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90 Palestinians, 0 Israelis Die, But Obama Fights UN Condemnation of Israel’s Air War (Updated)

7:44 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

A photo of the U.N. Security Council chambers.

Will the U.N. Security Council condemn Israel’s air offensive on Gaza?

Should the headline be “76 Gaza Dead But _U.S._ Fights UN Condemnation“? (Updated to 90 at 7:45 p.m. ET, see comment 12). No, I don’t think so, the buck stops at President Obama’s desk. Here’s the news about maneuvering against possible UN condemnation of the bombing (whose victims are 80% civilians):

Jerusalem and Washington are trying to prevent the UN Security Council from condemning Israel’s air offensive in the Gaza Strip, in which dozens of Palestinian civilians have been killed, Israeli diplomats said Thursday. The Security Council is due to meet at 10 A.M. New York time to discuss the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

…Israeli diplomats say the United States is working with the council’s members, particularly Jordan, to ensure that the panel does not condemn Israel. Jordan represents the Arab countries in the Security Council.

Note that the UN deliberations are happening more or less now, as I write this. More news on the civilian killing:

Medical officials in Hamas-dominated Gaza said at least 60 civilians, including a four-year-old girl and boy, aged 5 who were killed on Thursday, were among the 76 Palestinians who have died in Israeli attacks since Tuesday.

…’The Jews say they are fighting Hamas and fighting gunmen while all the bodies we have seen on television are those of women and children,’ said Khaled Ali, 45, a Gaza taxi driver.

Rocket salvoes on Israel – the military said 442 projectiles have been fired since Tuesday, including nearly 100 on Thursday alone – have caused no fatalities or serious injuries.

Why Is It Happening?

Of course we don’t know, but a UK Guardian analyst has this well-informed take: IDF’s Gaza assault is to control Palestinian gas, avert Israeli energy crisis. The article’s subheading: “Israel’s defence minister has confirmed that military plans to ‘uproot Hamas’ are about dominating Gaza’s gas reserves.” This is the kind of sensible, evidence-rich, ‘follow the money’ analysis that generally works for me…

Of course, the war can also be seen as normal national politics in Israel. Netanyahu has been pressured from the far right, after the killing of three Israeli teenagers in occupied Palestine, to kill Arabs. So, he is doing so. That’s the kind of country Israel is. Of course, the entire very well-publicized “search for three kidnapped teenagers” story was artificial in the extreme, and apparently employed precisely to whip up the ‘kill Arabs’ frenzy that then ostensibly pressed Netanyahu to do just that. So, I don’t buy the ‘he was pressured from the far right’ reasoning.

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Is Sergey Lavrov the obvious Nobel Peace Prize choice?

12:28 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Expanding a comment at David Swanson’s Save the Nobel Peace Prize from Itself

Obviously the Nobel Peace Prize should be given to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In the quickest thinking diplomatic moment of all time, he literally prevented an imminent war by taking advantage of a U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry bonehead error, where Kerry sneered/joked that aggressive U.S. war on Syria would be called off only if “every single bit” of Syria’s chemical weapons were eliminated in a week. More details are in Syria calls John Kerry’s bluff, agrees to turn over its chemical weapons to UN!, where I quote the Guardian on the purely rhetorical nature of Kerry’s pseudo-demand:

The US state department stressed that Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the one-week deadline and unlikelihood of Assad turning over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. In a statement, the department added: “His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That’s why the world faces this moment.” …

Kerry said Assad might avoid an attack if he handed every bit of his chemical weapons stock, but added that the Syrian president was not going to do that.

Despite it all, despite hilarious headlines like Kerry tells Russia his Syria comments were not meant as a proposal, Lavrov pushed on, in the end providing the world with a little peace.

If the Peace Prize is not given to Lavrov, possibly in combination with Russian President Vladimir Putin — who was surely in close consultation with his foreign minister during the critical minutes and hours after Kerry’s gaffe — that once more confirms that the Peace Prize committee is just another ‘new cold war’ institution. In other words, it’s a war institution. War being peace these days, in case you haven’t noticed …

And not that we won’t get Obama and Kerry’s war on Syria in 2014 (the U.S. is requiring Syria to prove a WMD negative, the same thing we demanded of Iraq in 2002-3), but let’s focus for now on 2013 and its prize.

A final and second thought, if the committee has a sense of humor I’d love to see them give the peace prize to Lavrov AND Kerry. Who knows, could happen, the committee showing a nice comic sense by awarding Barack the Obomber the prize a few years ago.

P.S. — In a rational world I wouldn’t have to say the following, but here goes anyway: None of the above should be taken as a defense of Russia’s government or any of its policies, including its treatment of gays and Pussy Riot. Read the rest of this entry →

‘Afghanistan veterans who commit suicide are not cowardly, they are victims of the war.’

3:41 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

For anyone thinking of enlisting, the video above is essential listening. It has the somewhat odd title of “Afghanistan veterans commit suicide from a good conscience,” but don’t let that discourage you. Partial transcript below.

Potential enlistees, don’t become a killer of people you have never met, about whom you know very little or nothing. More morality lessons here.

Hakim: Some people who hear your story may think your mind was weak; you wanted to commit suicide.

Nao Rozi: Veterans who commit suicide are not cowardly, they are victims of the war. They were persuaded to do things they didn’t want to do. Or, if they chose to do those things, don’t we sometimes regret things we’ve done, or feel ashamed? That was exactly what happened in my crisis. I felt ashamed. I regretted what I had done. … Life becomes meaningless. … You think you’ve done something such that you feel you no longer have the right to live. …

The U.S. veterans who have committed suicide had a conscience. They fought in Afghanistan and some killed or were killed. Those thoughts afflicted them day and night. I myself experienced them. When I was sleeping, I would wake up suddenly in the middle of the night shouting. It was not fear, they were nightmares. At times I slept walked. I even thought I was a murderer, though now I think I was not because I didn’t kill anyone. [But] even those who may have killed others should not keep thinking those thoughts.

Hakim: What message do you have for friends and for the world?

Nao Rozi: … How I wish that every human in the world would, just for once, sit down alone and ask, ‘What are we here for? How have we been deceived? How true to self have we been?’ These questions are important.

… I was a captive of the things I heard from society and the media, but now I am free!

Nao Rozi currently lives with and struggles for the Afghan Peace Volunteers, seeking a better life and a better world.