Monday, July 18, 2011

Comparisons between Egypt today and South Korea in 1980

In 1979 a popular student uprising began in South Korea, which was then a US ally under dictatorial rule. The uprising was, with some degree of US collusion, brutally repressed by the South Korean military. The military leader of that repression started a party whose candidate later ran for and won the South Korean presidency in an election in 1987. Korea has since been described by the US CIA as a "fully functioning modern democracy" which is some term of art that I've only seen applied to South Korea itself.
As the mass and social media beamed the so-called “Arab Spring” around the world, analysts and pundits in the United States quickly began comparing the revolts to past uprisings, particularly those during the Cold War, which had shaken U.S. foreign policy. A favorite topic, particularly on Fox News, was Egypt’s purported similarity to the Iranian revolution of 1979, which toppled the pro-US Shah of Iran and eventually led to a Shiite Islamic state hostile to the United States. A few opportunistic neocon voices also compared the Obama administration’s public support for Mubarak’s opponents to Washington’s past actions to pressure Ferdinand Marcos and Suharto to end their dictatorial rule in the Philippines and Indonesia once popular uprisings had already sealed their fate.

But not a single analyst or journalist of note mentioned what remains one of the most significant rebellions against a US-backed tyrant of the past half-century: the student and worker uprising in South Korea in 1979 and 1980, which was mercilessly crushed by the Korean military with the US support. Korea didn’t even make the list of near-revolutions: in mid-February, PBS published a list of “30 Years of Uprisings” that had “brought down governments and transformed societies” or were either “dissipated” or “crushed.” The list included Iran, the Philippines, the Baltics, China’s Tiananmen Square, the 1997 Kosovo Rebellion against Serbia and the 1998 Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela – but unaccountably skipped South Korea as well as Taiwan.

Egypt's recent announcement that, contrary to the March referendum, elections will be delayed beyond September brings to mind questions of whether Egypt's current US-sponsored dictator, Mohamed Tantawi, has plans or hopes of following a similar path.
Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces says it is delaying scheduled September elections until October or November, officials said.

Bikya Masr reported Thursday the military, which took power after the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak, still supports democracy and a transition to civilian rule, but the announced delay angered protesters gathered at Cairo's Tahrir Square where the movement to oust Mubarak began.

Colonialism and Americanism aside, I hope, for Tantawi's sake, that he does not intend to follow South Korea's Chun Doo Hwan. Dictator is not a good lifestyle compared to respectable military leader. There is an unnecessarily high chance that the endeavor would end very badly for Tantawi and his family, possibly much worse than its ending for Mubarak.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The clumsy move of the US and French ambassadors visiting a demonstration, of course, backfires

Sometimes one wonders if the US' entire Middle East strategy is run by heavily armed and well financed seven year old children. Publicly sending Ambassadors to observe anti-government protests in a secondary city of Syria was probably the most senseless US policy activity since the airstrikes on Libya. Here is the result.
BEIRUT (AP) — A witness in Syria's capital says security guards at the French Embassy have fired into the air to drive back protesters taking part in two-pronged demonstrations outside the French and American embassies in Damascus.

The protests Monday come days after the U.S. and French ambassadors visited the opposition stronghold of Hama in central Syria. The witness says crowds were not allowed to get near the U.S. Embassy.

The witness, Hiam al-Hassan, says about 300 people had gathered outside the French Embassy. Hundreds others were at the American diplomatic compound.
The fundamentals in Syria remain. Unless a national consensus develops that Assad must leave immediately, as developed in Egypt, Assad can't be forced out of power. And it is very unlikely at this point that such a consensus can emerge.

But other than the US and French ambassadors, there is likely no significant constituency in Syria who would want to see the country go to civil war like we see in Libya to remove Assad.

Panetta claims Iran is supporting Shia militias in Iraq

The US is a rapidly declining influence in Iraq, but a failure to coerce the Iraqi government to request an extension of the troop agreement would be a humiliation.

The recent attacks on American soldiers which have spiked recently probably are meant mostly to pressure Iraq's civilian leaders to resist pressure from the US Embassy and from Iraqi military leaders who are part of US chains of command. The US is probably a secondary target. Possibly deaths of US soldiers may remind US politicians of the continuous losses in Iraq that did not have an explanation that would satisfy US voters.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Sunday that weapons supplied by Iran are behind a rash of attacks against American forces in Iraq, part of an escalating campaign of violence ahead of the planned U.S. troop withdrawal by the end of the year.

"We're seeing more of those weapons going in from Iran, and they've really hurt us," said Panetta, who arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit after a two-day stop in Afghanistan.
It is easily possible that Iraqi parties that want the US to leave are able to get arms from Iran. Some of their arms ultimately come from China and Russia, Iraqis who want the US to leave have resources and can buy arms on the market.

Of course, if US troops leave Iraq, Iran and everybody else will be unable to supply Iraqis with weapons to kill US troops.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Turkey's AKP resolves parliament seating dispute

The major opposition party (CHP) to Recep Tayyip Erdogan's political party (AKP) in Turkey was boycotting the parliament, refusing to be sworn in because of a dispute over the arrest and imprisonment of CHP members who had won seats in the election.
The 135 members of the Republican People's Party (CHP) began taking their oaths in the 550-seat parliament in the afternoon, after three hours of negotiations with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdgogan.

With that issue moving behind us, we still have Kurdish political party maintaining the boycott. The story of the Kurdish dispute is strategically the story of Turkey today. US/Israeli support for the Kurds in Iraq is far more than Gaza the root of Turkey's distancing itself from Israel recently. Far more than for Syria, Iraq or Iran, the Kurds in Turkey are a fundamental strategic threat to the country.

The Kurdish party the BDP has not yet ended their boycott. While they will and this in itself will not pose a problem for Erdogan and his AKP, the issue of how Kurds fit into Turkey is still a sensitive one.

We will see how it resolves itself.

Continuing protests to keep Egypt's military rulers in check

The people of Egypt have built an expectation that there will be a government accountable to them, unlike the Mubarak government that was accountable to the United States as part of the US/Zionist colonial structure that now includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others.
“We are not worried over the possibility of losing public support; when we staged a sit-in in protest against the appointment of Ahmed Shafik as prime minister we were less than a thousand. But eventually we achieved what we were after and were praised by everyone.

“Now there are thousands in the current sit-in, which means we are on the right track.”

At around 6pm, around three thousand protesters marched from the square towards the Cabinet office to demonstrate their displeasure with the interim government's handling of the revolution's demands.

Also importantly, I have not read of a single Egyptian who offers a philosophical or ideological justification for Egypt's government not being accountable to its people or for groups that could get popular support being marginalized out of politics.

This is in contrast to a generation ago when, odd as it may seem today, there was a seriously held belief in many places in the Middle East that given the opportunity the people would vote for Islam-oriented parties that would leave their countries vulnerable.

The intervening decades may have made the opposite case. Iran, with an Islam-oriented government has been able to both hold elections and fend of Western pressure while the region's non-democracies have further devolved into humiliations of and disgraces to their people and their religion.

Today, nobody in the Middle East seriously buys the Nasser/Attaturk/Pavlavi idea from the mid 1900s that a country should, for strategic reasons, prevent religious parties or organizations from attaining political power.

Because not a single person is calling for it, it seems very unlikely that Egypt will fail in the relatively near future to put its government under civilian electoral accountability. I have some worry that the US may pressure the military council to delay this process with the hope of making the delay indefinite and then effectively permanent, but the people of Egypt, including the people on Egypt's ruling military council do not seem to be moving in that direction.

If the ruling military council was to bow to US requests to constrain the role of what it calls Islamist parties, the protesters would not accept that and would force them out as they forced out Mubarak.

I hope it is this year as has been promised, but I am very confident that before this time next year there will be an elected government in place in Egypt that has strong mechanisms in place that require it to adopt to the will of the people ruled rather than foreigners. Egypt will leave the US/Zionist colonial structure.

Friday, July 15, 2011

J-Street vs AIPAC's visions of the US maintaining the US/Zionist colonial structure

MJ Rosenberg is known to regulars of this blog for his 2006 statement openly endorsing dictatorships for over 100 million non-Jewish people in Israel's region to protect Israel.
Jordan, for instance, is not a democracy in the western sense but it is precisely the kind of neighbor Israel needs. Egypt is not a democracy but is at peace with Israel. A democratic Egypt probably would not be.
His original statement is no longer linkable. He was quite proud of the statement at the time.
Arnold, you are right. I think that a democratic Egypt could very well repudiate the peace treaty with Israel leading to war, major Israeli (and potentially American) losses and even the end of the Jewish state. Sorry, that is too high a price to pay.

Posted by M.J. Rosenberg
January 3, 2007 9:34 AM
In a new article, he describes a legislative process where mostly unconcerned US congresspeople endorse whatever they are told to endorse by AIPAC because the alternative would be to lose campaign financing at best or to have an opponent funded sufficiently to remove them from office.
Besides, and I say this with two decades of experience working on Capitol Hill, very few senators or House members care very much about Israel (or the Palestinians) one way or another. Why stick your neck out over an issue that is not very important to you?

This indifference to Israel (and the Palestinians) is one of the secrets of the lobby's success. It is also one of the reason J Street has had such a hard time making inroads on the Hill. The J Street approach requires actually caring about Israel and crafting a U.S. strategy that help would ensure its survival. The lobby approach requires reading AIPAC talking points into the Congressional Record and voting "aye" every time an AIPAC bill comes up. If one does not care much one way or another, why stand up against one of the most powerful interest groups Washington has ever known?

Think of it this way. If you had a sibling or a child in Congress and he or she asked you if he should just go along with AIPAC or bravely resist (risking campaign donations), what would you say?
There are certainly US congresspeople who are as sure that Netanyahu's vision for Israel is correct as Netanyahu is. Netanyahu's vision is basically that the United States suppress the hundreds of millions of of people of Israel's region who are not Jewish on Israel's behalf forever.

Netanyahu's vision is kind of Israel's only hope. Rosenberg's and Obama's idea that once there are two states, the colonial structure that now includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others will either be unnecessary or easier to maintain is very likely to prove false if the people of the region ever get to vote on their government's policies.

The Palestinian people are clearly being put under duress. They are being told that if they do not vote the way Israel and the United States prefer, they will go hungry as is happening in Gaza. If a vote is ever reached, and the people of Palestine under those terms vote to accept reservations more onerous than those Nelson Mandela and the ANC rejected, the result of that vote likely will not be considered valid and therefore will still require the same colonial structure to enforce it that the US is expending a tremendous amount of resources holding in place today.

The two state solution doesn't really make sense, and its job is not really to make sense. The purpose of the peace process and the two state is to shield people like MJ Rosenberg and Barack Obama from the implications of the reality that pro-Israel US Congresswoman Illeana Ros-Lehtinen - one of many US congresspeople who clearly are familiar with and directly concerned about Israel - and Benjamin Netanyahu intend for the US to hold the colonial structure that Rosenberg approves of forever.

Barack Obama claims to see the Rosenberg's approved colonial structure that the US has held in place for the last 60 years as a temporary situation that does not align perfectly with the US' long term values.
There will be times when our short-term interests do not align perfectly with our long-term vision of the region
This is what Barack Obama needs to believe to continue to support Israel and the dictatorships Israel needs to remain viable while at the same time believing that he is not just a black-skinned Bill Clinton, Cecil Rhodes or Winston Churchill.

Rosenberg is right. Netanyahu's path will lead to the end of Zionism's viability. Ros-Lehtinen is also right. Rosenberg's path would lead to the end of Zionism's viability. If the United States is unwilling or unable to be a permanent Middle East colonial power, then Israel, or Zionism is not viable.

Rosenberg's dispute with AIPAC is over the proposition that Israel's supporters should at least lie to Israel's American sponsors. At least let them think wrongly that they aren't working to permanently keep the region politically in the 1800s. Netanyahu believes that Israel's supporters have the votes that they don't need the lie of a peace process. Netanyahu expects the United States, on Israel's behalf, to permanently suppress the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Barack Obama is acting like he is stupid enough to continue to fall for this lie. Maybe he thinks it would be anti-Semitic to do otherwise. Or maybe he really is stupid enough. There is no indication that he examined these issues closely before he ran for president and he is now surrounded by true believers.

AIPAC and J-Street, are both ultimately betting that the US will never lose the ability and capacity to shield Israel from its region that does not believe it is legitimate. I don't think that is a safe bet for the long term.

On the other hand, but Rosenberg and Netanyahu would rather see the US/Zionist colonial structure last for as long as possible. Even when it eventually fails, the 5.7 million Jews of Palestine would have gotten more years out of the Zionist enterprise, at the expense of the non-Jews of the region, than they could have hoped for without pliable US leaders.

Leon Panetta, the US' "enduring presence" in the Middle East and the US/Zionist colonial structure

The New York Times has released an unusually clear view of the US' intention to remain militarily in the Middle East directly interposed with the difficulties the US is having in getting permission to remain from Iraq, a country it currently occupies and whose constitution it helped write.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here on Monday that the United States military would have an “enduring presence” for many years in the Middle East. He pushed Prime Minister Nuri Kamal-al Maliki to name a defense minister and to let the United States know whether he wanted some American troops to remain in Iraq beyond the end of this year or not.
For comic relief, Mr. Panetta tried to explain the US' occupation of Iraq to US troops there.
“The reason you guys are here is because on 9/11 the United States got attacked, and 3,000 not just Americans, but 3,000 human beings got killed, innocent human beings, because of Al Qaeda,” Mr. Panetta told Army troops at Camp Victory, the sprawling American military base in Baghdad.
500,000 human beings were killed by US-orchestrated sanctions against Iraq in the years before 9/11. Beyond that, I'll leave it to the reader to count the different ways in which Panetta's statement conflicts with both morality and reality.

Importantly, US troops in Iraq have no idea why they are there. They are defending a US/Zionist colonial structure that fundamentally conflicts with the values the US most earnestly claims to hold. They are defending the idea that over 100 million Arabs must not have governments that represent their views or are accountable to them for the sake of 5.7 million Jewish people in Palestine.

Of course, Panetta has not helped clarify the soldiers' mission for them. Neither, ever, will Barack Obama.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oil off the shores of Israel and Lebanon

As of today, there is no military in the Mediterranean that could challenge Israel, with the support of the United States, from claiming any resources it wants. It seems Israel is taking full advantage of this situation.
"President Michel Sleiman warns against any unilateral decisions Israel may take on maritime borders which would be a breach of international law, as is Israel's habit," Sleiman's office said in a statement.
This is not a natural or inevitable state of affairs. It is the result of the regional US/Zionist colonial structure that denies representative or accountable government to over 100 million Arabs for the sake of 5.7 million Jewish people in Palestine.

Moqtada al-Sadr says Mahdi Army will not force the US out of Iraq

Moqtada al-Sadr has announced that if the US does not leave by December, the Mahdi Army will not be mobilized to drive it out, but instead an organization called the Promised Day Brigade will.
Sadr said his decision about the Mahdi Army came after a recent incident in the Amine district of eastern Baghdad where a militiaman in a local dispute had called in gunmen who had shot and killed one resident and wounded another.

"I am innocent of all the abuses that people commit in my name," Sadr said.
We can assume that this Promised Day Brigade is more disciplined and under more reliable control than the larger Mahdi Army.

A problem the United States has in Iraq is that after accepting Iraq's demand that it commit to leave, the US could not credibly offer to stay for any limited period. If the US offers to keep 10,000 troops in Iraq for, say, three more years, it will be obvious to all involved that the US intends to pressure Iraq's government three years from now to extend the stay further.

If Iraq wants the US to leave ever, it has to maintain its position that the US must leave this year.

It is not clear that Iraq's politicians will be able to maintain that position. The United States is applying the most pressure it can apply - which probably means favors, threats and cargo-plane loads of US hundred dollar bills.

But whether the US stays or not, US influence is on the decline and will prove costly not only in terms of hundred dollar bills, but also in terms of lives of US soldiers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

US and French Ambassadors visit opposition demonstration in Hama

France, led by Nicolas Sarkozy, the most ardent supporter of Zionism in political power outside of Israel is increasingly aligning itself in support of US policies to support and maintain the US/Zionist colonial structure in the region.
In a symbolic show of solidarity, U.S. ambassador Robert Ford and French ambassador Eric Chevallier visited Hama to put pressure on Assad not to crush the protest.

Syria condemned Ford's visit as incitement and proof that Washington was playing a role in 15 weeks of unrest which have challenged Assad's grip on power.
In a clumsy and shortsighted move, the ambassadors from the US and France actually announced that they would come to observe a planned demonstration against the Syrian government in Hama and then actually came. Those actions certainly increased the level of excitement and led to a bigger turnout - but have now clearly associated the entire movement with foreign supporters.

Syria can function with Hama holding demonstrations for as long as they feel inclined before the demonstrations die down. Hama is not Cairo. Hama is also not Benghazi. Syrian forces are well able to prevent the entrance to the city of any supplies that could help stage a rebellion.

I guess the US and France hope Saudi influence will be able to emplace a pro-US/Israel interim government after Assad and that Saudi money will be able to accomplish a pro-US/Israel outcome to any elections afterwards. Both of these hopes would actually be very hard to pull off, even if Assad were to somehow be forced out of power.

Syria could have stopped the visit which was announced publicly before the demonstration happened, but seemingly saw the US and France preparing to hand it a free propaganda victory and graciously accepted the gesture.

The US/Zionist colonial structure that now contains Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others is not maintained by clever policies or deft persuasive efforts. The US is again showing that it has a severe shortage of cleverness. The colonial structure is maintained by the blunt force of money and guns.

We're seeing, especially in Egypt, what happens when the money and guns start proving to be insufficient.

Saudi Arabia joins US boycott of Palestinians

From Reuters we get one illustration of why Israel would not be viable without the US/Zionist colonial structure that includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others.
Palestinian officials have said Arab governments are to blame for the shortfall in the funding they need to fill a $970 million hole in their 2011 budget.

They are reluctant to name states but a review of sums paid by donors this year shows Saudi Arabia, a big contributor in recent years, has yet to offer any budgetary support.

Riyadh, a close U.S. ally, has donated some $620 million in budget support to the Palestinian Authority since 2008.
A democratic Republic of Arabia, or even one accountable to Arabs rather than to Barack Obama, with around $200 billion per year in oil revenue would both offer the Palestinians far more support than about $200 million per year when it actually gives and would not coordinate its support for Palestine with the Israel's patron, the United States.

For many reasons Israel would not be viable if the US/Zionist colonial structure was to lose even Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

According to Livni: Europeans starting to talk about 1-state solution

It is interesting that the Jerusalem Post does not produce a direct quote or include discussion of length to its statement that former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni said that Europeans were beginning to talk about a one state solution.
The fact that Europeans are starting to talk about a one-state solution shows that Israel's standing in the world is sliding, opposition leader Tzipi Livni told Army Radio on Monday.

"There are many Jews around the world who say they love Israel, but do not understand its policies. They say there is a disconnect between them and the state," Livni said.
It could be that the idea of Zionism ending the way Apartheid did, without any representative state remaining is too painful for the staff, writers and editors of the Jerusalem Post to discuss in any detail.

The alternative to ending Zionism, to the one state that Livni and the Jerusalem Post fear, is that over 100 million people must be ruled by colonial-style dictatorships accountable to Israel's allies and benefactors rather than to their own people.

The people ruled by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others being sacrificed to Zionism, to the idea that 5.7 million Jewish people in Palestine must have a reserved-majority state.

This reality is hard to face sometimes, not only for Livni but maybe more importantly for the American leadership apparatus.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Secret gas prices in Egypt's deal with Israel

Not much to say. The Egyptians keep blowing up the pipeline. When they get to vote on it they won't have to blow it up any more.
Egyptian authorities have kept gas export prices to Israel confidential. Local media estimate between 70 cents and $1.50 per million British gas units (BTUs, or British thermal units) whereas Israeli media cite a higher price of $2.50 to $4 per million BTUs.
Secret gas prices? This is what it means to be a dictatorship that is part of the US/Zionist colonial structure that includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others.

Just a humiliation of the 80 million people of Egypt for the sake of the 5.7 million Jewish people of Palestine.

France wants Gaddafi out of Libya, but has no idea what the people of Libya want

This is a crazy thing for the people of Libya to be dying over.
"We ... are delighted to say that in Malabo, the summit of the African Union delivered a public statement which is closer (to) the position of France and the coalition than before," Alain Juppe told reporters in Addis Ababa.

"We agreed that we must now find a political outcome to the situation in Libya and this solution implies a genuine ceasefire and also an inclusive national dialogue between all the parties," Juppe said.

"The key point is the withdrawal of Kadhafi from power, from his military and civilian responsibilities and we agreed to work all together to reach this goal," Juppe added.
Barack Obama and Nato's insistence that Gaddafi be removed from power, based on nothing more moral or strategic than "Mubarak lost power, so Gaddafi should go too" is primarily a horrible waste of human life. Elections easily could have been held by now after which we would see whether or not there is a national vision in Libya that has more support than Gaddafi's.

The fact of the matter is that Tripoli is more populous than the base of the rebellion and it is completely plausible that more Libyans support the current government than oppose it. We should be finding out, but instead we are seeing an emotional reaction to the possible loss of Egypt from the US/Zionist colonial structure. We can only imagine what kind of spastic and destructive response we'll see when what we call Saudi Arabia shows signs of escaping.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

For Thomas Friedman, colonialism is "wholesale politics"

Thomas Friedman thinks the process of having subject rulers in colonies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others prevent the people they rule from enacting policies in line with their views is "wholesale politics".

If you look into the different “shop” windows across the Middle East, it is increasingly apparent that the Arab uprisings are bringing to a close the era of “Middle East Wholesale” and ushering in the era of “Middle East Retail.” Everyone is going to have to pay more for their stability.

Nothing to say here except these shops don't sell rugs, they sell tyranny, repression and brutality for over 100 million Arabs so that 5.7 million Jewish people in Palestine can have a viable state.

Thomas Friedman, like Barack Obama, is an eager buyer of this product. Lamenting the possibility that it may no longer be on sale after Egypt holds elections (for which, as you'd expect, they've found pretexts under which they would like to see delays).

There is a fundamental ugliness of the United States that comes most clearly into view when you look at its policies regarding the Middle East.

Another look at the US colony of Saudi Arabia

I've written before about Saudi Arabia's bizarre political succession system - designed perfectly to guarantee permanent incompetent, even buffoonish leadership.
Following the recent death of Fahd ibn Abdel-Aziz ibn Saud, there are now at least 18 other sons of Abdel-Aziz-- or most likely, more-- who potentially could be in line to the throne, after Abdullah ibn Abdel-Aziz, the new king. Miqrin, the youngest of these awlad (children of) Abdel-Aziz, is indeed in his fifties, and has many uncles who are patrilineal grandsons of Abdel-Aziz who are older (and most probably wiser) than him.
I've written about retired CIA analyst of Arab affairs Ray Close's account of Saudi Arabia's pretending to participate in the war against Israel, while promising the United States that it would not participate.
Similarly, I recall when Prince Fahd bin Abdal Aziz called me to a meeting very late one evening in the early days of the 1973 war and asked me to send an urgent personal message from him to Richard Nixon informing the president that he had felt obliged to contribute a brigade of Saudi troops to the Golan front to support the Syrian offensive there, but that he had personally instructed the commander of the unit not to fire a single shot. That, Fahd told me with considerable emotion and obvious sincerity, was his solemn promise to his American friend. Again, prudence, wisdom, and desire to maintain a traditional and mutually valuable relationship — motives that were not, I regret to say, received in Washington with the respect and appreciation that they deserved.
I've never written about how during the era of open colonialism a joke emerged that Winston Churchill drew Saudi Arabia's border and hiccuped around the border of Jordan.
Winston's Hiccup or Churchill's Sneeze is the huge zigzag in Jordan's eastern border with Saudi Arabia, supposedly because Winston Churchill drew the boundary of Transjordan after a generous and lengthy lunch.
But I have written about how, when public relations services of both the United States and Saudi Arabia are claiming there is some tension or rivalry between the colonial patron and its subject, the US has actually committed to increase it commitment to the regime in the form of training a new 35,000 person force that can be used on the US and regime's behalf to prevent any Saudi Tahrir Square from developing.
Despite their deepening political divide, the United States and Saudi Arabia are quietly expanding defense ties on a vast scale, led by a little-known project to develop an elite force to protect the kingdom’s oil riches and future nuclear sites.


The special security force is expected to grow to at least 35,000 members, trained and equipped by U.S. personnel as part of a multiagency effort that includes staff from the Justice Department, Energy Department and Pentagon. It is overseen by the U.S. Central Command.
So it seems like a former official of Saudi Arabia claims that Iran becoming a threshold state the way Brazil has would cause Saudi Arabia to respond the way the Saudis have not responded to Israel amassing hundreds of nuclear weapons.
"We cannot live in a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and we don't. It's as simple as that," the official said. "If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit."

Officials in Riyadh said that Saudi Arabia would reluctantly push ahead with its own civilian nuclear programme.
Is anyone actually listening to these people? Saudi Arabia is probably the least respectable government on Earth. If the United States does not give Saudi Arabia permission to build nuclear weapons, which it will not, Saudi Arabia will not build nuclear weapons, nor will it acquire technology that would give it capabilities to eventually respond, even in theory, to an Israeli nuclear attack on its territory such as on the cities of Mecca, Medina or Riyadh.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

National Geographic: An American reflection on youth uprisings in the Middle East

The US has a tremendous amount of leverage in its colonies in the Middle East: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others and there is something both callous and cowardly about American politicians or even analysts saying democratic reform, the signature and defining value of the United States should be led in the countries by children. Further by children setting themselves on fire.

The United States did not have to wait for that in Tunisia or Egypt. It does not have to wait for that in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Morocco. The US knows these governments are not accountable to their people. Either that is ok, either the US will continue to support them, or it is not ok and the US will publicly outline the consequences these countries will face if their dictatorships continue.

The fact is that it is OK. As MJ Rosenberg once said:
Jordan, for instance, is not a democracy in the western sense but it is precisely the kind of neighbor Israel needs. Egypt is not a democracy but is at peace with Israel. A democratic Egypt probably would not be.

Rosenberg is a moderate or left-wing Zionist and his position is the US' position.

The onus should not be on children and young adults under 30 to overturn dictatorships ruled indirectly from Washington DC.

National Geographic's Jeffery Bartholet remarks on just that happening:

Some 60 percent of the people in the Middle East are under 30 years old, and many of them are angry. Like young people everywhere, they have ambitions. They want, they need, they crave. They feel constrained—especially, perhaps, when they watch satellite television or surf the Internet. There they can see how the rest of the world lives. Social media (including personal blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more) allow young men and women to share their frustrations in ways they couldn't in the past. They're not alone anymore. Now they have allies. They have power.

I'd like to see the role the US plays in holding over 100 million people in the Middle East powerless brought to a close. But them being powerless is exactly the kind of situation Israel needs.

There should never have been arms available for successionists in Sudan or anywhere else in the global South

The breakup of Africa's largest country will be a sad event. Smaller countries have fewer resources with which to face a potentially hostile global environment. Smaller countries unnecessarily duplicate national services. Most importantly, the process of breaking countries apart necessarily is a horrible waste of human life.

Secessionist movements in the Sudan and Congo have ready access to outside weapons while potential secessionist movements in California or Michigan have no access at all. Period. That's the difference. The Michigan Militia can tell a heartfelt story of how they are aggrieved just as well as any secessionists anywhere in the world, but nobody is shipping cargo planes full of arms to them.

Given weapons, the US would treat secessionists just as brutally as Gaddafi treated Benghazi.

Unfortunately, the global South has a much smaller proportion of people who've had the luxury to gain an understanding of the harm that is done taking large countries and breaking them into small pieces and of the increased weakness and vulnerability of smaller countries compared to larger ones.

There are good days and bad days. The day Mubarak left office was a good day. The day Sudan officially separates is a bad day. And on both good days and bad days we have to just keep moving forward.

Friday, July 08, 2011

US oil companies versus AIPAC: We're not gonna beat those guys in Congress

PBS has published an inside account of the US pro-Israeli lobbying apparatus. The story is told by Keith Weissman, a former senior AIPAC lobbyist:
"So we get ILSA. It passes overwhelmingly. That same year I brought some Conoco guys to AIPAC's policy conference, where half the House and half the Senate usually attend, and they knew that night that they would never win anything against us. So they began to cooperate. A lot of the oil companies realized, 'We're not gonna beat these guys in Congress, so we might as well try to tailor their activities, where we at least have some room to work.' And I was the go-between. I was the guy. I mean, BP still credits me with being the guy who greased the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, because of my work with them. That was originally designed as an anti-Iran project.
Out of nowhere, Saudi Arabia makes an appearance.
Even Prince Bandar ibn Sultan, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, and Adel al-Jubeir -- then the Saudi embassy spokesman and currently the ambassador -- welcomed AIPAC's work in helping to support the BTC pipeline and isolating Iran, its Persian Gulf rival, economically. Remembers Weissman:

"Prince Bandar used to send us messages. I used to meet with Adel al-Jubeir a couple times a year. Adel used to joke that if we could force an American embargo on Iranian oil, he'd buy us all Mercedes! Because Saudi [Arabia] would have had the excess capacity to make up for Iran at that time."
AIPAC discussions on US calls for regime change.
"[Support for regime change] was the personal opinion of many people in AIPAC, but it never uttered the words 'regime change.' And I think my efforts were part of the reason why they never did," he says, adding: "How would it look anyway? This is what makes it so stupid! The American Jewish community choosing the next government of Iran? Helping to change the next government of Iran? How can that government have any legitimacy? It's completely ridiculous. And I think the arguments that I raised against it convinced AIPAC, no matter what they personally thought, they realized that what I was saying was right."
This is mostly not new information, but interesting to see it in one place and spoken from the inside.
Chalabi and AIPAC did have relations before the invasion of Iraq, of course. But Weissman was highly skeptical of Chalabi. "Chalabi came to AIPAC in the late 1990s," he recalls. "I'll never forget sitting across the table from him, and he said, 'If I ever become president of Iraq, one of the first things I'll do is to recognize Israel.' And I think to myself, 'The second thing you'll do is, you'll get a bullet in the back of your head.' And I walked out of the room. I knew he was a complete idiot. Or a liar."

But he adds: "There were a lot of contacts between the Jewish community and the INC. In 2000, 2001, the INC spoke at the AIPAC policy conference. So there were links between the Jewish community groups and the Iraqi exiles, and also between the neocons and the Iraqi exiles." But Weissman insists that even so, the FBI and the Justice Department erred in believing that the contacts amounted to anything like espionage or a national security threat that required an FBI inquiry. Instead, he says, the FBI launched an investigation to go after what they saw as a conspiracy to support war in Iraq and, after that, regime change in Iran. Personally, Weissman believes that both the war in Iraq and regime change in Iran were wrongheaded. "I think that they were all bad policies, policies that a lot of people in the U.S. government badly wanted to discredit," he says.
And an explanation of why a liberal Jewish US citizen who personally opposes AIPAC's positions would have worked for the primary Jewish lobbying organization:
And Weissman? Why didn't he just quit, and do something else? It turns out that sometimes the simplest explanation is the one that rings most true. It was a job. "Well," he says. "Two kids in college. I finally got up to over a hundred thousand dollars. I got to work on issues that I liked, and I was able to have some influence. I was listened to. I was able to keep AIPAC away from the Iraqi opposition in the 1990s, and to keep AIPAC away from regime change later on. Those were the things I liked, and those were the things I thought I did good on."

Finally, he says, "And I was looking for another job when all this happened."

A couple of things about this article that I recommend.

1) We see a direct conflict between the Israel lobby and the oil lobby, and we see not only that the Israel lobby won, but that it did so decisively and to the degree that the oil learned the lesson to refrain from trying to oppose the Israel lobby in the future.

2) Possibly even more than I had realized, hostility between Iran and the United States is the product of lobbying in the US on behalf of Israel. While "moderates" such as Weisman have ensured that AIPAC itself does not officially call for regime change, it is clear that refraining for regime change calls goes against the instincts of AIPAC members and funders themselves as well as against the impulses of proponents of Israel in the Bush and Obama administrations, including Dennis Ross, Hillary Clinton and most of the US Middle East diplomatic corps.

3) Saudi Arabia. I'm going to make the obvious point that this supposed rivalry with Iran was not an issue when Iran was ruled by a US-imposed dictator, the Shah. When the Shah was overthrown, suddenly the US-oriented dictator of what we call 'Saudi' Arabia realized that Iran was some eternal rival. One way or another, Saudi Arabia also managed to be in a rivalry with Egypt after Nasser freed his people of a British oriented dictator.

Yet somehow, neither Egypt under Nasser or Iran ever offered to buy gifts for the US Israel lobby in return for anti-Saudi policies. In fact, no mention of any complaints at all with the Saudis on the part of AIPAC.

The article overall is a relatively rare moment of confirmation of how and why the US operates its US/Zionist colonial structure in the Middle East, which contains Egypt (as of now), Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others - and which works to prevent the development of countries in the region that are outside that structure such as Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Syria and others.

Turkey recognizes Libya rebels

Turkey is standing solidly on the US' side regarding Libya.
It is time for Col. Moammar Gadhafi to leave Libya, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto─člu said Sunday in Benghazi, declaring the rebel National Council “a legitimate representative of the Libyan people.”

“Turkey will do everything it can to help realize the legitimate demands of the Libyan people,” Davuto─člu told a joint press conference with Ali Isawi, deputy leader of Libya’s National Transitional Council executive board in Benghazi, the rebel’s main stronghold in eastern Libya.
These rebels have not demonstrated in any objective way that they have as much or more popular support than the Tripoli government, but if Turkey considers them legitimate, then Turkey considers them legitimate.

Turkey is an interesting country because Erdogan is a towering political figure over the country right now, but he is transitioning the country away from a pro-American non-accountable rule and does not have any challenges for political power from the anti-American side of the spectrum.

That leaves a wide field for Erdogan to align more closely with the United States than he could if there was effective criticism from both directions, as long as he remains independent enough that he can claim to be different from the previous rulers. His successor will not have that luxury but while Erdogan has it, he can use it to make trades with the US on policy.

I'd rather see a perfectly functioning democracy which would force all leaders to hew very closely to the median Turkish voter, but I'm patient and appreciative of the fact that Erdogan is an alternative to the US/Zionist colonial structure of Egypt (for now), Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others that I'm satisfied waiting for the end of Erdogan's political career or for anti-American political groupings to emerge that are independent of Erdogan's AKP before we see an even more representative government in Turkey.

So far I don't see any reason to think Turkey will not naturally move in that direction.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

National Geographic: A US soldier returns to Baghdad

I've been asked to write about two National Geographic pieces whose subjects or themes might align with this blog. Flattered at the request, I said yes. So here is the first.

A US soldier who took part in the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq returns to Baghdad to find it scarred but in some way recovering from the damage of that time period. Not the soldier but the piece raises the question: what was it all for?
But things have changed. This isn't the Baghdad I once knew. Just off Abu Nuwas Street near the Tigris River, where sniper fire was once a daily hazard, the sounds of war have been replaced by the sounds of children playing soccer on the grass. They whoop, high-pitched and full throated, like birds calling to each other. On Haifa Street, where bitter sectarian fighting raged from 2006 to 2008, young men pause in the doorway of a local market to finish a conversation as Iraqi pop music blares from a boombox. Near the university several young women laugh as they cradle textbooks and notebooks, their head scarves a splash of color against the drab building facades. Everywhere around Baghdad there is the sound of a city regaining its voice.

If in 2003 the United States wanted to spread democracy in the Middle East, Iraq is not where it would have started. It would have started in Saudi Arabia. A US president would have said to the Saudi dictator: we will not continue security cooperation, we will not train or equip military forces to defend your regime unless you hold elections for an elected legislative body in six months and transfer all political power to elected bodies over the next five years.

If George Bush had done that in 2003, then today a Republic of Arabia, maybe still named Saudi Arabia after its figurehead king, would be democratic without one shot being fired, without one senseless death. With no sectarian wars breaking out, cities separated by huge concrete barriers with foreign troops constantly patrolling in helicopters above.

Bush did not do that because the accountable Republic of Arabia likely would join Iran in supporting Palestinians who reject Israel and likely would not silently tolerate Israel having a regional monopoly of both nuclear weapons and nuclear capability. Parties that reflect the region's doubts of Israel's legitimacy would, in Bush's words, have gotten control of oil wells and could have used them to fund their ambitions.

Instead, Bush tried to turn Iraq into a colonial dictatorship led by Ahmed Chalabi and run like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others.

Bush failed, and a US soldier has returned to Baghdad to reflect on the aftermath, noting that the city is not as bad as it had been in the past.

If a US president today wanted to spread democracy in the Middle East, Libya and Syria are not where he would start. Like 2003, he would start in Saudi Arabia. He would say to the dictatorship that the 35,000 troops the US plans to arm and train to defend the regime are contingent on immediate elections and a five year pathway to full dissolution of power to representative bodies. Again there would be a new democracy in 2016 with no cities being sieged, no aerial attacks on anyone's home or families.

But for the sake of 5.7 million Jewish people in Palestine whom he insists must have a viable state with a reserved political majority, Obama like Bush is spreading destruction throughout the region.

The soldiers Bush committed to his attempt to transform Iraq into a colony like Saudi Arabia were in danger themselves and had no reason that they would understand their mission or the region it was executed in any more deeply than necessarily to return home alive, preferably with military honors. If one is to be angry, it shouldn't mostly be at them - even though they were the ones pulling the triggers.

This soldier was performing a mission that was bigger than he was and now has come back to, as well has he can, survey and understand the aftermath.

Joe Lieberman thinks a day of reckoning is coming for Iran

Joe Lieberman, who is probably the US' most staunch supporter of Zionism in elected office, claims that Iran has an unpopular government that the US should confront.
I would say that a day of reckoning is coming for this extremist regime in Iran, when a majority of Iranians who really yearn for freedom can see this dream come true. And I hope we do everything we can to make this happen as soon as possible.
He's seen the polls that say otherwise. This is a willful ignorance on his part. A distortion that is calculated to lead to continued US dollars and lives being sacrificed for Israel.

The good news is that the US is becoming increasingly less reliant on people like Lieberman to filter news and analysis about the Middle East.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Iraq can reconcile with people who fought Americans but not Iraqis

Some Iraqi officials are beginning to envision a post-occupation Iraq.
"Reconciliation will not include those whose hands are covered with Iraqi blood, Al-Qaeda, or members of the Baath party" of Saddam Hussein, the dictator ousted by the invasion.

"Reconciliation does include those who said, 'we resisted the occupiers for seven years, and today they are on their way to withdraw at the end of 2011, so we have to return to our lives,'" Khuzai added, referring to US forces as "occupiers," as many Iraqis do.
It remains to be seen if the US will successfully extend the occupation beyond 2011. Whether it does or not, the national consensus in Iraq is that the US is not wanted there. That means that US leverage in that country has already passed its peak and will quickly dwindle from here until we've passed the point that Iraq cannot be considered a US strategic asset.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia vow to oppose democracy together

After Mubarak was removed from office, possibly the two most striking examples of the US/Zionist colonial structure remain Saudi Arabia and Jordan. These two have made a public declaration of their intention to work together to maintain their dictatorships that are accountable to the US rather than to the people they rule.
During talks in Jeddah, Jordan's King Abdullah II and Saudi King Abdullah discussed the 'latest Arab and regional developments and the political situation through which a number of Arab countries are passing,' according to a joint statement.

The Jordanian head of state and the Saudi king expressed 'keenness on continuing consultations and coordination with a view to preserving security and stability in the region and boosting joint Arab action vis-a-vis various challenges,' said a statement published by the Petra news agency.
Sympathizers with the US/Zionist colonial structure are recently telling a story that the US is trying to convince the governments that are accountable to it to transition to democracy, but the colonies are refusing, which proves that the colonies are independent.

The US pressures its colonies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others with real tangible consequences if they, for example, fund Hamas or cut intelligence cooperation with Israel. The US could pressure the governments that are aligned with it in the region to hold contested elections far more easily than it pressures them to cooperate with Israel. The US chooses not to use its leverage that way, exactly because the US is committed to maintaining a colonies over more than 100 million people in the Middle East rather than allow a threat to Israel's viability to emerge.
"Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short term interests do not align perfectly with our long term vision of the region."

-Barack Obama
For now, the region is waiting on Egypt, to see what emerges there and how the US reacts to it. But once that issue is settled, the other dictators of the US/Zionist colonial structure are not well positioned in their fight on the US and Israel's behalf against both their own people and history.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Syria: Can a government be overthrown without the capital?

As we continue to read about disturbances with various degrees of organization and violence in the smaller towns and near the borders with other countries, it is striking that there are not substantial protests or anti-government activity in Damascus. Now, a few months after the protests started, a question arises, will the anti-government groups ever develop a capacity to stage large rallies in the capital and if not, can Assad be overthrown without that?
Syrian security forces and tanks have returned to the city of Hama, storming houses and arresting activists after giving protesters nearly free reign in the city for a month, allowing one of the largest protests of the uprising to take place there on Friday.
The Benghazi model, where territory is established that is secure from government control by the armed expulsion of state security forces and used to stage an armed rebellion only worked in Libya because Gaddafi had not felt a need to establish a strong security presence there before it was too late. This model can work, whether a government is popular or not, if the security presence is light. Syria, learning from Libya's mistake, will not have a light security presence in any potential rebel base in the country.

The Cairo model really depends on large protests and very small counter-protests in the largest city - both to demonstrate that their demands have popular support and to carry the threat of shutting down national life until their demands are met.

The safest bet regarding Syria over the next twelve months is still that the protest movement will exhaust itself before the government does. Over the medium term, Assad will have to get more votes than a competitive opposition candidate to remain in power, and to deserve to remain in power.

Segments of Nasrallah's speech regarding the Special Tribunal indictments

I don't have much to say about the Special Tribunal of Lebanon. There certainly was a well organized assassination of Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005. The United States would certainly be happy for the aftermath of the assassination to harm the interests of the US' adversaries such as Syria and Hezbollah.

It was immediately clear to me when I first heard the news of the bombing that Israel would consider it a good thing, that the scale of it would trigger an anti-Syrian backlash while Hariri, who at the time was not an active politician, would not directly be a major loss for anti-Syrian factions in Lebanese politics.

If I had to guess who was responsible for the attack I'd say Israel, just because that is the only party that might have thought it could benefit from the attack at the time. But it would not be a particularly informed guess.

The important question for Lebanon is how credible is the tribunal itself seen by Lebanese. The indications I've seen are that it is not very credible. Saad Hariri was forced from power because he refused to put cooperation with the tribunal to a vote in his own cabinet - which at the time was dominated by his allies. That is an indication that the local consensus is aligned with Hezbollah's accusations that the tribunal is less a tool for justice than a tool to harass the US and Israel's adversaries in the country.

Nasrallah's overall message is that the indictments change nothing. Interestingly Nasrallah explicitly shields Lebanon's Prime Minister Mikati from responsibility for any failure by Lebanon's government to cooperate with the tribunal by arresting any indicted Hezbollah personnel.
As for the March 14 camp, Sayyed Nasrallah addressed them saying "you consider yourself as the opposition and this is your right. But I have two pieces of advice for you: First is that you should not hold the cabinet of Prime Minister Najib Mikati responsible for not being able to carry out the arrest warrants (of the STL's prosecutor's office), which the Hariri cabinet would not have had been responsible for either at the time. Even if the cabinet was backed by March 14, it will not be able to carry out the warrants and arrest the indicted people. I don't think that they will be able to arrest them not in one, two or even in 600 years.' As for the second piece of advice to the March 14 parties, Sayyed Nasrallah said "Do not ask PM Mikati or his cabinet to give up his goals in order to remain in power, just like former PM Saad Hariri did."
Other than that, all parties are acting exactly as we'd expect them to.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Gaza flotilla setbacks

Thanks in part to intense lobbying in favor of the siege of Gaza by the Obama administration, flotillas toward the Palestinians have been, so far, unsuccessful in either delivering cargo or confronting Israel's siege forces.
"The flotilla is still going on," said Mr Plionis, a spokesman. "We are sure there has been Israeli involvement in the Greek government's decision.

"The Israeli government has exerted pressure on the Greek government, as has the United States, and the Greek government has bowed. We consider that the siege of Gaza has been exported to the Greek shores."
This victory for Israel has little or no strategic importance. The question in the region is still what will be the policies of a future Egypt that has voted itself out of the US/Zionist colonial structure in the region.

Unless Egypt resolves the problem, which could happen by this time next year, either organizers against the siege will eventually recreate in some sense the flotilla confrontation of 2010 or the US and Israel will spend a continuous and increasing amount of their influence preventing that from happening.

The US is expanding contacts with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

When an American says "Muslim Brotherhood" he or she means politically organized anti-Zionism. The US only cares about one aspect of policy in the Middle East which is groups' and countries' orientations for or against Zionism. The Muslim Brotherhood, and politically mobilized Islam-focused organizations more generally, are for historic reasons the most prominent, effective and influential anti-Zionist organizations in the Middle East.

This week we are seeing, or we have reason to hope we are seeing, an important surrender of US efforts to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from gaining power in Egypt's government. US Senators McCain and Kerry went to Egypt and seem to have come back without any confidence that they had convinced Egypt's military tribunal to delay the elections or to undertake other measures to limit the Muslim Brotherhood. Possibly the Obama administration sees that there is no available policy option that would work to keep the Muslim Brotherhood out of government.
"We are ready for dialogue with the U.S. administration, if it so decides, within a framework of mutual respect," Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan said in an e-mailed statement today. "The Muslim Brotherhood hopes that the U.S. administration has revised its previous policies and decided to side with the rights of the people and their demands and to stop supporting the corrupt and tyrannical regimes, backing the Zionist occupation and using double standards."


The U.S. is loosening the criteria for interaction with the Brotherhood, allowing diplomats to deal directly with low-level officials of the organization, Clinton said on June 30 in Budapest. That marks a shift away from a previous policy that restricted U.S. officials to communicating with members of the Brotherhood who also sit in parliament.
Again the Muslim Brotherhood means more than that single organization. It represents in the US mind organized opposition to Zionism. The US publicly being willing to engage the Muslim Brotherhood is a new small step in the direction of the US asserting its direct interests rather than being guided in the Middle East primarily by Israel's long-term strategic needs.

I expect to see this process repeated in small and large ways over the next decade or two. The US would love to keep anti-Zionists away from political power in Egypt, but it just has no options that would work. So it can't and admits so publicly.

There is currently a US/Zionist colonial structure that includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait and others without which Zionist Israel could not stave off the fate of Apartheid South Africa. Egypt may be leaving that colonial structure now which would leave the US to process the fact that despite its wishes and intentions, it just was not able to hold Egypt under its control.

When it becomes a reality that Iraq, Yemen and later even what we call Saudi Arabia itself just cannot be kept in their current status as US dependencies, the US will adjust to that reality just as it may now be adjusting to the reality that anti-Zionists will have influence in Egypt's government. Eventually it will be a reality that Zionism just is not viable in the Middle East. When that is a reality, the US will, despite its wishes and intentions, adjust to that reality.

Immediately, I am more confident than I was before reading these stories that elections are actually going to happen in September and that political power in Egypt will reflect the values of the median Egyptian in the medium-term. I can't be fully relieved until power has transferred due to an election, but I am even more optimistic than I was last month at this time.

For the long term, I feel like we're seeing the ground that supports Zionism slowly being weathered away. But there will be good days and there will be bad days along that long-term path.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Iran's internal politics are of very little strategic importance

Over the last few weeks I've read a whole lot of stories about a supposed factional dispute between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other conservatives in Iran. All countries have political disputes and as long as those disputes satisfy at least the second of two conditions, I don't care much about the outcomes of those disputes.

The first condition is that as disputes are settled, some popular voting mechanism contributes to resolving the issue.

The second condition is more important than the first, and it is that no foreign actor have influence on the dispute resolution process.

China's politics has disputes. China does not meet my first condition, but it does meet my more important second condition. China's political disputes are resolved, on both sides, by Chinese, loyal and holding stakes ultimately to China, and consistent with their values as Chinese people.

The United States for the most part meets both of my conditions. There is disproportionate influence on the US policy apparatus by advocates for Israel, but these advocates are nearly all US citizens.

Iran's current dispute also meets both of my conditions. The assets Ahmadinejad has available in any dispute are informed, at least in part, by his election results. More importantly, on both sides of the dispute, as far as I can tell, are Iranian factions that are primarily loyal to Iran.

Because this dispute meets the second condition, it really has no impact on Iran's role in the region. Because of that, I have not been following the dispute or paying attention to it. As far as I can tell, it will be resolved on way or another and Iran will remain after its resolution an independent country that pursues policies generally in line with the values, sensibilities and perceptions of the Iranian people.

Is the United States a good nation? A response to Galen Wright

A discussion is occurring over at Race for Iran.

Galen Wright is a proponent of US policy and also of US regional and global dominance. There is a very good chance that he will respond to what I've written here over there and to be fair, that is where most of the discussion will happen.

I put this into the queue here before Wright had a chance to respond there but I don't want any reader to have the impression that I have an unanswerable point to make. I'm posting my response here because I think it can stand on its own and because I want to be able to more easily find both my response and the entire discussion later.

I could also edit this posting here but I will not. But mistakes I find in this will make future writings better so please point out any you find.

Two things have come to mind in my first pass over your responses.

1) You said of the US’ relationship with the rest of the world that it is over-simplification to call it imperialism. I don’t consider “you’re oversimplifying” to be a valid argument. Exactly how is calling it imperialism wrong? The 2011 relationship between the United States and the UAE differs from the 1911 relationship between Imperial Britain and those same states, ruled by the same dynasties, in exactly what way? I hope your answer will be as simple as you can make it and as only as complicated as it has to be to demonstrate your position.

2) I think you misunderstand the role Israel plays in the US’ relationships in the region, especially with Iran.

a) Israel is a small number of people without any substantial natural resources. The United States has taken on the project of ensuring that Israel is dominant over any combination of bigger richer states in its region.

b) The people of Iran, like the people of Egypt, the people of what we call Saudi Arabia, of Jordan by margins of three to one or more do not believe Israel is a legitimate state. Most of the populations of the region consider Israel an injustice that should be corrected the way Apartheid South Africa was considered by most Africans an injustice that should be corrected.

a) and b), together with the US’ commitment to Israeli regional dominance mean that the US structurally opposes Iran growing into a power reflective of its population and resources while at the same time reflecting and being able to implement policies in line with the sensibilities of the Iranian people.

It seems to me that you present Iranian hard liners as opposing the US just for the sake of opposing the United States. The United States has a fundamental disagreement with Iran’s leadership and with Iran’s people over whether or not Iran can be allowed to grow into a power that could threaten Israel.

This is not something that can be resolved in discussions. You note that the faction of Iranian politics that would accommodate the US’ desires of Iran cannot plausibly come to power. There is a good reason for that. That faction, to the extent it exists and would really be more cooperative with the US, is structurally wrong.

I don’t want to stray from Iran for too long, but as an aside, the US has a fundamental disagreement with the people of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait and others that has motivated the US to support dictatorships over the more than 100 million people of those countries. The people of any and all of those countries, if able, would vote for an Ahmadinejad rather than a Mubarak.

If those countries were ruled in alignment with the sensibilities of their own people, the US commitment that Israel be dominant over all of them together would simply be impossible to keep. I call the set of dictatorships that rule these countries in opposition to the sensibilities of their own people the US/Zionist colonial structure. Iran was part of that colonial structure under the Shah and escaped with Khomeini’s revolution. Hopefully Egypt will escape this year.

There is a valid argument that I’m sure is made in Iran that the US’ commitment to Israeli regional dominance is also a commitment to restoring Iran to the US/Zionist colonial structure.

It is not that opposing the US is a good thing in itself. It is that if the US has a commitment to Iran being weak, preventing the US from achieving that goal is a good thing, because for Iranian nationalists, Iran being strong is a good thing in itself.

This leads us to the question of the benevolence of US hegemony. For the hundreds of millions of people of Iran, Egypt, Jordan and the rest of the countries that the 5.7 million Jewish people of Palestine the US is committed to being dominant over, the US is clearly and simply not benevolent.

Only if you disagree with hundreds of millions of people in Israel’s region on the question of Israel’s legitimacy is there even a question of US benevolence, or whether or not US hegemony is a good thing. Before US audiences you can make a quick argument that Israel is legitimate and wave the question off from there. You can say Israel is a UN member, or has been around for a long time, or has an unbreakable commitment from the United States – therefore there is no valid doubt of Israel’s legitimacy.

Whatever arguments work in New York to wave off questions of Israel’s legitimacy do not work in Tehran, Cairo or Riyadh. For the populations of the Middle East, there simply is no winning argument. You have to use force, those populations must be ruled by unaccountable dictators or otherwise isolated from influence on policy that could threaten Israel.

In the United States it is kind of taboo to question Israel’s legitimacy. You can be called anti-Semitic if you don’t accept Israel’s legitimacy as a given, and nobody wants to be called or thought to be a bigot.

It seems to me that a failure to accept that a Jewish state in Palestine is subject to valid questioning as is a White state in Southern Africa severely damages your analysis of Iranian motivations and of the goodness of US’ role and its perception in Israel’s region.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Releasing posts on a schedule

I hope I'll be able to get one post out every day from now on. But what I'm doing now is trying to build a backlog of posts to be released by blogger's scheduler at most twice a day. I guess I'll interrupt if there is a huge breaking story, but otherwise blog posts will be published a few days after they were written if I've successfully built a backlog.

I'm trying to prevent a situation where some days have a lot of posts and other days do not have any.

I often run out of things to write, so please, if you have a topic you'd like to suggest or a question, email it or put it into the comments section of the most recent story and I'll try to put something on the queue to address it.

Again, we hear that Bushehr is right around the corner

Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant to join national grid in September: FM
TEHRAN, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said that the Bushehr nuclear power plant will join the national grid in September, the State IRIB TV website reported on Monday.

In fresh remarks on Sunday night, Salehi said that Iran will celebrate joining of the Bushehr nuclear power plant to the national grid in early September, said the report.
I'll be happy when it opens, but I don't have any expectations that it will open in the foreseeable future. Iran's nuclear issue though, is becoming generally less important. After Egypt's elections, the US likely will have fewer diplomatic resources and less energy to devote to hampering Iran's nuclear program.

We will eventually see Bushehr operational, and Iran, contrary to US offers, will not have to give up its uranium enrichment capabilities to get it on line. But we are unlikely to see it operational in 2011.

Friday, July 01, 2011

More indications of the US' intention to remain in Iraq

Bin Laden raid leader: Keep commandos in Iraq
The admiral tapped to be the new commander of U.S. special operations forces says a small commando force should remain in Iraq after the end of the year, when all American troops are scheduled to leave.
Of course, it is not Vice Adm. William McRaven's decision whether or not Iraq will continue to host US troops after the year is over, but the US is certainly applying as much pressure as it can to do so.

We'll see later in the year if this behind-the-scenes pressure yields any results.

What we know now is that the process by which the US seeks to influence Iraqi politics is hidden and inherently corrupt.

An illustration is after Iraq's first election, US President George Bush decided, and let it be publicly known that the presumptive winner of the Prime Minister position, Jaafari, was unacceptable to the United States. Condoleeza Rice flew into Baghdad and by the time she left the job was given to Maliki.

Rice represents no votes in Iraq's parliament. What she could offer is to coordinate the disbursement of truckloads of cash and personal favors and personal threats against individual Iraqi politicians. Whatever she did behind closed doors then is certainly being replicated now to induce Iraq to maintain a force of US troops beyond the agreed deadline.

Maliki was not an complete victory for the United States in 2006. There is no solid reason to believe there will be a victory for the United States on the troop issue. But US attempts to influence outcomes in Iraq are a threat to Iraq's independence. The sooner those attempts are ended the better it will be for the people of Iraq.

Israel will attack Assad personally in a war. Otherwise Israel expects regime to survive

Two bits of news regarding Syria.

1) Israel has issued another threat against Assad personally. I don't think Assad is significantly more vulnerable than Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon. In other words, Assad would be inconvenienced if he went underground, but Israeli attempts to kill him personally might work but probably would not.
Israel sent a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad in recent days, warning him that if he started a war with the Jewish state in order to divert attention from domestic problems, Israel will target him personally, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported on Tuesday.
2) The International Business Time's sources expect Assad to survive the current disturbances in the country. I also expect him to survive though his long-term survival is dependent on elections that convince the people of his country that his supporters outnumber his opponents as well as other reforms to Syria's political system.
At the same time, analysts also cited the weapons as a source of worry, as if the leader was forced to step down, which now seems increasingly unlikely, many countries are scared the ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons could fall in even more volatile hands and send the whole region into turmoil.