Monthly Archives: February 2009

How bad was Bush?

A GUardian comment on Barack Obama’s performance in front of press shows a degree of competence. Well he would compared to his predecessor’s failure to be either coherent or knowledgeable even about his own policies. As the article points out Bush only went to press conferences when he had to – and the game was survival – and sometimes he didn’t.
In contrast Obama exuded authority, at the expense some thought of empathy, although that is not born out by the New York Times account of the first news conference reporting that he had just made a point of visiting one of the hardest hit communities. One thing though, the Republicans are not playing ball and it remains an uphill struggle ahead with or without the GOP.

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Maintaining Israel

The state of Israel can continue its aggressive ways because of international support, including that of the U.S. and Britain. In this respect there is little sign of change from Obama, certainly from his election campaign, although overtures to Arab states to open dialogue are shifting the ground in prospect. However threats to Iran and any other state with nuclear capabilities or aspirations are likely to fall on deaf ears while Israel holds a nuclear arsenal.
David Halpen asks questions around all this illogicality.

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Israel appears to be moving further to the right

The Gaza bloodbath was timed both to coincide with the maximum support from the U.S. at the fag end of Bush’s disastrous tenure and to impress the far right Zionist settlers. In addition it stoked up fear among others that they would only be safe with the current leadership. Was the sacrifice worth it for them. At the moment it hardly looks that way as further and further right they go with people like Lieberman fanning the flames of hatred.
Already the Israeli-Arab population who make up 20% of the population are oppressed. Half are out of work. Lieberman speaks of terrorism from inside as an ever present danger. He wants a large Arab town still inside Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority and he wants Arab representation in the Knesset banned. And Israel is a democracy? That is what the world declares.
Western leaders keep stating that they want to see the peace process succeed with a two state solution but how that can happen given the one-sided power game is very unclear. The failure to even appear critical of Israel first in the Lebanon and now Gaza, let alone the daily hardship, abuse, attacks on Palestinians throughout the West Bank, gives little confidence in the appeasement approach.

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The profits of war

War means business: big, big business. The international arms trade thrives and hopes for bigger and better wars. Security companies, frequently set up by former soldiers and mercenaries, send trigger-happy employees into the fray in Iraq and Afghanistan. Never have wars seen so many privateers, not bounded by international rules of engagement etc., involved. Dangerous yes, but very profitable if you survive. (Probably quite the reverse for your family if you don’t). They have killed and maimed civilians, and been involved in the torture of innocent people.
So Israeli occupation is profitable. An article from Jewish Voice for Peace looks in more detail at who is benefiting and how.

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Obama: When change means no change

The first meeting of the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, with Hillary Clinton confirmed fears that what has been signaled as change is in actuality no change. It was said that the U.S. told the U.K. that they would stop sharing intelligence with us if we put their security at risk by disclosing evidence of torture of a British resident holed up at Guantanamo Bay.
So this is the “special relation”. Someone thought it had been upgraded from one of enslavement to one of “servitude”, but what evidence there is for that escapes me. There’s a simple answer to this which is if the U.S. won’t share intelligence with U.K. we won’t share intelligence with them. Unfortunately however the die is cast and it is long since that Tony Blair painted a target on his chest (or more to the point the collective nation) saying “shoot here”, which is precisely what has happened. As far as I’m concerned the sooner we get out of sharing and fawning the better.

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An alternative to the law of the jungle that is capitalism now

Latin American countries are moving in a way that provides a not only welcome but necessary alternative to a world dominated by a rapacious unregulated system of self help to the finite resources of our planet.
While a number of countries have elected governments that represent a hitherto excluded majority, mainly indigenous peoples who have previously suffered genocide, the fact that they are democratically elected does not satisfy the dominant world powers. They continue to oppose and undermine them and fail to acknowledge their achievements in erasing illiteracy in many areas and providing high quality health care to many: a health care that those in so-called developed countries are denied as of right.
I don’t propose that any state should be viewed uncritically, but equally their achievements need to be recognised and applauded rather than either ignored or dismissed out of hand. There are those in countries like Bolivia who wish to protect their privileges won at the expense of the subjugation of a dispossessed and oppressed people, previously denied their human rights. It is time for those in the so-called developed world to look at what has been achieved, support the lifting of the yoke from so many and see how an alternative to the unremitting greed to our present system of government can be introduced.

In Gaza

The following is a report from one of the lawyers who has visited Gaza in the aftermath of the Israeli strikes. I don’t think you can be prepared for what is emerging. What has happened to people already displaced repeatedly. Much of media reporting accepted Israel’s assurances that deaths of civilians would be avoided. The evidence points to systematic destruction and slaughter. Farms were targeted and the mutilated corpses of animals can be seen. Bodies still lie under rubble since there has been no way of clearing debris. The economic infrastructure has been destroyed. Of course this is not new, it’s a continuing process in all occupied Palestinian territory. All this happened while the world looked on, indeed having supplied the capability of Israel to carry out this genocide. The BBC and Sky in their wisdom want to look the other way. An Israeli minister promised that “Shoah” would happen in Gaza to the Palestinians. This is when we remember each year the Jewish Holocaust and say it should never happen again.
From Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
This is a note by Steve Kamlish QC who is just back from the FIDH [International Federation for Human Rights] mission to Gaza , it makes for shocking reading despite everything we know about what happened in Gaza . He is happy for the document to be circulated..

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