You are browsing the archive for Middle East.

The Israelis are playing with fire…

7:35 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

Nick Cook, 36, of Grand Ledge did two tours in Iraq and, as an Army troop commander, lost five soldiers. “For me, it’s very upsetting,” he said, “I watch what’s happening there. My first six months, it was very intense fighting in Baghdad, but then there was prosperity and good news. And to see that now on the verge of collapse, and knowing I lost five soldiers, it’s very hard. These kids may have died in vain.” (…) It also was a costly war financially for the U.S. The war will eventually cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion, including long-term care for wounded veterans, according to a 2013 study by the Costs of War project, based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. Detroit Free Press

“If people don’t do politics, others will do it for you. And when others do it for you, they can steal your rights, your democracy and your wallet.” Pablo Iglesias – Podemos

The Middle East now has been torn apart by American invasions and attacks, and careless ideas about how to remake other peoples’ lives according to our own ideas about how they should live and behave and believe. It’s been like the Huns passing through: millions are dead, cities in ruins, the Muslims at war with one another. Iraq and Syria, and probably Jordan, as they exist today, and possibly Lebanon, may never recover from this. The Arabs will survive, and one day Palestine and ancient Syria and Mesopotamia will undoubtedly be reconstituted. Israel? It has existed as a modern state for little more than six decades, although it too existed in antiquity. Will modern Israel still exist at the end of this century? After all that has, and will, happen? I wonder what is the answer. William Pfaff

Through their actions, young American Jews can shape the way a Jewish state wields power. And how Jews behave with power represents a post facto referendum on the Jewish ethical tradition itself. We should tell them that if they believe Jews possess a special passion for justice, they must prove it. And they must prove it in Israel, because although justice is endangered in the United States and all over the world, only in Israel is the Jewish people’s honor at stake. Peter Beinart – Haaretz

Things change if people make them change.

Things have changed since the American people were encouraged to put Vietnam behind them and “move on”. The “gate keeper” function of  “mainstream media” which worked mightily to that end is, if not dead, very, very sick and not expected to recover… especially when confronting something as stubborn as Middle Eastern reality.

Unlike “manufactured consent” social media opinion  today is largely grassroots, village-like. It is a  sullen, brooding, self-confirming, bench tested, consensus, slow to build, hard to budge and in this sense “authentic”.

Many commentators discount the sullen power of public opinion, this is most unwise. Publicists and think tanks can spend billions trying to convince the public that the sky is green and the grass is blue, but to no effect, finally their efforts boil down to Redd Fox’s cheating wife, who, when caught in the act, tells her furious husband, “go on, believe your goddamn, lying eyes!“.

This is now the case of American public opinion and the Middle East. Liberal-Interventionists can whine and Neocons can howl, but Americans have had enough of the Middle East, they will not be easily dragged back there again to spend blood and treasure poring sand down a rat hole and will resent mightily anyone who tries to drag them back.

Netanyahu and the settlers should not press their luck much farther, if Israel negotiates a two state solution with the Palestinians and pulls back to something like the 1967 borders, I believe that Americans would still be willing and still be able to defend that status with decisive armed force and considerable soft power, but that is certainly not the direction things are moving. What I don’t think is that Americans will agree to sending their sons and daughters to die defending apartheid and ethnic cleansing or agree to pay for that out of their taxes. Time is running out.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com/

Chutzpah: thy name is Putin

9:20 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton


Vladimir Putin

“We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” Vladimir Putin

“What a crazy world we are living in when Russia sounds more sane and responsible than our own government on a serious international crisis. It’s as if I have blundered into some bizarre parallel universe.” NYT reader, “John C”, commenting on Putin’s Op-Ed

Many decades from now, a historian looking at where America lost its way could use This Town as a primary source. Fareed Zakaria – CNN

The Syrian poison gas affair has been running its course while I have been reading Mark Leibovich’s bestseller on how today’s Washington works, This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!-in America’s Gilded Capital, which I still haven’t finished yet, because I have to put it down every few pages to keep from throwing up. However Leibovich’s portrayal (undressing really) of today’s Washington was a great help in understanding what Russia’s Vladimir Putin has just pulled off.

Even more than Leibovich, what Putin has done, cynical cad that he is, is to have undressed Washington and after having undressed the poor lady, has “had his way with her,” and then has run straight off to tell all his drinking buddies all about it and they all have had a big hairy chested laugh at Washington’s expense. Vlad, “the impaler!”

What has really given me the key to where Putin is taking all of this is the closing line of his New York Times Op-Ed, “We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”. Not only does he quote Thomas Jefferson, he talks about “the Lord’s blessings”, all in one phrase.

Younger readers or those with a very short memories, may not know, or may have forgotten, that during the ideological struggles of the Cold War, the United States not only defended the capitalist system, it also portrayed itself as the staunchest of defenders of religion and traditional values in the face of “godless communism.” This was a smart move since, although very few people in the world have any capital, much, perhaps most, of the world’s population, especially in those traditional societies, rich in natural resources, are “believers” and socially conservative. And not only in “backward” countries: this was even true in the Soviet Union itself!

During the years of glasnost, before the collapse of the USSR, I was much surprised to learn from Spanish friends who were dealing on a daily basis with Soviet officials that all these loyal Communist apparatchiks confessed that they had been baptized and indoctrinated in the forbidden Christian practices by their grandmothers from childhood. The babushkas had kept religion alive in Russia. I think that was when I first realized that the Soviet system’s goose was really cooked.

What Putin is doing is to turn the entire Cold War paradigm inside out like a glove and make Russia the world’s defender of social conservatism and the USA as the center of newfangled depravity.

Americans may not realize, or rightly may not care, that with reforms such as gay marriage, we have left much of the developing world behind us, scandalized, offended, or simply scratching their heads. And not just the developing world, even in Paris, a city celebrated over centuries for its sexual tolerance…

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Paris against a new French law allowing same-sex marriage. Police estimate that up to 150,000 people joined marches that converged on the city centre, but organisers put the figure close to one million. Clashes erupted after the rally finished between far-right activists and riot police. The authorities said nearly 100 people were arrested. On Saturday 50 people were detained for blocking the Champs-Elysees. The same-sex marriage bill, which also legalises gay adoption, was signed into law by President Francois Hollande last week, after months of heated debate. French people have been bitterly divided over the issue. On Tuesday, a far-right historian shot himself dead in Notre Dame cathedral, leaving messages in which he denounced gay marriage. BBC

This is not to suggest we should change or that we don’t have a right to do and think as we wish, but at the same time we should realize that this principled stand may offer openings for opportunist adversaries to exploit. This is precisely what Putin is doing:

On July 3, Mr. Putin signed a law banning the adoption of Russian-born children not only to gay couples but also to any couple or single parent living in any country where marriage equality exists in any form. A few days earlier, just six months before Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Games, Mr. Putin signed a law allowing police officers to arrest tourists and foreign nationals they suspect of being homosexual, lesbian or “pro-gay” and detain them for up to 14 days.(…) Earlier in June, Mr. Putin signed yet another antigay bill, classifying “homosexual propaganda” as pornography. The law is broad and vague, so that any teacher who tells students that homosexuality is not evil, any parents who tell their child that homosexuality is normal, or anyone who makes pro-gay statements deemed accessible to someone underage is now subject to arrest and fines. Even a judge, lawyer or lawmaker cannot publicly argue for tolerance without the threat of punishment. New York Times

As deeply shocking and offensive as we may find the above, you can believe that it plays very well in Africa, the Middle East, India, most of Asia… and perhaps in places much, much nearer home than that.

To me the sequence of events all falls together neatly: the reactionary anti-gay laws, the Snowden revelations, the Syrian ballet … the objective is to degrade the image and the narrative that USA has created for itself and for the world. If this is all coincidence and not part of a plan and he has just cleverly taken advantage of these random events, then Putin is the greatest improvisor since Charlie Parker died.

Why is he doing this?

Simply because he is a Russian nationalist and he wants Russia to again be the great power it was less than a generation ago and not have rules dictated to it from Leibovich’s Washington … and all is fair in love and war.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

Obama’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem… yada yada yada

11:37 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

The US is hoping that Obama’s positive first trip will reinvigorate peace efforts, though most settlers are not worried. They see the composition of the new Israeli cabinet as a reassurance that Israeli policy will move away from peace negotiations. Christian Science Monitor

Obama’s visit to Israel was strictly for domestic American consumption, because unless the president and Netanyahu took a decision on when to attack or not attack Iran or intervene in Syria’s civil war, which they could have done by telephone, his trip was strictly a public relations exercise, certainly it wont affect the “Peace Process” or lead to Palestinian statehood.

The much talked about “Two State Solution” is not stalled or even dead, it never existed: it and the “Peace Process” said to leading to the founding of a “viable, contiguous, Palestinian state”,  or even a Bantustan, was never more than a way of stalling, killing time, running out the clock. Israel has been waiting for a moment that now appears to be fast approaching: the disintegration of the Middle East as the west has known it since the end of World War One. In a short time all of the borders that were designed during the First World War by Britain and France  to suit western interests, will now probably become undefined, fluid if not gaseousjust as Israel’s own borders are.

You may not have noticed, but Israel’s frontiers have been undefined since 1967. The objective of the Israelis in avoiding the “Two State Solution” is  to not define them “prematurely”, before all the pieces on board start to move.  In times like these, the last thing the Israelis want is to be the only ones with firmly drawn frontiers when all other borders in the Middle East are going to be negotiable. The settlers are not an “obstacle to peace”, they are merely an excuse for Israel not to define those frontiers.

This Middle Eastern disintegration has been a long time coming and perfectly foreseeable by anyone as cool headed and long headed as the Israelis. The neocon led invasion of Iraq with its “real men go to Tehran” leitmotif, was itself a desperate, Hail Mary pass, attempt to control the events that are now taking place with that certain spontaneity of what looks like a historically driven process.

“What we’re seeing here is, in a sense, the growing—the birth pangs of a new Middle East, and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we’re pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old Middle East”. Condoleezza Rice – 2006

Just in case you don’t know what the “old Middle East” looked like, check this map… As you can see, it’s mostly about Turkey and Iran… Not many borders visible except theirs and Britain’s protectorates and today the British, who used to control Egypt, are no longer players… and as you may have noticed lately, America’s once smothering grip on the area is fading fast.
Map-ME-1914
At this moment Syria is literally disintegrating, spewing nearly half a million refugees into tiny, neighboring  Jordan, where the Palestinian majority is permanently restless and the influence of the Muslim brotherhood is growing. The Muslim Brotherhood controls Egypt and Hamas in Gaza is an offshoot of the Brotherhood; and then there is always Al Qaeda which is growing exponentially in the Syrian conflict. So much for the Sunnis

As to the Shiites: Iran besides working diligently on developing atomic capabilities is fighting a proxy war alongside Assad in Syria, is the major power influence in Iraq and is heavily arming  Shiite Hezbollah on Israel’s Lebanese border…

What could the Israelis expect to achieve as all this comes unraveled and the shooting starts?

Simple: they could ethnically cleanse Judea, Samaria, Gaza (and maybe Israel itself too while they are at it) all in the midst of the confusion of a military free for all.  Chaos with thousands of refugees simultaneously in movement everywhere… and when the dust settles, let the Palestinians establish their “viable and contiguous state” on the ruins of the Jordanian monarchy as a Sunni buffer between Israel and Shiite Iraq… if they so desire.

Who thought all this up? Ariel Sharon, I should imagine, who else?

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

Iran’s bomb… the skinny

4:55 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

The selling point of starving or beating Iran into submission is that if they had an atomic bomb they would use it to attack Israel, who has at least 200 such weapons. The idea being that Iran is planning to turn Israel, its Jewish inhabitants and a considerable number of Palestinian Muslims into a radioactive Auschwitz.

The Persians, though notably strict in their religious practice, are eminently rational. They are just as rational as Khrushchev’s USSR. They would not start an atomic exchange that would mean the annihilation of their country. The biggest problem brought on by the Iranians having a bomb would be that all the other countries in the region would want one too.

An atomic-weaponized Middle East would not mean a nuclear free for all, but it would mean that Israel’s and America’s freedom of action to behave like a colonial power “punishing the natives” would be forever curtailed. It would be impossible for the USA to encourage Israel to continue a war like the one against Hezbollah in 2006 until it “finished the the job” or to have invaded Iraq, for that matter either.

With atomic weapons in the mix, any action by Israel that could remotely set off to a general war in the Middle East, one with even the remotest possibility of an atomic exchange, would have to be snuffed out at the first whiff of smoke.

Lobby or no lobby, the USA would have to keep Israel on a very tight leash and Israel and their lobby know that. This would certainly cramp Israel’s style, and many Israelis would find that restraint intolerable and a significant number of the “best and the brightest” of Israel’s technological elite, who could find work anywhere in the world on 24 hours notice, might possibly take their families and head out for safer climes.

The fear of not being able to sufficiently intimidate the Muslim population of the Middle East, not any fear of Israel’s perishing in a nuclear holocaust, is at the bottom of America and Israel’s drive to eliminate Iran’s nuclear program.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com/