We work so hard to establish ourselves and to get where we are and to have somebody (Jonathan Pollard) screw it up… and then have Jewish organizations line up behind this guy and try to make him out a hero of the Jewish people, it bothers the hell out of me…
— Admiral Sumner Shapiro, US Navy Rear Admiral who served as Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence (1978-82), Washington Post, 6/16/2008
We … feel obligated to go on record with the facts regarding Pollard in order to dispel the myths that have arisen from the clever public relations campaign… aiming at transforming Pollard from greedy, arrogant betrayer of the American national trust into Pollard committed Israeli patriot.
— Sumner Shapiro, William Studeman, John Butts and Thomas Brooks, former Directors of Naval Intelligence cited in Ronald Olive, Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How one of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice, Annapolis Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 248.
Over two decades ago, Harvard political science professor, Samuel Huntington, argued that global politics would be defined by a ‘clash of civilizations’. His theories have found some of the most aggressive advocates among militant Zionists, inside Israel and abroad.
During the past month, the Israeli regime has been slaughtering and wounding thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. The Israeli state terrorists, who commit mass murder in Palestine, are part of a movement that sees an inevitable mortal final battle between Zionism and the Islamic and Western world.
Many Western democratic leaders have questioned Huntington’s prognosis and discreetly refuted the Zionist belief that different faiths and cultures cannot live and work together.
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, leading Western Zionist ideologues have argued that, while liberal values should be reaffirmed, the US and EU leaders must recognize ‘malign global Islamic trends’. Influential Western Zionist journalists and ideologues, who dominate the mass media, argue that ‘hardline Islamism’ is on the rise, even in previously moderate Muslim countries like Turkey, Malaysia and Bangladesh… These ideologues (for example Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times ) systematically avoid commenting on the rise of hardline Zionism in its most racist form in Israel and the conversion of formerly moderate Zionist organizations into willing accomplices of Israeli state terror against a captive people.
Together, these developments in Israel and among the major Zionist organizations in the US and the European Union have limited the space for critics of the ‘clash of civilizations’ dogma.
State terror assaults, such as those taking place daily in Palestine, incite tensions between Zionists and non-Zionists – and that is their intent. Larger structural and systemic forces are at work and are driving Zionist radicalization. One of the most pernicious is the way in which wealthy US and EU Zionist individuals and organizations, in particular the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations, have used their economic power to spread the most intolerant forms of Judaism into the rest of the Western World.
The effects are now visible in the major political institutions and media of the US, England and the Continent. Previously, France was held up as an example of a successful multi-cultural nation – a dubious assumption as any historian of colonial France can testify. But that image is rapidly changing. Influential Zionists have fomented widespread Islamophobia and authored legislation restricting free speech which has outlawed criticism of Israel as ‘anti-Semitism’.
French civil libertarians have noted that political and social space has increasingly narrowed for ‘non-Zionists’, especially for anyone critical of Israel’s state terrorism. In other words, there is immense pressure in France to ‘keep quiet’ or self-censor in the face of Zionist racist brutality – so much for Les Droits de L’Homme et Du Citoyen.
For over a decade, Zionist influence, especially from Israel’s far-right Netanyahu regime, has eroded the French version of ‘moderate Zionism’, replacing it with a more doctrinaire, exclusivist and authoritarian version. World-wide condemnation of Israel’s massacre of over 4,000 entrapped Palestinians in Gaza, the world largest prison camp, led the Netanyahu regime to resort to a virulent Zionist version of ‘identity politics’ to rally support for the slaughter – or enforce silence among the horrified. Israeli Cabinet ministers recently denounced US President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as ‘anti-Semites’ for their administration’s negotiations over Iran. Numerous prestigious rabbis have blessed the killing of unarmed Palestinians. A prominent Israeli jurist, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked urged the killing of Arab women so they would not give birth to ‘little snakes’. Israeli-Jewish judges have exonerated Israeli soldiers, police, and settlers for killing Palestinian children – even unarmed teenage Arab girls hysterical over their brutal humiliation. And world public opinion is ordered to ‘move along, look away, nothing for you to see here…’
All the major overseas Jewish organizations have marched in step. In the United States, a country with a democratic constitution and centuries-old Bill of Rights, self-styled ‘mainstream Zionists’ have defended Israeli spies and criminals, as well as un-extraditable swindlers, and organized nation-wide networks of university, professional and business organizations to demand the firing of colleagues and to suppress free speech and free assembly of Israel’s critics.
First and foremost, major Zionist organizations and leaders have stoked the fire of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racist rhetoric, which has become commonplace in the mass media and among Republican candidates engaged in the current Presidential nomination campaign.
The convergence of these developments in Israel and among the Zionist power configuration in North America, Europe and the Middle East is fueling the idea of a ‘clash of civilizations’.
The ideological marriage of Herzl and Huntington is fast eroding the former reality of Jewish and non-Jewish integration and intermingling across the globe. The alternative to a plural civilization is more primitive and brutal injustice, violence and death.
Contemporary Manifestations of Zionist Power: The Release of the Most Damaging Spy-Traitor in US History
On November 20, 2015, former Naval Intelligence Analyst, Jonathan Pollard, the American-Jewish spy for Israel, was freed by the Obama regime under Zionist pressure after repeated refusals by three Republican and one Democratic President and over the objections of the heads of all 27 major US intelligence agencies. The significance of this release has to be viewed against the history of Pollard’s crimes.
Fabricating Lies to Justify Obama’s Release of Pollard
The mass media and the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (AIPAC, ADL, etc…), claim that 1) Pollard committed espionage against US security for ‘altruistic reasons’ — a deep concern for Israel’s security and because US intelligence agencies had refused to share crucial information with Israel’s intelligence counterparts (out of anti-Semitism), 2) the information Pollard handed over had no lasting harm and did not endanger US security, and 3) Pollard’s punishment was ‘excessive’, his ‘repentance’ was sincere and his example precluded any future Israeli espionage activity against the US. These assertions are completely false.
Pollard was a mercenary, spying against the US out of greed. He lived a decadent, expensive lifestyle and had demanded the Israelis pay him a total package of over $250,000 for his work. The Israeli Embassy was known to have paid Pollard, a US Naval Analyst, to spy against the United States government. Court records reveal that he collected over $50,000 for ‘expenses’ during his espionage career, including expensive jewelry, and a monthly stipend of $2500. Court records furthermore reveal that he offered to sell additional secret documents to Pakistan, Apartheid South Africa, Australia, Russia and some Middle East countries. He collected dozens of box-loads of confidential documents, many of which had nothing to do with the ‘security of Israel’, but were deemed essential to US global security, including a top secret ten volume set of National Security Agency high level codes exposing the most advanced means and methods of espionage and the main targets of intelligence collection. Some of his ‘vacuumed-up’ treasure trove included the identity of US intelligence operatives and assets in Warsaw pact countries and the Soviet Union. The 27 US intelligence agencies have consistently opposed Pollard’s release because his sale of this information to the Israelis led to the capture and execution of US operatives after Israel handed over this top-secret information to the Soviet Union in exchange for allowing Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel in massive numbers. Needless to say, this treason crippled US intelligence operations and led to deaths. US military and intelligence officials view Pollard as having ‘blood on his hands’. So much for the ‘altruistic American Zionist keen on helping insecure, little Israel.’ Years of Zionist propaganda and lobbying have obscured this aspect of Pollard’s crimes.
Excessive Punishment or Excessive Leniency?
Far right Israeli Cabinet Ministers and liberal American Jews, supporters and opponents of Pollard, pundits and editorialists argue that the life imprisonment given to Pollard was out of proportion to the crime of treason. They claim that, after 30 years, he was ‘overdue’ for release.
The severity of the punishment is determined by the crime and the damage caused. In case of treason and espionage committed by US officials, (especially for money), the sentence is always severe. The leaders of the John Anthony Walker Naval spy ring were given multiple life sentences in 1985 and there are many other similar cases.
Among the documents Pollard handed over to his Israeli handlers (operating out of the Israeli Embassy), was US intelligence on strategic installations in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. No doubt, this provided Israel with strategic coordinates to bomb major security facilities in those countries as well as facilitated their brutal invasion and occupation of Lebanon in the 1980s. Pollard’s treachery led to the death of thousands of civilian lives in Lebanon and facilitated the wars in Iraq and Syria. The damage to those countries and to innocent people would not have been considered by the judge in Pollard’s life sentence – but it must be considered here, in understanding the enormity of his crimes. Pollard has boasted that he was operating out of a ‘racial imperative’ to protect Israel.
Pollard did not serve a life sentence. In fact, while in prison he became an Israeli citizen, a salaried officer in the Israeli armed forces and, after divorcing his American wife (who had also engaged in espionage for pay and served several years in prison), he re-married a Canadian-Israeli woman. This sheds a different light on the ‘severity’ of a life sentence for treason.
Pollard did not serve this ‘life sentence’. He was paroled in November 2015 (to the cheers of his adoring Jewish-American fans) demonstrating the wealth and power of American Zionists and their ability to buy the support of US politicians, domestic and foreign notables and the entire Israeli-Jewish political spectrum-and push aside the objections of the heads of the three major US armed services and intelligence agencies.
Israeli public opinion overwhelmingly supports Pollard and regards him as a ‘role model’ for other US Zionists in official positions. Contrary to Israeli lies, several other major Israeli spy operations occurred in the US after Pollard, including the case involving AIPAC officials, Rosen and Weissman, and Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin during George W. Bush’s administration.
In stark contrast to the freeing of an Israeli spy responsible for endangering the security of thousands of US operatives abroad and millions of innocent civilians, two authentic American political prisoners, who have fought for the rights of minorities, rot in jail with no prospect of freedom. Leonard Peltier, a Native American leader has spent 38 years in the highest security prison and Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American leader from Philadelphia, whose 33 years in prison have been on death row or brutal solitary confinement. Both were framed by perjured evidence in a parody of justice, which has revolted millions around the world. Neither threatened US security. Over the years, numerous witnesses, legal authorities and academics have testified regarding the miscarriage of justice that characterized their ‘show trials’ and have pleaded for their humanitarian release.
Unlike Pollard, and despite decades of worldwide campaigns for their release, Peltier and Abu-Jamal will probably die entombed in prison. Unlike Pollard, their cases were never about treason, selling information and greed. They have worked hard for justice within their communities, hence earning the hatred of the police state. They fought to serve their oppressed American communities, rather than an oppressive and racist Israeli elite – determined to oppress and erase the native Palestinian population.
The decisive factor has been the political power of Pollard’s supporters, the US Zionist Power Configuration, which leads President Obama and 430 US members of Congress by the nose. Through their media connections, they can lie about Pollard’s case and his motives. They can minimize the consequences of his treason and twist the arms of obedient politicians to support a traitor. Despite the fact that scores of high-ranking US intelligence and military officials have repeatedly attested to the damage inflicted by Pollard on the US, campaign finance hungry politicians recite the Zionist line that Pollard’s treason did not warrant a harsh sentence!
Beyond the immediate shame of a US president caving in to Israeli pressure with regard to this spy, there is the issue of the flagrant double standard:
Why do Israeli spies (or American Zionist traitors) evoke the unconditional support of the entire US Zionist apparatus? Why do thousands of rabbis, hundreds of movie executives and media moguls and scores of billionaires (talk about the 0.01%!) campaign on behalf of this arrogant, greedy thief? Why does Pollard merit a totally different standard of justice, in stark contrast to the vast majority of American minorities – who can rot in dungeons even when clearly innocent? Why does a self-described Israeli (who renounced his US citizenship in jail), who sold vital national secrets to fund a decadent life-style and for what he described as a ‘race imperative’ merit such favors while hundreds of thousands of poor US citizens are routinely denied leniency – let alone mercy? Clearly, the interests of Israel, a foreign regime, carry much greater weight within the US judicial system than millions of American minorities…
Cyber Crimes of Our Times: Billionaire Israeli Swindlers and the Chinese Military
For over three years, the Obama administration, the NSA and the Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter have fed their media mouthpieces breathless denunciations against China for cyber-theft. Every week, there are lurid stories about the theft of confidential US industrial, military and political intelligence committed by the Chinese. The Obama regime has followed up his charges of ‘cybertheft” by threatening to confront China in the South China Sea, apply sanctions and raise the military ante in the Pacific against the world’s most dynamic economic superpower.
Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland (Nudelman-Kaplan) has claimed that Chinese cyber theft is a top national security threat requiring an immediate military-security response. US officials have provided no evidence that Chinese officials, at any level, are involved in espionage. Moreover, they have presented no proof that cyber theft is a policy of the Chinese government! There has been no evidence that these alleged thefts have damaged US companies or security interests. Nevertheless, US hostility toward China has been justified by unproven accusations and are used to increase the possibility of a major confrontation.
Contrasted with the ‘allegations’ against the Chinese, three ‘Israeli businessmen’ have been officially charged by US prosecutors with running a multi-billion dollar cyber-hacking scam within the US over the past five years. Dubbed the biggest financial hack in US history, the story hardly made headlines in the US media and was conveniently buried by subsequent ‘terror attacks’ in Europe.
The case is instructive. Three Israelis (one a US-Israeli dual citizen) hacked-attacked ten of the largest US financial institutions, including JP Morgan Chase and Fidelity Investments, as well as the Wall Street Journal … downloading protected information on over 100 million Americans – the biggest hack-attack in US history. Gery Shalon, Ziv Orenstein and Joshua Samuel Aaron employed hundreds of employees in Israel and elsewhere running a mega-cybercriminal enterprise.
According to the Financial Times (11/11/2015, p1), “the hacks took place from 2012 to mid-2015 and were aimed at aiding stock market manipulation that generated tens of millions of dollars.” In addition to selling ‘pumped-up’ stocks to millions of customers of the companies they had hacked, Shalom et al. launched cyber attacks to launder millions (more likely billions) for illegal drug and counterfeit software dealers, malicious malware distributors, illegal online casinos and an illegal ‘bitcoin exchange’ known as ‘Coin.mx.’ Someone within the financial security apparatus of the US government (white collar crime unit) must have tipped them off. They are safe in Israel; the Netanyahu regime has yet to act on a US extradition order, although they are reportedly under ‘house arrest’ in their villas.
In contrast to the on-going bellicose rhetoric, which Washington has directed against China’s alleged hackers, Washington has been ‘very reluctant’ to press the issue of extraditing the cyber-thieves with its ‘special partner’ in Tel Aviv.
Israeli super-hackers launched virulent attacks against major US financial institutions and American investors with apparent impunity, following the practice of Israeli info-tech operatives who have raided US military, technology and industrial sites for years.
While the US sends air squadrons and an armada of warships to Chinese waters over a few sand-bars, and brays about arresting Chinese researchers (who it later released with no charges) for alleged cyber-theft, it cannot persuade its ‘closest strategic ally’, Israel, to hand over a trio of formally charged swindlers. Instead, the US increased its annual $3 billion in military aid and provides an open market for Israeli ‘security’ products based on stolen US technology!
The reason for the differential response is not the nature of the ‘crimes’ – it is who commits the crimes! Israeli dominance of US politics via the unconditional support of its US Zionist power configuration ensures impunity for Israeli citizens, including the ability to delay or postpone the extradition of notorious multi-billion cyber thieves! Washington feels free to accuse China, without proof of official Chinese complicity, despite overwhelming evidence, while it cannot persuade its close ‘friend’ Israel to extradite criminals. Netanyahu, backed by his Israeli-Jewish public will decide if, when and where to extradite. When it comes to shielding Israeli or American-Israeli criminals from American justice, Israel treats its ally in Washington like an enemy.
Zionist political clout is evident in Washington’s judicial leniency toward other mega-swindlers with ties to Israel. Michael Milken contributed millions of (swindled) dollars to Israeli and US Zionist programs and won a ‘get out of jail’ card despite his conviction for major financial scams. He served 2 years out of a 10-year sentence and was granted a ‘humanitarian release’ because he was ‘dying’ of extensive terminal metastatic prostate cancer. So far, Michael’s quarter century of miraculous remission from ‘terminal metastatic prostate cancer’ constitutes a first in the annals of urologic cancer! He has gone on to re-constitute his fortune and prominence, while welfare mothers who took a few extra dollars rot in jail.
Ivan Boesky, another uber-Zionist and mega-donor to Israel was a swindler of gargantuan proportions. He raked in hundreds of millions a year. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to a mere 42 months in prison. He was out in less than 24 months, thanks to the support of ….
Marc Rich, a mega- billionaire rogue trader who broke US sanctions against trading with enemies, was also a self-described agent for the Israeli Mossad. Despite having been convicted in absentia in US courts for fraud, (he had skipped bail for Switzerland), President ‘Bill’ Clinton pardoned the ‘absentee felon’ in absentia– a historical first for a criminal who had never spent a day in jail. Mrs. Rich’s $100,000 donation to the Hilary Clinton New York senatorial campaign probably did little to influence the President’s sense of mercy…..
However, ‘Bernie’ Madoff, a $50 billion dollar swindler’ who gave huge amounts of illicit earnings to Zionist charities and projects in Israel was convicted and sentenced to over 100 years in prison. Unlike the above mentioned ‘untouchables’, Madoff will never breathe free again because he made the unforgivable mistake of mostly swindling other Jews, ardent Zionists and even ripping off a number of pro-Israel foundations. His differential treatment stems from his poor choice of victims rather than the crimes… Otherwise he might now be enjoying a comfortable villa in Israel rather than a cold cell in Pennsylvania.
Israeli capacity to manipulate and influence the American judicial process is based on 52 powerful front organizations – organized in the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations. This situation has made a mockery of the American court system and feeds the cynicism and bitterness of the average American. Zionist officials and allies occupy strategic position within the White House and judiciary.
Through their influence in the mass media, they converted a grotesque mercenary spy, like Jonathan Pollard, into an altruistic, Israeli-Jewish patriot, celebrated throughout Israel and within US Zionist circles. Veteran American intelligence and military officials who opposed his release have been painted with the broad brush of ‘anti-Semite’. The formidable Zionist power configuration, nurtured and financed by mega-swindlers, successfully secured his release. Zionist dominance essentially guarantees that the US will treat an indicted Israeli cyber-thief with extreme tact, supplicating the Israeli government for their extradition, while going ballistic over an alleged Chinese hacker.
Few progressive web sites or even the micro-Marxist journals confront these issues, more out of moral cowardice (self-censorship) than ignorance. Instead they bleat general clichés and ‘radical rhetoric’ about ‘US imperialism’ and the ‘rise of the right’ without identifying the precise social and political identity of the forces who move national policy. In a word, the Zionist Power Configuration gets more than a ‘free ride’. Across the political spectrum it continues to campaign on behalf of Israeli spies and Zionist financial swindlers. This corruption of the American judicial system and the betrayal of American trust have far-reaching consequences and undermine efforts to effectively address major national problems.
Released a day before Thanksgiving, the U.S. Department of State disclosed its annual list of gifts from foreign governments to federal employees. Although the State Department publicly condemned Saudi Arabia for numerous human rights violations, the Saudi king gave President Obama and his family roughly $1.35 million in gifts last year.
According to the Office of the Federal Register, many world leaders offered the president and multiple other federal employees lavish gifts throughout 2014. While British Prime Minister David Cameron gave Obama a photograph and facsimile telegram from Winston Churchill estimated at $440, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud offered First Lady Michelle Obama $1.13 million in jewelry sets. As Prince William pompously gave the president a signed photographic portrait of Prince William valued at $888, the Saudi King sent $80,000 jewelry sets to Obama’s daughters.
The Saudi government also gave the president two gold wristwatches valued at $85,240. Leading the international community in attempting to whore out our commander-in-chief, the Saudi king also presented Obama with a gold-plated brass replica of the Makkah Clock Tower on marble base estimated at $57,000.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a $440 photograph of the first American consulate in Jerusalem circa 1888, while Palestinian President Dr. Mahmoud Abbas gave Obama an ornate metallic disc plaque valued at $625. The Iraqi government sent a vase worth $430.
Instead of giving alms to the poor, Pope Francis presented Obama with a bronze medal valued at $1,015. His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, gave the president a folio of lithographs worth $1,707.
On January 5, 2014, the Saudi king gave a $19,628 silver wristwatch to White House Staff Member Prem Kumar. He also sent $8,170 gold wristwatches to White House Staff Members Philip Gordon, Rob Malley, and Ben Rhodes. With no sense of dignity or integrity, the Saudi government also gave Dr. Susan Rice a gold wristwatch and figurine valued at $6,340.
Before passing away earlier this year, King Abdullah reportedly spent over $9.8 million on U.S. lobbyists in 2013. According to the State Department’s 2014 human rights report, the Saudi government physically abuses detainees, holds political prisoners, denies due process, commits arbitrary arrests, and restricts freedom of expression. While allowing corrupt government officials to operate with impunity, the Saudis also beheaded Mohammad bin Bakr al-Alawi, a Saudi national, for practicing sorcery.
Although the State Department listed several gifts to CIA Director John Brennan and multiple anonymous agency employees, the donors’ names have been redacted because “such information could adversely affect United States intelligence sources or methods.” Besides receiving a $10,000 Omega men’s watch, Brennan was also given a $7,500 decorative rug. While world leaders openly gave the president books, a CIA employee received an unidentified series of children’s books valued at $832.13. For some reason, the kid’s books were “retained for official use.”
Fortunately, the First Family cannot keep any of these gifts without paying market value for them when Obama leaves office. According to U.S. law, the president must pay for the gifts/bribes or turn them over to the National Archives or other organizations for storage or display. According to the State Department, non-acceptance of the gifts “would cause embarrassment to the donor and U.S. Government.”
US, Turkey, NATO Supporting ISIS and al-Qaeda – Supporting the Creation of Buffer Zones
Here is the situation in Syria as I see it : Russia is taking a long-range view and wants stability in post-ISIS Syria. France and the United States are taking the short-range view and really have no achievable plans for Syria’s future stability. Turkey appears to have given little thought to Syria’s future. Ankara may be willing to see indefinite chaos in Syria if it hurts the Assad regime on the one hand and the Kurds on the other.
Part I – Russia
The Russians may be the only party interested in the long-term political stability of Syria. There is certainly no doubt that President Putin is more determined than Western leaders to act on the fact that the various so-called moderate parties standing against the Assad regime cannot work together, and that this fault cannot be corrected by enticements from the United States. For the Russians, this fact makes the Damascus government the only source of future stability.
This understanding, and not Soviet-era nostalgia, has led Russia to support the Assad regime, which possesses a working government, a standing army, and the loyalty of every religious minority group in the country.
Some might object that both Assad and Putin are dictators and thugs (by the way, thugs in suits in the U.S. government are all too common). However, this cannot serve as a serious objection. The only alternative to Damascus’s victory is perennial civil war fragmenting the country into warlord zones. With the possible exception of Israel, this scenario is in no one’s interest, although it seems that the leaders of in Washington and Paris are too politically circumscribed to act on this fact.
Part II – U.S. and France
Thus, it would appear that neither the U.S. nor France really cares about Syria as a stable nation. Once the present military capacity of ISIS is eliminated, Washington and Paris may well clandestinely continue to support a low-level civil war against the Assad regime. In this effort they will have the help of Turkey, the Kurds and Israel. The result will be ongoing decimation of the Syrian population and fragmentation of its territory.
As if to justify U.S. strategy, President Obama, with French President Hollande by his side, recently boasted that the United States stood at the head of a “65-country coalition” fighting terrorism in Syria. However, this is a hollow claim. Most of these countries are coalition members in name only, and some of them, like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf state governments, play a double game. And then Obama dismissed Russia and Iran as “outliers” and “a coalition of two.” Yet those two countries are the Syrian nation’s best hope for future stability.
The fact is that U.S. policy in Syria has been a losing proposition from the beginning just because of its hostility to the Assad government. Despite its air campaign against ISIS, Washington has no ground component nor any answer to the political vacuum in Syria. Both missing parts are to be found in an alliance with Damascus.
Refusal to make that alliance has also opened Washington to building neoconservative political pressure to increase U.S. military presence in the area. However, American “boots on the ground” in Syria is both a dangerous option as well as an unnecessary one. Syrian government boots can do the job if they are properly supported. The support has come from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. It is the United States and its coalition who are the “outliers.”
Part III – Turkey
It is not easy to explain Turkey’s animosity toward Damascus. Prior to the civil war in Syria, the two countries had good relations. Then something changed. It may have been something as foolish as President Erdogan’s taking personal offense against President Assad because the latter chose to heed the advice of Iran rather than Turkey at the beginning of the war. Whatever happened, it sent Ankara off on an anti-Assad crusade.
That anti-Assad mindset is probably the backstory to the recent reckless Turkish decision to shoot down a Russian warplane operating in support of Syrian government troops close to the Turkish border.
The Turks say that the Russian jet strayed into Turkish airspace. The Russians deny this. The Turks claim that they tried to communicate with the Russian plane to warn it away. When it did not respond, they destroyed it. Of late the Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has said that Ankara “didn’t know the nationality of the plane that was brought down … until Moscow announced it was Russian.” This statement is frankly unbelievable given that Davutoglu followed it up with an admission that Turkey had complained to Russian about military flights in this exact border area. He also asserted that both Russian and Syrian operations in this region of northern Syria should stop because ISIS has no presence there. This assertion makes no sense, since Damascus’s aim is to reassert government authority by the defeat of armed rebels regardless of their organizational affiliation.
It is hard to say whether the Turks are telling the truth about an incursion into their airspace. Most of their evidence, such as recorded Turkish warnings to the Russian plane, is easily fabricated. However, in the end it does not really matter if the plane crossed the border. There was no need to shoot it down.
If the Russian jet strayed into Turkish airspace, there would have been a range of options. The Turks could be very sure that the Russian plane had no hostile intention toward their country, and they should have assumed, for the sake of minimizing any consequences, that no provocation was meant on the part of the Russia. In other words, they should have acted as if the alleged overflight was a mistake. The Turks could have then shadowed the Russian plane in a way that coaxed it back into Syrian airspace and followed the incident up with a formal protest to Moscow. Instead they made the worst possible choice and shot the plane down. Now both Ankara and Washington are shouting about Turkey’s right to defend its territory despite the fact that the Russian plane never posed any threat.
Part IV – Conclusion
In all of the bloodshed, population displacement and terror that has accompanied the Syrian civil war, the least-considered party has been the Syrian people and their future. ISIS, or at least its present infrastructure, will ultimately be destroyed. However, while that destruction is necessary, it is an insufficient outcome because it fails to provide long-term stability. Right now that vital ingredient can only be supplied by the reimposition of order by Damascus. The folks in Washington, Paris and Ankara might not like that, but they are not the ones facing a future of anarchy. And indeed, the more they stand in the way of Damascus, the more chaos they will help create.
President Barack Obama – always sensitive to neocon criticism that he’s “weak” – continues to edge the world closer to a nuclear confrontation with Russia as he talks tough and tolerates more provocations against Moscow, now including Turkey’s intentional shoot-down of a Russian warplane along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Rather than rebuke Turkey, a NATO member, for its reckless behavior – or express sympathy to the Russians – Obama instead asserted that “Turkey, like every country, has a right to defend its territory and its airspace.”
It was another one of Obama’s breathtaking moments of hypocrisy, since he has repeatedly violated the territorial integrity of various countries, including in Syria where he has authorized bombing without the government’s permission and has armed rebels fighting to overthrow Syria’s secular regime.
Obama’s comment on Turkey’s right to shoot down planes — made during a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday — was jarring, too, because there was no suggestion that even if the SU-24 jetfighter had strayed briefly into Turkish territory, which the Russians deny, that it was threatening Turkish targets.
Russian President Vladimir Putin angrily called the Turkish attack a “stab in the back delivered by the accomplices of terrorists.” He warned of “serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations.”
Further provoking the Russians, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels then killed the Russian pilot riddling his body with bullets as he and the navigator parachuted from the doomed plane and were floating toward the ground. (Update: On Wednesday, the Russian defense minister said the navigator was alive and was rescued by Syrian and Russian special forces.)
Another Russian soldier was killed when a U.S.-supplied TOW missile brought down a Russian helicopter on a search-and-rescue mission, according to reports.
But Obama, during the news conference, seemed more interested in demonstrating his disdain for Putin, referring to him at one point by his last name only, without the usual use of a courtesy title, and demeaning the size of Putin’s coalition in helping Syria battle the jihadist rebels.
“We’ve got a coalition of 65 countries who have been active in pushing back against ISIL for quite some time,” Obama said, citing the involvement of countries around the world. “Russia right now is a coalition of two, Iran and Russia, supporting [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad.”
However, there have been doubts about the seriousness of Obama’s coalition, which includes Sunni countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which have been covertly supporting some of the jihadist elements, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its ally, Ahrar al-Sham.
Syrian rebels, including jihadists fighting with Ahrar al-Sham, have received hundreds of U.S. TOW anti-tank missiles, apparently through Sunni regional powers with what I’ve been told was Obama’s direct approval. The jihadists have celebrated their use of TOWs to kill tank crews of the Syrian army. Yet Obama talks about every country’s right to defend its territory.
Obama and the U.S. mainstream media also have pretended that the only terrorists that need to be fought in Syria are those belonging to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh), but Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its ally, Ahrar al-Sham, which was founded in part by Al Qaeda veterans, make up the bulk of the Turkish-and-Saudi-backed Army of Conquest which was gaining ground – with the help of those American TOW missiles – until Russia intervened with air power at the request of Syrian President Assad in late September.
The SU-24 Shoot-down
As for the circumstances surrounding the Turkish shoot-down of the Russian SU-24, Turkey claimed to have radioed ten warnings over five minutes to the Russian pilots but without getting a response. However, the New York Times reported that a diplomat who attended a NATO meeting in which Turkey laid out its account said “the Russian SU-24 plane was over the Hatay region of Turkey for about 17 seconds when it was struck.”
How those two contradictory time frames matched up was not explained. However, if the 17-second time frame is correct, it appears that Turkey intended to shoot down a Russian plane – whether over its territory or not – to send a message that it would not permit Russia to continue attacking Turkish-backed rebels in Syria.
After shooting down the plane, Turkey sought an emergency NATO meeting to support its attack. Though some NATO members reportedly consider Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a loose cannon, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared that the allies “stand in solidarity with Turkey.”
Further increasing the prospect of a dangerous escalation, NATO has been conducting large-scale military exercises near the Russian border in response to the Ukraine crisis.
Erdogan’s government also appears to have dabbled in dangerous provocations before, including the alleged role of Turkish intelligence in helping jihadist rebels stage a lethal sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, with the goal of blaming Assad’s military and tricking Obama into launching punitive airstrikes that would have helped clear the way for a jihadist victory.
Obama only pulled back at the last minute amid doubts among U.S. intelligence analysts about who was responsible for the sarin attack. Later evidence pointed to a jihadist provocation with possible Turkish assistance, but the Obama administration has never formally retracted its allegations blaming Assad’s forces.
One motive for Erdogan to go along with the sarin “false flag” attack in 2013 would have been that his two-year campaign to overthrow the Assad government was sputtering, a situation similar to today with the Russian military intervention hammering jihadist positions and putting the Syrian army back on the offensive.
By shooting down a Russian plane and then rushing to NATO with demands for retaliation against Russia, Erdogan is arguably playing a similar game, trying to push the United States and European countries into a direct confrontation with Russia while also sabotaging Syrian peace talks in Vienna – all the better to advance his goal of violently ousting Assad from power.
The Neocon Agenda
Escalating tensions with Russia also plays into the hands of America’s neoconservatives who have viewed past cooperation between Putin and Obama as a threat to the neocon agenda of “regime change,” which began in Iraq in 2003 and was supposed to continue into Syria and Iran with the goal of removing governments deemed hostile to Israel.
After the sarin gas attack in 2013, the prospect for the U.S. bombing Syria and paving the way for Assad’s military defeat looked bright, but Putin and Obama cooperated to defuse the sarin gas crisis. The two teamed up again to advance negotiations to constrain Iran’s nuclear program – an impediment to neocon hopes for bombing Iran, too.
However, in late 2013 and early 2014, that promising Putin-Obama collaboration was blasted apart in Ukraine with American neocons playing key roles, including National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman, Sen. John McCain and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland.
The neocons targeted the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych, recognizing how sensitive Ukraine was to Russia. The Feb. 22, 2014 coup, which was spearheaded by neo-Nazis and other extreme Ukrainian nationalists, established a fiercely anti-Russian regime in Kiev and provoked what quickly took on the look of a new Cold War.
When the heavily ethnic Russian population of Crimea, which had voted overwhelmingly for Yanukovych, reacted to the coup by voting 96 percent to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, the neocon-dominated U.S. mainstream media pronounced the referendum a “sham” and the secession a Russian “invasion.” Cold War hysteria followed.
However, in the nearly two years since the Ukraine coup, it has become increasingly clear that the new regime in Kiev is not the shining light that the neocons and the mainstream media pretended it was. It appears to be as corrupt as the old one, if not more so. Plus, living standards of average Ukrainians have plunged.
The recent flooding of Europe with Syrian refugees over the summer and this month’s Paris terror attacks by Islamic State jihadists also have forced European officials to take events in Syria more seriously, prompting a growing interest in a renewed cooperation with Russia’s Putin.
That did not sit well with ultranationalist Ukrainians angered at the reduced interest in the Ukraine crisis. These activists have forced their dispute with Russia back into the newspapers by destroying power lines supplying electricity to Crimea, throwing much of the peninsula into darkness. Their goal seems to be to ratchet up tensions again between Russia and the West.
Now, Turkey’s shoot-down of the SU-24 and the deliberate murder of the two Russian pilots (Update: Russia says one airman saved.) have driven another wedge between NATO countries and Russia, especially if President Obama and other NATO leaders continue taking Turkey’s side in the incident.
But the larger question – indeed the existential question – is whether Obama will continue bowing to neocon demands for tough talk against Putin even if doing so risks pushing tensions to a level that could spill over into a nuclear confrontation.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Over the past few decades, insurgent mass movements reflecting political discontent with the domestic economy and imperialist foreign policy have emerged to challenge the leadership and policies of the Democratic Party (DP). There are good reasons for this: The Democratic Party in power in Congress and the White House presided over (1) the deepening of inequality between labor and capital; (2) the decline of real wages; (3) the approval of repressive legislation; (4) the reduction of trade union membership by two-thirds; (5) deepening inequality between the races, (6) a trillion dollar (and counting) bailout of the banks and Wall Street; (7) mortgage foreclosure against millions of homeowners; (8) endless ‘police state’ abuses by federal and local police; (9) deregulation of the financial system and (10) the off-shoring of manufacturing jobs and service employment.
Over the same period, the Democratic Party has supported wars and invasions against Indo-China, Panama, Grenada, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia and scores of ‘clandestine’ military operations – including the recent and current proxy-wars in Georgia and Ukraine.
Popular movements have emerged and mass public opinion has expressed hostility toward both major parties. Hence, the third parties struck a responsive note among the electorate to which the Democratic Party leadership felt threatened by a possible defection by wage and salaried voters, especially to supporting Ralph Nader.
Yet in the end, nothing came of the discontent. Despite large-scale and deeply felt anger and popular outbursts of protests, including the million-strong street demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq in 2002-2003, the Democratic Party continued to dominate the ‘progressive’ electorate or relegated it to demoralized abstention.
This essay addresses the following questions:
(1) Why have mass movements and genuinely disaffected progressive voters and activists been unable to break with the Democratic Party, despite its consistently abominable record on foreign and domestic policy.
(2) How was the pro-Wall Street, pro-imperialist Democratic Party able to retain the support of an electorate, which overwhelmingly polls in favor of health care reform via a national, single-payer health plan, a living minimum wage, the end to police-state surveillance and against serial wars and invasions?
From Protest to Political Hostages
American mass movements have been successful in mobilizing hundreds of thousands in opposition to Washington’s support of the South African apartheid regime, Central American dictators, wars in the Middle East and racist legislation. Progressives have educated and organized millions to oppose Wall Street and the Democratic Party’s more recent bailout of banks.
Without fail every time mass movements and the popular electorate have opted for independent social action outside of the Democratic Party, a ‘dissident’ politician has emerged from within the Party mouthing many of the criticisms and demands of the social movements and the critical electorate.
These Democrat ‘dissidents’ organize ‘grass roots’ campaigns in popular venues, soliciting small scale contributions and making promises to put an end to ‘Big Money and Big Business’ domination of the electoral process.
Such Democrat ‘dissidents’ round up millions of votes and hundreds of delegates to the Democratic Convention and then…they inevitably lose to the Party machine and meekly submit…reasserting their loyalty to the ‘greater good’ against the ‘greater evil’.
The radical rhetoric used during the campaign is consciously designed to obscure the ‘dissidents’ fundamental loyalty to the Democratic Party, its military machine, its billionaire fundraisers and its Wall Street economic policy strategists.
The pre-ordained primary campaign defeat of the Democrat ‘dissidents’ is not the real issue here: The essential political consequence is that the “dissidents” channel mass social disaffection back into the Democratic Party thereby undermining any independent political initiative capable of breaking the duopoly stranglehold. In animal husbandry, they are like the handsome goat who tricks the flock into entering the big slaughter-pen of their social and political aspirations.
By endorsing the crowned Party nominee, these ‘dissidents’ discredit the very critical ideas and social programs they claimed to promote. They demoralize and depoliticize important segments of the electorate. They demobilize and disorient the social activists who had worked for the social transformation promised by their campaign program.
Most important, by reorienting the peace and justice movements and the neighborhood and anti-racism community organizations into Democratic Party electoral politics, they empty the streets, neighborhoods and workplaces of effective activists.
A brief survey of presidential campaigns over the past thirty-five years confirms this analysis.
Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Hustle: 1984 and 1988
Jesse Jackson was an important leader-activist in the civil rights movement. Based in Chicago, he helped organize tens of thousands of Afro-Americans and develop ties with other minorities, white progressives and trade unions.
Jackson opposed President Reagan’s assault on the trade unions, especially the firing of thousands of air controllers. Jackson’s opposition to Apartheid South Africa and Reagan’s invasion of Grenada and the escalation of military spending gained him credibility in the peace movement.
Millions looked to Jesse Jackson for political leadership and a new political direction. He negotiated with the bosses of the Democratic Party for his entry into the primaries. The deal was that he would compete with the traditional politicians, but immediately submit to the leadership if he lost the nomination.
Jackson mobilized hundreds of thousands of activists from the northern ghettos to the Ivy League college campuses and from the textile factories of North Carolina to the cotton fields of Mississippi. He rolled out the rhetoric about social justice, raising the minimum wage, a single payer (Medicare for All) national health plan and a massive transfer of public funds from the Pentagon to domestic social programs.
He secured an impressive 18% of the vote in the 1984 Democratic primaries. Upon defeat, he immediately capitulated and endorsed the Wall Street Cold Warrior Walter Mondale. He campaigned for Mondale with the promise that the ‘Rainbow Coalition’ would influence the campaign and subsequent Mondale presidency. Nothing of the sort happened. Mondale lost. Reagan was re-elected. The ‘rainbow coalition’ was as ephemeral as its namesake.
Four years later, a recycled Jesse Jackson trotted out the same rhetoric, the ‘grass roots’ organizing, the ghetto gab, the poverty hustle and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow coalition with white and black togetherness… to the amusement of the party bosses and corporate funders.
It was ‘All hands on deck’: The street movements shifted from concrete local struggles to door-to-door voter registration for the Democrats. Trade union locals were attracted to Jackson’s ‘save American jobs’ rhetoric. Middle class progressives were attracted to Jackson’s promise to cut the military budget.
Jackson received a substantial 29% of the Democratic primary vote. Michael Dukakis won the nomination and, as promised, Jesse Jackson endorsed the party’s choice and instructed all the civil rights, social justice and peace activists and anti-Wall Streeters to work for his election. Dukakis was resoundingly defeated by George Bush Sr. in the 1988 election.
At the end of the ‘rainbow’ and over a demoralized and de-politicized peace movement, the Bush Administration led the US into the First Gulf War. The wreckage from the popular movements- turned- electoral machines offered little resistance.
Confused by Jackson’s double discourse, the disaffected masses fractured. Four years later, the few pieces were picked up by Wall Street flunky “Bill” Clinton. Once in office and after tooting his victorious saxophone, President ‘Slick Willy’ proceeded to decimate welfare programs, roll back the Glass-Steagell Laws and deregulate the banks, launch a merciless ninety day war to break up Yugoslavia and maintain ten years of bombs and starvation sanctions against Iraq – causing the deaths of 500,000 children and many more adults.
Cowboy Dennis Kucinich and the 2004 Primaries: Keeping Progressive Livestock in the Democratic Party Corral
Just when disgust at the consequences of Clinton’s rotten policies and peccadilloes and George Bush, Jr’s grotesque wars were beginning to unite the disaffected, Dennis Kucinich popped up ‘from nowhere’ to launch a white working class version of the Jesse Jackson ‘Rainbow Coalition’ in the Democratic Party primaries of 2004. Saving a lot of money on placards, he re-cycled the same slogans about a national health system, minimum wage boost, higher taxes for the rich, anti-Wall Street rhetoric and public ownership of utilities – from the Jacksonites.
Since there was still a substantial strong anti-war movement, he called for the impeachment of President Bush (Jr.) for lying to the American people about Iraq. He criticized Congressional Democrats for supporting the fabricated pretexts to invade Iraq and called for the withdrawal of US troops from the Middle East.
His presidential primary campaign within the Democratic Party attracted a small army of disaffected voters and contributors who otherwise would have bolted from the party for the Greens and their candidate, Ralph Nader. In the Democratic Party Convention, Dennis (looking more like ‘Alfred E. Newman’ than any righteous working class leader) petered out with nary a mumble. He lost the nomination to the uber-militarist and upper class hero, John Kerry, without even a floor-fight or speech. He endorsed the obnoxious crown prince of the Democratic bosses, Kerry, an ardent pro-war, member of the billionaire class and defender of the US Constitution-shredding Patriot Act.
Kucinich managed to corral the anti-war and anti-Wall Street Democrats into submission, seriously undermining the anti-Bush mass movements, especially the anti-war activists, and the rising tide of Americans who openly favored the Single Payer National Health program – an extension of Medicare for All.
Kucinich ran again in 2008 but he was already damaged goods. His ‘belly crawl’ performance at the 2004 Democratic Convention had alienated most of his backers. But even more important in relegating Dennis to the dustbin was the emergence of a new, slicker and infinitely more persuasive con-man: Barack Obama, the Hawaii-raised, Ivy-league polished and Chicago-crowned chameleon of many colors, cadences and clichés, who burst on the scene playing every instrument in the band!
Barack Obama: The Ultimate Progressive Rabble Rouser and Master of Deceit
Barack Obama’s con-job far surpassed any previous effort by Jackson or Kucinich. His mind-boggling ascension on rhetorical bubbles left rival Hillary Clinton, long used to the cant of ‘Slick Willie’, literally pop-eyed and slack jawed. During the 2008 primary he embraced the progressive demands of the anti-war movement, promising to end the Iraq war, bring home the troops from Afghanistan and close the US torture camp at Guantanamo Bay. He promised to finally develop a national health plan (hinting broadly at a Medicare-for-All model) and regulate Wall Street’s unbridled swindles and speculation.
Easily seeing through his fluffy rhetoric, the Democratic Party’s Wall Street backers secured hundreds of millions from billionaires with which to finance a real ‘grass roots movement in style’ defeating an astonished Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries and swamping the mega-millionaire Republican candidate ‘Mitt’ Romney in the general election.
The Zelig-like Obama adopted the Baptist minister’s deep and musical cadences in front of black audiences while savaging and disowning his militant black religious mentor from his Chicago ‘community-organizing’ days, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who had condemned the war in Iraq in frank Biblical terms and alienated his Chicago Zionist financial backers and Israel-centric inner council. No longer useful, the good Reverend was effectively ‘thrown under the bus’ – an object lesson on introducing Ivy League graduates into mass community struggles and enabling their ambitions.
In office, Obama allocated a trillion dollars to bailout Wall Street while letting two million American householders sink under mortgage debt and foreclosures.
He expanded on-going wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and went on to launch new wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen. He supported the violent coups against popularly elected governments (‘regime changes’) in Honduras, Ukraine and Egypt.
The re-cycled and bamboozled anti-war leaders, who backed his candidacy and lies, were discredited, the remaining “movement” fractured.
Initially upward of 80% of US public opinion expressed support for the anti-Wall Street ‘Occupy Movement’ but they had no mass-based political organization to sustain the struggle after many of their leaders swam and ultimately sank, tied to the lies of Obama.
Under Obama more American blacks have been murdered by police with complete impunity; more abortion providers assassinated and clinics bombed than under any white Republican president. As for ‘humanitarian intervention’: In Libya, tens of thousands of ethnic sub-Saharan Africans (contract workers and Libyan citizens) died in the post-Kaddafi ethnic cleansing of Libya by the racist warlords unleashed by Obama’s air assault.
The bewitched progressives were befuddled by the Ivy League’s ‘black’ president and didn’t notice that social inequalities had deepened at an alarming rate. As for access to health care, the American people were forced to ‘buy private insurance plans’ (many of which were worthless), meanwhile deductibles and co-pays skyrocketed forcing all but the well-salaried to forego necessary medical care. The notion that ‘access to health insurance’ was equivalent to having effective health care has been one of the biggest shams of the Obama era: Life expectancy for large segments of the low income rural and small town Americans has dropped – an unimaginable development in previous eras.
During Obama’s Presidency, the political climate turned rabid right-wing and the progressives turned tail and ran. Right wing extremists swept the Republican Party and then seized control of the Congress and the Senate.
After seven years of failures, frustration and futility under Obama, progressives found themselves without a movement or prospects. Over 92% of US private sector workers were unorganized and faced continued decline in their standard of living. Black, Chicano and Asian neighborhoods were subject to large-scale, brutal police raids and the extra-judicial killing of minority youth, the homeless, mentally ill and the poor continued with impunity. Over 2 million immigrant workers were incarcerated and expelled. Tens of thousands of young immigrant and refugee mothers and their children were held in private prison camps.
The Republicans promised to extend Obama’s reactionary agenda without the smiling blackface mask. They assured greater tax handouts to Wall Street, with none of the embarrassing rhetorical flourishes, and more wars, without the sanctimonious ‘humanitarian’ cant.
Against this expanding panorama of social deterioration and war-weariness, (a backdrop, which would normally open up the possibility for alternative politics…), Bernie appeared. Bernie Sanders was to incarnate the Fourth Coming of the progressive Democratic primary campaigner-messiah and scupper any real movement to the left.
Bernie Sanders: After the Black Con-Artist Bring out the Jewish House Radical!
By 2015, US society was deeply polarized. After seven years of Wall Street pillage, under Democratic President Obama, the mass of working people were looking for an alternative. On the horizon there was only more of the same promised from the rabid right which ran the Republican Party. Massive voter abstention had propelled the Republicans to power in ‘both Houses’ in the elections of 2010, 2012 and 2014. Terror-mongering, the so-called Global War on Terror, no longer cut any ice with a population terrified of losing their miserable jobs or getting bankrupted by an illness in the family. The Pentagon resorted to paying unemployed actors to stage ‘spontaneous’ displays of patriotism at huge sporting events – dressing up as veterans and running about on the fields with huge flags. There has been a big drop in healthy young Americans willing to ‘sign up’ and fight in overseas wars despite the continued prospect of being mired in poverty-wage jobs in the so-called ‘recovered domestic economy’. The mass of disaffected working people were not flocking to the Democratic Party’s plutocrat-of-choice, Hilary Clinton, the war monger, Wall Street favorite and pro-Israel candidate par excellence. The stage was now set for mass voter abstention and a resounding electoral defeat for a deflated Democratic Party with a disgusted electorate. As a presidential candidate Hillary would have to fight tooth and nail to meet the challenge of even the most marginal lunatic candidate from the increasingly bizarre Republican Party – because the Democrat’s disaffected voter base would stay home.
Behold! A raspy rabble rouser, a ‘democratic socialist’, floated in on a cloud of self-righteousness, conjuring up the illusion of a movement with promises of ‘profound (and even profounder) changes’.
Like Jackson and Kucinich before him, Sanders launched right into The Rant: Against Wall Street, for a National Health Plan and a reduction of military spending (but not too much…). He added a few new planks about cancelling student debt, lowering tuition, ending the cap on the social security tax and greater regulation of Wall Street.
Early polls have given Sanders 25% of the Democratic preferences.
Bernie assured his worried Democratic Party handlers that should Madame Clinton win the primaries, Bernie (and his followers) would immediately and unconditionally support the Party’s war mongering, Wall Street candidate of choice.
What are we to make of his promises and his radical program, if from one day to the other he can easily make a 180 degree turn to support the most discredited dregs of the Democratic Party – those largely responsible for the country’s social and economic decline?
The whole history of Democratic Party ‘progressives’ is one of deceit, hypocrisy and betrayal of millions of workers, minorities and other oppressed and excluded groups.
They rant and rave, till the votes are counted and then they dissolve their electoral organization and push their supporters into the Party electoral campaign!
They do not continue the struggle outside of the corrupt party – they simply go belly up, ‘graciously conceding defeat’ and wagging their tails hoping for a reward (like some inconsequential, toothless position within the administration) if the Democrats win.
After every one of the ‘radicals’ defeats, their supporters are left adrift. Indeed, they are worse off than before because their movements had been diverted into the Democratic primaries and away from the communities. The historical record is clear: After Jesse Jackson lost, the Rainbow Coalition fell apart; civil rights movements were weakened; police violence against blacks continued and even worsened.
After Kucinich ran and lost, his grassroots supporters within the trade unions had no mechanism to block the relocation of auto, steel and textile plants overseas.
After Obama conned progressive Americans, the peace and justice movement virtually disappeared. The church, trade union, neighborhood alliances who celebrated Barack Obama’s ‘historic victory’ have in reality experienced historical retreats. The only things “historic” about Obama’s terms in office have been (1) the trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street, (2) the number of simultaneous wars waged by the Pentagon, (3) the millions of people of color slaughtered in Libya, Syria, and Yemen (4) the thousands of minorities killed in cities, big and small of the USA (5) and the tens of thousands lost to premature deaths in economically devastated rural and small town America.
The current “Bernie” Sanders road-show is just recycling the past, right down to the same rhetorical and inconsequential promises of his predecessors.
Some of his gullible followers claim that he is important for “raising issues” – when in fact he will just raise them and then demoralize their advocates.
Other pundits claim he is ‘challenging’ the Democratic Party ‘from the Left’ when in fact he is doing everything possible to prevent millions of disaffected ex-Democratic voters, mostly workers and minorities, from rejecting the Democrats and joining or forming alternative political movements.
The key to understanding why millions of Americans, fed up with 30 years of declining living and health standards, deepening inequalities and perpetual wars, do not form an ‘alternative party’ is that they have been repeatedly conned and corralled in the Democratic Party by the “house radicals”.
Jackson, Kucinich, Obama, and Sanders promised radical changes in the primaries and then have gone on to hand their supporters, mostly disaffected workers, over to the Party oligarchs, abandoning them without their past social movements or future hope: like cast-off condoms. Is there any wonder why so many abstain!
Nuclear’s greatest hope may be the ‘Clean Power Plan’
Another month, another premature nuclear plant retirement.
About two weeks ago, Entergy finally threw in the towel on the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Scriba, N.Y., a move that came as a surprise to exactly no one who has been paying attention to the merchant nuclear business in the U.S. the past few years. FitzPatrick joined the long-troubled Pilgrim plant in Plymouth, Mass., which Entergy gave up on in October, and Vermont Yankee, which it shut down in late 2014.
Since the end of 2012, the U.S. has lost an astonishing eight nuclear reactors to premature retirements: Kewaunee, San Onofre (2), Crystal River, and Vermont Yankee (all now shut down); FitzPatrick (retiring in late 2016); and Pilgrim and Oyster Creek (both retiring in 2019, well ahead of their planned lifetimes).
Several other reactors are on life support. Exelon’s R. E. Ginna plant in Ontario, N.Y., has been fighting to secure a rate support agreement that would keep it running a few more years, while the company’s Quad Cities and Byron plants got a reprieve after they unexpectedly cleared PJM auctions this fall. Industry observers see anywhere from five to 10 other plants as being at risk of premature retirement.
What’s remarkable about this trend is how it’s come about not from government pressure or mandates as in Germany or Japan—where nuclear is also in retreat—but from pure market pressures. In mid-2013, I wrote a post asking, “Is Cheap Gas Killing Nuclear Power?” Two years later, I’m prepared to answer that question in the affirmative.
In the case of Pilgrim, FitzPatrick, and Vermont Yankee, Entergy specifically named wholesale power prices driven to record low levels by cheap shale gas as one factor in its decisions. As my colleague Kennedy Maize has noted, observers now strongly suspect that Entergy is planning to exit the merchant nuclear business altogether—because it’s clearly become a big money-loser.
If you look at the list of retired and most at-risk plants, one common element jumps out immediately. Most of them exist in deregulated markets where power prices are largely set by the price of natural gas: ISO-New England (Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim), New York ISO (FitzPatrick and Ginna), and PJM (Oyster Creek, Byron, and Quad Cities). The other two plants, San Onofre and Crystal River, operated in more regulated markets, and while both were retired because of mechanical defects that were too expensive to repair, competition from gas-fired generation factored into both decisions to some degree.
Since 2012, when the problems for merchant nuclear really began, natural gas spot prices have stayed below $4/MMBtu except for a brief period last year, when a bitterly cold winter led to low stocks that pushed things up for a few months.
Since then, prices have fallen consistently, flirting with sub-$2 levels this fall. With gas in storage hitting a record high at the end of this year’s injection season, a repeat of 2014 seems unlikely. Meanwhile, gas production hit another record high in August at 81.3 Bcf/day. None of this, according to Energy Information Administration projections, seems likely to change in the short term, as production stubbornly continues climbing ahead of demand growth.
Where is nuclear still viable? That’s best answered by looking at the three states where a total of five nuclear plants are under construction: Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The common denominator there is clear. All three projects are being built in tightly regulated markets where the utility building them enjoys a government-sanctioned monopoly and the ability to recover costs in advance of operation.
The problem for nuclear is that momentum in the electricity markets over the past couple of decades has been toward flexibility and competition and away from monopolies and subsidies.
At the state level, attempts by Exelon and others to secure changes in the law to provide greater support for nuclear have been given the cold shoulder, while solar advocates are prying open previously closed markets like the Carolinas and Florida. Despite the challenges for merchant nuclear plants, no states are even considering an exit from problematic wholesale power markets, and independent system operators like PJM have shown no interest in rigging the game for nuclear either.
At the federal level, the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, which provided enormous support for renewable generation, appear on their way out one way or another. The odds that the current Congress might pass some sort of nuclear production credit (an idea I mentioned in my 2013 post) would seem to be close to zero.
Nuclear’s greatest hope may be the Clean Power Plan (CPP)—which was revised in its final form to give more credit to nuclear generation—but that is far from a done deal. Even if the Democrats retain control of the White House in 2016, control of Congress is another matter, and the Supreme Court could still throw out or handicap the CPP on a variety of grounds.
Cheap gas is not going away. Greater state-level regulatory support seems highly unlikely. Even if the CPP survives in its current form, it won’t substantially change the economics of merchant nuclear.
The impending loss of nuclear generation presents a problem for a variety of reasons. Loss of generation diversity is never a good thing, and the loss of low-carbon electricity will complicate efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But the solution remains elusive.
—Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER associate editor (@thomas_overton, @POWERmagazine).
Last week the US House dealt a blow to President Obama’s plan to resettle 10,000 Syrians fleeing their war-torn homeland. On a vote of 289-137, including 47 Democrats, the House voted to require the FBI to closely vet any applicant from Syria and to guarantee that none of them pose a threat to the US. Effectively this will shut down the program.
The House legislation was brought to the Floor after last week’s attacks in Paris that left more than 120 people dead, and for which ISIS claimed responsibility. With the year-long US bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, there is a good deal of concern that among those 10,000 to be settled here there might be some who wish to do us harm. Even though it looks as though the Paris attackers were all EU citizens, polling in the US shows record opposition to allowing Syrian refugees entry.
I agree that we must be very careful about who is permitted to enter the United States, but I object to the president’s plan for a very different reason. I think it is a sign of Washington’s moral and intellectual bankruptcy that US citizens are being forced to pay for those fleeing Washington’s foreign policy.
For the past ten years the US government has been planning and executing a regime change operation against the Syrian government. It is this policy that has produced the chaos in Syria, including the rise of ISIS and al-Qaeda in the country. After a decade of US destabilization efforts, we are now told that Syria is totally destabilized and we therefore must take in thousands of Syrians fleeing the destabilization that Washington caused.
Has there ever been a more foolish and wrong-headed foreign policy than this?
The American people have been forced to pay untold millions for a ten-year CIA and Pentagon program to undermine and overthrow the Syrian government, and now we are supposed to pay millions more to provide welfare for the refugees Obama created.
Who should pay for the millions fleeing the chaos that Washington helped create? How about the military-industrial complex, which makes a killing promoting killing? How about the Beltway neocon think-tanks that continue to churn out pro-war propaganda while receiving huge grants from defense contractors? How about President Obama’s national security advisors, who push him into one regime change disaster after another? How about Hillary Clinton, who came up with the bright idea that “Assad must go”? How about President Obama himself, a president elected to end wars, but who has ended up starting more wars than his predecessor? It’s time those who start the wars start paying for the disasters they create. Then perhaps we might have some relief from an interventionist foreign policy that is destroying our financial and national security.
If Obama wants to take in refugees from the chaos in Syria, there are probably plenty of vacant rooms in the White House.
The FDA has been called an arm of the drug industry because of how often it smiles on questionable new drugs and new drug approvals only to issue greater warnings or even withdraw them after the drugs made billions. Remember Vioxx, Baycol, Trovan, Meridia, Seldane, Hismanal and Darvon? They are not around anymore. Why? Remember how popular statins, brand name asthma and psychiatric drugs and GERD drugs were? Once they went off patent, the FDA “discovered” serious side effects and began to list warnings. Sorry about that.
There is a stereotype of backwoods courtroom “justice” in which prosecutors and defense attorneys who appeared to be adversarial leave arm in arm and go for a beer after a judicial decision. No hard feelings. The same collegiality oozes at FDA hearings with FDA staffers seeming to suck up to industry, perhaps for jobs in which they return to squeeze their prior colleagues. (Who remembers former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s chief of staff leaning on Perry to vaccinate all the state’s girls with the Merck vaccine Gardasil after he left for industry?)
FDA advisory panels, whose recommendations the FDA usually follows, are supposed to include “patient representatives” to see that the public’s interests are balanced against Big Pharma consultants. So many doctors and researchers now live on 5 and 6 digit drug company stipends, the FDA actually relaxed conflict of interest rules a few years ago–it could not find enough unlinked doctors!
But the “patient representatives” can be a sham. At one meeting I attended, one “patient representative” was a member of the drug industry-funded National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which was investigated by Congress for its hidden Pharma income and many consider a front group. The other so-called patient representative” had given keynote speeches at NAMI. So much for transparency.
Because of the huge amount of money to be made from a blockbuster drug like Lipitor—it was the best selling drug in the world—there is a natural tension between drug companies who want to hurry the march to Wall $treet and drug regulators who want to slow it down to protect the public.
That is why the nomination of unapologetic drug industry supporter, Robert M. Califf, for FDA Commissioner is so concerning. A disclosure statement on the website of Duke Clinical Research Institute lists 25 drug companies Califf receives “research” funds from including drug giants like Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Merck, Schering Plough and GSK.
Califf has gone on record that collaboration between industry and regulators is a good thing. He told NPR, “Many of us consult with the pharmaceutical industry, which I think is a very good thing. They need ideas and then the decision about what they do is really up to the person who is funding the study.” What?
He is known for defending Vioxx which is reported to have caused at least 50,000 heart attacks and events before its withdrawal. (Merck is said to have known about Vioxx’ cardio effects but marketed the blockbuster drug anyway.)
Califf was instrumental in the Duke drug trial of the blood thinner Xarelto and a cheerleader of the drug despite medical experts’ objections to its approval and 379 subsequent deaths. Duke, where Califf directed clinical research, is still recovering from a major research fraud scandal that resulted in terminated grants, retracted papers and a Sixty Minutes special. It is the least appropriate place from which to choose an FDA Commissioner.
If approved as FDA Commissioner, as many expect, will Califf recuse himself from decisions on the dozens of drugs whose manufacturers pay him? Or will he rule on them anyway? Either way, his nomination is a slap in the face of every honest doctor, researcher and regulator and the public that puts its trust in the FDA. In fact, if the FDA Commissioner is funded by industry, why have an FDA?
Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).
Mr. Obama, Mr. Cameron. Mr. Hollande, Madame Merkel, Mr. Erdogan and all the other members of the criminal conspiracy to dominate the world, I ask you, do you intend to test our patience to its limit? How much longer will your killing frenzy madden us? At what point do you stop your reckless push to the very brink of world war. Have the Nuremberg trials, the UN Charter, international law, have the fears and protests of the people, have your continual defeats in one war after another, your crimes against mankind revealed to the light time and time again, had no effect on you at all? Do you not know that your plans have been exposed, that the conspiracy and the conspirators have been identified? Which of us does not know what you were up to yesterday evening, what you were up to last night and this morning, who you talked with, what plan of action you decided on? For the plan is always the same, and never changes, to dominate, to control or to destroy.
Many think they are lucky if they can just stay out of your way but we know better. We know that no one is safe from your criminality and depravity. Not even children returning from Sharm El Sheihk, from their holiday, are safe from the blade of death you hold in your hands, nor the citizens of Paris enjoying a night out on the town. You proved that when Metrojet Flight 9268 was destroyed in mid-air. No official cause has yet been determined but circumstances indicate the possibility of a bomb on board is a strong one. You proved it again when attackers murdered scores of people in Paris on Friday November 13th. ISIS is reported to have claimed responsibility but the claim that a Syrian passport was found on the body of one attacker, an Egyptian passport on another and a French one on another forces the question as to why anyone conducting such an attack would walk around with identification especially passports and more why would a French national carry his passport in France? The Paris attack and the Russian airliner attack both smell of false flag operations and when we ask the first question in any criminal investigation, who benefits from these attacks on civilians, then it is you who fall in line, one after the other, as the prime and usual suspects.
There has been a lot of speculation that the attack on the Russian plane was made by you or your allies in ISIS to “punish” Russia for its assistance to Syria and to try to affect public opinion in Russia against that assistance. But that never made sense since Russians know the high stakes for Russia in this struggle. The real reason for the attack is made clear by you every day in your mass controlled media. Your thinking, your plans, your crimes are exposed in the very propaganda you use to manipulate the minds of your own peoples and what you have told us is that the Russian plane was destroyed, all those innocent people trying to enjoy a small holiday were murdered, in order to justify your calls for an invasion of Syria. It is as clear as the deaths heads etched into your souls that those Russian men, those Russian women and those Russian children were sacrificed, used, as means of justifying a great war in the middle east. And now the citizens of France are sacrificed as well.
On CNN the other day your prime time king of war propaganda, Wolf Blitzer, showed an interview between the CNN queen of war propaganda, Christiane Anampour, and the Turkish Prime Minister. I use it because he says what you, Obama, Merkel, Hollande, and Cameron have all said in complete synchronicity, that the “plane attack is a call to action.” Prime Minister Davutoglu said,
“This is not an attack against a Russian airplane, but it is an attack against all of us. So therefore it shows that if the crisis is not solved in any particular country or region, then it is going to affect us all.” The same is now claimed by western leaders about the Paris attack.
On the same programme Blitzer hosted Senator Lindsay Graham, one of the most rabid of the American dogs of war who stated, “I believe you have to have boots on the ground to destroy ISIL, ….you need Turkey and the Arabs coming together with us, and you need 90 per cent them and 10 per cent us. 5,000 to 10,000 of Americans to be part of a regional force to go on the ground to destroy ISIL in Syria, or they will never be destroyed and they will hit us here at home.” And now Paris has been struck.
We have seen the same calls made from all the NATO capitals in recent days and all made just after the NATO leaders, with one notable exception, expressed their insincere condolences to the families of the victims of the airliner disaster but not to Russia or its government. The exception was President Obama who kept a sinister silence.
CNN stated on November 5th that the possibility that ISIS is behind the plane crash raises the spectre of a new potential for devastating attacks on Americans. “If another Islamist group has acquired the motivation and the capacity to attack civilian airliners, a future target could be U.S. jets.’ said a man named Aaron David Miller a “former middle east peace negotiator” with the Wilson Center in Washington who also said ‘It’s a long war and you, we have just seen maybe a very significant turn and escalation in that war…. and this will increase pressure … to forestall similar strikes against a US target.” But Paris was hit first.
I could cite many other similar statements in which your propagandists claim ISIS to be the new Al Qaeda. You and your fellow conspirators plan to amplify this propaganda to hysterical levels to generate overwhelming fear in your domestic populations in order to justify a large scale war against Syria where your proxy forces are being defeated by the combined arms of Russian air power and the fighting spirit and skills of the Syrian Arab Army. This has been achieved with the attack in Paris. The sudden flow of refugees into Europe is being used for the same purpose.
No doubt we can expect similar attacks in other NATO capitals. It does not matter to you if you use the misery of millions fleeing war and poverty to justify your plans for war or Russian children returning from happy days on the beach, or people enjoying a concert or football match in Paris. All deaths are the same to you. And so, when we ask who murdered those children, who murdered those Parisians, are you surprised if we turn our heads your way?
We owe a great debt of gratitude to those who defeated fascism in the Second Word War, and we cannot permit those forces of reaction and tyranny to torment us again for now you are not threatening this country or that, this leader or that, you are threatening the existence of civilization itself. Is this not madness? Is there anything that gives you pleasure except death and more death? Is there a single person on the planet that does not fear you, not a single person who does not hate you? Is there any mark of disgrace with which you have not been branded, any dishonour that does not stain your reputation? From what crime have you ever abstained?
There is no need to answer. We all know the answers to these questions.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly seeking US recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights due to the Syrian conflict. Netanyahu allegedly wanted a “different thinking” regarding the issue during talks with Barack Obama.
The possibility of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981 being recognized was raised during Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Obama, according to Haaretz sources close to the discussions. The publication mentioned that Netanyahu believes the absence of a functioning Syrian government “allows for different thinking” concerning the future status of the strategically important area.
Netanyahu also reportedly said he was doubtful that peace talks taking place in Vienna between the world powers and various Syrian fractions involved in the war would result in peace. During the meeting, Netanyahu also clarified Israel’s red lines in regards to Syria.
“We won’t tolerate attacks from Syrian territory, we won’t allow Iran to open a front [against us] on the Golan Heights, and we will disrupt the transfer of deadly weaponry from Syria to Lebanon,” Netanyahu told the president.
President Obama did not respond to the proposal from Netanyahu, while the Israeli prime minister failed to elaborate on the issue with reporters.
At a press conference following the meeting, Netanyahu mentioned any international deal regarding Syria would have to “take into account Israel’s interests.”
Speaking later in the day at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, Netanyahu reiterated that Israel will do everything to prevent Iran from using Syrian territory to threaten Israel.
“The defense of Israel is what concerns me in Syria first and foremost, and on that we’ll continue to act forcefully,” Netanyahu said.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War, which created an armistice line under Israeli military control. Syria unsuccessfully tried to retake the Golan Heights during the 1973 War. An armistice was concluded in 1974 resulting in a UN observer force being deployed along the ceasefire line.
In 1981 Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights, a move that is not recognized internationally. Over the last three and a half decades, Israel has built more than 30 Jewish settlements in the area. Since the start of the Syrian conflict, Israel has carried out a number of military operations as fighting reached the Golan ceasefire lines.
As the armed struggle in Syria continues, a few high ranking officials in Israel have recently voiced the need to gain full international recognition of Israel’s claims to the Golan Heights.
Netanyahu’s former ambassador to Washington Michael Oren, earlier this week, urged Netanyahu “to ask for American recognition of full Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights through a presidential declaration and accompanying letter,” the Times of Israel states.
“Syria as we knew it has ceased to exist,” Oren claimed, stressing that Israeli recognition would result in the “stabilization and rehabilitation of the area.”
In July, Netanyahu’s former cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser also urged the Israelis to seize the “historic opportunity” and seek international recognition of its presence on the Golan.
“Forty years on, in light of Syria’s collapse, Islamic State’s takeover of huge areas in the Middle East and the ‘rotten compromise’ expected with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the achievement that Israel needs and can attain is to update the international stance, and ratify and upgrade the US stance on the Golan,” Hauser wrote in an article published in Haaretz.
Washington needs “boots on the ground” in Syria in addition to its air campaign against ISIS, which is not fruitful despite some progress. US Air Force secretary has admitted that “ground forces” is a must in order to “occupy” and “govern” parts of Syria.
In her comments, Secretary Deborah Lee James stressed the importance of the US-led air campaign, but admitted that airstrikes need to be backed by ground forces.
“Air power is extremely important. It can do a lot but it can’t do everything,” James said, just two days after Secretary of Defense Ash Carter supported President Obama’s “willingness to do more” in terms of US troops on Syrian ground.
“Ultimately it cannot occupy territory and very importantly it cannot govern territory,” James told reporters at the Dubai Airshow. “This is where we need to have boots on the ground. We do need to have ground forces in this campaign.”
When it comes to support, the US should assist the “Iraqi army, the Free Syrians and the Kurds” in the fight against Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL), James said.
Joined at the news conference by the head of Air Force’s Central Command, Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr, the civilian chief of the US Air Force also said that the US sought to speed up the resupply of munitions used by its allies in campaigns against IS militants in Syria and Iraq.
“That’s a key message that I’m going to be taking back to Washington, and it’s one that we are working pretty hard,” she told reporters, stressing that the Air Force is committed to a quicker process of approving foreign military sales.
“We need to redouble our efforts and get the message delivered back home that it is important to give much more quick consideration if at all possible,” she said.
Last week, Secretary Carter said that the US needed “much more than airstrikes” to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.
“I don’t think it’s enough. I think we’re looking to do more. But the fundamental strategy in Iraq and Syria for dealing with ISIL and dealing a lasting defeat to ISIL is to identify then train, equip, and enable local forces that can keep the peace,” Carter said.
On October 30 the White House announced that it is planning to send up no “more than 50 troops” [special forces] to advise “moderate opposition” in Syria on the ground.
The White House spokesman Josh Earnest stressed that “these forces do not have a combat mission” while telling the reporters that the US has shown “a desire to intensify those elements of our strategy that have shown the most promise.”
According to a report from Lebanon’s satellite television channel, Al Mayadeen, American military advisors already arrived in Syria last week and started training “moderate rebels” near the city of Salma, located in the western province of Latakia.
The recent development contradicts President Obama’s 2013 promise not to put any “American boots on the ground in Syria” while also bringing up the issues concerning the previous failures of the US train and equip program.
The Pentagon gave up on the training part of the project in October, after senior Obama administration officials admitted that the US had only trained a handful of fighters, despite the program’s $500 million budget.
In September, it was revealed that one group of trainees had surrendered one quarter of their US-supplied weapons, ammunition, and vehicles in exchange for safe passage through territory held by another rebel group affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
The rebel training program’s $500 million budget in 2015 was in addition to the $42 million the Pentagon had already spent in 2014 to set it up.
And also the World Jewish Congress
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently making one of his periodic devastating plundering raids on Washington and New York. During his visit he discreetly picked up a bunch of large checks from the Wall Street crowd, benefited from the plaudits dutifully delivered by the media and chattering class and has even met with President Barack Obama, whom he quite openly despises. Netanyahu and Obama carefully concealed their mutual dislike when in front of the cameras but the president also made all the right noises about Israel’s security “needs.” Apparently all the violence occurring in Israel-Palestine is the fault of the Palestinians and Israel always has the right to do whatever it wants to defend itself. Obama will follow up on the meeting by throwing billions of dollars of additional Danegeld at Netanyahu as a token of America’s undying love and fealty to Israel’s interests.
One wonders if Obama had his fingers crossed behind his back to indicate that he was lying to Bibi except for the intention to come up with more money, which is always an easy way out for America’s ruling class. It is generally convenient to pay off blackmailers like Netanyahu in hopes that they will stop whining. The president will in any event have to prepare himself to endure the usual firestorm coming from GOP presidential candidates later this week over his less than enthusiastic support for America’s greatest ally and best friend, which would have been a consequence of the visit no matter how it had turned out.
Last Thursday a full page ad placed by the World Jewish Congress appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The group’s president Ronald Lauder, the cosmetics company heir, provided the White House with suggestions for how to deal with the visiting Israeli leader. Predictably, he delivered some debatable assertions in constructing his argument as to why the president and prime minister should kiss and make up.
Lauder wants to “reinvigorate” the relationship with Israel because “never has this relationship been more important.” Wrong Ron, the Israeli connection is an enormous liability for the United States strategically speaking that has cost well in excess of $100 billion to the American taxpayer and has done untold political damage. Compared to other strategic partners in the region including Turkey and Egypt Israel is of little or no importance but for the fact that it has an enthusiastic, politically powerful and extremely wealthy domestic lobby conniving on its behalf. Which includes you, Ron.
Lauder goes on to cite “human disaster in Syria, ISIS moving on Iraq, [and] Iran’s bid to destabilize the region.” Well Ron, the human disaster in Syria and ISIS in Iraq have been caused by policies pushed by Israel and carried out by the United States, all starting with the Iraq war which was initiated at least in part for Israel by a cadre of neocons in the Bush Administration. Iran may not be a friend of the United States, but its support is desperately needed to eliminate ISIS and help stabilize Iraq. As always, Israel sees a U.S. led military solution to each and every problem dealing with Muslims. That might provide a comfort zone for Israeli politicians but it is bad for the United States and to be completely honest it is not even good for the Israeli people.
The ad also cites “the ongoing violent attacks against Jews in Israel” and that Israel is the “only democracy” in the Middle East. Ron, more than seven Palestinians have been killed for each dead Israeli, many of them shot execution style, but you seem to have forgotten that. The simple solution to the attacks would be for Israel to give up its endless and endlessly brutal occupation of the West Bank as well as its siege of Gaza. The knifings would end.
And what about democracy when it only applies to Jews? Netanyahu has proposed expelling thousands of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, where they and their ancestors have lived for centuries. And the continuous theft of Arab land and destruction of their livelihoods proceeds at an accelerated pace. If Ron Lauder and his friends really cared about suffering humanity instead of only the Jewish subset he would be using his considerable leverage to complain directly to Netanyahu and ask him to reverse his policies.
And how to fix things? Lauder claims that Netanyahu has “the greatness, the vision and the courage to move this relationship forward on a positive path.” Sure. And pigs have wings. Let’s face it Ron, Bibi is quite likely clinically insane. Even many Israelis are saying so, though they still vote for him based on his government’s relentlessly implemented and self-fulfilling program of inciting fear of Arabs.
For what it’s worth, this is what I propose Obama should have said to Bibi but didn’t, with a transcript of the conversation also faxed over to Ron Lauder at the World Jewish Congress:
- “Nice to have you back Prime Minister, but not really as it’s close to lunchtime, to which, incidentally, you are not invited. Why don’t you stay home? You have been interfering in our politics and denigrating both me personally and my office for far too long. How would you like it if I were to go to Israel and endorse one of your opponents? If you keep up this crap I will revoke your visa and you’ll never visit here again.”
- “And by the way, your plan to expel thousands of Arabs from East Jerusalem and to shoot kids throwing stones at your occupying army is not acceptable to us. And then there are new reports of your harvesting organs and other medical transplant material from the bodies of Palestinians that you have killed. There’s a long history of that in your country, but it’s a bit much even by your standards, isn’t it, and it begs the question whether there is anything that you won’t do. Next time a motion comes up in the United Nations condemning your brutality we will support it. Maybe we’ll co-sponsor or even propose it to show that we’re serious.”
- “We are running out of money here in Washington and are thinking of cutting benefits to our own people. I note that Israelis have free medical care and university education, which means that we are subsidizing things that we Americans do not have so it hardly seems fair. We have been giving you more than $3 billion in aid every year and also looking the other way when you benefit from tax free charitable contributions that actually are illegal under American law. By executive order, I am stopping the cash flow and asking the IRS to look at your friends over here.”
- “And speaking of Israel’s many friends, your good buddy at the State Department Victoria Nuland is now working down in the mail room. And I am asking the Justice Department to register the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as a foreign agent, subject to having its finances and operations monitored by U.S. authorities. Oh, and your spy Jonathan Pollard will be denied parole later this month and will be the guest of a federal prison for the next twenty years.”
- “I cannot see where you have done anything for us except complain. As you are now pledging Israel to continue its occupation of Palestinian land and ‘live by the sword’, meaning the killing of Arabs will accelerate, I am suspending all military cooperation with you until you come up with a plan to remove most of your settlers from the West Bank. Come back when you have something to show me. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”
Well, okay, it was never bloody likely to happen that way, but I can dream, can’t I? If you think Obama is spineless when confronted by Ron Lauder and the usual suspects, just think of how bad it will be when we have President Clinton or President Rubio, proxies for their Israel firster donors Haim Saban and Paul Singer respectively. The new president and his or her staff will have to learn how to perform proskynesis whenever Netanyahu enters the oval office.