Saturday, December 22, 2012

Congratulations Egypt on passing a constitution

I would have written a more secular constitution than Egypt's Constituent Assembly did. I would have, more importantly to me, given an entire committee of elected civilians oversight of Egypt's military budget, establishing at least as much civilian control over the military as exists in the United States. To top that off, I would have written into the constitution that foreign contributions to the military especially from former colonial hegemons such as the United States must be visible to the public.

But I don't vote in Egypt's elections. The people of Egypt do, and all indications are that Egyptians have written and approved by a substantial margin a constitution that fits their values and priorities, rather than Barack Obama's, Juan Cole's, Tom Friedman's values or even my values and priorities.

Cole might say that there should have been more secular representation in the Constituent Assembly. There in that case might exist a difference of opinion between Cole and the people of Egypt over exactly what is the right amount of secular representation in a constitution-writing body. A colonialist would propose that if the people of Egypt and Juan Cole, a US citizen, disagree about what would represent a reasonable distribution of power between secularists and religionists, Cole's position, rather than that of Egypt's voters, should prevail. No reader of this blog by now could be surprised that Juan Cole takes exactly that colonialist position.

But after decades of being ruled on behalf of the government Cole votes for, Egypt is coming to be ruled on behalf of Egypt's voters themselves. That is a great step forward, and the squawking we hear from supposedly liberal and supposedly conservative commentators in the West criticising Egypt's democratic process despite the election results is actually evidence of what a significant step forward it is.

Congratulations to all of the people of Egypt.

Also congratulations to Egypt's Muslim Brothers. They have campaigned or lobbied on the most popular sides of six elections post Mubarak now. The first constitutional amendments, the People's Assembly, the Shura Council, two rounds of Presidential elections and now the constitutional referendum.

The people of Egypt have clearly expressed faith in this group of people to set Egypt's policies. I send them all of my best wishes and hopes that they prove worthy of this faith that they've been shown by the people of Egypt.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Near fatal blows" to a two state solution

So Israel is building more settlements. These settlements are in areas that if annexed apparently would make a continuous Palestinian state in the West Bank impossible. That would be according to every Western commentator I've seen on the issue an almost fatal blow to hopes for two states. Here's the New York Times with one example:

So far this week, Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-line government, defying the Western powers, has approved construction of more than 6,000 new housing units. The approvals follow an announcement late last month that Israel would continue planning for new development in the E1 area — a project northeast of Jerusalem that would split the West Bank and prevent the creation of a viable contiguous Palestinian state. Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, has called this project an “almost fatal blow” to a two-state solution.
Really quickly, first of course, Israel is not viable without US support. The US has to maintain a string of colonial dictatorships throughout Israel's region, has to impose bombings, sanctions and civil wars on countries outside of that string of colonies and if it was to stop, Israel would be forced to either negotiate a South-Africa style settlement that would end Zionism, or it would fight and lose wars against the countries in its region and accept such a settlement ending Zionism after.

So Israel cannot and does not actually defy Western powers. If Barack Obama told Netanyahu that these settlements would result in the US withdrawing its support for Zionism, Netanyahu would halt the settlements. Without US support not only would the settlements not be possible, but Israel as a Jewish state in a region of US-controlled stooge dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and others would not be possible.

But beyond that, I find humor in the idea that these blows are "nearly fatal". That raises the question of when would claimed hopes for a two state solution actually die, what would have to happen for a blow to those hopes to be fatal, as opposed to nearly fatal?

The answer to this question as I've said in this blog before is that the point of these hopes for a two state solution is not for there ever to actually be two states, but to allow Israel's supporters to pretend that they are not as evil as they are.

Barack Obama supports Israel restricting the access children in Gaza have to food. That is a disgusting policy, even by the values Obama claims to uphold. But because of hopes for a two state solution, Obama tells himself and those who'll listen to him that this policy is only temporary. A two state solution is around the corner after which children in Gaza will be able to eat what they want, their parents will be able to produce goods and export them.

Instead of a reflection of Obama's racist idea that Jewish children in Israel are more important than Arab children in Gaza, the siege is a temporary sacrifice to hopes for a two state solution. The purpose of these hopes is to shield people like Barack Obama from the implications of their own pro-Jewish racism.

So are these settlements really almost fatal blows to these hopes? These hopes were never real enough to live or die. States with tens of millions of people live under pro-US dictatorships and will have to be under US control forever if Israel is to remain viable as a Jewish state.

How is fewer than six million Jewish people having an enforced Jewish political majority state more important than over 40 million mostly Muslim people in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and others having policy makers who are accountable to their voters? Because Barack Obama and other supporters of Israel are religious bigots who devalue Muslim people as human beings in service to Zionism.

Hopes for a two state solution are how they lie to themselves and to each other to disguise the anti-Arab racism and anti-Muslim bigotry inherent in their support for Israel. These hopes will not die or nearly die because of any settlement building. The impulse and need to lie to themselves and each other about their bigotry that fuels these supposed hopes for a two state solution are only growing stronger as Israel becomes more vulnerable.

But back to the Times, here is another funny passage:

Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, hopes for Mideast peace have envisioned two states, for two peoples, living side by side in security. But there is increasing talk now of a one-state future, which would be disastrous to both sides. By absorbing the West Bank, Israel would risk its character as a Jewish state because Israeli Jews could become a minority in their own country. Israelis would also have to decide whether to give Palestinians equal rights, the denial of which would harm Israel’s standing as a democracy.
One state would be disastrous to both sides? The New York Times describes how the process of losing an enforced ethnic political majority state that White South Africans went through as a disaster for Israeli Jews, but where is the explanation of how it would be a disaster for the Arabs and Muslims? And if it's only a disaster for one side, why say both?

Westerners, liberal to conservative, just have a huge fog of lies that they tell themselves and each other especially about the Middle East and Zionism. If they were to stop lying, it would be more than a fatal blow to the supposed hopes for a two state solution.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Not rooting for Morsi, but rooting for democracy

To be clear again, I don't think of myself as necessarily a fan of Morsi - even though I am impressed that he is doing a good job preventing the SCAF from delivering the "monopoly over many aspects of foreign affairs" that it was until this summer very confident it could give the US.

I'm a fan of the people of Egypt selecting a leader, and selecting representatives in Parliament and that ruler and those representatives serving until the next election, held when the rules say they will be held, then Egypt's voters can choose again. I'm also a fan of the people the Egyptians select being the actual people who make policy in their country, as opposed to unelected groups carving out monopolies to serve foreign interests.

If we saw that in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and the other US colonies in the region then Zionism would not be viable, Iran would be maybe the fourth or fifth biggest threat to Israel's security, Israel would probably sue for peace the way the White South Africans did and a tremendous amount of misery in the forms of sanctions, stooge dictatorships, captured political officials, annulments of parliaments, drone strikes, blockades, invasions and imposed civil wars in that region would be averted.

I'm much less concerned with the names of the leaders or their parties. I don't root for any party, I just root for voters to decide and for the elected officials to have true policy making authority while being accountable to their own people.

The United States and the West - because of Zionism - oppose that and alongside that cause almost immeasurable amounts of pain and destruction throughout the region of the Middle East. That's why the United States is a horribly evil country measured on the basis of its own proclaimed values.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Egypt's judiciary admitted it does not want voters to control Egypt's policy

Just as background to the current conflict in Egypt, I want to point to an article that results from statements a high Egyptian judicial official made that were accessed by the New York Times:
Judge Gebali said her own direct contacts with the generals began in May last year, after a demonstration by mostly liberal and secular activists demanding a Constitution or at least a bill of rights before elections. “This changed the vision of the military council,” she said. “It had thought that the only popular power in the street was the Muslim Brotherhood.”

It was also around that time, Judge Gebali said, that she began helping the military-led government draft a set of binding constitutional ground rules. The rules protected civil liberties, she said, but also explicitly granted the military autonomy from any oversight, as well as a permanent power to intervene in politics. “The military council accepted it, and agreed to issue a ‘constitutional declaration’ with it,” she said.

... Egyptian jurists now say that the generals effectively planted a booby trap in the parliamentary elections by leaving them vulnerable to judicial negation at any time — if the generals allowed previous precedents to apply.

... The decision “is in the drawers of the constitutional court, and it could be taken out at any time,” Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri told Parliament’s speaker, Saad el-Katatni of the Muslim Brotherhood, as Mr. Katatni recalled in March from the floor of Parliament.
I also want to make sure readers of this blog understand that the Constitutional Court was prepared to rule on December 2 that the Constituent Assembly should be dissolved because it was emplaced by the Parliament that it dissolved earlier:
The Supreme Constitutional Court set 2 December to issue a ruling on the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution.

Two lawsuits filed against the assembly demanded annulling the law issued on 12 July by the dissolved People's Assembly laying out criteria for the selection of the current Constituent Assembly members.

Deputy head of the Supreme Constitutional Court Maher Samy told MENA that two lawsuits filed against the assembly demand its dissolution for being based on a law issued by the dissolved People's Assembly.

Both lawsuits, according to Samy, contend that the Constituent Assembly constitutes an obstacle to the implementation of the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court issued in June annulling the parliamentary elections law and dissolving the People's Assembly.
The crisis in Egypt is caused by a judiciary that openly does not believe Egypt's voters should control Egypt's military and therefore Egypt's foreign policy. Many in the United States, ultimately on Israel's behalf, agree with this counter-democratic idea held by Egyptian court officials, people such as Juan Cole, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Thomas Friedman and the entire mainstream US foreign policy community.

It is easily predictable even if outrageous to see Americans project their own hostility against democracy in Egypt onto Morsi. So far, Morsi is innocent.

I'll also point to a statement of support for Morsi from Egypt's Nour Party:
"The president's decisions did not come out of the blue; it is clear to anyone following recent political events that there have been attempts to lead the country into a state of lawlessness," Nour Party spokesman Nader Bakkar stated.

He pointed in particular to the dissolution this summer of Egypt's democratically elected parliament based on a ruling by Egypt's High Constitutional Court.

The party spokesman asserted that the recent replacement of Prosecutor-General Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud – who, according to Bakkar, "had stood against the revolution" – with Judge Talaat Abdullah, "has given hope to the families of the revolution's martyrs, after everyone had accused the president of not doing enough to attain martyrs' rights."

Bakkar went on to warn against opposition calls to dissolve the Constituent Assembly (tasked with drafting a new constitution) and Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of parliament) and for President Morsi to step down.

"How can we allow a handful of individuals and political forces – which don't represent the people – to bring an end to all state institutions?" he asked.
I think that's well said, and I suspect a lot more people in Egypt agree with that statement than one might imagine reading twitters aimed at English-speaking audiences.

A note about Egypt: Outsiders who respect democracy will support the Islamists

The most important threat to colonialism - especially in the Middle East where the people of the United States have a vehement disagreement with the people of the region about Israel - is policy-makers who are accountable to voters.

You can bribe either Mubarak or Morsi, as long as there is nobody to compete with them for reelection who has an incentive to investigate and expose the corruption. It is much more expensive, in fact impossible for the US to bribe a majority of Egypt's more than 50 million voters.

So what's important is that there is a competitive process for control of foreign policy, and that the results of that competitive political process are respected.

So once a side wins a contested election, as long as it does not abolish future elections, there is no such thing as being over-supportive of that side. The people of Egypt support Morsi and a large Islamist majority in Parliament. Who I support is irrelevant compared to that.

The US embassy has recently begun tweeting that no one group in Egypt should have too much power. "We want to see the constitutional process in #Egypt move forward in a way that does not overly concentrate power in one set of hands". Somebody in the State Department, rather than Egypt's voters should, according to the US, decide how much power is too much and who should hold it. Not only did this principle never apply to Mubarak, but today this principle does not apply to the pro-US colonial dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and others. This is just an example of Americans across the political spectrum lying about the Middle East.

In countries close to Israel, the United States structurally cannot get the kind of cooperation it needs for Israel's security from voters. So it needs foreign policy to be outside of the control of the electorate, the way it has been in Turkey, though in Turkey responsibility for foreign policy is, in theory, slowly reverting to effective control by elected officials.

Turkey, when its foreign policy was fully controlled by the military and unaccountable to voters, is the exact model today proposed for Egypt by Juan Cole, and more or less openly by other US officials and commentators. To Cole that's good enough for Arabs and Muslims. If foreign policy is not under control of the voters, that's ok because eventually it may be in the future. For now the US Embassy should determine Egypt's foreign policy.

Cole is a pure anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigot, so is Barack Obama. They are supposed liberals who represent what is disgusting about the United States. Cole lies and says the reason he wants the army to control foreign policy is to protect minorities. What does the army have to do with women's rights? How many women's rights were there under Mubarak - who Cole described as unproblematic for the US? Disgusting. I've talked about that too long already, but that is the mainstream foreign policy view of the United States.

Back to democracy. Egyptians are in Egypt. They have the close view of all of the details they need to figure out the way to manage all aspects of policy, including foreign policy, most consistent with their own values. I don't know how they will solve the problem of Egypt's seemingly structural external dependency but they'll do a better job of solving it than I could from far away.

All they need are politicians who are accountable to them, not to the US Embassy and a little time.

Qatar is a US colony today. Qatar makes a lot of pledges. Those pledges are actually fulfilled if Qatar gets US permission to fulfill them. One day Qatar will be democratic but until then, pledges of support from Qatar mean no more and no less than the pledges Egypt has already gotten from the US and Europe. They are a problem, but the people of Egypt can and will solve those problems better than I could.

The question, as always, is will Egypt get a constitution that puts foreign policy under the control of voters. Juan Cole opposes that. Jimmy Carter opposes that. Thomas Friedman opposes that. The US state department, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama oppose that. All because the United States is an evil nation. They'll all come up with different rationales, but look at how each of them supported Mubarak yesterday, and how each of them supports Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan today.

A competitive electoral process in Egypt whose winner will control foreign policy. The US opposes it. The SCAS opposes it. The SCAS-courts oppose it. US non-official commentators oppose it. The Muslim Brothers have no reason to oppose it, especially now, after showing that they represent a majority of Egyptians. I've seen no indication that they or Morsi do in fact oppose it.

But until the people of Egypt stop voting for the Islamists, outsiders who respect democracy will support the Islamists.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If you want to be disgusted by American colonialism in the Middle East, Tom Friedman is always a good place to go

I thought I had earlier written here about Thomas Friedman as the author of the Middle East peace initiative, presented as coming from Saudi Arabia, but fairly openly dictated by Friedman himself. Looking into the archives, I didn't find it so I'll link to Friedman's earlier columns now.

Friedman's February 6, 2002 letter to the rulers of Arab states:
You need to face up to something: Ehud Barak gave us an Israeli peace plan, however rough. Bill Clinton then followed up with an American peace plan. Now is the time for an Arab peace plan. No more you guys sitting back complaining about everyone else's peace plans. It's time for you to put on the table not only what you want from Israel -- an end to occupation -- but what you collectively are ready to give in return.
Friedman in February 17, 2002 describing the response to his letter in a private audience with Saudi Prince Abdullah:
After I laid out this idea, the crown prince looked at me with mock astonishment and said, ''Have you broken into my desk?''

''No,'' I said, wondering what he was talking about.

''The reason I ask is that this is exactly the idea I had in mind -- full withdrawal from all the occupied territories, in accord with U.N. resolutions, including in Jerusalem, for full normalization of relations,'' he said. ''I have drafted a speech along those lines. ''
It goes without saying that this is not how independent countries make or publicize changes in policy. We'll never see an American journalist make a policy demand of China, then travel to China to be told "that's just what I was thinking". Or even Uruguay. Especially a policy that the people of the country reject about four to one. I consider this the best recent illustration of Saudi Arabia's status as a US colony.

A person like Juan Cole reflects American colonialism - he presents arguments similar to those of other people like who think like him to justify the US' ability to set policy rather than the people of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and others for their own countries but he does not implement the policies himself. A person like Barack Obama directly implements American colonialism. Obama openly says the United States will do everything in its power to secure Israel. Some of the things in the US' power have been to support pro-US colonial dictatorships in the countries listed above and probably also to non-publicly orchestrate things such as civil wars in Syria and Libya and the June 2012 dismissal of the Egyptian parliament by vestiges of the Egypt's pro-US dictatorship.

Friedman is somewhere in between Cole and Obama. Probably more influential than Cole, less directly involved in the implementation of colonialism than Obama. All three, when they do speak or write in public, sound essentially the same. Which brings us to Friedman's recent op-ed about Egypt in the context of Israel's attacks on Gaza. In every important way, it could have been written by any of the three or by any American or even western colonialist.

Friedman presents this wrong, bizarre but commonly held by Americans idea that China is an example of rational foreign policy while Iran or Hamas are not.
Hamas, by getting embroiled in a missile duel with Israel and then calling on Arab countries for support, particularly Egypt, was testing Cairo as much as Israel. And the question Hamas was posing to Egyptians was simple: Did Egypt have a democratic revolution last year to become more like Iran or more like China?
Many countries make sacrifices for objectives that are not purely strategic. Not least the United States that describes its support for Israel as sacrosanct - a religious term - and whose commercial oil interests were humiliated when they tried to oppose the American pro-Israel lobby. The US' trillion dollar invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as its maintenance of a string of colonies in the region in direct opposition to the US' own professed founding values are ultimately sacrifices the US makes for Israel, those sacrifices are the US acting like a cause instead of a responsible country. The cause being Zionism and the bigoted proposition that fewer than six million Jews avoiding the fate of White South Africans is worth any cost imposed on hundreds of millions of non-Jews in their region.

China does have good economic relations with the US - as long as and only as long as the US does not cross lines such as to even recognize an independent Taiwan. Mainstream US political leaders claim they are willing to jump into a ditch with rifles and fight and die to defend Israel. Fortunately for the US and China, nothing comparable has ever been the case regarding an issue the people of China feel strongly about. The Chinese opening to the US simply would not have happened if the US political system had been distorted in favor of Taiwan in 1970 as it was distorted in support of Israel then or as it is today.

If the US was willing to abandon recognition of Israel, it could have relations at least as close with Iran, with Egypt or with theoretical representative and popularly accountable governments in what are now the US colonies of Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and others and throughout the Middle East as it has with China. The United States is not willing to do that. The United States, Obama, Cole and Friedman would prefer to see colonialism, sanctions and civil war throughout the region than see Jews in Israel live under non-Jewish rule the way White South Africans do. But that's American irrationality, not Iranian, Egyptian or Palestinian.

Friedman says that Morsi should take up his peace initiative and bring it to Israel. The terms of that peace initiative are not popular in any Arab state, but the Saudi dictatorship still took the hint. Fortunately Egypt, though its parliament was dissolved after decreeing that Israel is its number one enemy, has a leadership emerging that is accountable to the Egyptian people, unlike Saudi Arabia, whose leadership is accountable to Juan Cole, Barack Obama and Thomas Friedman.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Of course Morsi is more legitimate than the pro-US dictatorship's judges

In an absolutely breathtaking move, in June 2012 the Hosni Mubarak-appointed Egyptian Constitutional court voided the parliamentary elections and dismissed Egypt's legislature because, like Juan Cole and most Americans, it was uncomfortable with the amount of Islamists the people of Egypt voted for.

Until last week, the constituent assembly worked to write a new constitution for Egypt under the threat that this body's efforts to write an Egyptian constitution could be, in a sweep, nullified by the remaining remnants of the Mubarak government in Egypt's judicial branch. Egypt's constitutional court is a throwback to the era when Egypt was ruled by Hosni Mubarak on behalf of the United States. When Barack Obama had more influence over Egypt's policy than the people of Egypt.

Israel was probably fortunate that there was no Egyptian legislature during its recent attacks on Gaza. If future attacks happen when an elected legislature is in place, the result will likely be, by parliamentary declaration, the free movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza through Egypt, in other words, the end of the blockade where Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu are conspiring to limit the access Palestinian men, women and children have to food, to calories, to punish them for voting for a political party that does not recognize Israel.

We don't publicly know what role the US embassy played in orchestrating the dissolution of Egypt's parliament. We do know that the US foreign policy community approved of it and defied any semblance of democratic ideals to justify it. Hillary Clinton and the US state department expressed no disapproval but hoped to see Egypt continue on the path to democracy despite the parliament the Egyptian people voted for being dissolved, their votes being thrown away en mass.

Since that time, in a critical counter-move Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi accepted the sudden resignation of interim stooge dictator Mohamed Tantawi, took legislative prerogatives away from the Army and put new leaders into key positions in the armed forces. I wondered at the time why he resigned and I still wonder. It crosses my mind that it is plausible that Morsi has information that would make it impossible for Tantawi to fight to maintain power - information such as details about corruption in his relationship with the United States - and Tantawi resigned with honor rather than try to fight to stay on.

One way or another, if the United States is unable to convince Egypt's military to recapture political power or the military is unable to do so, a constitution will be produced by spring 2013, Egypt's people will vote to approve it in a referendum and the era of US control of Egyptian policy will come to a final end.

The United States is still a filthy nation, a country that would impose hunger and malnutrition on the children of Gaza forever if it could. A nation that funds and promotes civil wars that kill tens of thousands of people in countries in the region that otherwise might theoretically threaten Israel. A nation that still and without an inkling of remorse continues to hold Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and others under the yoke of colonialism on Israel's behalf today. A country that claims to hold democracy as its founding value but whose supposed liberals out of pure bigotry believe that completely throwing out entire Egyptian elections because the wrong party won is close enough to democracy for Arabs and Muslims.

But the United States' may not succeed in preventing the people of Egypt from regaining control of Egyptian policy. Mohamed Morsi, in decreeing that the constitutional assembly appointed by the elected representatives of the Egyptian people cannot be dissolved by the remnants of Egypt's previous pro-US dictatorship, is saying that the political groups that have won Egyptian elections (all three elections so far, and also every round of each of them, eight rounds in total), not the party that has won elections in the United States, will decide the policies of Egypt.

If Egypt can become free, that will be a great thing. Of course by now the US embassy is furiously working behind the scenes to prevent Egypt from producing political institutions outside of US control. Juan Cole and the US public foreign policy community are, I expect, cheerleading and justifying that effort.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Brad Delong hates communism, isn't clear on why

I'm still not posting much these days.  Not that anything is wrong, but recently I've found myself too angry at U.S. policy in the Middle East for it to be healthy for me to concentrate on it.

In the meantime, I've been leaving minor comments on other blogs, and I'm still putting here comments that blog owners decide they don't want their readers to see.

Here's one from Brad DeLong's blog.  DeLong republished a book review from years ago where he criticizes Eric Hobsbawm for not sharing his hatred of communism and writing a book that reflects Hobsbawm's admiration of communism's ideals rather than DeLong's animus.

I admit I don't have a good understanding of Brad DeLong's animosity against communism.

I'd define communism, or the common thread of DeLong's examples of communism, as redistributionist non-democracy.

DeLong makes the empirical observation that redistributionist non-democracies have led to bad outcomes.

The question still remains, what part of the bad outcomes results from flaws of redistributionism, what part results from non-democracy and what part results from the capitalist world's executing a conflict with them?

DeLong seems, but not explicitly, to assign all of the blame for the bad outcomes on redistributionism.

He doesn't assign the all of the blame explicitly because it would be silly to claim that none, none of the problems in Cuba or even North Korea are caused by the US' and its allies' efforts against those countries.

Also the US has paid to overthrow democracies, and has plenty of money to continue to do so.  DeLong seems to leave out of his story that at least part of the non-democratic tendencies of redistributionist governments has been a defensive reaction to the US and the capitalist world's tactic of funding and elevating opposition forces to destabilize their countries.

DeLong clearly thinks "communism" is evil.  But he isn't clear what part of it.  From DeLong we see that communist governments just so happen to have led to bad outcomes, but DeLong does not show that these bad outcomes are ultimately caused by a philosophical defect rather than circumstance.

In fact, what exactly is the philosophical defect, if there is one?

Beyond that, as an American, DeLong greatly benefits from the place the United States has in the hierarchy of nations.  There is something self-interested, and maybe sinister, about his claim that countries that challenge the hierarchy of nations he benefits from are engaging in unmitigated evil.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hillary Clinton and Juan Cole lying about Egypt

Juan Cole blocks comments that present him as hostile to Egyptian democracy really because there is no argument.  For him it is best to pretend such comments never existed.  It is what I'd do if I supported a colonial relationship between the US and Egypt, but would have to reconcile that with US values that purport to oppose such relationships.  Below is an adaptation of a post that has been blocked.
The establishment press in Egypt, al-Ahram (“The Pyramids”), reported cautiously on the meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi (from the Muslim Brotherhood party).

1. It noted that Clinton affirmed the US desire that the Egyptian military go to its barracks and leave elected civilians in charge.
About point 1- The United States provides Egypt's military with $1.5 billion per year. Beyond that, Egypt's parliament, when it existed was to be denied access to Egypt's military budget, including the US contribution to it.

1a - If Hillary Clinton was not lying about some desire to see the military relinquish political power, did she say that the $1.5 billion that she certified was in the US' interest to provide so that the US could retain leverage over Egyptian policy is at risk? Not publicly.

1b - If the military wants its budget to be secret from the people of Egypt, the US still could directly tell Egyptians and their elected officials of its contribution unilaterally. The US, according to Cole, is claiming to want civilians to be in charge, but won't even tell civilians who is getting the billion dollars a year it is spending for policy leverage.

The discrepancy between how the US acts regarding its payments to Egypt's dictatorship and the asserted US desire to allow elected Egyptians to control Egyptian policy indicates that the claimed desire is just a falsehood. A lie.
6. She said that the current constitutional crisis over the Supreme Administrative Court’s and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’s dismissals of the elected parliament, and Morsi’s attempt to reinstate it, was a matter of internal Egyptian politics in which the US would not interfere.
About point 6 - The US will not interfere?  The US gives one side of this dispute, the side that has never won an election, $1.5 billion per year.  The people of Egypt and their elected officials have no idea where the money is going. That's interference. Why even tell such a transparent lie?
The US just wants a few things from Egypt: Keeping trade flowing through the Red Sea and Suez Canal; the security of Israel; the security of Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf States… (Did I say, ‘the security of Israel?)
Of the items in the list of things the US wants from Egypt, one stands out as particularly difficult to achieve if the government is accountable to the people of Egypt rather than to the Obama administration. US opposition to Egyptian democracy is mostly due to that one item, security for Israel, and less importantly due to an irrational Islamophobia that pervades the US foreign policy community.

I also want to point out that as of today, Clinton has no reason to meet with Morsi about Israel as Egypt's president has no foreign policy making authority.  Instead Egyptians who are on her payroll, like Tantawi and like Mubarak before Tantawi, set that policy as modern colonial subjects of the United States.


That comment criticizes the fact that Juan Cole is misleading his readers by affirming the blatant lie that the US is somehow on the sidelines in the dispute between the pro-US dictatorship and the voters of Egypt who in every election, three so far totalling eight rounds, have supported Islamists or ideologically allied coalitions. Of course it will not be posted, but that is very low on the list of Cole's moral deficiencies.

The United States is an evil nation.  Juan Cole, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are evil people, the modern equivalents of Cecil Rhodes and Winston Churchill.  85 million Egyptian people should not have accountable government because they might jeopardize the desire of fewer than six million Jewish people in Israel to avoid losing their enforced political majority state the way White South Africans did. It is anti-Arab bigotry.  It is anti-Muslim bigotry. It is what the United States stands for, on behalf of Israel.

But since I'm here, I'd like to go over the US' relationship with Egypt since Barack Obama took office.

As historical background, we'll start with Egypt's previous colonial ruler, the British empire, and its plans to grant Egypt "independence" except over areas of policy where it chose to retain control:
When at last the combined forces of the occupying army and the Interior Ministry were able to quell months of strikes and protests, the British were compelled to reconsider their position towards Egypt. The eventual outcome of that process was the unilateral decision in March 1922 to grant Egypt a qualified independence. Although the country would be governed thereafter as a constitutional monarchy, the British retained the right to intervene in any matters seen to affect the security of imperial communications, the interests and safety of foreigners on Egyptian soil, the threat of foreign invasion, or the status of Egypt's relationship with the Sudan.
Coming to the Obama presidency, we'll recall when Obama was asked directly during his first year in office if he considered Hosni Mubarak a dictator and said he would not call him that because he approved of Mubarak's role in the region, particularly regarding Israel.
Justin Webb: Do you regard President Mubarak as an authoritarian ruler?

President Obama: No, I tend not to use labels for folks. I haven't met him. I've spoken to him on the phone.

He has been a stalwart ally in many respects, to the United States. He has sustained peace with Israel, which is a very difficult thing to do in that region.
Joe Biden said the same thing as protesters filled Tahrir Square.
JIM LEHRER: The word -- the word to describe the leadership of Mubarak and Egypt and also in Tunisia before was dictator. Should Mubarak be seen as a dictator?

JOE BIDEN: Look, Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things and he's been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interests in the region: Middle East peace efforts, the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing the relationship with Israel.

And I think that it would be -- I would not refer to him as a dictator.
Then we'll look at a commitment the pro-US dictatorship made to the US press, that it would not allow Egypt's voters to set foreign policy. The New York Times reported the commitment with an approving and reassured tone.
The new majority is likely to increase the difficulty of sustaining the United States’ close military and political partnership with post-Mubarak Egypt, though the military has said it plans to maintain a monopoly over many aspects of foreign affairs.
Next we'll look at Jimmy Carter who met Egypt's dictatorship and afterwards told reporters that the military relinquishing control over all areas of policy would be "excessive".
“ ‘Full civilian control’ is a little excessive, I think,” Mr. Carter said, after describing a meeting he had Tuesday with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, leader of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF. “I don’t think the SCAF is going to turn over full responsibility to the civilian government. There are going to be some privileges of the military that would probably be protected.”
Lastly we'll look at Hillary Clinton's certification that US contributions to Egypt's military should continue specifically because those contributions advance US policy interests.
Pursuant to section 7041(a)(1)(C) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2012 (Div. I, Pub. L. 112–74) (‘‘the Act’’), I hereby determine that it is in the national security interest of the United States to waive the requirements of section 7041(a)(1)(B) of the Act with respect to the provision of Foreign Military Financing for Egypt, and I hereby waive this restriction.
So that now, when we see the unelected dictatorship decree that elected officials do not have control over foreign policy we are seeing this pro-US dictatorship keeping a promise it already made to Americans, it is trying to fulfil the role Great Britain hoped to achieve with its nominally independent colony of Egypt a century before, and it is pursuing the policies that Barack Obama applauded Egypt's previous dictatorship for pursuing.

This is the light in which we should see the defense of US commentators such as Juan Cole of the dictatorship's dissolving of the elected parliament. The fact of the matter is that the US, like Juan Cole, ultimately does not want to see Egyptian policy made by the Egyptian people.  They are clumsily if blatantly lying to themselves and to anyone who will listen to them about their position.

If there are bright sides, they are that Egypt, despite the US, may well be making progress toward independence and also that it is becoming easier to see through American lies about the Middle East. But Cole, Clinton and Obama, according to the US' own professed values, should be ashamed and disgusted with themselves.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Syria: A foreign-supported insurgency according to the New York Times

I've written earlier that no sovereign state can accept any of its territory being denied to its security forces.  The US massacre in Waco was an application of that principle. The US government killed the men, women and children there because it would not allow even that compound to be out of reach of government forces.

The New York Times has sourced the CIA admitting what honest observers have understood from the beginning, that foreign sources hostile to Syria's government are arming an insurgency there.  I'll just leave this here so it may be easier to find later.
A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nuances and lies by omission: Juan Cole on Egypt

I don't mean to pick on Juan Cole.  He just illustrates a typical American approach to the Middle East.  He is not worse than average for the US commentary community.  He may well be better than average.

On the other hand, like most Americans, including we now see Barack Hussein Obama, he is bigoted against Islam.  He is adamant that regardless of the expressed decisions, opinions and preferences of the Egyptian people,  Muslims must one way or another be prevented from setting policy in Egypt.

Cole has two agendas when reporting about Egypt.  One is to rationalize his and the US' continued support for the pro-US dictatorship as it directly opposes the principle of democracy.  For this he blames the Muslim Brotherhood for running in elections the dictatorship administered and for petitioning for and accepting positions on the ballots that were given by the dictatorship according to the rules in place at the time. 

Funnily Cole and those who think like him sometimes say democracy is about more than elections.  In the context of a group he supports voiding an election and dismissing the Parliament because he and it did not like the outcome, there is no principle in democracy as important as respecting the outcome of the election. There may be more than that, but without that, there is no democracy.  In justifying this action, Cole opposes democracy.  If there is more to democracy than elections, by breaking the principle of respecting voter outcomes, Cole is rejecting all there is to democracy more than elections as well.

His second agenda is to divert attention away from the US' role in the war currently being waged against Egypt's voters.  He lists the actors in this conflict, and the US is never one.  The US' opposition to democracy contradicts the US' founding values.  It cannot be justified or supported within the American moral system.  Instead the US' role can only be actively ignored.  For example, mentioning or even asking if the US has any impact on the situation will result in comments being blocked or deleted at Cole's website.

Cole's supporters have convinced themselves that Cole is telling a nuanced story, one that entirely leaves out any discussion of the US in favor of mostly ridiculous and certainly unsupportable assertions about the motives of the dictatorship and its opponents. He'll say he has no proof of US influence over the dictatorship.  He presents no proof though, that the military believes the Muslim Brotherhood is supported by the US.  Nobody he quotes ever said that.  He presented without proof his theory that the Brothers would conspire with the military against the people of Egypt.

So anyway Cole has this dual agenda regarding Egypt, to oppose the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power regardless of the will of the people of Egypt and to downplay the role the US plays in its client dictatorship withholding power from Egypt's elected representatives if Egypt's voters do not agree with Cole that the Muslim Brothers pose some threat to democracy.  Comments that challenge these agendas will not make it to his page.  But hiding from them will not make them go away.

Following is a comment that Cole immediately blocked, responding to his idea that all sides, the Muslim parties who were sent to Parliament with a majority and the US-supported dictatorship that opposes that majority are equally trying to "steal bases" as in a US baseball game.
Likewise, the Muslim Brotherhood tried to stack the committee writing the constitution with its members, then acquiesced when the courts intervened. There is no real penalty for at least trying to put your interest above that of the nation, and the feeling seems to be that you should try, and then back down if there is an uproar. (I think this metaphor of trying to steal bases is better for trying to understand the political situation in Egypt than the idea that it is a game with no rules at all).
And where is the US embassy?  Are we pretending the US suddenly has no influence on what has been a client dictatorship for over three decades?

Now if the elected representatives of the Egyptian people don't determine what proportions there should be in the constitutional assembly, who should? You? On what basis?

The Egyptian military's budget is kept secret from the Egyptian people.  Including the US' contributions to that budget.  Keeping it secret after a supposed transfer of power to civilian leadership is a primary demand of the pro-US military dictatorship.

Why would the Barack Obama administration not disclose to the Egyptian people where these funds that supposedly are given as aid to them are going?

This is not about stealing bases.  One side has shown a willingness to abide by the expressed majority of the Egyptian people, though that side may not have taken Juan Cole's concerns fully into consideration.

The other side, is not willing to abide by the expressed will of the majority of Egyptians.  That is the side supported by the United States, Barack Obama and whose anti-democratic policies are being rationalized by Juan Cole.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Juan Cole, like Barack Obama, you are a colonialist

A quick reaction to Juan Cole's most recent article in support of the pro-US dictatorship's voiding of Egypt's Parliament and its new assertion that it will write the constitution without any input from any elected body. Definitely not something he would publish, but I wrote it nonetheless.
If it is true that the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Muhammad Mursi, really has won the election, SCAF will likely craft a constitution reducing the president’s powers. But this step can in the nature of the case only be provisional. Nor would it in and of itself necessarily be such a bad thing for the president’s powers to be reduced somewhat. (Some elected provincial governors and mayors and judges independent of the president and his party would serve Egypt well).
I get no sense from writing like this that we're talking about a pro-US dictatorship dissolving a legitimately elected parliament because it did not like the non-fraudulently reached outcome of the election.

You obviously disagree with the people of Egypt about the amount of influence Muslim parties should have in Egypt's political system. It looks a lot like the Obama administration agrees with you. Not one word from anywhere in the US government that the billion dollars per year that the US inserts into Egypt's military establishment with no civilian oversight and that the Egyptian people are not privy to details of is at risk because of these recent actions.

But the word for the belief that your ideas of what party should rule supersedes the beliefs of the people being ruled is colonialism. Mr. Cole, you are a colonialist.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Good Enough Democracy for Egypt by Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton's press statement on Egypt's move to dissolve Egypt's legitimately elected Parliament.
QUESTION: Can we do it the reverse? I’m sorry. Scott and I always do this, get it a little confused. But in any case, thank you, Madam Secretary. I’d like to start out with Egypt, please. What is your reaction to dissolving parliament? Is this a step backwards?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with regard to Egypt, we are obviously monitoring the situation. We are engaged with Cairo about the implications of today’s court decision. So I won’t comment on the specifics until we know more. But that said, throughout this process, the United States has stood in support of the aspirations of the Egyptian people for a peaceful, credible, and permanent democratic transition. Now ultimately, it is up to the Egyptian people to determine their own future. And we expect that this weekend’s presidential election will be held in an atmosphere that is conducive to it being peaceful, fair, and free. And in keeping with the commitments that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces made to the Egyptian people, we expect to see a full transfer of power to a democratically elected, civilian government. There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people. The decisions on specific issues, of course, belong to the Egyptian people and their elected leaders. And they’ve made it clear that they want a president, a parliament, and a constitutional order that will reflect their will and advance their aspirations for political and economic reform. And that is exactly what they deserve to have. Let me also note that we are concerned about recent decrees issued by the SCAF. Even if they are temporary, they appear to expand the power of the military to detain civilians and to roll back civil liberties.
No going back? They are trying to dissolve the elected parliament!  Clinton clearly hopes to see the pro-US dictatorship remain in effective control of Egyptian policy - annulling elections whose results are unfavorable to the US' regional agenda while calling that "a president, a parliament, and a constitutional order that will reflect their will and advance their aspirations for political and economic reform".

The US, Barack Obama, Juan Cole and the Pro-US Dictatorship's Coup in Egypt

Some things about Egypt:

1) This is a coup against the elected government of Egypt. The Islamists did not write the laws or administer the voting process. Nor did they behave fraudulently or illegally when they participated in the electoral process.

What the dictatorship said is that the process they designed and administered went against their rules. They are only saying this because they do not like the outcome and any election ever in the world could be voided on a similar pretext if a deciding party that does not like the outcome is motivated to do so.

We can ignore the pretext. The pro-US dictatorship, that is accountable to Barack Obama, has overturned an election result that Barack Obama did not like.

2) There is absolutely no possibility, given the relationship between the US and Egypt's pro-US dictatorship that the US Embassy did not at least receive advance warning of this coup and it almost certainly offered advanced support for this coup. Between then and now, in the unlikely event support had not been offered before, it certainly has been offered since.

3) The United States can and should publicly take the position that the election was competed in fairly according to the rules in place at the time and the elected parliament legitimately represents the people of Egypt until they lose an election according to the fair rules in place at the time of a future election.

The United States will not do this only because the US has pure contempt for the ideal of democracy in the Middle East if democracy can result in governments that might threaten to force Jewish people to lose their enforced political majority state the way White South Africans lost their enforced political majority state.

4) I have not yet read responses from US commentators such as Juan Cole but what I expect to see is muted disapproval and for them to stretch to present any way possible to blame the Islamists for this. These commentators share Barack Obama's contempt for democracy in the Middle East and his racist and religiously bigotted idea that accountable government for over 80 million Egyptians is less important than an enforced political majority state for for fewer than six million Jewish people.

Barack Obama's puppet dictatorship dissolves Egyptian parliament

I was not long ago asked what Barack Obama would or should do if he, his administration and the United States did not hold the rights of the people of Egypt in contempt for the sake of Israel.

The answer is that the open portion of the United States' influence over Egypt is conducted through more than $1 billion per year in aid that is given to the pro-US military dictatorship.  The people, journalists and elected representatives of Egypt are prevented from see how this money is secretly disbursed.  Barack Obama can and should, right now, commit that any and all US funds allocated to Egypt be done openly.

He will not, but that's because Barack Obama prefers that the over 80 million people of Egypt live in a dictatorship to ensure that the fewer than six million Jewish people of Egypt never suffer the indignity White South Africans suffered, in losing their enforced political majority state. This is racism and religious bigotry.  Barack Hussein Obama is an anti-Arab racist and an anti-Muslim religious bigot.  A disgusting president of a disgusting country, according to his and his country's own professed values.

Obama's puppet dictatorship is now dissolving the only institution of Egypt's government legitimately elected by Egypt's people.
Egypt's High Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that the Political Disenfranchisement Law, which had been referred to it by the Presidential Elections Commission, was unconstitutional. In the same session, the court found the election of one third of parliamentary seats, reserved for individual candidates, unconstitutional.

As such, the run-off presidential election between former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and Freedom and Justice Party leader, Mohamed Mursi is to go ahead as planned, with balloting scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. On the other hand, the election of one third of parliamentary seats has been rendered null and void. Parliament is expected to be suspended until new elections are held for these seats.
This is certainly a setback in the people of Egypt's struggle for government that is accountable to them instead of to Barack Obama, the United States and indirectly to Israel, as well as a setback for the aligned struggle of the rest of the over 150 million people in US colonies of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and others.

The people of Egypt over the last year have demonstrated, fairly consistently, that they intend to be ruled by a government that reflects their own beliefs and values instead of the US President's.  I expect, despite this setback, for them to ultimately issue effective responses.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

David Frum: A country can reject Israel, or it can enrich uranium, but not both

I came across this over at RaceForIran and thought I'd leave it here in case I want to find it later. It does not need too much explanation or comment.
MR. SADJADPOUR: Ray, you made a reference to domestic politics in the conclusion of your comments. And there’s a quote from David Frum, who was President Bush’s former speechwriter, that I think really captured the conundrum of U.S. policy toward Iran. And he said that – he said, a country can enrich uranium and it can reject Israel’s existence, but it can’t do both at the same time. This is the reality of domestic American politics.
This is Karim Sadjadpour, a relatively mainstream member of the US foreign policy community claiming to have heard a quote from David Frum. I did not find the quote in a google search myself. I am confident that Sadjadpour did not make this quote up out of any hatred of Jews or of Israel. Far more likely either he's paraphrasing in a way that caused the quote to elude the first few pages of google's results or Frum made the statement in a forum that was not archived in text form on the internet.

Americans typically just simply lie about the relationship between Israel and the US demand that Iran not enrich and the US' broader demand that Iran not have capabilities that it admits are legal for other countries such as Japan and Brazil. So it is refreshing to see it expressed openly here.

I'll note of course, that the NPT does not say anything about rejecting Israel as a basis for denying technology. It instead says that nuclear technology is to be available to signatories "without discrimination". Sadjadpour also quotes former US official Henry Kissinger telling the type of lie that Americans like to tell about the Middle East.
Kissinger said, quote,"There are few nations in the world with whom the United States has more common interests and less reason to quarrel than Iran."
No. Kissinger knows better. He's just used to speaking to very naive and self-deluded audiences. Very quickly I'll present a poll that shows the reason the US has a quarrel with Iran:
18. Level of agreement - The state of Israel is illegitimate and should not exist.

Strong Agreement: 51.9%
Mild Agreement: 14.6% (total agree, 66.5%)
Neutral: 21.1%
Mild Disagreement: 4.6%
Strong Disagreement: 3.9% (total disagree 8.5%)
A poll of US citizens would produce a drastically opposed result. This is pretty much the entire dispute between the United States and Iran. The United States is committed to attempting to weaken, to any degree that it can, any government of Iran that reflects the values of the Iranian people.

Similarly the United States, including under Barack Obama, is committed to preventing, to any degree that it can, control of foreign policy in the current US colonies of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait and others, from falling under the control of bodies accountable to the values of the people of those countries.

There is really little question that if he could, Barack Obama would restore an unrepresentative colonial-style dictator like the Shah to power in Iran. That being impossible, he'll gladly break the letter and the spirit of the NPT for Israel's benefit. He represents what can only be described as an evil colonialist nation. A nation very similar in effective terms to the British Empire of 200 and 100 years ago, especially regarding the Middle East.

But back to Frum and to Sadjadpour's analysis of the US political system. They are both right, though neither seems to have thought through the implications of their statements. If they had, it is doubtful that they would have made the statements quoted above. Kissinger seems as if he does understand what Sadjadpour calls the conundrum of US policy toward Iran, a conundrum which extends to non-Jewish countries throughout Israel's region. Kissinger in a typically American way, would rather say things he knows are not true than face implications of the role the US is committed to play in the Middle East on Israel's behalf.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

You don't actually believe the Saudi Egyptian "crisis" is over protests in front of the embassy, do you?

While Egypt is not yet independent, it does seem to be making steps in that direction. The modern colonial pro-US dictatorship has bowed to the will of the Egyptian people on the Suez gas issue because it did not want the issue to be active at the very time the dictatorship and the Obama administration are hoping to have a constitution written that would allow US control of Egyptian foreign policy to continue with a democratic veneer.

But somehow, some way, for decades, Saudi Arabia has found a way to be in some level of conflict with every group in the Middle East that opposes Israel. This time it is the voters of Egypt.

We will know that the string of colonies that the United States maintains in the Middle East on Israel's behalf has collapsed when we see voters elect a representative government in what is now called Saudi Arabia and that government has the power to control policy.

This is what the Barack Obama administration has pledged to train and equip a 30,000 person force to prevent. This is why Barack Obama is a disgusting person, measured by the professed founding values of the United States.

So a few things about this supposed crisis where Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador and closed its embassy. First, Saudi Arabia is not independent. If Barack Obama did not want it to happen, it would not have happened. Second, the purpose of these theatrics is to discredit the idea of popular influence over foreign policy, not only in Egypt but throughout the Arab world, especially in the US colonies of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, UAE and others.

Last, Saudi Arabia settling onto the side of Israel in opposition to Egypt's voters is more likely than not to ultimately backfire. It reflects more negatively on Saudi Arabia's membership in the US/Israeli Middle East colonial structure than it does on the people of Egypt protesting an unjust and politically motivated prosecution of an Egyptian.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pre-independence Egypt takes step to cancel secret gas supply deal to Israel

Egypt is not yet free from the control of US colonialism, but there are hopeful signs that it may be moving in that direction. On example is that the pro-US military dictatorship may be surrendering in its fight against the people of Egypt over the secret gas supply deal it has with Israel.
CAIRO (AP) — The head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company said Sunday it has terminated its contract to ship gas to Israel because of violations of contractual obligations, a decision Israel said overshadows the peace agreement between the two countries.
It is interesting that some Americans and Israelis seem to have a very broad understanding of Egypt's obligations under its peace treaty. I've seen Egypt's participation in the siege on Gaza described as compliance with its peace treaty, though I'm certain there is no term in the treaty ratified in 1979 that mandates Egypt's behavior in this siege that intensified in 2006. There is a good chance that in secret, Mubarak has reached other later agreements with Israel, but a future democratically accountable Egyptian government will not be bound by those. It is also interesting that Israel insists the price of the gas is fair, but refuses to say what that supposedly fair price is. Of course this refusal makes its vehement assertions of its fairness doubtful.
Israel insists it is paying a fair price for the gas. Israel's electricity company has been warning of possible power shortages this summer, partly because of the unreliability of the natural gas supply from Egypt.


Under the 2005 deal, the Cairo-based East Mediterranean Gas Co. sells 1.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas to the Israeli company at a price critics say is set at $1.50 per million British thermal units — a measure of energy.
We are still not seeing the behavior of an independent Egypt that is accountable to the people it governs. Egypt's relationship with Israel will certainly be a campaign issue in the presidential elections that are coming this summer. Possibly the Obama administration may succeed in directing the current pro-US dictatorship to keep its commitment to prevent foreign policy from coming under popular control after any partial transfer of power. But if the Obama administration fails, which seems very possible, then an Egypt that does not respect Mubarak's corrupt secret agreements with Israel on the gas issue and probably many other issues will mark a drastic change in Israel's relationship with its region.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hassan Nasrallah: The only solution is one state where Muslims, Jews and Christians live in peace in one democratic state

I have not even finished watching this video when I'm posting this, but Hassan Nasrallah appeared on Jullian Assange's Russian talk show "The World Tomorrow" and the first question was "what is your goal". The answer is that Nasrallah does not want to kill anyone, does not want to treat anyone unjustly, but wants one democratic state.
Time 1:25 - 3:20

What is your vision for the future of Israel and Palestine? What would Hezbollah consider victory? If you had that victory, would you disarm?

The state of Israel is an illegal state. It is a state that was established on the basis of occupying the lands of others, of usurping the lands of others, of controlling by force the lands of others, of committing massacres against the Palestinians who were expelled and this includes Muslims and Christians too.

So, for this reason, justice remains on the side, where even if ten years pass, the progress of time does not negate justice. If it is your house and I go occupy it by force it doesn't become mine in 50 or 100 years just because I'm stronger than you and I've been able to occupy your house. That doesn't legalize my ownership of your house. At least this is our ideological view and legal view and we believe that Palestine belongs to the Palestinian people.

But if we wanted to combine ideology and law and political realities and relations on the ground we should say that the only solution is we don't want to kill anyone, we don't want to treat anyone unjustly. We want justice to be restored to them and the only solution is the establishment of one state, one state on the land of Palestine in which the Muslims and the Jews and the Christians live in peace in a democratic state.

Any other solution would simply not be viable and wouldn't be sustained.
One of the bases on which US imperialism in the Middle East depends is that Muslims are not able to speak for themselves. Assange allowing Nasrallah to answer this question and others himself translated into English may well be a more important and damaging blow to the US Middle East imperial project than all of the previous wikileaks releases.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Is US imperialism ending? Kwasi Kwarteng thinks so. He may be wrong.

I've come across a New York Times op-ed by Kwasi Kwarteng, a member of the British parliament of Ghanaian descent. He expresses the idea that the United States is unable and unwilling to be a colonial power the way Britain was 100 years ago. He may ultimately be proven right about the US being unable to maintain its empire, and in much of the world he is arguably right about the US not being fully committed to empire. But in the region of the world where the United States is most active as a colonial power, the Middle East, he is completely wrong if he thinks there is any ambivalence about US control of policy in direct opposition to the ideas of democracy, popular accountability and local control.

Here is a link to the piece.
America’s position today reminds me of Britain’s situation in 1945. Deep in debt and committed to building its National Health Service and other accouterments of the welfare state, Britain no longer could afford to run an empire.

Moreover, Britain, which so proudly ruled the waves a generation ago, was tired; it lacked the willpower to pursue its imperial destiny. America’s role as an imperialist is even more fragile, as it never had Britain’s self-confident faith in its own imperial destiny. Americans have always been ambivalent about the role of global hegemon.
The problem is that Israel is either not viable or just barely viable, not comfortably viable without a US empire in the region, and the US is committed to Israel being comfortably viable.

So the US is committed to an empire.

Saudi Arabia spends 2.5x what Israels spends on its military. If the voters of that country, who by a huge consensus consider Israel their primary adversary more than Iran, controlled policy then a Republic of Arabia would be militarily dominant over Israel and Israel would not be able to withstand Palestinian demands, vigorously supported externally, either for a full state (with an army) in all of the West Bank or for repatriation of descendents of the refugees.

Relatedly, what exactly is the dispute between the US and Iran based on? Why is it that Iran cannot have the nuclear capabilities Brazil can have? Without empire, the US can’t prevent Iran from reaching a position, even without any Republic of Arabia, from which it could aid the Palestinians in forcing a resolution to the dispute over Zionism that is unacceptable to supporters of Israel.

And of course, maybe most importantly, we are seeing now the US’ efforts to ensure that the voters of Egypt remain unable to direct Egypt’s foreign policy. Again empire, again Israel cannot prevent the Palestinians of Gaza from developing into a genuine strategic threat to Zionism without the an effective US empire overruling the potential voters of Egypt.

At least in the Middle East, the idea of the US as a reluctant, half-hearted or almost-voluntarily-declining empire is wrong. When Barack Obama says the US will do whatever it takes to ensure that Israel can overwhelm any potential threat, he is making as full throated and enthusiastic an endorsement of imperialism as Cecil Rhodes or Winston Churchill ever did.

Monday, April 16, 2012

How the current nuclear negotiations may look from Iran's point of view

A good way to understand the issues in the current discussions of Iran's nuclear program would be to read 's history of official proposals from both sides on Iran's nuclear issue.

That website seems to consistently make mistakes in favor of making the US/EU seem more reasonable than they have been. Notable ones are that the EU 2005 proposal would have given the each of the EU negotiators a permanent veto over Iran ever enriching uranium again, that the 2009 proposal would have possibly seen deliveries of TRR fuel over three years rather than one and ignoring the US/EU's criticism of the Brazil/Turkey proposal that it would have permitted Iran to actually retrieve its uranium if the US/EU did not ever supply TRR fuel.

My current take is that the US nuclear policy community has completely given up on preventing Iranian enrichment to 5% and is now hoping to prevent Iran from stockpiling 20% LEU.

The Russian proposal which seems to be the basis for the current discussions seems to call for freezing Iran's program where it is, including ongoing 5% enrichment I guess for as long as Iran wants. At this point, additional 5% LEU is not very strategically valuable and there is no plausible pretext to reduce Iran's stock from almost six tons to less than one any more.

I don't know if Iran will or should accept the Russian proposal. It depends, I think on how Iran perceives additional sanctions. If Iran perceives then the way a commenter over at Race For Iran named FYI does, as an opportunity to increase its independence from the West, then it will not be willing to trade anything of strategic value for it.

Elsewhere on that site we also see more details about the dispute over Parchin.

It looks like the West wants to test if experiments were done on explosions of natural uranium. These experiments would not violate Iran's safeguards agreement if they happened. If they did happen, it is close to certain that analogous experiments have at one time or another been performed by states in good standing such as Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Germany and others and whether or not in some sense they are illegal, any of those states would, as would be completely within their rights under the NPT, just deny the IAEA access to any facilities where such experiments occurred.

Because Iran is saying that it is willing to allow inspections if a work-plan such as the one Iran reached with ElBaradei is established that will lead to a statement that all questions have been answered - the US has simply prevented the IAEA from holding up its agreement on the previous work plan - my best guess is that Iran would be exonerated by an inspection of Parchin. But that's just a guess.

This all brings us to the question of what happens in May.

Iran pretty clearly, I think can have a deal much better than what it was willing to accept in 2005 or 2006. On the other hand, Iran has paid a lot more for its program than it had in 2005 or 2006, including five nuclear scientists who were killed probably by the US or its allies.

I think the key issues are:

1) Iran cannot allow a US veto to be imposed on future generations of Iranian leaders. Under some objective set of circumstances, such as by a set time, any limitations Iran accepts will have to be, by the explicit terms of any deal, subject to be unilaterally released by Iran.

2) If we assume Iran will have six months, or some amount of months, of warning as a crisis develops that could actually lead to military action against Iran, what could Iran do with its nuclear program over that time? The stockpile Iran has of 5% LEU already gives Iran some flexibility in such a scenario, but a stockpile of 20% would give more. This is fairly unlikely to be a concern over the next three or five years but the future becomes more difficult to predict further away so flexibility over longer time frames becomes more important.

I don't think Iran is worrying about an attack from either the US or much less Israel. For an explanation, there is a pdf at the same site:
Marvin Weinbaum, scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute, recently explained in The National Interest how a “rationally thinking Iranian leadership” could even welcome the “rich dividends” that a military strike on Iranian soil could yield:
International sympathy for Iran would increase dramatically.... The hard fight for economic sanctions against Iran would, in all probability fall apart.... Washington and Tel Aviv would be lumped together as aggressors.... The continued presence of American military bases in the Gulf could become untenable.
Weinbaum sees the domestic payoff to be equally appealing to Khamenei’s hard-line regime:
An attack on the homeland could set back chances for the revival of the reformist Green Movement for at least a decade. Even the reformers have been solidly in favor of Iran retaining its nuclear program. Who now at home or abroad would dare question the regime’s argument if it decide[d] to build a bomb?
Outside the borders of the United States, incessant repetition of Washington’s intention to launch a unilateral preventive attack on Iran, if necessary, is widely construed as evidence that the United States perceives itself to be immune from international law.
Iran also still has the advantage that for whatever reason, the US refuses to publicly acknowledge an Iranian right to enrich. So the US would not be able to go over the head of the Iranian government and tell the Iranian public that 20% enrichment is what is blocking a deal, if that was the case.

The US also can be trusted to add some terms, especially such as a permanent effective US veto over the development of Iran's nuclear industry that Iran's public would reject anyway.

So maybe in May we'll get a work plan that trades Parchin for a statement that all of the IAEA's questions have been resolved and an agreement that Iran will, for some time, refrain for enriching beyond 5% or otherwise expanding its nuclear program.

Just as likely, maybe more likely, in May we'll see that the US intends for Parchin to be one more of an never-ending string of contrived questions and if so, Iran will refuse to indulge it. We'll also see that Iran, now that it has about 120kg of 20% LEU is willing to stop there, but not willing to relinquish it, even though it would have been willing to forego enriching to 20% as recently as this time in 2010.

The question is how afraid is Iran of additional sanctions. One thing to remember is that regimes in Cuba, North Korea and Iraq survived sanctions much more stringent than anything feasible for Iran. Another is that if Iran gets to the table in 2017, after the next US presidential term, reducing the stock of 20% may then be as unimaginable then as reducing the stock of 5% is now. Then the issue might be an agreement not to bring a heavy water reactor on line - which itself might be off the table two or three years later.

Whenever Iran makes a deal, it can get what it asked for in 2006, lifting sanctions - but if it gets it later, it can have traded the short term or temporary cost of sanctions for a longer term strategically valuable improvement in its nuclear position.

Iran might be magnanimous and willing to put the nuclear dispute into the past. The difference between having and not having 20% LEU, and the size of any 20% stockpile is much smaller than the difference between enriching and not enriching which was the point of dispute until this year.

Or Iran might not be as clumsy in public, but in effect adopt George W. Bush's position of "bring it on". If the West thinks it will scare Iran with sanctions and this stupid "military option on the table" stuff, what happens if Iran does not blink? I don't think there is anyone important in Iran today who thinks Iran should have taken any of the deals previously offered. It is somewhat reasonable to expect that its position in April 2013 will be better than its position today, so that making a deal today could be counter-productive.

We shall see. Iran's nuclear issue is shaping into the second most important strategic event in the Middle East today after the question of whether or not in Egypt the US will be able to maintain the pro-US colonial dictatorship's control over foreign policy contrary to local popular preference.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Hillary Clinton says US will hold Egyptian politicians accountable

Not much to say here. Clinton never held the rulers of the effective US colonies in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others, including Egypt's Mubarak accountable.
"We will watch what all the political actors do and hold them accountable for their actions," she added when asked about the Brotherhood changing plans and announcing a candidate for the May 23-24 presidential vote.


"We want to see Egypt move forward in a democratic transition, and what that means is you do not and cannot discriminate against religious minorities, women, political opponents," said Clinton, who did not mention the Brotherhood by name.

"There has to be a process starting in an election that lays down certain principles that will be followed by whoever wins the election. That is what we hope for the Egyptian people."

She added that she "really" hoped the Egyptian people got what they staged their uprising for, "which is the kind of open, inclusive, pluralistic democracy that really respects the rights and dignity of every single Egyptian."
The United States, on behalf of Israel, is probably today the most vigorously anti-democratic force in the world. But if Hillary Clinton respected the rights or dignity of any Egyptians, the United States would have had a different relationship with Egypt's dictatorship as soon as the Barack Obama administration came into office.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Most Egyptians do not want US economic aid

The US gives an amount of foreign military financing, sometimes reported as $1.3 billion, other times as $1.5 billion per year to Egypt's military. What exactly is bought with this money is kept secret from the people of the United States and from the people of Egypt. While the details of the disbursement is unclear, the intention that these funds be used to hold Egypt's military accountable to the US rather than the people of Egypt is clear. Even after a new constitution is written, the US and its pro-US military dictatorship in Egypt hope to prevent civilian oversight of the military budget and therefore of the US' relationship with the body the US hopes will set Egypt's foreign policy regardless of the will of Egypt's voters.
The new majority is likely to increase the difficulty of sustaining the United States’ close military and political partnership with post-Mubarak Egypt, though the military has said it plans to maintain a monopoly over many aspects of foreign affairs.
Given that the Barack Obama administration hopes any future Egyptian democracy does not extend to control over foreign policy and the US' secret payments to the military dictatorship are a mechanism for maintaining this non-accountability to the Egyptian people, we would expect that the people of Egypt do not want US aid to ocntinue. That is what we see.
Egyptians' opposition to U.S. economic aid continued to climb in early 2012. More than eight in 10 Egyptians in February said they opposed U.S. economic aid, up 11 percentage points since December and up 30 points since April 2011 when Gallup first posed the question.
The US can and should unilaterally make public how this foreign military financing is spent. That's what a country would do if aimed to advance the US' proclaimed founding value of democracy. Instead Barack Obama advances the racist proposition that democracy for more than 85 million Egyptians is subordinate as a goal to fewer than six million Jewish people having an enforced political majority state in Palestine.

Barack Obama's position is disgusting, but it is good to see the people of Egypt are increasingly able to see it for what it is.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The final moments of US colonial control of Egypt

A new Egyptian constitution will be written and endorsed by a referendum this year. An interesting aspect of the process is that the pro-US military dictatorship does not have a majority of the constituent assembly that will write the constitution. There does not seem to be a mechanism by which the pro-US dictatorship would be able to ensure that the military remains accountable to the US as it is now rather than to Egyptian voters after the new constitution has been ratified.
Mostafa Bakri, independent MP and head of the committee in charge of supervising the vote-counting process, indicated that as many as 589 parliamentarians participated in electing the 100-member constituent assembly, half of which will be made up of MPs, the other half of figures from outside parliament. “Until 9 pm,” Bakri added, “only 250 votes had been counted. It is not expected that the counting will be finished until the early hours of Sunday 25 March.” Employees of the People’s Assembly’s Information Centre and the Central Agency for Statistics and General Mobilisation are in charge of processing the votes. “They will see how many votes each candidate got,” said Bakri.

Yet hours before the process was completed, the names of members were made public through a list distributed to members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) distributing copies of a list of names from parliament and outside, asking their colleagues to vote for that list. Early results show that the Islamist forces - mainly the FJP and the Salafist Nour Party - will dominate, with some 70 per cent of the assembly’s 100 members. The 50 MPs include 25 FJP MPs, 11 MPs from the Salafist Nour Party and 14 independent and non-Islamist party MPs. The 50 non-parliamentarians include constitutional law professors, prominent public figures, chairmen of political parties, religious clerics and others belonging to Islamist forces.
This is a hopeful time. We will see if this actually is the year that those in Egypt who believe their government should be accountable to Egyptians are able to wrest control of their country from the US and parties in Egypt that are subject to US influence.

In the meantime, Egypt is continuing its policies of attempting to harm Hamas for the sake of Israel. Those policies are popular with Americans like Barack Obama but unpopular with the people of Egypt. For now, Egypt's government is accountable to Barack Obama and to not Egyptians. But there is cause to be optimistic that this relationship is now coming to an end.