At his United Nations address yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held up a cartoonish drawing of a bomb, an odd way to illustrate the supposed existential threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.
With an almost professorial air, Mr. Netanyahu held up a diagram of a bomb with a fuse to show the Israeli view of Iran’s progress in achieving the ability to make a nuclear weapon. He drew a red line through the point at which Iran would have amassed enough medium-enriched uranium to make a bomb–which he said would be in the spring or summer of 2013.
Umm, what kind of professor would do that?
Even stranger is the Times going on to point out that, according to the latest International Atomic Energy Agency reporting, Iran’s uranium stockpile that could even be used for a weapon is getting smaller:
His calculus turned on a stockpile of medium-enriched uranium –uranium enriched to the level of 20 percent–that Iran has produced, ostensibly to fuel a research reactor, provided to the country by the United States in the days of the shah. Right now, Iran does not possess enough of that fuel to make a single weapon. In fact, its stockpile of it has declined in recent months, as it has converted some for the research reactor.
Has the meaning of “professorial” changed?
As part of his escalated rhetoric against the Islamic Republic, “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Thursday that “the world has until next summer at the latest to stop Iran before it can build a nuclear bomb.”
Netanyahu flashed a diagram of a cartoon-like bomb before the UN General Assembly showing the progress Iran has made, saying “it has already completed the first stage of uranium enrichment.”
Then, he pulled out a red marker and drew a line across what he said was a threshold Iran was approaching and which “Israel” could not tolerate – the completion of the second stage and 90 percent of the way to the uranium enrichment needed to make an atomic bomb.
“By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage,” he said. “From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.”
“The battle is between modernity and the medieval forces of radical Islam,” he said and noted that “deterrence would not work against Iran as it had with the Soviet Union.”
“Deterrence worked with the Soviets, because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose survival,” he said. But “militant jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists. There were no Soviet “suicide bombers”. Yet, Iran produces hordes of them.”
“I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down. This will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether,” the “Israeli” top official said. “
“Red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war,” he added.
In response, Iran’s deputy UN ambassador took the floor at the General Assembly to categorically reject “”Israel’s” entirely baseless allegations.”
Eshagh al-Habib accused Netanyahu of using “an unfounded and imaginary graph to justify a military threat against Iran.”
“Iran is strong enough to defend itself and reserves its full right to retaliate with full force against any attack,” he said.
Al-Habib urged the international community to exert pressure on “Israel” to end its irresponsible behavior and to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon party and put all its nuclear facilities under US safeguards.”
There’s got to be some symbolism—if not irony–in the fact that just as the last of the 33,000 troops surged by Obama two years ago supposedly to pacify Afghanistan pulled out, the highest ranking Chinese official to visit Afghanistan in almost half a century pulled in—arriving in Kabul for a secret round of meetings with top Afghan officials.
Question: How will China deal with the country that proved such an expensive and bloody disaster for both the U.S., its NATO allies–and the U.S.S.R before them?
In a brief visit, unreported until he had left Kabul, Zhou Younkang, China’s chief of domestic security, met with Afghani leaders, including President Hamid Karzai. They talked about drugs, international crime, terrorism, and developing Afghanistan’s huge natural resources—just as visiting Americans have done for years.
The result, a cluster of agreements, among them an announcement that 300 Afghan police officers will be sent to China for training over the next four years.
Which is another irony of sorts—coming at the same time as news that the U.S. and its allies have been obliged to scale back joint operations with the Afghan military and police, because they can no longer trust the men they’ve trained. American troops in the field with their Afghan allies now keep weapons ready and wear body armor even when they’re eating goat meat and yoghurt.
So far this year 51 American and NATO troops have been gunned down by Afghan military or police: a startling 20% of all NATO casualties this year.
The off-the-wall video from California ridiculing the prophet Mohammed has only further fueled anti-American hatred.
As the New York Times quoted one 20 year old Afghan soldier, NATO casualties could even be higher.
“We would have killed many of them already,” he said, “but our commanders are cowards and don’t let us.”
There are still some 68,000 American troops based in Afghanistan, but the plans are for them all to be out by the end of 2014. Which means that China will be confronting serious security problems of its own in Afghanistan. They already have direct investments of more than $200 million in copper mining and oil exploration, and have promised to build a major railroad east to Pakistan or north to Turkestan.
But they could pour in billions more if Afghanistan were a secure, well-ordered country, free from the Taliban, free from kleptocratic war lords and venal government bureaucrats, patrolled by well-trained Afghan soldiers and police: in other words, exactly the kind of country the U.S. would like to have left behind—and didn’t.
Instead, of course, despite America’s huge sacrifice in men and treasure –more than half a trillion dollars since 2001–things haven’t worked out that way. [For a dramatic, running count of the enormous hemorrhage that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still represent to the U.S. economy check out costofwar.com.]
Meanwhile, corruption is rampant, and it’s by no means certain that Afghanistan has—or ever will have–a national army and police force worthy of the name.
The U.S. Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, peered into the Pentagon’ s 1.1 billion dollars fuel program to supply the Afghan Army, and concluded that there was no way to be ascertain how much if any of that fuel is really being used by Afghan security forces for their missions. There was also no way to know how much was stolen, lost or diverted to the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Almost half a billion dollars worth of receipts detailing with fuel payments over the past four years have been shredded.
With the Americans heading for the exits, the challenge facing the Chinese—and anyone else, like India–interested in investing in the country–is how to navigate this imbroglio.
Indeed, the Chinese have apparently already run into problems in Afghanistan. Work at the Mes Aynak copper mine in Logar Province is already behind schedule, and no work has begun on the promised Chinese-built railroad yet. Various impediments have turned up, like recalcitrant bureaucrats, tensions provoked by the need to displace local populations, the discovery of Buddhist ruins, as well as ramshackle Soviet-era mines that first had to be cleared.
And then there’s the rival, rapacious warlords, who see the country’s resources as a way of fueling their own ambitions—like General Abdul Rashid Dotsum, who the government has accused of attempting to extort illegal payoffs from the Chinese oil company.
However, in their dealings throughout the developing world, from despots to democracies, the Chinese have shown themselves adept at navigating such quagmires. There’s no talk from Beijing of Chinese “exceptionalism”. They’ve been taking on the world as it is—not as someone in a Chinese think tank would want to remake it.
They’ve generally turned a blind eye to considerations of human rights, opted to pay off or work with the powers that be, and used offers of huge new infrastructure projects as bait, steadily increasing their share of the globe’s resources.
Many potential investors still shy away from Afghanistan. They have no idea what lies on the other side of the political abyss after 2014 when the U.S. completes its withdrawal.
China is also wary, but they’re also seriously planning their Afghan strategy for the post-American future.
As Wang Lian, a professor with the School of International Studies at the Paking University in Beijing, put it, ”Almost every great power in history, when they were rising, was deeply involved in Afghanistan, and China will not be an exception.”
Unmentioned, of course, was what an unmitigated disaster that involvement turned out to be for the USSR, the US–and Afghanistan.
We’ll see how China fares.
- Did Afghanistan’s Surge Fail? (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Is the Afghan Surge Really Over? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Afghanistan surge achieved its mission, Dempsey says (nation.com.pk)
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come under fire for skipping the 67th session of the UN General Assembly to attend a private ceremony where he received an award from a Jewish-sponsored organization.
Passing up the opportunity to address the General Assembly, Harper chose to receive the New York-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation (ACF) award from former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Thursday.
The Canadian official seized the opportunity to level criticism at the UN and accused its members of using the world body as a “forum to single out Israel for criticism.”
Harper further added that the policies of the Israeli regime are not to blame for “the pathologies present in that part of the world,” while reaffirming Canada’s support for Tel Aviv.
However, the Canadian prime minister’s decision not to speak at the opening of the General Assembly drew harsh criticism in Canada from opposition leaders, who called the move “absolutely ridiculous.”
“I think the message is that Canada, that the Harper government doesn’t care about the United Nations,” said Bob Rae, the interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
This is the second consecutive year that Harper has shunned the UN event, preferring to send Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in his place.
Many in Canada are concerned about Harper’s conservative policies as he is also accused of locking his government behind a wall of secrecy, defunding democratic institutions and giving away Canada’s sovereignty to the UK and the Israeli regime.
The Prime Minister of Apartheid Israel just lectured the United Nations General Assembly! He spent most of his time nagging those present as if they were school children about Iran. He even insulted their intelligence by showing them a diagram of a “bomb” and drawing a red line on it (yes literally with an actual red marker). He also went about insulting 1.6 billion Muslims and even had the “chutzpa” to claim Israel is helping people around the world!
Those in attendance were less numerically and qualitatively than those who attended the Iranian president’s speech. Netanyahu thus utterly failed to anticipate the transformed reality around him and acted as if Israel can still run the show and start wars that others fight for it. He must have not even been briefed on the Egyptian President’s speech. The first democratically elected leader of Egypt received significant applause when he said that the world community must stop the hypocrisy and charade of injustice beginning with “the number one” issue: justice for Palestine. Netanyahu merely dismissed Mahmoud Abbas’s speech with just one sentence “we won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN or unilateral declarations of statehood.” [No we solve them via continuing colonization]. He dismissed all Palestinians and their rights by claiming they need to recognize a “Jewish state” then they could be allowed a vague but “dimiltarized state”.
The very moderate/accommodating PLO representative Mahmoud Abbas had said that he wanted to gain the overdue legitimacy for a Palestinian state at the UN and “not delegitimize Israel”. But Israel has done a very good job of delegitimizing itself. Israel in fact should be expelled from the United Nations because it failed to live up to its commitments to implement UN resolutions or to be a peace seeking nation. It also fulfils the requirement of being an apartheid state according to the relevant International Convention. Netanyahu’s war mongering and idiotic speech merely confirmed the obvious conclusion about this rogue state: it is run by lunatics. So on the bright side, perhaps putting the last few nails in the coffin of this apartheid system will come from lying racist idiots like Netanyahu.
The frustrated reaction from many world leaders and the shocked reaction by many others to Netanyahu’s “lecture” give us great hope for the future. Indeed the racist mentality and arrogant criminal actions of this man and other Zionists could be the best accelerator for the end of apartheid Israel. “The jig maybe up” as they say in English.
“What do you imagine when you’re in a tank?” Israeli filmmaker Itamar Rose asks young Israeli kids. “I picture a dead Arab and that makes me happy,” responds one boy. (1:37; 1:54-1:57)
These words are quickly circulating amongst internet activists. Of course there is also a flurry of counter-finger-pointing, beginning with Rose’s own reference to a Palestinian society of “agitation and hate.” In this and other films, Rose seems to be saying that cyclical violence is a no-win situation.
As worrisome as the happy-to-kill mantra of the kids might be, equally disturbing are these political practicalities:
Q—Where do you want to do your army service? In the north? The occupied territories? Gaza? Judea and Samaria?
A—Lebanon. My first choice would be Lebanon. [. . . ]
Q—But we gave back Lebanon. We aren’t fighting in Lebanon.
A—That’s okay, we’ll be back.
Q—Do you hope that by the time you’re a soldier we’ll be at war with Lebanon again?
(2:14—2:35. The original is in Hebrew. The English translation is provided in the original film posted by Itamar Rose, as is the French translation, which confirms the same precise meaning: “Mais on a déjà rendu le Liban, on n’est plus en guerre là-bas.” “ C’est pas grave, on les remettra de nouveau.”)
The boy, who I would guess to be about 11 years old, states that his father had served in the Israeli Givati Brigade. These are specialist forces for the Lebanon Border, Hebron and Gaza. The boy states he wants to do the same as his father. A normal sentiment—to follow in a father’s footsteps. But he doesn’t just want to be a soldier. He doesn’t say he wants to defend his country or his people. He says he wants to be part of the Israeli military that returns to Lebanon. He wants to wage war against Lebanon.
He might have said that he would stand ready in Israel in its defence. He might have said that he hoped there would be peaceful relations. But he echoed the aggression he had absorbed from his society: “We’ll be back.”
Was he just playing up to the camera? Caught up in the atmosphere of the Armored Corps Memorial they were visiting? Of course it is possible, but even in such a case he felt that this belligerent stance, even if not heartfelt, was appropriate to enact.
And then there is the filmmaker’s statement: “But we gave back Lebanon.” Itamar Rose uses satire in his films, so there is a remote possibility that this phrase was a tongue in cheek baiting of the interviewee. But given the fact that Rose was recently hosted for a London event by the Israel Connect program of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, that possibility looks remote indeed. The Zionist Federation just doesn’t promote voices opposed to Zionism. And the 22-year occupation of Lebanon was Zionist at the core.
To say “we gave back Lebanon” necessitates the presumption of custodial possession. You can’t “give back” something you don’t hold claim to. Therein lies the rub. Zionism, a political ideology, presumes this entitlement. Israeli officials have, of course, frequently denied designs of territorial conquest. But the historical facts argue otherwise and the pervasive sense of entitlement is revealed time and again.
“But we gave back Lebanon,” says the older generation.
“That’s okay, we’ll be back,” says the new generation.
No, say those of the world with an eye on justice and international law. No, Lebanon wasn’t yours to take. It wasn’t yours to give back. And should you try to return, you will learn this very simple fact.