestinians not because he is the man that Israel can talk to, and not because of any stereotypical undertones of him being a ‘strong man’ who can lead the unruly Arabs. Nor can his popularity be attributed to his political savvy or the prominence of his family.
Throughout the years, hundreds of Palestinians have been targeted in extrajudicial assassinations; hundreds were deported and thousands continued to be imprisoned. Marwan Barghouti is a representation of all of them and more, and it’s because of this legacy that his messages matter, and greatly so. In his latest message, Barghouti said that the Palestinian Authority should immediately halt “all co-ordination with Israel – economic and security – and work toward Palestinian reconciliation,” rather than another peace agreement.
Most Palestinians already agree.
- Marwan Barghouti: A Decade of Defiance (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The mounting threat of a US-Israeli military attack against Iran is based on several factors including: (1) the recent military history of both countries in the region, (2) public pronouncements by US and Israeli political leaders, (3) recent and on-going attacks on Lebanon and Syria, prominent allies of Iran, (4) armed attacks and assassinations of Iranian scientists and security officials by proxy and/or terrorist groups under US or Mossad control, (5) the failure of economic sanctions and diplomatic coercion, (6) escalating hysteria and extreme demands for Iran to end legal, civilian use-related uranium enrichment, (7) provocative military ‘exercises’ on Iran’s borders and war games designed for intimidation and a dress rehearsal for a preemptive attack, (8) powerful pro-war pressure groups in both Washington and Tel Aviv including the major Israeli political parties and the powerful AIPAC in the US, (9) and lastly the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (Obama’s Orwellian Emergency Decree, March 16, 2012).
The US propaganda war operates along two tracks: (1) the dominant message emphasizes the proximity of war and the willingness of the US to use force and violence. This message is directed at Iran and coincides with Israeli announcements of war preparations. (2) The second track targets the ‘liberal public’ with a handful of marginal ‘knowledgeable academics’ (or State Department progressives) playing down the war threat and arguing that reasonable policy makers in Tel Aviv and Washington are aware that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons or any capacity to produce them now or in the near future. The purpose of this liberal backpedaling is to confuse and undermine the majority public opinion, which is clearly opposed to more war preparations, and to derail the burgeoning anti-war movement.
Needless to say the pronouncements of the ‘rational’ warmongers use a ‘double discourse’ based on the facile dismissal of all the historical and empirical evidence to the contrary. When the US and Israel talk of war, prepare for war and engage in pre-war provocations – they intend to go to war – just as they did against Iraq in 2003. Under present international political and military conditions an attack on Iran, initially by Israel with US support, is extremely likely, even as world economic conditions should dictate otherwise and even as the negative strategic consequences will most likely reverberate throughout the world for decades to come.
US and Israeli Military Calculations on Iran’s Capability
American and Israeli strategic policy makers do not agree on the consequences of Iran’s retaliation against an attack. For their part, the Israeli leaders minimize Iran’s military capacity to attack and damage the Jewish state, which is their only consideration. They count on their distance, their anti-missile shield and protection from US air and naval forces in the Gulf to cover their sneak attack. On the other hand, US military strategists know the Iranians are capable of inflicting substantial casualties on US warships, which would have to attack Iranian coastal installations in order to support or protect the Israelis.
Israel intelligence is best known for its capacity to organize the assassination of individuals around the world: Mossad has organized successful overseas terrorist acts against Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese leaders. On the other hand Israeli intelligence has a very poor track record with regard to its estimates of major military and political undertakings. They seriously underestimated the popular support, military strength and organizational capacity of Hezbollah during the 2006 war in Lebanon. Likewise, Israel intelligence misunderstood the strength and capacity of the Egyptian popular democratic movement as it rose up and overthrew Tel Aviv’s strategic regional ally, the Mubarak dictatorship. While Israeli leaders ‘feign paranoia’ – tossing clichés about ‘existential threats’– they are blinded by their narcissistic arrogance and racism, repeatedly underestimating the technical expertise and political sophistication of their Arab and regional Islamic foes. This is undoubtedly true in their facile dismissal of Iran’s capacity to retaliate against a planned Israeli air assault.
The US government has now overtly committed itself to supporting an Israeli assault on Iran when it is launched. More specifically, Washington claims it will come to Israel’s defense ‘unconditionally’ if it is “attacked.” How can Israel avoid being ‘attacked’ when its planes are raining bombs and missiles on Iranian installations, military defenses and support systems, not to mention Iranian cities, ports and strategic infrastructure? Moreover, given the Pentagon’s collaboration and coordinated intelligence systems with the Israel forces, its role in identifying targets, routes and incoming missiles, as well as integrated weapons and ordinance supply chains will be critical to an Israeli attack. There is no way that the US can dissociate itself from the Jewish State’s war on Iran, once the attack has begun.
The Myths of ‘Limited War’: Geography
Washington and Tel Aviv claim and appear to believe that their planned assault on Iran will be a “limited war”, targeting limited objectives and lasting a few days or weeks – with no serious consequences.
We are told Israel’s brilliant generals have identified all the critical nuclear research facilities, which their surgical air strikes will eliminate without horrific collateral damage to the surrounding population. Once the alleged ‘nuclear weapons’ program is destroyed, all Israelis can resume their lives in full security knowing that another ‘existential’ threat has been eliminated. The Israeli notion of a war, limited in ‘time and space’, is absurd and dangerous – and underlines the arrogance, stupidity and racism of its authors.
To approach Iran’s nuclear facilities Israeli and US forces will confront well-equipped and defended bases, missile installations, maritime defenses and large-scale fortifications directed by the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian Armed Forces. Moreover, the defense systems protecting the nuclear facilities are linked by civilian highways, airfields, ports, and backed by a dual purpose (civilian-military) infrastructure, which includes oil refineries and a huge network of administrative offices. To ‘knock out’ the alleged nuclear sites will require expanding the geographic scope of the war. The scientific-technological capacity of the Iranian civilian nuclear program involves a wide swath of its research facilities, including universities, laboratories, manufacturing sites, and design centers. To destroy Iran’s civilian nuclear program would require Israel (and thus the US) to attack much more than research facilities or laboratories hidden under a remote mountain. It would require multiple, widespread assaults on targets throughout the country, in other words, a generalized war.
Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has stated that Iran will retaliate with a war of equivalence. Iran will match the breadth and scope of any attack with a corresponding counter-attack: ‘We will attack them at the same level as they attack us’. That means Iran will not confine its retaliation to merely trying to shoot down US and Israeli bombers in its airspace or launch missiles at offshore US warships in its waters but will take the war to equivalent targets in Israel and in US-occupied countries in and around the Gulf. Israel’s ‘limited war’ will become a generalized war extending throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Israel’s current delusional fetish about its elaborate missile defense system will be exposed as hundreds of high-powered missiles are launched from Teheran, Southern Lebanon and just beyond the Golan Heights.
The Myth of Limited War: Time Frame
Israeli military experts confidently expect to polish off their Iranian targets in a few days – some might think a mere weekend – and perhaps without the loss of even a single pilot. They expect the Jewish state will celebrate its brilliant victory in the streets of Tel Aviv and Washington. They are deluded by their own sense of superiority. Iran did not fight a brutal, decade-long war against the US-supplied Iraqi invaders and its western/Israeli military advisers, to just turn over and passively submit to a limited number of air and missile attacks by Israel. Iran is a young, educated mobilized society, which can draw on millions of reservists from across the political, ethnic, gender, religious spectrum, galvanized in support of their nation under attack. In a war to defend the homeland all internal differences disappear to confront the unprovoked Israeli-US attack threatening their entire civilization – its 5,000-year culture and traditions, as well as its modern scientific advances and institutions. The first wave of US-Israeli attacks will lead to ferocious retaliation, which will not be confined to the original areas of conflict, nor will any such act of Israeli aggression end when and if Iran’s nuclear research facilities are destroyed and some of its scientists, technicians and skilled workers killed. The war will continue in time and extend geographically.
Multiple Points of Conflict
Just as any US-Israeli attack on Iran will involve multiple targets, the Iranian military will also have a plethora of easily accessible strategic targets. Though it is difficult to predict exactly where and how Iran will retaliate, one thing is clear: The initial US-Israeli strike will not go unanswered.
Given Israeli-US supremacy in long and medium range sea and air power, Iran will probably rely on short-range objectives. These would include the highly valued US military facilities and supply routes in adjoining terrain (Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan) and Israeli targets with missiles launched from Southern Lebanon and possibly Syria. If a few Iranian long-range missiles escape the Jewish State’s much vaunted ‘anti-missile dome’, Israeli population centers may pay a heavy price for their leaders’ recklessness and arrogance.
The Iranian counter-strike will lead to an escalation by US-Israeli forces, extending and deepening their air and sea war to the entire Iranian national security system – military bases, ports, communication systems, command posts and government administrative centers – many in densely populated cities. Iran will counter by launching its greatest strategic asset: a coordinated ground attack involving the Revolutionary Guards together with their allies among the Iraqi Shia troops, against US forces in Iraq. It will coordinate attacks against US facilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the growing nationalist-Islamic armed resistance.
The initial conflict, centered on so-called military objectives (scientific research facilities), will spread rapidly to economic targets, or what US and Israeli military strategists refer to as “dual civilian-military” targets. This would include oil fields, highways, factories, communications networks, television stations, water treatment facilities, reservoirs, power stations and administrative offices, such as the Defense Ministry and headquarters of the Republican Guard. Iran, faced with imminent destruction of its entire economy and infrastructure (which occurred in neighboring Iraq with the unprovoked US invasion of 2003), would retaliate by blocking the Straits of Hormuz and sending short range missiles in the direction of the principle oil fields and refineries of the Gulf States including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, a mere 10 minute distance, crippling the flow of oil to Europe, Asia and the United States and plunging the world economy into deep depression.
It should not be forgotten that the Iranians are probably more aware than anyone in the region of the total devastation suffered by Iraqis after the US invasion, which plunged that nation into total chaos and devastated its advanced infrastructure and civilian administrative apparatus, not to mention the systematic obliteration of its highly educated scientific and technical elite. The waves of Mossad-sponsored assassinations of Iranian scientists, academics and engineers are just a foretaste of what the Israelis have in mind for Iran’s outstanding scientists, intellectuals and highly skilled technical workers. Iranians should have no illusions about the Americans and Israelis who seek to thrust Iran into the brutal dark ages of Afghanistan and Iraq. They will have no more role in a devastated Iran than their counterparts had in post-Saddam Iraq.
According to US General Mathis, who commands all US forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, ‘an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for the United States there’ (NY Times, 3/19/12). General Mathis “dire cost” estimate only takes account of the US military losses, likely several hundred sailors on warships within missile distance of Iranian gunners.
However the most delusional and self-serving assessment of the outcome and consequences of an Israeli air attack on Iran, emanates from top Israeli leaders, academics and intelligence experts, who claim superior intelligence, superior defenses and supreme (if also racist) insight into the ‘Iranian mind’. Typical is Israeli Defense Minister Barak who boasts that any Iranian retaliation will at worst inflict minimal casualties on the Israeli population.
The ‘Judeo-centric’ view of re-ordering the balance of power in the region, which is prevalent in leading Israeli war circles, overlooks the likelihood that war will not be decided by Israeli air strikes and anti-missile defenses. Iran’s missiles cannot be easily contained, especially if they arrive several hundred a minute from three directions, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and possibly from Iranian submarines. Secondly, the collapse of its oil imports will devastate Israel’s highly energy dependent economy. Thirdly, Israel’s principle allies, especially the US and the EU, will be severely strained as they are dragged into Israel’s war and find themselves defending the straits of Hormuz, their army garrisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their oil fields and military bases in the Gulf. Such a conflict could ignite the Shia majorities in Bahrain and in the strategic oil-rich provinces of Saudi Arabia. The generalized war will have a devastating effect on the price of oil and the world economy. It will provoke the fury of consumers and workers rage everywhere as factories close and powerful shocks throughout the fragile financial system result in a world depression.
Israel’s pathological ‘superiority complex’ results in its racist leaders consistently overestimating their own intellectual, technical and military capabilities, while underestimating the knowledge, capacity and courage of their regional, Islamic (in this case Iranian) adversaries. They ignore Iran’s proven capacity to sustain a prolonged, complex multi-front defensive war and to recover from an initial assault and develop appropriate modern weaponry to inflict severe damage on its attackers. And Iran will have the unconditional and active support of the world’s Muslim population, and perhaps the diplomatic backing of Russia and China, who will obviously view an attack on Iran as another dress rehearsal to contain their growing power.
War, especially an Israeli-US war against Iran is indissolubly linked to the asymmetrical US-Israeli relationship, which sidelines and censors any critical US military and political analysis. Because Israel’s Zionist power configuration in the US can now harness US military power in support of Israel’s drive for regional dominance, Israeli leaders and most of their military feel free to engage in the most outrageous military and destructive adventures, knowing full well that in the first and last instance they can rely on the US to support them with American blood and treasure. But after all of this grotesque servitude to a racist, isolated country, who will rescue the United States? Who will prevent the sinking of its ships in the Gulf and the death and maiming of hundreds of its sailors and thousands of its soldiers? And where will the Israelis and US Zionists be when Iraq is overrun by elite Iranian troops and their Iraqi Shia allies and a generalized uprising occurs in Afghanistan?
The self-centered Israeli policy-makers overlook the likely collapse of the world oil supply as a result of their planned war against Iran. Do their Zionist agents in the US realize that as a result of dragging the US into Israel’s war, that the Iranian nation will be forced to set the Persian Gulf oilfields ablaze?
How cheap has it become to ‘buy a war’ in the US? For a mere few million dollars in campaign contributions to corrupt politicians, and through the deliberate penetration of Israel-First agents, academics and politicians into the war-making machinery of the US government, and through the moral cowardice and self-censorship of leading critics, writers and journalists who refuse to name Israel and its agents as the key decision makers in our country’s Mid East policy, we head directly toward a war far beyond any regional military conflagration and toward the collapse of the world economy and the brutal impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people North and South, East and West.
- UK bows to Tel Aviv after warning it against attack on Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The Real Nuclear Outlaws (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel snubs warnings against Iran attack (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Experts Mum on Iran Attack to Support Bibi’s Bluff (middleeastatemporal.wordpress.com)
The US State Department says Washington will continue to support non-governmental groups in Russia, ignoring a warning by Moscow that the move could lead to a strain in the two countries’ ties.
“This is designed to support a vibrant civil society in Russia and to allow us to work with those Russian NGOs who want to work with us,” AFP quoted the US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland as saying.
The US official added that Washington has proposed to set up a USD 50-million fund in order to help the Russian non-governmental groups “to develop their skills and their voice and their ability to represent the aspirations of Russians to increasingly deepen and strengthen their democracy.”
This is while Russian Prime Minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin has repeatedly accused the US of using its so-called pro-democracy program to fuel the protests that erupted after December’s parliamentary elections in Russia.
On Tuesday, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also noted that Moscow continues to raise the issue with US officials but has not received a clear explanation about the ultimate aims of the funding.
“This activity is reaching a scale that is turning into a problem in our relations,” Ryabkov stated.
“We really are concerned that Washington is funding certain groups and movements in Russia,” he added.
Russian media has also criticized US Ambassador Michael McFaul’s meetings with the members of the anti-Putin movement since his arrival in Moscow two months ago.
Outrage in Germany, Nobel Laureate Günter Grass has, once again told the truth about Israel being the greatest threat to world peace.
Günter Grass, Germany’s most famous living author and the 1999 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, sparked outrage in Germany on Wednesday with the publication of a poem, “What must be said,” in which he sharply criticizes Israel’s offensive approach towards Iran.
Once again, it is the artist rather than the politician, who tells the truth as it is. Once again it is the Artist rather than the academic who speaks out.
“Why did I wait until now at this advanced age and with the last bit of ink to say: The nuclear power Israel is endangering a world peace that is already fragile?” Wrote Grass.
In the poem, published by Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and other European dailies on Wednesday, Grass also calls for an
“unhindered and permanent monitoring of Israel’s nuclear potential and Iran’s nuclear facility through an international entity that the government of both countries would approve.”
Israel and some German Jewish prominent voices were quick to react. The Israeli Embassy in Berlin issued a statement offering its own version of ‘What must be said.’
“What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder,” the statements reads.
Pretty outrageous, don’t you think? In the open Israel together with its supportive Jewish lobbies (AIPAC, AJC) are pushing for a new global conflict. Yet, shamelessly the embassy defies criticism tossing in the air the old blood libel. The appropriate timely question here is why Israel and AIPAC are pushing for a world war and a potential nuclear conflict just before Passover? Can they just wait for another Yom Kippur (atonement day)?
The Israeli Embassy continues,
“in the past, it was Christian children whose blood the Jews allegedly used to make their unleavened bread, but today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state allegedly wants to annihilate.”
Isn’t it really the case? Every military expert suggests that Israeli pre-emptive attack on Iran could escalate into a nuclear conflict. If anything Grass tries like others, including yours truly, to prevent Israel from celebrating its lethal symptoms once again.
The Israeli embassy noticed though that
“Israel is the only state in the world whose right to exist is openly doubted.”
Correct, and so it should be. Israel is a racist, expansionist state, it doesn’t have room amongst nations.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany also called the poem an “aggressive pamphlet of agitation.” I wonder, is it really aggressive to try and restrain an aggressor?
The German newspaper Die Welt, which apparently obtained an advance copy of Grass’ poem, published a response by rabid Zionist Henryk Broder, the country’s most prominent Jewish writer. “Grass always had a problem with Jews, but it has never articulated it as clearly as he has in this poem.” Broder said “Grass has always had a tendency toward megalomania, but this time he is completely nuts.” I would expect Germany’s leading Jewish writer to come with something slightly more astute.
Broder however may be correct when he notes that Grass is “haunted by guilt and shame and also driven by the desire to settle history, he is now attempting to disarm the ’cause of the recognizable threat.’”
Wednesday’s poem is not the first time Grass has come out with critical views of Israel. In a 2001 interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, he offered his own solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Israel doesn’t just need to clear out of the occupied areas,” he said at the time. “The appropriation of Palestinian territory and its Israeli settlements are also a criminal activity. That not only needs to be stopped — it also needs to be reversed. Otherwise there will be no peace.”
Broder contends that such a statement is “no less than a demand for Israel to not just cede Nablus and Hebron, but also Tel Aviv and Haifa. ” he continues, “Grass does not differentiate between the ‘occupied areas’ of 1948 and 1967.” Needless to say that from an ethical perspective Grass is correct-there is no difference between 1948 and 1967. The Jewish State located itself on historic Palestine at the expense of the Palestinian people. I guess that Grass understood already in 2001 that the Jews only State must be transformed into a ‘State of its Citizens’. Israel should embrace the true notion of peace, universalism and inclusiveness. But I guess that we shouldn’t hold our breath for it is not going to happen soon.
- Israel, threat to world peace: Nobel laureate Gunter Grass (alethonews.wordpress.com)