Thursday, April 30, 2009
"Democracy vs. caliphate" misses the real issues. Which one wins is in a certain sense irrelevant. Should "democracy" as it currently exists in Pakistan prevail--with military omnipresence, elite corruption, and backsliding of the mass of the people into further hopelessness--no one who cares about the future of Pakistan would have any reason to rejoice. If violence-addicted, power-hungry radicals gorged on their own power and spouting a vicious and twisted version of Islam that hardly any Muslim in the world a decade ago would have recognized or respected prevails, once again no one who cares about the future of Pakistan would have any reason to rejoice.
Justice. One of the many specific issues that must be addressed to resolve this socio-political struggle is justice. To the extent that the insurgents focus on this, as they frequently have in criticizing traditional courts for their delays in settling cases, they have a point and should be listened to. Unfortunately, their rising radicalism (by which I mean death threats, insistence on being obeyed without question, quickness to use violence, and appalling viciousness toward girls) undercuts the legitimacy of their message and demand for power just as much as the government's helicopter gunships and lack of care for refugees undercuts the legitimacy of its position). "We demand justice and will shoot if you don't submit" transforms the debate over justice into a farce, which is a shame because the problem is real and deserves attention.
Civil services. Another issue that must be addressed is the provision of civil services to marginalized groups (whether tribal herders in NWFP or Pashtun migrants to Karachi's slums). Once again, the real issue is being submerged by the rising radicalism on both sides. Insurgents charges about the failure of governance are so much hot air when they use force against tribal jirgas looking for compromise. Such insurgent extremism only helps the corrupt portion of the elite that prefers pocketing government funds to spending it to improve society.
Extremism generates extremism, marginalizing the middle, and oversimplifying the debate. Eventually one bully or another will win, but for the people of Pakistan it won't matter much whether that bully happens to be a modern power-hungry military dictator or a fundamentalist power-hungry Islamic radical. Neither will provide the justice, respect, good government, or economic security that are the real issues.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Intense fighting, strong insurgent resistance, a new refugee wave, a pervasive insurgent presence still in Buner despite the weekend's show of withdrawal, and a loud TNSM display of righteous indignation are thunderheads on the horizon of Pakistan's political future.
On Tuesday, Rizwanullah Farooq, son of Sufi Muhammad--head of Tehreek-e-Nifaaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM)--said:
The peace accord has weakened and is shaky. If it breaks, there will be a storm in the whole country.He is certainly correct that the peace accord, signed in February with the understanding that the government would allow sharia courts in return for an end to violence, is shaky. It is shaky because the Taliban is on the offensive. While the precise geographic extent of the agreement with the government to accept sharia seems unclear, the Taliban could argue that it authorizes sharia throughout much of the region, not just Swat, and that they are just implementing that agreement…except for the killings, threats against politicians and reporters, theft of public property, and general intimidation of the population.
Soldiers were reportedly moving toward Swat over the weekend, amid rumors of government plans for a Bajaur-style scorched earth attack that would destroy society and create another wave of internal refugees to join those still in tents from last year’s Bajaur battle.
Indeed, a battle over the last couple days in Islampura and Lal Qila occurred, ending with an apparent government victory. The soldiers were on an offensive in
By the 28th, the government was heralding a “major offensive” against “500” insurgents still supposedly in Buner, the locale that had theoretically just been vacated. The number is both much higher than in other reports and suspiciously rounded, raising the possibility that the military is inflating it to make their forthcoming victory more impressive. If true, this high number corroborates government claims, based on intercepted insurgent communications, that they their “pullout” from Buner was staged.
Over the weekend, the Taliban in Swat prevented the Pakistani army from sending supplies to its troops, and the provincial governor intervened on the side of the Taliban, persuading the army to pull back. Not only have the Taliban now made it clear that they effectively have an independent country in Swat but the regional arm of the Pakistani state has supported them! If a separate report to the effect that the ISI persuaded the Taliban to withdraw from neighboring Buner to avoid being attacked by the U.S. turns out to be true, this even further confuses the lines. Exactly what sort of insurgency is being run in
On Tuesday, the NWFP government again pushed for compromise, with Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain announcing the imminent establishment of sharia courts and inviting Sufi Muhammid for talks. The TNSM leader is currently refusing to talk because of the government attack on Dir. The insurgents are willing to talk after one of their offensives but refuse to talk when the government “breaks the agreement” by countering with an offensive of its own.
Contrasting with the obvious wishes of the provincial government for compromise,
Two things to watch are civilian impact (casualties, refugees) and non-violent follow-up. The weekend military operation in
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Aggressive expansion of illegal settlements involving the forcing of Palestinians out of their homes and the theft of further Palestinian land make clear Israel's response to Washington's call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reflect a 60-year-long policy of ethnic cleansing.
Aggressive expansion of illegal settlements involving the forcing of Palestinians out of their homes and the theft of further Palestinian land make clear Israel's response to Washington's call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reflect a 60-year-long policy of ethnic cleansing.
Actions by the Israeli Interior Ministry are making crystal clear the attitude of the Israeli government toward the
The Palestinian caretaker cabinet condemned a proposed expansion of the illegal Israeli West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim on Monday as a step that could cause the region to “explode.”
The cabinet, led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, issued a declaration saying that the proposal would sever the
The statement was in reference to a decision by a special committee of the Israeli Interior Ministry, which approved a merger between Ma’ale Adumim and the much smaller settlement of Qedar. Under the plan, 12,000 dunums of land in between the two settlements would be seized and the entire area, a swath of the central
The rapidly expanding illegal Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim:
The neighboring Palestinian city of Ramallah:
[Both photos from Wikipedia Commons.]
The special committee of
Peace Now reviews the legal situation before the courts in
Comments by Benjamin Kasriel the mayor of Ma'ale Adumim in 1998 make clear the longstanding expansionist plans of Israel, which we are now seeing the latest step, noting that Ma’ale Adumim:
functions as a corridor between the Palestinian communities, preventing them from creating continuity of Arab construction around
The mayor continued:
When we were a smaller community we spoke of Ma'ale Adumim as a place located on conquered land. But as we developed….Slowly, slowly, we entered the national consciousness as a part of Greater
The mayor spoke of “a master plan for 60,000 residents” and admitted that by 2020 the city would have a population of 80,000.
What this means for Palestinians was reported by an American Episcopal priest who visited in 2005:
The "facts on the ground" of Israeli settlements, settler bypass roads, checkpoints, land confiscations, and the separation barrier are destroying the possibility of an econom ically viable, contiguous Palestinian state. Already, Palestinian farmers cannot travel to care for their olive and fruit trees and harvest their crops. The weeds growing in Palestinian groves are absorbing precious water. Laborers cannot get to their jobs. Commercial traffic faces rising costs because of movement restrictions within the West Bank.
The development plans for Ma'ale Adumim are cutting off Ramallah from
Bethlehem, and both of these Palestinian cities from . Jerusalem is a holy city to three world religions, and it is also presently the economic hub of the Palestinian territories, accounting for one-third of the economic activity. Without free access to Jerusalem , and especially its tourism industry, a future Palestinian state will face continuing Jerusalem
unemployment rates approaching 80%, nutrition and health care crises, and political anger rooted in economic desolation.
The continuing efforts of Israel to seize Palestinian homes and land to make room for Jews is simply the contemporary form of the ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by the Zionist leadership under David Ben-Gurion between December 1947 and late 1948. (To be quite clear, I use the word “Zionist” to distinguish between the Zionist movement that led the drive for the establishment of a racist state cleansed of Palestinians and the broader Jewish community, which included numerous groups of Jews quite willing to live in integrated communities with their Palestinian neighbors.) The massacres of peaceful Palestinian villagers during that ethnic cleansing campaign were the precursors of such events as the Israeli attack on Jenin and, in December 2008, on
Monday, April 27, 2009
On a quick trip to
We want to see a strong, independent, free and sovereign
This fine sentiment hopefully means what it says. It might, by cynics, be read as expressing a threat that if the victor does not meet some highly prejudicial Washington definition of “free and sovereign” then Washington will reserve the right to exact whatever punishment it deems appropriate. A cynic would cite, in support of his interpretation, a threat from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs David Hale, who reportedly said earlier in April that the U.S. would “not deal with Hezbollah” regardless of the outcome of the elections, an ominous throwback to the Bush Administration’s subversion of Hamas’ 2006 electoral victory which led directly to December’s barbaric attack on Gaza.
Hezbollah has clearly been evolving away from insurgency and toward democratic participation in recent years, but then, so has Hamas. It would be ironic if
A strong, independent, free, and sovereign
2. Back off and allow
In the context of a genuine desire to bring justice to
But change comes slowly along the hot, muddy Potomac…these days, more slowly than in the
Moreover, a logical and unavoidable contradiction between the local issue and the big picture inhibits smooth, consistent policy formulation. The desire to fine-tune policy to maximize influence over a specific actor must be balanced against the message that the world will get. Yes, perhaps a highly intrusive
For the Obama Administration to adopt the approach of openly undermining democratic elections or sabotaging an elected government would send a very clear message that Obama could be expected to reject change on much bigger regional issues, such as whether or not to push for a truly viable Palestinian state and whether or not to move toward accommodation of Iran. Resolution of all these issues depends on realization, along the Potomac, of a fundamental new perspective that
“Control” need not mean the control of everything – only the control of that which the dominant power wants to control. If
The alternative requires supporting the ability of the many small actors in the region to stand independently, which by definition means everyone else loses influence. Give
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Beyond all discussion of economics still lies the global political system, which can be distinguished from the global economic system but not separated from it.
Now comes a report on Eastern Europe by Jelena Vukotic via RGE Monitor that lays out a vicious cycle of "economic pain and political jitters," illustrating a different way in which economics and politics are linked:
As the economic crisis bites and unemployment rates soar, voters have been losing confidence in their governments’ ability to cope with the deepening economic downturn. What is more troubling is that this confluence of crises creates a vicious circle. Economic gloom fans social unrest and brings governments down. In turn, rising political risk unsettles already jittery investors and will certainly not help the recovery prospects in the region that is highly dependent on capital inflows.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
In a move that apparently took
Having smoothly taken over Buner District of the Pakistani NWFP [map] just south of Swat District during April, they have now moved into Shangla District, which borders Buner on the north and Swat on the east. At the same time, the insurgent visitors allowed themselves to be photographed promptly leaving Buner (having empowered their local insurgent allies).
Some 500 security personnel in Buner were inexplicably unable to pose any deterrent to the insurgents or evidently even able to call in military support. A local police officer’s excuse that “when you are confronted with better-equipped and better-trained people who have higher morale, the writ of the district police collapses” hardly explains the instantaneous and humiliating collapse of state power.
The Pakistani state appears unbelievably incompetent and out-of-touch. How could they not have known? If the insurgents can move by truck from one district to another, if the insurgents have radio communications, then how could Islamabad, less than 100 miles away, have no idea what was going on? The obvious conclusion is that
The march on Shangla came after the district administration recognised Taliban’s control over Buner district by holding a jirga with a local commander to lay down procedures to govern the district. The Taliban are presenting a relatively moderate face for an insurgency, though occasionally initiating skirmishes against government forces.
The initial insurgent group entering Shangla reportedly only consisted of a few dozen soldiers, who were evidently unopposed. This is by no means the first sign of insurgent interest in Shangla. In November 2007, a force of some 500 insurgent fighters temporarily took control of Shangla. On that occasion, local tribal leaders opposed both insurgent and government interference in their local affairs.
In the current case, the insurgents appear to be trying to minimize tensions, and the spokesman of Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat, Haji Muslim Khan, announced that “Taliban’s pull out from Buner has started.” Sufi Mohammed, the chief of Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM), has been making a show of being peacemaker. The pullout is, however, less than it seems, since “local Taliban” will reportedly not only be staying but are continuing to occupy houses seized from local residents. Moreover, it is not clear whether Sufi Mohammed is actually persuading more radical insurgent groups to modify their behavior or whether the whole operation, in which the insurgents have so far played on the stage by themselves, is for the cameras.
By entering, asserting control, and voluntarily withdrawing, the insurgents made their point. Everyone has been shown who is boss; the insurgents can claim to be acting “moderately;” the locals know full well that insurgents forces who entered from neighboring districts without permission and retired voluntarily can perfectly well return, ensuring that local insurgents will remain much more influential than before unless the Pakistani state makes a fundamentally new commitment to the region.
The insurgents in NWFP are displaying remarkably sophisticated tactics – rapid movement, flexible politics, the use of pointed but restrained force, a moderate face. Their long-term objectives, at least according to this report, may be somewhat harsher:
Malakand Division, a region that encompasses more than one-third of the North-West Frontier Province is now under a Sharia system that will primarily be defined by two great "jurists-in-law" (father-in-law and son-in-law). One is Maulana Fazlullah, whose real skills lie in the fields of radio frequency (RF) engineering and mass murder. He did not just ask 80,000 girls to quit education, but also destroyed the 200 schools that were engaged in this process. He also waged a bloody war against the state of
, killing hundreds of soldiers and civilians, in some cases dragging their dead bodies on the roads. The other is Sufi Mohammad, who was in jail till a few months back for his excellence in raising private armies. He led some 5,000 young men into Pakistan in 2001, most of whom never returned to fight another day. Afghanistan
We need to understand what Sufi Mohammad and company really want. ''We hate democracy," Sufi recently told the crowd of thousands of followers in Mingora.
"We want the occupation of Islam in the entire world. Islam does not permit democracy or election. From the very beginning, I have viewed democracy as a system imposed on us by the infidels. Islam does not allow democracy or elections," he told the German news agency DPA just days before the Swat Accord was signed. His role model of a government is the Insurgents government that ruled
from 1996 to 2001. He said: "I believe the Taliban government formed a complete Islamic state, which was an ideal example for other Muslim countries." The Sufi has no ambiguity on the nature of punishments that he intends to generously distribute. "Penalties, including flogging, chopping off hands and stoning to death, must be available to Swat's Islamic courts. These punishments are prescribed in Islam. No one can stop that. It is God's law," said Sufi Mohammad, sitting on the floor in his makeshift headquarters in Mingora. Afghanistan
Meanwhile, in Orakzai Agency of FATA the government used helicopters and jet fighters in fierce fighting against the Tehrik-e-Taliban
The real story, as far as the integrity of the Pakistani state is concerned, may well turn out to be among the urban poor who have been left out as the military and civilian political elite benefitted from modernization. The comment of Director General ISPR Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas that the “Pakistan Army is capable and ready to defend the country” and that “the extremists were receiving foreign aid” suggests
To what degree the various insurgent groups use varying tactics according to the situation or because they remain distinct organizations with distinct intent is unclear because organizational structure, tactics, and goals are evolving…and evolving faster than the Pakistani regime seems able to keep up.
The following opinion piece in
The remark by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen that the arrival of another 17,000
The turmoil in
March of Taliban and waiting for Allah
When a state collapses, it does not happen due to a single factor or a single event as commonly believed; instead it is the combination of economic, political and administrative blunders that accelerates the demise of a nation. The seed of erosion of Pakistan have been sown decades ago; where successive military and political governments miserably failed by pursing self serving policies with little care for its powerless population.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Professor Martin van Creveld was kind enough to grant me an interview on U.S./Israeli/Palestinian/Iranian relations. Van Creveld is an Israeli military historian and theorist. The interview follows.
1. Security can be viewed as a continuum from “none” to a mythical “total.” What sort of security arrangements might suffice to convince Israeli leaders to accept an Israel living within its legal 1967 borders?
I cannot speak for Israel's leaders. Personally I think that, if Israel were to give up the West Bank and the Golan Heights, those areas should be demilitarized. Once this is done the outcome will be to enhance Israel's security, not to reduce it.
I suspect that, in that case, any outcome would be declared a success, at least in public.
It depends on what you mean. Certainly there is no way Israel can cause Iran to give up its nuclear program forever. Whether we can delay it by a few years is a question I cannot answer on the basis of the information at my disposal.
Personally I agree with Defense Secretary Gates, who recently said that the long term consequences, both for Israel and for much of the rest of the world, would be disastrous. In case Israel uses mini-nukes, as some sources claim it is planning to do, they will be simply unimaginable.
Hard to say. I would think that, for most, security is paramount. However, there are always exceptions. Like every other country, Israel has its lunatic fringe.
I think that Israel has much less to fear from Iran than is usually thought. Of course it would be nice if we could solve all problems at once, but personally I would be in favor of getting out of the West Bank almost regardless of what Tehran and Washington do. After all, this is not about them; it is about safeguarding Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Palestine: knock the heads of Palestinians and Israelis together, forcing them to accept a settlement based on the "two states for two people" principle. Iran: try to improve relations, but keep a wary eye on the Mullas and make sure you have strong armed forces in the Gulf. Iraq: get the hell out. Afghanistan: ditto. In both cases, tell them that, in case they permit another 9-11 to be prepared on their territory, their principal cities will be wiped off the map.
So they did, and guess what? There were no Pakistani military forces in the neighboring district of Buner either! [Thanks to Wikipedia for the map.] Note, by the way, how Buner kind of hovers just north of an imaginary line that would link Peshawar to Islamabad (just something to keep in mind). Be that as it may, this is not about a terrible scourge rising out of the unknown depths of Central Asia like Tamerlane and sweeping all before it. This is about nature filling a vacuum. The Taliban is not replacing the Pakistani government; there is no Pakistani government.
As the Frontier Post put it,
After sensing low morale and inaction of the provincial administration, and Peshawar’s lack of determination to maintain government writ in Swat, Fazlullah insurgents are acting as the new conquerors of the undefended districts in Pukhtunkhwa.
Should the Pakistani state desire to compete for political allegiance of the folks in Buner, it needs to offer them something. Straffing runs from U.S.-supplied jets won't do it. Rapid, effective justice; police backed by the military guarding public places; social services...At the moment, the Taliban have stepped up to the plate and offered these things to the people of Buner. What the people want is not the point. The point is that they are only being offered one option, the Taliban's option. Either make them another offer or start negotiating with the new government.
And that new government is gaining strength rapidly, as local representatives of the Pakistani state flee with the Taliban appropriating their vehicles, taking control of the streets. Some 2,000 Taliban fighters have already reportedly entered Buner from neighboring Swat. Vacuums fill easily.
Nevertheless, the mobility of the Taliban in a mountainous region with few roads is impressive. How much faster might they move through the network of modern roads in the lowlands? One wonders what steps the Pakistani state might possibly be taking to maintain security along its highways...
While the Taliban move into Buner may come as a surprise to Americans, there was nothing sudden about the process on the ground, where the evidence has been building for several weeks. At the moment, the evidence is building that Buner is just the latest step in a steady drive to assert control over security and courts throughout the mountains of the border area. Meanwhile, some Pakistani effort to insert paramilitary forces back into the lost territory is occurring, but the energy of the Pakistani state is visibly less than the energy of the Taliban.
This Pakistani analysis details how the bureaucracy has been facilitating the rise of Taliban power.
A very well written Pakistani approach to a solution proposes that Pakistan emerge from its slumber to find its own (i.e., not an American) way forward:
Why did we let others fight proxy wars on and from our territory in the first place? In addition, why did we let a vacuum develop because of the instability, the lack of administrative system and absence of justice that the Taliban have purportedly filled for Swat? We have been tactless, thoughtless and blind during the days of Soviet invasion and the chickens we so artfully hatched have now come home to roost. We saw it in Waziristan, Mohmand, Khyber, Dir, Bajaur and now in Swat and increasingly in Buner. We have been brainless during the Musharraf regime by being the tissue paper for US. The problem that was then very much at our doorstep is now well and truly inside our own backyard and it is destroying us, piece by piece.
Since we created this monster, the solution also lies with us. The solution is not bombing the areas left right and centre. It can only strengthen the monster. If the US cannot achieve it, with all its allies and sophisticated equipment, its satellite navigation and smart bombs, there is a fat chance that we can....
This momentary peace will not last if it is not followed by “and” action which is re- establishing the writ of government (and not what the US wants) through soft and hard means. The first is then to distance ourselves from US. Of course we cannot afford to go on an open confrontational path but there is something known as firm stance. We can do a couple of things that can show US we are serious in pursuing our own plans and not theirs. Refusing, for example, their supply line to pass through is one such step. If the parliament stands strong and firm and shows to US that it is against people’s will, only then can it happen (what the parliament is doing, however, is another sad story).
The second thing to do (and to do quickly) is to elevate the status of that part of the country, to give it a working administrative system and provide the people with ample opportunities of livelihood. Let them then make their own choice. The point over here is not opposition of an Islamic system. But can we infer this “nizam-e-adl” to be the answer to people demands? Most of the Swati people are just hoping for peace. The quick welcome that they gave to this regulation was more for personal reasons than because of ideological concurrence. Had there been peace in that area and people by popular demand had opted for a particular system then by all means there was merit in their demand. Now with a group of people calling the shots, who knows what the whole population wants?The third most important thing is to look deep at and into our army. How did it reach such a sorry state that a bunch of ragamuffins (of our own creation) are now blackmailing us into accepting their demands, to which we have acquiesced to, for the peace of Swati people?
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Once again the diplomatic arena has become a playground of words. This will be said and that will be declared and the other will be proclaimed. This is a guarantee of another foregone failure.…
The only recognition that is needed now is
's recognition of the Palestinians as human beings. Israel
Ahmadinejad, who is making a career out of making Western politicians look bad, said essentially the same thing in his review at Durban II of the course of world history over the last century. Racism, for those Western politicians who love to use the word as long as all remain carefully in denial about its meaning, means NOT recognizing others as human beings.
Levy and Ahmadinejad, each in his own way, are sending Obama a message about which he needs to think very carefully.
If you are one of those still in denial, take a look at how Israel treats Palestinian families.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
An A on the budget, B on the stimulus, and F on the bailout.
My grades, a couple weeks ago, were:
I. Housing: D
II. Banking: D
III. Living Standards: FOur categories differed somewhat. I had nothing like Reich's "budget" category (10-year concept budget); Reich's "bailout" was essentially my "banking;" Reich did not have a "living standards."
Anyone else giving marks?
Of course, the talk of two states may just be hot air; perhaps there is an "understanding" that the plan is one Jewish state and one Palestinian bantustan designed never to have any independent substance. But just supposing that the talk is sincere, still, a few issues need to be addressed.
First, explain to me the mechanics of moving half a million illegal Israeli settlers back to Israel. To declare the existence of a Palestinian state while Israeli occupier forces remain would be meaningless, so do the settlers leave before the new state is created or does some non-Israeli military force control a population made up of heavily armed vigilante groups?
- How will bitter settlers who are already extremist even in victory be controlled in defeat?
- How will the houses they are vacating be protected from being trashed as Israeli settlers removed from Gaza trashed their homes?
- How will a fair price be set for the Palestinians who will be moving into those houses (or will receiving a house free be considered "fair compensation" for giving up the right of return to their original homeland before the 1948 Zionist ethnic cleansing campaign)?
- Even assuming goodwill on the part of all Israeli settlers, moving that many people will take time. What will be the process of opening Israel's West Bank apartheid road system to Palestinians?
Second, explain to me how the water infrastructure so meticulously designed to cheat Palestinian farmers in favor of Israeli farmers will be redesigned to share this scarce resource equitably.
Third, explain to me how Palestinians will travel between Gaza and the West Bank.
Fourth, explain to me who will provide security for Palestine while it goes about the long process of building up an army. And, by the way, you might want to shorten that process. The longer it takes the new Palestinian state to acquire modern weapons, the greater the likelihood that it will invite Iran, which has so kindly just announced to the world its readiness to provide regional security, to construct a military base and sign a mutual defense pact.
- Will a mutual military inspections regime be implemented?
- Will an international defense force be put on the Palestinian-Israeli border with the power and authority to prevent Israeli air force violations such as those Israel uses to intimidate Lebanon?
Fifth, explain to me where, in this recession world, the money will come from to create a peaceful Palestinian society.
- Who will pay the salaries of all those unemployed young men?
- What countries will offer to import Palestinian products, needed or not, to ensure that a stable socio-economic structure can be created?
I apologize to all glib jet-set politicians for the tedium of this essay. Go ahead, ignore the details. Just remember what happened after the U.N. Resolution 181's original definition of a two-state solution in November 1947. Just remember what happened after the British, as they fled South Asia following WWII, designated a two-state solution for their Indian colony.
Monday, April 20, 2009
If you still aren’t sure
is putting this recession behind us, watch Elizabeth Warren’s video interview…and you will really be worried. Washington
RGE Monitor suggests that even if we are moving out of the recession, “recovery may well be very sluggish because synchronized global recessions and those accompanied by financial crisis tend to be severe and forestall quick recoveries.” That raises two questions:
- What are we doing to pull ourselves out of the global recession?
- What are we doing to resolve the financial crisis?
Globally, the poor are being left to fend for themselves, unless one thinks that the G20 decisions were truly substantive. That will create an even softer underbelly than existed before. With global disparity already rising and many countries decaying rather than developing even before the recession, this seems a dangerous route to recovery.
As for Wall Street, bailouts without reform would seem to leave us right where we were a year ago once the bailout funds have been used up. Or, will they continue endlessly, at the cost of turning
But don't take my word for it....
But don't take my word for it....
Evidence about Global Problems
Two years ago, we lived in a world in which
Chinacould save much more than it invested and dispose of the excess savings in . That world is gone. America
Yet the day after his new-reserve-currency speech, Mr. Zhou gave another speech in which he seemed to assert that China’s extremely high savings rate is immutable, a result of Confucianism, which values “anti-extravagance.” Meanwhile, “it is not the right time” for the
to save more. In other words, let’s go on as we were. United States
That’s also not going to happen.
The bottom line is that
hasn’t yet faced up to the wrenching changes that will be needed to deal with this global crisis. The same could, of course, be said of the Japanese, the Europeans — and us. China
And that failure to face up to new realities is the main reason that, despite some glimmers of good news — the G-20 summit accomplished more than I thought it would — this crisis probably still has years to run.
Evidence about the Financial Crisis
Elizabeth Warren on reliability in government:
if we don’t keep the American people as part of the conversation, the decisions that will get made, will not be the decisions that are best for them.
There has to be absolutely clarity….You’ve got to be able to believe the numbers…Once you’ve lied to a market, it needs it [clarity] ten times over….I want to look at the stress test.
Can you believe that the Treasury Department does not want the TARP Oversight Panel to see the stress test? What are they hiding?
She points out that
I fear that right now we are much closer to the
If, as some of us fear, taxpayer funds end up providing windfalls to financial operators instead of fixing what needs to be fixed, we might not have the money to go back and do it right.
The people who designed the plans are “either in the pocket of the banks or they’re incompetent.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we believe that the two-state solution, two states living side by side in peace, is the best and the only way to resolve this conflict
Another theoretical way of resolving the conflict of course exists – replacing the religious state + colony with a truly democratic state integrating Israelis and Palestinians. It might have been wise for Mitchell to mention that possibility, if just to indicate that
Historical Pattern of One-Sided Pursuit of "Peace" in Palestine
up to the present day, 'bringing peace to Palestine' has alway meant following a concept exclusively worked out between the US and Israel, without any serious consultation with, let alone regard for, the Palestinians--Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
Be that as it may, Mitchell’s remarks set a standard for justice that will require enormous effort on the part of practical policy to live up to. With the Netanyahu Administration resisting with all its might, thinking up all manner of precondition and erecting all manner of obstacle, people will soon start doubting Washington’s sincerity if it does not specifying what it means by “two states.” Geographic contiguity? Complete removal of Israeli citizens from land seized in 1967? Partition of
Washington in Denial About Palestinian Future
To a greater degree than perhaps ever before, Washington today is engulfed in denial about Israel and its stupefying behavior, about its murderous policies toward the Palestinians, about the efforts of Israel and its U.S. defenders to force us to ignore its atrocities. Blinders have always been part of the attire of U.S. policymakers and politicians with regard to Israel and Israeli actions, but in the wake of the three-week Israeli assault that laid waste to the tiny territory of Gaza -- an assault ended very conveniently just before Barack Obama was inaugurated, so that he has been able to act as though it never occurred -- the perspective from which Washington operates is strikingly more blinkered than ever in the past.--Kathleen & Bill Christison
More power to Mitchell! And yet, he does sound very much like a sacrificial lamb being set up by his own government. I am not saying he is…just that he sounds like one. Some specifics from
In this context, an editorial in the Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat by its editor-in-chief, Tariq Alhomayed, exposes an extremely dangerous concept—that Israel would “sell” Palestinians some measure of freedom in return for a U.S. war of aggression against Iran (or perhaps an “Israeli” war of aggression with U.S. collusion):
Why have such warnings against the danger of the military option been issued now knowing that the Israeli press has begun to talk about tough negotiations taking place between Washington and Tel Aviv regarding the peace process and
The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper published the following headline: ‘Buscher for Yitzhar’. It refers to the idea that in order for
The headline was based on comments made by the White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to a prominent leader of a Jewish organization. Are we facing a new equation; there will be a stop to the settlements in exchange for stopping
It is difficult to imagine what the moral impacts on
Moreover, the slightest suspicion in Tehran that this Arabic interpretation might represent a plot actually being considered in Washington would be the death knell of any U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, for were such a plot being entertained by Washington, it would prove true the worst accusations of American perfidy tossed about in Tehran. For those who wish to sabotage U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, be they Sunni Arab dictators or “Greater Israel” expansionists, rumors such as this are the perfect weapon.
Yes, U.S.-Iran policy is the other side of the U.S.-Israeli policy coin, but this is hardly the way to coordinate those two issues. Obama should find a way to make very clear that he has no interest in such self-destructive bribes.
on a cold Wednesday afternoon, 10 March 1948, a group of eleven men, veteran Zionist leaders together with young military Jewish officers, put the final touches on a plan for the ethnic cleansing of
. That same evening, military orders were dispatched to the units on the ground to prepare for the systematic expulsion of the Palestinians from vast areas of the country.--Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine Palestine(One World: , 2006), p. xii Oxford
“When it created its nation-state, the Zionist movement did not wage a war that ‘tragically but inevitably’ led to the expulsion of ‘parts of’ the indigenous population, but the other way round: the main goal was the ethnic cleansing of all of
That is the critical history that must be understood in order to explain
Pappe’s description of the mechanics of ethnic cleansing could have been written this winter by a woman or child of
the political leadership ceases to take an active part as the machinery of expulsion comes into action and rolls on, like a huge bulldozer propelled by its own inertia, only to come to a halt when it has completed its task. The people it crushes underneath and kills are of no concern to the politicians who set it in motion.--(Pappe, p. 3)
Since ethnic cleansing has in recent years become somewhat politically incorrect, Israeli leaders have substituted the tripartite goal of destroying the integrity of Palestinian society, subjugating Palestinians to Israeli will, and dismembering their land into disjointed slums that can never constitute a viable state. But the basic thrust of early 20th century Zionist policy still forms the foundation of Israeli state policy today.
Analyzing the Lieberman phenomenon, Uri Avnery— historian of the Nazi regime in
Israeli-born youngsters, many of whom had recently taken part in the Gaza War. They voted for him because they believed that he would kick the Arab citizens out of
These are not marginal people, fanatical or underprivileged, but normal youngsters who finished high-school and served in the army, who dance in the discotheques and intend to found families. If such people are voting en masse for a declared racist with a pungent fascist odor, the phenomenon cannot be ignored.
If Zionism means simply finding a homeland for Jews, that is one thing. But consider Avnery’s description of fascism in light of Israeli attitudes and behavior (both state behavior and the behavior of illegal Israeli settlers in the
fascism is a special phenomenon, unlike any other. It is not an “extreme Right”, an extension of “nationalist” or “conservative” attitudes. Fascism is the opposite of conservatism in many ways, even though it may appear in a conservative disguise. Also, it is not a radicalization of ordinary, normal nationalism, which exists in every nation.
Fascism is a unique phenomenon and has unique traits: the notion of being a “superior nation”, the denial of the humanity of other nations and national minorities, a cult of the leader, a cult of violence, disdain for democracy, an adoration of war, contempt for accepted morality.
The sense of superiority, denial of the humanity of others, cult of violence, and contempt for accepted morality sum up with near perfection Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Indeed, Avnery’s description seems more clearly reflected in Israeli behavior with every passing year.
However, the major difference today is that this behavior does not just victimize Palestinians, it acts as a magnet drawing in whatever outside forces that may either feel sympathy or be looking for a cause. Thus, at the moment the Mideast is being split into two hostile camps,
Whether your goal is justice for Palestinians, survival for Israelis, or security for the whole world, the Israeli drive to destroy Palestine has become a menace too dangerous to continue tolerating. We all need a compromise.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
I am hardly suggesting that this analogy represents reality. Today, the U.S. is seated firmly at the Israeli end, smirking like the Cheshire Cat, with the predictable result that the whole region is polarized and destabilized—because no other actor has the courage or foresight to occupy the middle all alone, with the possible exception of Turkey.
But I am suggesting that this analogy should be the goal for
In order to balance on the Iran-Israel see-saw,
1) Perfect state security being impossible, how much security will it take to convince
2) How can
3) How much security will it take to make
4) How much participation in regional affairs and influence over regional affairs will it take to satisfy the appetite of
Asking these questions about
Once such questions based on the assumption that the goal is to balance the aspirations of the two sides are brought center-stage, the foreign policy community can begin to devise specific policies. The critical insight is the need for balance.