Piracy, Lawlessness, Culture of Peace Denied by Felicity Arbuthnot

by Felicity Arbuthnot
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
London, England
6 November 2011

“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – “Etre seulement en vie ne suffit pas… chacun doit avoir du soleil, la liberté, et une petite fleur.” (Hans Christian Anderson, 1806-1875)

It has been another shoddy week for the “international community”, starting in its great representative body, the United Nations, at its flag-bedecked Plaza in New York, the city where Liberty’s Statue is dedicated to: “education, freedom and opportunity”, according to the monument’s website.

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Breaking Gaza’s Will: Israel’s Enduring Fantasy, By Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

Crossposted at Thomas Paine’s Corner thanks, Jason.

By Ramzy Baroud
January 24, 2009

My three-year-old son Sammy walked into my room uninvited as I sorted through another batch of fresh photos from Gaza.

I was looking for a specific image, one that would humanise Palestinians as living, breathing human beings, neither masked nor mutilated. But to no avail.

All the photos I received spoke of the reality that is Gaza today – homes, schools and civilian infrastructure bombed beyond description. All the faces were either of dead or dying people.

I paused as I reached a horrifying photo in the slideshow of a young boy and his sister huddled on a single hospital trolley waiting to be identified and buried. Their faces were darkened as if they were charcoal and their lifeless eyes were still widened with the horror that they experienced as they were burned slowly by a white phosphorus shell.

It was just then that Sammy walked into my room snooping around for a missing toy. “What is this, daddy?” he inquired.

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The Saakashvili Experiment By Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

By Ramzy Baroud
8/22/08

Just as the world’s attention was focused on China’s Beijing Olympics, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, on 7 August, invaded the tiny breakaway province of South Ossetia. The initial attack on the South Ossetian capital, Tskninvali, soon extended to an all out war, which eventually invited Russia’s wrath, and the death of thousands of innocent civilians on both sides.

Prior to Saakashvili’s war, little was known about the political specifics of that area and the brewing decades-long territorial disputes which date back to the early 20th century, highlighted during an intense civil war that followed the break-up of the Soviet Union and its satellite states. Georgia’s successful secession from the Soviet grip, understandably, inspired independence fervour in ethnic regions within Georgia. The small region of South Ossetia — majority ethnic Russians and minority Georgians — sought to join the North Ossetian province, which remained part of Russia. Another region was Abkhazia, whose protracted fight with the central Georgian government has also provoked much violence.

The fact that South Ossetia belongs to Georgia was hardly contested. Even Russia has long recognised Georgian sovereignty in that region. Russia, nonetheless, remained largely involved in South Ossetia — mostly as a “peacekeeping force”, rationalising such involvement as essential for the national security of the country and the safety of its citizens. Most South Ossentians — like Abkhazians — hold Russian citizenship.

But setting such rationale aside, the fact is that South Ossetia is an important component in Russian foreign policy, and particularly its policy and attitude towards former Soviet republics and satellite states in Eastern Europe. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Cold War was transformed into a political scramble: the US and NATO expanded their boundaries of influence and territorial outreach, while Russia struggled to maintain a level of influence and halt the encroachment of the US-led NATO.

Georgia, situated strategically between Russia, the Black Sea, Turkey and Iran, deserved due attention. The US became keenly interested in ensuring the inclusion of Georgia into its sphere of influence. Through dedicated efforts, a pro-Western leader, Saakashvili, came to power through a highly televised “Rose Revolution”. While the integrity of the elections that followed and the role of the CIA in concocting and ensuring the success of the “revolution” are still intensely debated, the fact is Georgia fell into a new sphere of influence. Saakashvili is a man desperate for European-US validation. He too sought NATO membership and heedlessly invited Israeli military “specialists” to modernise his country’s armed forces in anticipation of a battle with Russia.

Evidently, Georgia’s leader knew well that a victory against Russia was unattainable. By embarking on a war against a tiny province, because, as he claimed, he ran out of patience, Saakashvili was following a script that was hardly of his own writing. The logic behind the war was to test Russia’s resolve, and the readiness of its newest president, Dmitri Medvedev. A hesitant Russian response would be taken as another sign of weakness or lack of political and military decisiveness in Moscow, which might also inspire more such experiments. Too harsh a response could also be decried as “genocide” and war crimes and could be exploited to compel Russia’s weaker neighbours to seek the protection of NATO.

This is what indeed transpired since Russia called off military actions 13 August.

First, leaders of pro-US countries in the region — namely, Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia — attended a rally in support of Georgia’s Saakashvili on 14 August in Tbilisi. The televised event was accompanied by a flood of experts pedaling Russia’s evil intents to the world media while promoting a larger US role to ensure the independence of these nations and to preserve their fragile democracies. “They’re all seriously worried that it’s Georgia today and one of them tomorrow,” surmised Krzysztof Bobinski, director of the Warsaw-based Unia & Polska Foundation.

Second, the Russian response to Georgia’s war in South Ossetia has resulted in a remarkable breakthrough in negotiations between the US and East European countries regarding the Bush administration’s plans for a new missile defence shield. On 14 August, “Poland and the US signed a deal to build a controversial missile defence shield in Eastern Europe,” reported the British Telegraph newspaper. “The agreement highlights how Russia’s invasion of Georgia has prompted a swift reappraisal of the region’s security and alliances. The US and Poland have been talking about the missile shield for a year but rushed to cement their alliance in the wake of this week’s conflict.”

It’s rather interesting how a controversial and unpopular plan that has raised the ire of the Polish people — 70 per cent of the country is against it — was overcome within days of war and is now embraced as a necessary deterrent. One cannot help but question the relationship between the decision to invade South Ossetia, which was certain to compel some Russian response, and the rush to embrace Bush’s military designs in that region. The plan to place missiles in Poland seemed like a resounding failure as late as last month when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “tried and failed just before leaving for Europe on Monday [7 July] to seal a deal to place missiles in Poland, the State Department said,” according to CNN. Now Poland is all for it. It return, Poland would receive US assistance in overhauling its military, reminiscent of the Israeli-US efforts in aiding Georgia’s military, which emboldened the latter to pursue war with Russia.

While Russia’s decisive response to Saakashvili’s war may have temporarily reaffirmed Russia’s military readiness, it has already provided the needed justification for greater US-NATO intervention in Georgia, Poland, the Czech Republic and elsewhere. That US presence might be welcomed by the unnerved “democratic” leaders of these states but it will pique the fury of Russia, whose political radars are intercepting the Bush administration’s every move in the region with great alarm.

The ceasefire between Russia and Georgia, achieved through French mediation, will hardly be the end of the new Cold War underway in an area too accustomed to cold wars. The fact is that Russia will fight to break away from the pro- US ring of former Soviet states that promise to undermine its influence in a Eurasia, and the US will do its utmost to maintain a level of tension, if not hostilities in the region, for without it neither a missile shield nor the 270 billion barrels of oil in the Caspian basin can be brought within Washington’s reach.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

see

Pat Buchanan: Georgia started the war + It’s like the Cold War

Planning For Cold War And Beyond + Full spectrum dominance

The Eurasian Corridor: Pipeline Geopolitics & the New Cold War by Michel Chossudovsky

Ron Paul: DNC Camps & NATO

NATO suspends contact with Russia over Georgia

Bush to Putin, “Get out now!” Putin to Bush, “Nyet!” By Mike Whitney

Georgia

US Terrorism Report: Selective Data, Wrong Lessons.

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, May 9, 2008

The data provided in the US State Department’s annual terrorism report for 2007 points to some interesting if puzzling conclusions. The much publicised document, made available 30 April via the State Department’s website, makes no secret of the fact that Al-Qaeda is back, strong as ever. It also suggests that violence worldwide is nowhere near subsiding, despite President Bush’s repeated assurances regarding the success of his “war on terror”.

Will the report inspire serious reflection on the US’s detrimental foreign policy and its role in the current situation?

Let’s look at some of the data. To start with, take Pakistan. Al-Qaeda or Al-Qaeda-inspired attacks in the country more than doubled (from 375 to 877) between 2006 and 2007. These attacks have claimed the lives of 1,335 people, compared to 335 in a previous report. That is a jump of almost 300 per cent.

Then there’s Afghanistan, which was supposedly “liberated” shortly after 11 September 2001. The number of attacks reported there increased a sharp 16 per cent in 2007. Some 1,127 violent incidents killing 1,966 people represent a significant surge in violence compared to 2006’s 1,257 deaths.

There have also been many other violent incidents around the world, including but not limited to North Africa, the terrorist bombings in Algeria in particular.

But this is barely half the story — or 40 per cent of it, if we want to be as specific as the terrorism report. Iraq accounted for 60 per cent of worldwide terrorism fatalities.

Considering the fact that the horrifying violence currently witnessed in Iraq was unheard of prior to the US invasion of 2003, will the Bush administration take a moment to connect the dots? Even a third grader could figure this one out: the US occupation was a major, if not sole factor, in Iraq’s relentless bloodbath. In order to right the wrong in Iraq, the US military should clearly just withdraw, and Bush — or whoever next claims the White House — should stop fabricating pretexts to justify a prolonged mission.

On 1 May 2003, President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq. As he stood on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln a huge banner behind him bore the words “Mission Accomplished”. The New York Times then wrote, “the Bush administration is planning to withdraw most United States combat forces from Iraq over the next several months and wants to shrink the American military presence to less than two divisions by the fall.”

Instead, more than five years after Bush’s speech, the administration seems determined to maintain a military surge, having added 20,000 soldiers. Making no apologies for the war’s contribution to an increase in terrorist activities, Bush’s officials continue to rationalise the surge as a commonsense response to ongoing violence, conveniently omitting the US’s own part in this violence. The State Department report doesn’t classify any of the thousands of innocent victims killed by US or coalition forces as victims of terrorism.

Russ Travers, deputy director of the Counterterrorism Centre, stated on the day the report was published, “It’s a fair statement that around the globe people are getting increasingly efficient at killing other people.” While Travers’ assertion is undoubtedly true, there seems to be no intention of providing any context, no connection drawn to the US’s direct invasions, or indirect but equally devastating role in campaigns of violence, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

But what the State Department’s terrorism report didn’t fail to do was once again identify Iran as the world’s “most active” state sponsor of terrorism. As reported in the Associated Press on 1 May, Iran was responsible for “supporting Palestinian extremists and insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, whereÉ elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps continued to give militants weapons, training and funding.”

The irony is that the report further contributes to the US’s long-touted case for war against Iran; ironic because the report’s findings, if viewed responsibly, substantiate the claim that the Bush administration’s policies have only made the world more unsafe. Wouldn’t a war against Iran hike up the number of violent or terrorist incidents?

It also remains unclear how powerful Al-Qaeda really is, and how much of its capabilities were hyped in order to enable the Bush administration to continue its mission. Consider the two occasions Al-Qaeda was back in the news recently.

News media cited official Afghani reports attributing the recent assassination attempt on US-ally Afghani President Hamid Karzai to Al-Qaeda. In other reports, the US rationalised its own assassination of a leading Somali militia leader Aden Hashi Eyrow on 1 May as targeting a key Al-Qaeda member. It’s not the logic of the assassination that is key here, but rather the fact that while Al- Qaeda has reached a position of strength that can penetrate several layers of defences in Afghanistan, the US is getting itself involved in a regional feud in Somalia. Why would the Bush administration be chasing Al-Qaeda in Somalia, as in Iraq, if the group is reportedly in the most powerful position in Afghanistan?

Moreover, if Al-Qaeda indeed exists on such a large and influential scale in so many countries, isn’t it time to question the logic used by the Bush administration’s “war on terror” that was meant to weaken and destroy Al- Qaeda in the first place?

It may be, of course, that Al-Qaeda’s power and outreach is inflated for political reasons, where every conflict the US is involved in becomes immediately reduced to those who support, shield or host Al-Qaeda or Al- Qaeda inspired groups, thus justifying US military intervention anywhere.

Instead of dealing with the obvious truths that the terrorism report highlights, the authors of the report have resorted to another logic that places blame squarely on external circumstance, never holding the US government accountable for its actions.

Finally, is there really a need for lengthy reports that cost large sums of money and thousands of work hours if the lessons gleaned are always the wrong ones, leading to more blunders that prompt more violence, and more terrorism reports?

-Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8935

“The Second Palestinian Intifada” by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, May 8, 2008

Review of Ramzy Baroud’s recent book

Ramzy Baroud is a veteran Palestinian-American journalist and former Al-Jazeera producer. He also taught Mass Communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology and is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle, a vital resource for information on Israel/Palestine and much more.

Baroud is an international media veteran. He publishes many articles, commentaries and short stories, is a frequent radio and television guest, and has been a guest speaker at top universities around the country and abroad. He was also once guest speaker at the British House of Commons.

Baroud published his first book of Arabic poetry at age 18 and has since written two others – “Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion” and “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and subject of this review.

Baroud is well-qualified for his task. He was born and raised in a Gaza refugee camp and saw how Israeli soldiers repressed and humiliated young Palestinians like himself – “forcing (them) to their knees….and threatening to beat them if they did not spit upon a photo of Yasser Arafat.” They refused to insult his image even under threat, and “would endure pain and injury, but would say nothing.” They’ve taken plenty, and it’s unrelenting.

Baroud’s book is poignant and masterful. It blends his personal experience with a gripping narrative of his peoples’ struggle for justice. It’s about the strong against the weak, war, repression, displacement, massacres, targeted assassinations, and yet Palestinians resisted throughout the painful Second Intifada years. Baroud’s book was published in 2006. His timeline is from September 29, 2001 (the Intifada’s onset) through September 29, 2005. The Uprising ended, but the struggle continues.

Forward and Introduction

Two introductory sections precede the Intifada years that Baroud recounts. The first is by Kathleen and Bill Christison. They both formerly worked for CIA. Kathleen resigned after 16 years service. Bill retired after 28 years. Over time, their views ideologically changed, and both husband and wife are now vocal Israeli critics.

They reflect about Baroud’s grandfather. He was a Beit Daras village refugee, who lived in a Gaza camp for 40 years until his death hoping one day he’d return to his home. It was lost in the 1947-49 Nakba, an old man’s dream proved fruitless, and it “symbolizes….the tragedy of the Palestinian people and their great strength.”

For decades, Zionists tried to ignore the historical record, delegitimize Palestinian claims to their land, dehumanize and remove them from more it it, crush their spirit, seize their land, destroy their homes, and erase their existence. Yet a proud people persist. The Christisons refer to their “great strength: their resilience and remarkable endurance (despite being) ignored, exiled, repeatedly dispossessed, (viciously) oppressed, occasionally massacred,” yet their struggle for liberation continues.

Jennifer Loewenstein is a political activist and University of Wisconsin Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program. She added her reflections in an introductory section. From her travels to Occupied Palestine, she wrote of her experience – getting through checkpoints, for her as an American Jew, what it’s like for Palestinian Arabs, how demeaning and punishing it is, how Israelis control the Occupied Territories, and how they take full advantage to dismember “Palestinian culture and society….”

She describes how Israeli settlers live compared to their Palestinian neighbors – “neatly packed housing units….cheerfully clean, with an assortment of modern businesses available to (their) residents.” Some homes have swimming pools, “all of them (have) small, green gardens,” streets are lined with “flowers, glossy green shrubs, and well-tended trees.”

In contrast, across the West Bank and Gaza (before the disengagement), “poor Arab villages (are) huddled together in valleys overlooked by hilltop settlements” on the choicest land. In most cases, they’re “encircled by….IDF military outposts with….watchtowers, barbed wire fences, jeep patrols….scores of entrapping checkpoints” and for-Jews only roads. Big cities are separated from smaller ones, which, in turn, are “cut off from villages….” They, in turn, are detached from farmland, water, businesses, schools, clinics and “access to the outside world.”

Under these conditions, Palestinians are viciously confronted. They’re vilified as “militants, gunmen and insurgents.” These are code words for “terrorists,” and the spring 2002 “Operation Defensive Shield” was one of many assaults against them. Israeli forces rampaged through Ramallah. They destroyed civic institutions and NGO records; ransacked buildings and homes; randomly smashed furniture and appliances; scrawled graffiti on walls; covered floors with food, drink, mud, urine, feces, and other type trash; removed computer hard drives; then smashed the equipment beyond repair.

It wasn’t enough. They wrecked everything in sight – burning, shredding and at times shooting at photos, posters and pictures on walls. They vandalized radio and TV stations, banks, schools, hospitals, clinics, government facilities and cultural centers. In the end, they justified their actions as “a necessary part of the ‘war on terror.’ “

This was a single instance of what Israelis inflict willfully, wantonly, viciously, and randomly throughout the Occupied Territories. All the while, world community support is firm, while Palestinian self-defense is called terrorism. Both sides are urged to show restraint as if the struggle were between equal adversaries.

Nonetheless, in spite of everything Israel unleashes, the dream of a liberated Palestine remains strong. That’s the goal in spite of continued repression, Oslo’s betrayal, fiasco at Camp David in 2000, decades of built up frustration, and Hizbollah’s forcing Israel’s May 2000 South Lebanon withdrawal remains inspiring. It sewed the seeds of the Second Intifada. Anger and discontent were building, then erupted in a popular uprising on September 29, 2000. Ariel Sharon provoked it by “visiting” the Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) the previous day. Israel responded harshly, a cycle of resistance and retaliation followed, and the struggle continued ever since. Baroud recounts its nominal five year period.

He begins by stating that it “will be etched in history as an era in which a major shift in the rules of the game occurred.” It was fueled by:

— decades of continued, repressive occupation;

— desperate young people in frustration voluntarily blowing themselves up; their resistance and defiance is called “terrorism;” Palestinians call them heroic; Baroud urges Palestinians to resist targeting civilians regardless of how Israel acts; he believes it’s vital to seize a higher ground, maintain moral values, and confine resistance to self-defense and targeting an illegal occupation;

— the construction of the 721 kilometer Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land; the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled it illegal and ordered it be removed; Israel ignored the ruling and continues to build its unfinished parts; its consequences have been devastating; Palestinians have been cut off from work, schools, medical facilities, and their community life is seriously impaired; farmers are separated from their land; it’s an act of land seizure and collective punishment; and

— a decades-long struggle now “an eternal divide between two peoples,” and its gulf continues to widen.

Baroud was in high school when the First Intifada erupted in December 1987. In spite of it, residents of his Gaza refugee camp “were consumed with….other more” daily concerns: “would they eat today, would they find clean water, would they seize their long-awaited freedom?” Palestinians took to the streets, and Baroud joined them in their chants. He also began to write with poetry his earliest efforts. They evolved into chants, were “published” on Gaza refugee camp walls, and there they stayed.

Baroud was studying in America when the Second Intifada began. Like the first one, Palestinians were unfairly blamed and condemned by a media as one-sided as the nations they report from. Baroud confronts them, and his book and writings are his “contribution” to the mostly neglected Second Uprising narrative and the Palestinian struggle overall.

He has no political affiliation and intends it solely as an independent view. His aim is direct and forthright – to represent and report on “the same principles espoused by countless (numbers of Palestinians) in small and over-crowded refugee camps where freedom is proudly cherished over life.” Without comment, his book is dedicated to them and everyone who supports his efforts to reveal what the mainstream continues to suppress.

Intifada – Year One (2000-01)

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is the main protagonist. He willfully incited violence before becoming Israel’s 11th Prime Minister in March 2001, and consider what Palestinians were up against.

He was brutish and violent from his earliest days as a platoon commander during Israel’s “War of Independence.” He later led the infamous Unit 101 that carried out vicious and criminal assaults against Palestinian civilians, including women and children.

As IDF’s southern command head, he conducted a reign of terror against Gaza – indiscriminate killings, targeted assassinations, wanton destruction of hundreds of homes, displacement of thousands of civilians, and uprooting their lives. It got him called “the Bulldozer,” and for all of it he was never held to account.

In 1981, as defense minister, he led the infamous Lebanon attack. He bombed civilian populations, killed around 20,000 Lebanese, and oversaw what British journalist Robert Fisk called “one of the most shocking war crimes of the 20th century” – the Sabra and Shatila massacres of about 3000 men, women, children and infants in a 62 hour proxy Phalange militia force rampage.

He always opposed peace. He voted against the 1979 treaty with Egypt, the southern Lebanon withdrawal in 1985, the 1991 Madrid peace conference, the Knesset 1993 Oslo agreement plenum vote, the Hebron 1997 agreement, and he abstained from voting on peace with Jordan in 1994.

He was at it again on September 28, 2000 prior to becoming Prime Minister. Accompanied by over 1000 Israeli troops and police, he staged a provocative (photo-op) visit to Islam’s third holiest site – the Haram al-Sharif sacred shrine and Al-Aqsa Mosque. It ignited “uncontainable violence” and Second Intifada the following day.

Baroud suggests that the Second Uprising may have been “rooted in south Lebanon.” After years of “empty promises, meaningless summits and equally barren accords,” Palestinians were at a “numbing impasse.” To the north, things were much different. After a decade of occupation, a few hundred Hizbollah fighters defeated the IDF, forced their withdrawal in May 2000, then did it again in summer 2006 (beyond Baroud’s timeline).

It shook the notion of IDF invincibility, made its commanders want to regain their machismo, emboldened Palestinians to resist, and ignited the events that followed. A political element is important as well – the failed Camp David II July 2000 talks. They were all take and no give. Clinton, Arafat and Barak were the protagonists. The major media played up Barak’s “generous offer,” Arafat spurning peace, with no mention that Israel presented nothing in writing and had no documents or maps.

Barak presented a take it or leave it betrayal, no different than similar past ones. Palestinians were offered nothing in return for renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, leaving unresolved issues for later, and agreeing to be Israel’s enforcer and have the West Bank divided into four isolated cantons surrounded by expanding Israeli settlements on the Territory’s choicest land. Arafat had to reject it and was blamed for not being a serious peace partner. It later sealed his fate.

In the meantime, Barak fortified settlements, sent in more military forces, set the stage for September 2000, and Sharon took full advantage as explained above. The majority of Israelis approved and elected him Prime Minister on February 6, 2001 with the Intifada already underway.

In his new capacity, Sharon escalated things further by “unleash(ing) a bloody onslaught on the disadvantaged, disappointed, and fed-up Palestinian masses….” Khan Yunis was one of his first targets. Its refugee camp houses 60,000, it’s one of the most crowded places on earth, its homes are makeshift, the residents are impoverished, garbage is everywhere, and human misery and despair are very real for these long-suffering people.

Earlier, the IDF attacked them in March 1956 killing 275 civilians in one night. It emboldened the camp’s resistance, made it a target during the First Intifada, dozens were killed, thousands injured, maimed and arrested, yet survivors continued to resist. It became a target again during the Second Uprising with a horrific toll on the people. IDF forces savagely attacked, unknown chemical agents were used, missiles and helicopter gunships were unleashed, bulldozers destroyed homes, many were killed and wounded, and when it ended an entire neighborhood was obliterated. The Palestinian Authority (PA) couldn’t intervene, appealed for outside help, but had to stand by helpless when none came.

Targeted assassinations are also ignored. They violate international law, but not according to Israel’s High Court of Justice. In December 2006 (beyond Baroud’s timeline), it ruled that these killings aren’t in violation, and that each one must be evaluated on its own merit. This is what passes for justice in a nation that affords it only to Jews. It’s also one that systematically kills, starves and brutalizes an entire people. It collectively punishes them, gets full western backing, huge US funding, and one-sided media support without exception. Criticizing Israel is the most taboo of all issues. Journalists who dare can count on a very short career.

Instead they go along to get along and label victims terrorists with clever code words like “militants” and “gunmen.” Baroud knows them well, the overwhelming force they face, and how ruthlessly it’s unleashed. He calls resistance fighters: “dedicated and honest individuals, men and women (and children) who represent large segments of Palestinian society with its wide spectrum of political and ideological affiliations.” They embrace “freedom, liberty, and human rights.” They show courage and will, have endured for six decades, survived every Israeli harsh tactic, won’t ever surrender, so the “free” world views them as “terrorists.”

It doesn’t matter how often Israel violates international law, how many UN resolutions it ignores, or that it disdains the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling against the Separation Wall. With western backing against a disenfranchised people, it gets free reign, and it became easier post-9/11. Sharon took full advantage.

Baroud cites lessons from the Intifada’s first year:

— “audacious….institutionalized violence,” but even worse

— Israeli Knesset legislation “in willful and blatant violation of international law.”

In place of Geneva and Nuremberg, Sharon’s model is Machiavelli’s “The Prince:”

— ruthlessly seizing power (in Sharon’s case manipulating public opinion to get i);

— justifying any actions to keep it;

— believing a stable state is the only morality;

— people are of no consequence;

— it’s best to be feared and loved but if can’t have both fear works best;

— using the law to institutionalize repression;

— having a strong military to enforce it;

— today a supportive media as well;

— the enemy must be portrayed as criminals, savages, terrorists; they’re wicked; we’re righteous;

— mass-killings and imprisonments, repression, occupation, land seizures and total disregard for civil and human rights are acceptable ways to govern;

— then convince the world, you’re the victim acting in self-defense.

Intifada Year Two (2002)

The struggle continued and got world attention and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) support. It’s an August 2001-founded “Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation….using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles.” It provides “international protection and a voice….to nonviolently resist an overwhelming military occupation force.”

Israel tolerates no opposition. It attacks its members – kills, wounds, imprisons and deports them. Yet, like Palestinians, they persist. They’re volunteers from around the world, coming to the Occupied Territories (OPT), risking their lives, “laying down before tanks, breaking curfews, (acting as) human shields,” and defying an illegal occupation. The UN gives them no legitimacy, and Israel calls them “anti-Israeli radicals.”

Its anti-Palestinian jihad persists, and it came to a head in early April 2002 with the infamous Jenin refugee camp invasion. It’s the home of 13,000 displaced Palestinians in the northern West Bank. The IDF cut off the camp and city from outside help; destroyed hundreds of buildings; buried people inside under ruble; cut off power and water; kept out food and essentials, including medical aid; and killed dozens of mostly civilian men, women and children.

With no outside help and little for self-defense, Palestinians resisted, and inflicted losses on the vaunted IDF. One Palestinian inside the camp on a cell phone with a dying battery reached Al-Jazeera television and said: ” I just wanted to tell the proud people of the world not to worry, we are resisting and will fight to the last drop of blood.” It’s the price many there paid and keep paying as the struggle continues.

Throughout the ordeal, the West, US administration, Congress and dominant media react the same way – justifying Israeli actions and condemning “Palestinian terror.”

A definition is in order, and noted scholar and activist Equal Ahmad offered one a decade ago. He identified five types of terrorism:

— crimes of any sort, individual or organized;

— pathology (by the disturbed) who “want the attention of the world” and may kill to get it;

— political by a private group;

— religious like Christian and Muslim killings during Papal crusades; Catholics killing Protestants and the reverse in Northern Ireland; Sunnis and Shiites killing each other; any groups claiming God-inspired violence is justified; and by far the worst of the five types –

— state terrorism committed by nations against other states, groups, or individuals, including state-sponsored assassinations.

Individual one-on-one violence makes headlines and is condemned. So is individual self-defense and retaliation against state repression; but when Israel or America commit state terror, it’s called self-defense; when they wage aggressive wars, they’re called liberating one.

When Palestinians demand international law protection, they’re denied and ignored. When, in frustration, they blow themselves up in a crowd of Israelis, no one understands, they’re condemned as “terrorists” and are called “enemies of peace.” Who listens to how to end this – stop attacking them, and they’ll have no reason to retaliate.

Instead, Israel commits more state terrorism, calls it part of America’s “war on terror,” and Baroud puts it this way: “Fighting terror is the new trend.” It so “aggressive, powerful countries (can) crush weaker foes, deprive them of freedom (and keep) blam(ing) them for all the woes of the world.” We’re “expected to believe (that) Israel is defending itself as though Palestinians….occup(ied) Israeli territories, besiege(d) Israeli people, bl(ew) up their homes, st(ole) their land, and gun(ned) down their children.” We’re supposed to hate the victim and praise the powerful. “How long will we be blinded by empty slogans,” truth reversal, “unexplained hatred, and pretentious condemnations?”

Intifada Year Three (2003)

Israeli killings and targeted assassinations escalated in the third Intifada year. Retaliatory suicide bombings followed, and the cycle of violence begot still more. It claimed the lives of two of Baroud’s cousins. They were PA Bureij refugee camp police officers who were celebrating the Eid al-Fitr feast when they were killed. Israeli tanks invaded the camp. The two men got their rifles to face heavy armor. They fought so others could flee, then died from a shell explosion they couldn’t avoid.

Bureij is “ingrained in (Baroud’s) mind.” It was his mother’s first refugee home and his grandmother’s. Now it’s special because his cousins died there and for their valor were branded “militants” – meaning “terrorists.”

Baroud calls the Second Intifada “uniquely different” from the first one. Efforts from 1987 to 1993 were largely symbolic. The Second Uprising used new methods and went beyond “the traditional stone-throwing (and sling shots) of the past.” Armed resistance was more significant and legitimate than ever, and international law supports it. It clearly gives sovereign states the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. What about individuals and groups?

The General Assembly’s 1965 20th session affirmed it for the first time. It recognized “the legitimacy of struggle by the people under colonial rule to exercise their rights to self-determination and independence.” It also urged “all States to provide material and moral assistance to the national liberation movements in colonial territories.” In 1974, the General Assembly passed Resolution 3236. It fully and properly recognizes collective Palestinian rights and UN Charter self-determination affirmation. It also granted their right to national independence, sovereignty, and right to return to their homes.

The General Assembly went further in 1975. Its Resolution 3375 recognized the PLO as a liberation movement and its right to represent its people under Resolution 3236. Additional Palestinian support came from the 1977 Geneva Convention Protocol I (Act 1 C4). It declared that armed struggle may be used as a last resort to exercise the right of self-determination. These measures affirmed the Second Uprising’s legitimacy, now with strong international law backing it.

Year three also saw the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) appoint Mahmoud Abbas as Prime Minister. An intense debate followed as it represented Yasser Arafat’s first challenge as PA President. Abbas’ prominence was the result of two separate Palestinian movements – one wanting true reforms and democracy; the other purely political to forge “peace” with Israel using the US-devised “Road Map.” It caused a PA and Fatah split. One side refused to negotiate under military assaults and settlement expansions. Their leaders (including Marwan Barghouti) were either assassinated or arrested and imprisoned. Others still at large are wanted men.

Abbas represents the other side. He was an Oslo formulator, only “moderately corrupt,” and, in deference to Israel and Washington, insists that all violence end and Palestinians disarm. Even worse, he wanted negotiations to resume with a sweetener – his willingness to “compromise” (read surrender) on fundamental issues that ignited armed struggle in the past. The Sharon government loved Abbas because he’d sell out his people for his own self-interest. He was very unpopular as a result, and only an Israeli-rigged election made him PA President later on. More on that below.

On August 6, Palestinian factions concluded a meeting with Abbas. Although described as positive, it was full of grievances. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others agreed to a three month “hudna” (ceasefire) starting June 29 on condition Israel reciprocate. Palestinians honored its commitment, but Israelis didn’t and claimed it had no obligation to do it. As a result, killings, assassinations, land seizures, arrests and more incitement followed as before. Washington backs everything Israel does, the ceasefire wouldn’t last, and another peace process was stillborn.

Frustration led to rage with two August 12 bombings in Israel after a multi-week one-sided lull. Sharon’s position was clear. He ignored the ceasefire, demanded unconditional surrender and insisted resistance groups be disbanded. On top of it, throughout his life, he threw all his weight against a peace he never wanted and wouldn’t accept. For decades (and most notably under George Bush), Washington has the same design and showed it repeatedly in UN Security Council vetos of everything unfavorable to Israel. In the eyes of many independent observers, the US is a “dishonest broker and a biased party (with no) genuine interest in (MIddle East) peace and stability.”

At the same time, rumors about an Arafat-Abbas “power struggle” emerged. It was hard to imagine with the long-time Palestinian leader hugely popular and convincingly elected. In contrast, Abbas had a rock-bottom 3% approval rating so where was the disagreement. It was over differing visions. Abbas favored nonviolence and surrender while Arafat opposed suicide bombings but knew Israeli violence demanded resistance.

In the eyes of Tel Aviv and Washington, it made him persona non grata with Abbas a prefered safe alternative. He was even more conciliatory by vowing to crack down on Palestinian resistance, step up security, and pretty much tow the Israeli line. The plan ahead was clear – remove Arafat and replace him with a reliable Abbas.

It was a bad time for Palestinians to lose one of their iconic best. Baroud learned of it in a troubling email – “Edward Said passed away this morning.” He’d suffered for years and finally succumbed to a decade-long battle with leukemia. Baroud describes him like many other admirers, including this reviewer: He “stood for everything that is virtuous. His moral stance was even more powerful than (his) essays, books, and music (as critic and consummate performer)….”

“He was an extraordinary intellectual….thoughtful (and) inimitable. And because of that, he was a target for those who wish to silence (powerful voices) of truth.” Said was never silent or compromising in his beliefs or virtue. As a Palestinian, he was denied the right to live freely in his homeland. He spent his life instead teaching, writing, speaking forcefully and traveling the world to “convey the pain of his people (like no) intellectual” before him had done. No “wonder he….was adored by (his) people (and) detested by the” powerful he opposed. He died on September 25, 2003. He’s sorely missed.

Others now carry on in his place and Baroud is one of them. He notes that the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights may work in some places but in others, like Occupied Palestine, it’s just “ink on paper.” Nonetheless, it endorses the notion that we’re all “born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Its Article 3 declares: “Every one has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Article 4 says: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude,” and under Article 6 “Every one has the right to recognition everywhere before the law.”

Palestinians enjoy none of these and other basic human rights. They’re falsely imprisoned and tortured; viciously attacked and killed; surrounded, harassed and humiliated; ethnically cleansed from their land; stripped of their homes and crops; denied their livelihoods and right of free movement; forced to endure a brutalizing occupation; and yet, on their own and without aid, they’re united in their decades-long liberating struggle. “Why,” asked Said? “Because (their cause is) just..noble (and) a moral quest for equality and human rights” everyone deserves.

In Intifada year three, Palestinians were sacrificed on the alter of continued Israeli viciousness. Attacks against them increased, they resisted as international law allows, media vilification followed, and Baroud reflects what most of them believe: that “the will of the people might some day prevail over tyranny and occupation. And it will, of this I am certain.”

Intifada Year Four (2004)

The new year brought more pain and agony as well as “profound changes (and) insurmountable challenges.” Hundreds of Palestinians died, countless others kept suffering, and Sharon’s Separation Wall “became a reality” in spite of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling it illegal in July.

Targeted assassinations continued as well. Khalil al-Zabin, a 59-year old Palestinian journalist was gunned down outside his Gaza office in March. He was a close Arafat advisor, ran a newspaper, was funded by the PA, and “was entrusted with the complex and controversial subject of human rights.”

Later in the month, Israelis targeted Hamas’ spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The IDF murdered him while he was returning from early morning prayer at a Gaza mosque. He was old, paralyzed, confined to a wheelchair, and no match for an Israeli missile that killed him and nine others.

Less than a month later, Israel assassinated Dr. Abdelaziz Rantisi, a top Hamas leader. Yassin’s importance was spiritual, and he was respected and cherished for his role. Rantisi, on the other hand, was a hands-on political operative. Removing him was part of Israel’s scheme to destroy Hamas’ infrastructure and render it ineffective. More killings followed against even moderate leaders, Israel’s reign of terror was relentless, it flagrantly violates international law, and Baroud called the elimination of resistance leaders “a counter-productive military strategy.”

Gaza’s history since the 1970s shows why. After the 1967 occupation, Palestinians sought alternative strategies. Armed struggle surged in the 1970s, Gaza was its hub, extreme poverty and overcrowding fueled it, and proximity to Egypt aided it at a time Palestinians “were determined to become the defenders of their own plight….”

Israel’s response was savage, and it took its toll. Almost all resistance members were killed, imprisoned or forced into exile. A period of “hibernation” followed. Israel then invaded Lebanon in 1982, PLO factions were dispersed, and “homegrown resistance” reborn. It led to the 1987 Uprising – the First Intifada, a popular revolt against a repressive occupation. It also gave birth to Hamas. It became an integral part of Gaza, a full-fledged political and military force and much more. It provided essential services Gazans lacked – clinics, universities, vast charity networks, even daycare centers. It’s little wonder it drew support it now enjoys.

Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Palestinian resistance changed. It fostered solidarity, and unlike in the 1970s “the killing of one resistance fighter (encouraged) ten others (to) join the struggle.” For Israel, it was disastrous. Eliminating old leaders gave rise to new equally effective ones. It kept Israelis busy assassinating them, one by one, and by assaults on Palestinian towns taking scores.

A May 14 Rafah attack was one of many. It lasted a week and claimed 40 mostly civilian lives along with many more elsewhere in Gaza. Targeted assassinations continued as well. Sharon kept murdering with impunity with plenty of US funding, weapons and political support. Bush administration officials also rejected the ICJ ruling against the Separation Wall. They called the Court an “(in)appropriate forum to resolve a political issue (that should) specifically (be left to) the road map.”

As for the Palestinians, the ruling reaffirmed their right to resist with full World Court backing. It also exposed the “PA’s bankrupt approach” – localizing the Palestinian struggle instead of pursuing it within a regional and international context. In addition, it led to a PLC report and its galling evidence of corruption. It revealed that Palestinian companies had been smuggling and selling Israel (discounted) cement to speed up the Wall’s construction, and some PA ministers were involved in the scheme.

Meanwhile political crises affected the PA. Israel battered Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters, confined him inside it, and co-opted his prime minister, Ahmed Oorei, to pressure him. For a while crisis was averted, but Israeli efforts persisted – to force out an unwanted leader and replace him with a more “moderate” one.

At a time prospects looked grim, Israel killed 140 mostly civilian men, women and children in a devastating Gaza raid. The media championed it, said Arafat orchestrated the Uprising, called him no partner for peace, and vilified him for turning down Barak’s “generous (Camp David 2000) offer.”

Another element was Sharon’s “Disengagement Plan” that was all political subterfuge and no gracious gesture. Washington referred to his “painful concessions.” It was all a sham, and close Sharon advisor Dov Weisglass explained it to Haaretz. He said the scheme was to “freeze” the peace process, assure 80% of West Bank settlements remain unaffected, erase any chance for an independent Palestinian state, and do it all with Washington’s blessing and funding. He added that this also shuts down discussion of the right of return, borders and Jerusalem. In other words, it was all win for Israel and more defeat for Palestinians with Gaza even after “disengagement” staying occupied and reentered or attacked militarily at Israel’s discretion.

Baroud closes out the year with the passing of Arafat. He took ill in his compound, there’s strong evidence Israel poisoned him, and his personal physician (Dr. Ashraf Al Kurdi) believes it. He was flown to France on October 29 and died in Paris on November 11 at age 75.

Some suggested it ended an era, but Baroud believes that it’s rash to represent the Palestinian struggle through the legacy of one man, even Yasser Arafat. Some called him autocratic, but they ignore his “political, cultural, and intellectual mix….his ability to mean many different things to….different people.” Whatever his faults, he was an important figure who unified the Palestinian struggle and symbolized it. “But Palestinians are resilient,” states Baroud. They’ll learn “how to deal with life without Arafat and his mystique….the march to freedom would certainly carry on.”

At the end of another painful year, Baroud remained hopeful and awaited the new year with his annual thought: “I pray that the coming year will bring peace and justice in our troubled world.” He noted that “Onslaughts that were designed to ravish and destroy a land and its people were in fact creating unity and igniting an awakening among the forces of good all over the world.”

The Fifth and Ending Intifada Year (2005)

No official announcement signaled its end, and talk at the time was of a Third Uprising because of a one-sided ceasefire. Presidential elections were scheduled for January with Hamas more concerned about parliamentary and municipal ones later on. Winning substantially would establish its popular legitimacy – politically as well as morally and religiously.

As Israel’s presidential choice, Abbas was favored to win, and how could he lose the way Israel arranged it. He was safe and reliable, represented the status quo, and categorically opposed armed struggle. Baroud describes him as a man without vision and with “no meaningful alternative to armed resistance.”

To assure he won big, “Israel resorted to its usual tactics of intimidating other candidates who dared” challenge their choice for the top PA job – a man more concerned about Israeli security than his own peoples’ rights and wishes.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi was his main opponent. Baroud calls him an “eloquent and dedicated physician and activist….He was never (involved in) corruption (and he provided) free medical services (for) tens of thousands of the poorest Palestinians.” He respected human rights, believed in democracy and national unity, and was “one of the most influential founders and leaders in the democratic opposition movement.”

Those aren’t attributes Israel prefers, so he was targeted with a vengeance for having them. While campaigning, IDF soldiers beat him at checkpoints, choked him with his necktie, and inflicted wounds on his hands, foot and nose. He and other candidates were arrested repeatedly, harassed and beaten, demeaned in the media, and Israel called it democracy.

Imagine the outrage if this happened in America or any western country. It got scant notice in Occupied Palestine and Israel where the election was reduced to charade, and its outcome preordained. Abbas, of course, won. Israel got its puppet, and Palestinians were again betrayed.

The February Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) summit followed. Western leaders hailed its success. Once again, Palestinians got nothing. Concluding pro forma statements promised continued efforts to pursue the Road Map, and a formal Intifada end was declared.

Baroud chose to defer judgment on the outcome and examine the Second Uprising in a historical context. He noted how “Israeli governments….mastered the technique of pushing Palestinians to the brink,” punishing them collectively, seizing their land, and destroying their homes and lives. Resistance naturally followed. The First and Second Uprisings reflected the aspirations of most Palestinians – “a truly sovereign Palestinian state in all territories illegally occupied…in 1967.” After decades of abuse and disappointment, they’re willing to sacrifice 78% of historic Palestine and settle for the remaining (OPT) 22%.

Israel, however, rejects even these modest demands. Its notion of peace is to “drive Palestinians out of their land….expand (illegal) settlements….expropriate large (West Bank) chunks as ‘security zones,’ and further alienate and completely fence off Occupied East Jerusalem.”

In 2000, Israel’s scheme got sidetracked for a time. Arafat refused any further sacrifice, and the Second Intifada erupted. After Arafat’s 2004 death, Sharm el-Sheikh followed and with it revived Israeli hopes. Palestinians were told to “overcome their violent tendencies,” assure Israel gets the security it “rightfully needs and deserves.” The term “occupation” was never mentioned. No Palestinian grievances were addressed. Settlements expansions would continue, the right of return was a non-starter, occupation remained, seizing all of East Jerusalem is planned, unconditional Palestinian surrender is demanded, and all that matters is what Israel wants.

Abbas is the perfect “peace partner.” But Hamas in Gaza became credible after its December 2004 electoral success. Baroud called it a “dramatic shift in the way the movement was perceived nationally and internationally.” The defining event was Arafat’s passing. It “shifted the political momentum in (their) favor.” Fatah was deeply corrupted and without its leader thrown into “structural and organizational mayhem.” Hamas won control of over one-third of OPT municipal seats, including most major cities. It signaled what would soon follow.

Palestinians view Hamas as credible – for its social services and confronting Israel militarily. Its unilateral ceasefire commitment, in spite of repeated Israeli violations, also enhanced its reputation. Before its January 2006 stunner, British diplomats met with Hamas twice and EU officials did it “every 10 days to two weeks,” according to a senior Hamas member. Reports were that Israel was “fuming” about it and the Foreign Ministry said “Europeans should be strengthening ‘moderate’ Palestinians and not appeasing the ‘extremists.’ ” Israel applies that designation to anyone opposing its OPT agenda or who confronts its worst abuses, let alone the way Hamas does.

Post-“disengagement,” Gaza remained occupied, but talks, nonetheless, proceeded on core Palestinian issues – border crossings, free movement, the airport, seaport, and Israel’s stranglehold on the OPT economy. After the 1967 occupation, Israel controlled border crossings into Egypt and Jordan. The economic impact was devastating.

Both countries offered Palestinian professionals employment that could lead to better opportunities in oil-rich Arab states. In addition, income earned abroad was sent home, and needy families relied on it.

With border crossings controlled, traffic across them halted, so Palestinians had to depend on Israel for relief. Its economy is vibrant, jobs plentiful during good economic times, and Israeli employers exploited a vulnerable labor pool. With no other option available, Palestinians were easy pickings. They became part of Israel’s cheap labor force, were forced to work “under harsh and even inhumane conditions,” accept meager compensation, and be offered no benefits like health care, pensions, or insurance covering personal injury. It was the beginning of a “historic….economic dependency” that was all downhill from there.

It’s the reason Oslo was welcomed and each successive engagement to address needs previous ones hadn’t met. With Israel controlling the process and having one-sided western support, outcomes each time were predictable – hopes again dashed, talk only empty rhetoric, promises made and then broken, and no end to an occupation and all its harshness. Israel wanted PA partners for one purpose – as “prison guards” for the Territories so forget about peace and concessions.

Conflict is planned, a “high level of chaos” assured, and the idea is to show that Palestinians are “innately lawless and irresponsible” to justify continued crackdowns and occupation for a people not ready for prime time on their own.

The Second Uprising marked its fifth anniversary on September 29. The cost in bloodshed was huge, the suffering immense, and there was nothing to show for the sacrifice as the struggle entered “one of its most consequential challenges yet.”

Epilogue

Baroud symbolizes the spirit of his people. It’s magnificent and contagious. He reflects on “reality versus rhetoric.” In spite of decades of disappointment, “peace and justice movements (everywhere see) the Palestinian people as an icon of resistence….no other struggle in the world….symbolize(s so much) to so many people.” Palestinians are a “rallying point for the dispossessed and the aspiring underdog.”

Their reality – repression, occupation, suffering, isolation, anger, “packed prisons, ruined lives,” six decades of hopes raised and then shattered.

“Symbolic Palestine – the dream….for (the) long hijacked….reality.”

On December 26, 2005, barely months after the Second Uprising ended, a historic era did as well. Sharon suffered a stoke, sunk into coma, and some believe he’s dead. The “Butcher of Beirut” is a brutish war criminal, but the US media extolled him. “Replacing the Irreplaceable” read one headline, and lots of others picked up on the theme to honor a “great statesman” whose crimes went unmentioned.

On January 25, 2006, one month later, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections were held. Their outcome was stunning and historic. It was the second PLC election ever and a momentous event in Palestinian history as Hamas won in a landslide – 74 of the 132 seats at stake. Baroud explained it this way:

“….Palestinian voters were obviously fed up with the Israeli occupation, the US’s dishonest role as a ‘peacekeeper,’ and the indefensible corruption of the Palestinian Authority.” They chose Hamas for its “commitment to social services and corruption-free history….” The movement is the “antithesis” of Oslo’s ills and betrayal. Palestinians voted for “unity, not exclusion.”

The western response was harsh and predictable – no donor money to a government that won’t acknowledge Israel’s existence and is “dedicated to Israel’s destruction.” It was grossly hyperbolic and exaggerated, but easy to say when Hamas’ response is silenced. It’s also easy to ignore its exemplary unilateral ceasefire throughout most of 2005.

Baroud’s book ended before the West’s crackdown on Hamas began – before all outside aid was cut off, economic sanctions and embargo instituted, political isolation enforced, Israeli rule tightened, daily attacks increased, a Fatah insurgent force enlisted to confront the new government militarily, and then (since June 2007) a medieval siege imposed.

It’s taken a horrific toll on the Territory and its people. They face isolation, repeated incursions, abductions, killings, targeted assassinations, and mostly against civilian men, women and children. Their power and fuel supplies were cut, essentials denied, the most inhumane punishments imposed, they continue to be at this writing, and the world community remains dismissive. They sanctified the siege, fully stick by Israel, uncompromisingly vilify Hamas, ignore its conciliatory efforts, so Palestinians continue to suffer and die.

Baroud covers it all on his Palestine Chronicle web site. It’s a vital resource for what’s happening in the Territories and much more. He calls the Palestinians a “force to be reckoned with,” and ends his book with four thoughts:

— despite the Second Uprising’s initial success, the PA reverted to its same failed approach; the Intifada’s legacy is thus discredited;

— any resolution of the decades-long struggle must include the diaspora – the millions of scattered-around-the-world refugees and their right of return; international law guarantees it; so does UN Resolution 194;

— some issues are non-negotiable – the existence of Palestine for generations; resolution demands it be duly recognized; and a final important point –

— Palestinian resistance will continue; struggling for six decades proves it; in the face of intensified Israeli oppression it’s resilient, and history’s lesson is clear; ferment builds, then erupts; renewed Palestinian response is assured, and their struggle for “freedom, human rights, and justice” will persist; more important, it’s unbeatable; ultimately, it’ll prevail.

In the meantime, Baroud list’s the five-year Intifada toll at his book’s end. Citing multiple sources, it includes:

— 4166 Palestinian deaths, including 886 children and 271 women;

— 554 extra-judicial assassinations; 253 of them were bystanders;

— 3530 disabled or maimed;

— 8600 imprisoned, including 288 children and 115 women;

— 576 students killed, including 199 university-level ones and 32 teachers;

— another 4713 students injured and 1389 detained;

— 2,329,659 dunums of confiscated land;

— another 73,613 dunums of razed land plus 1,355,290 uprooted trees; and

— 7761 demolished homes and another 93,842 damaged.

This was a five-year toll. The six-decade holocaust is incalculable. It will take generations to heal and renew. For now, conditions continue to worsen. They can no longer be tolerated. In Israel’s 60th year, the world no longer can wait.

Ramzy Baroud is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Ramzy Baroud

Global Research Associate Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting edge discussions with distinguished guests.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8867

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

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The Coming Uncertain War against Iran by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, March 21, 2008

When Admiral William J “Fox” Fallon was chosen to replace General John Abizaid as chief of US Central Command (CENTCOM) in March 2007, many analysts didn’t shy from reaching a seemingly clear-cut conclusion: the Bush administration was preparing for war with Iran and had selected the most suitable man for this job. Almost exactly a year later, as Fallon abruptly resigned over a controversial interview with Esquire magazine, we are left with a less certain analysis.

Fallon was the first man from the navy to head CENTCOM. With the US army fighting two difficult and lengthy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and considering the highly exaggerated Iranian threat, a war with Iran was apparently inevitable, albeit one that had to be conducted differently. Echoing the year-old speculation, Arnaud de Borchgrave of UPI wrote on 14 March 2007 that an attack against Iran “would fall on the US Navy’s battle carrier groups and its cruise missiles and Air Force B-2 bombers based in Diego Garcia”.

Fallon is a man of immense experience, having served equally high-profiled positions in the past (he was commander of US Pacific Command from February 2005 to March 2007). The Bush administration probably saw him further as a conformist, in contrast to his predecessor Abizaid who promoted a diplomatic rather than military approach and who went as far as suggesting that the US might have to learn to live with an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Fallon’s recent resignation may have seemed abrupt to many, but it was a well-orchestrated move. His interview in Esquire depicted him as highly critical of the Bush administration’s policy on Iran; the magazine described him as the only thing standing between the administration and their newest war plan. Further, his resignation and “Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s handling of [it] is the greatest and most public break in the Bush team’s handling of preparations for war against Iran that we are ever likely to see,” wrote respected commentators and former CIA analysts Bill and Kathy Christison on 12 March. “Gates has in fact publicly associated himself with the resignation by saying it was the right thing for Fallon to do, and Gates said he had accepted the resignation without telling Bush first.”

Fallon’s resignation represents a bittersweet moment. On the one hand it’s an indication of the continued fading enthusiasm for the militant culture espoused by the neo-conservatives. On the other, it’s an ominous sign of the Bush administration’s probable intentions during the last year of the president’s term. Sixty-three-year-old Admiral Fallon would not have embarked on such a momentous decision after decades of service were it not for the fact that he knew a war was looming, and — having considered the historic implications for such a war — chose not to pull the trigger.

Unlike the political atmosphere in the US prior to the Iraq war — shaped by fear, manipulation and demonisation — the US political environment is now much more accustomed to war opposition, which is largely encouraged and validated by the fact that leading army brass are themselves speaking out with increasing resolve. Indeed pressure and resistance are mounting on all sides; those rooting for another war are meeting stiff resistance by those who can foresee its disastrous repercussions.

The push and pull in the coming months will probably determine the timing and level of US military adventure against Iran, or even whether such an adventure will be able to actualise (one cannot discount the possibility that as a token for Israel, the US might provide a middle way solution by intervening in Lebanon, alongside Israel, to destroy Hizbullah. Many options are on the table, and another Bush-infused crisis is still very much possible).

In an atmosphere of hyped militancy, Fallon’s resignation might be viewed as a positive sign, showing that the cards are not all stacked in favour of the war party. Nonetheless, it is premature to indulge in optimism. Prior signs have indicated a serious rift among those who once believed that war is the answer to every conflict. Yet that didn’t necessary hamper the war cheerleaders’ efforts.

Last December, the National Intelligence Estimate — an assessment composed by all American intelligence agencies — concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons programme in 2003, and that any such programme remained frozen. Meanwhile the “bomb-first-ask-questions-later” crowd suggested that such an assessment is pure nonsense. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain has since then sung the tune of “bomb Iran”, — literally — and Israel’s friends continue to speak of an “existential” threat Israel faces due to Iran’s “weapons” — never mind that Israel is itself a formidable nuclear power.

According to Borchgrave, “McCain’s close friend Senator Joe Lieberman… invoking clandestine Iranian explosives smuggled into Iraq, has called for retaliatory military action against Tehran. He and many others warn that Israel faces an existential crisis. One Iranian nuclear-tipped missile on Jerusalem or Tel Aviv could destroy Israel, they argue.”

In fact, Lieberman, and other Israel supporters need no justification for war, neither against Iran nor any of Israel’s foes in the Middle East. They have promoted conflicts on behalf of that country for many years and will likely continue doing so, until enough Americans push hard enough to restack their government’s priorities.

An attack on Iran doesn’t seem as certain as the war against Iraq always did. Public pressure, combined with courageous stances taken by high officials, could create the tidal wave needed to reverse seemingly determined war efforts. Americans can either allow those who continue to speak of “existential threats” and wars of a hundred years to determine and undermine the future of their country, and subsequently world security, or they can reclaim America, tend to its needy and ailing economy, and make up for the many sins committed in their name and in the name of freedom and democracy.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8410

see

Crisis Over Teheran’s Alleged Nuclear Plans Nearing Climax

A Less than Grand Strategy: NATO’s New Vision, The Preemptive Use of Nuclear Weapons

Republicans Plan Double-Whammy by Michael Carmichael

Why the US sees Iran as a threat (video)

Fallon falls: Iran should worry by Gareth Porter

Threat of Iran War More Real: End the World for What? By Liam Bailey

US Elections: The Iraq Factor by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, February 15, 2008

As the race for the United States presidential nominations progresses, the stances of and attitudes towards both Republican and Democratic candidates continue to bring up causes for concern, in terms of their past behaviour, current appeal and general trustworthiness.

Republican Mitt Romney’s exit has practically assured Senator John McCain’s victory in his party. While we might expect McCain’s narrow-mindedness and pro-war rhetoric to make him an uncontested darling of conservatives, the doubts that remain about his credibility — and the seemingly absurd accusations by some that he is more liberal than Democratic liberals — highlight two disturbing trends.

The first is the extent of the moral corruption among many Republicans that would enable viewing McCain as a liberal. Then again it might be a fair assessment in the context of Armageddon enthusiast, Mike Huckabee, surpassing expectations on Super Tuesday. The rise of the former Arkansas governor — highlighting the growing power of fundamentalist evangelical Christians — should have been picked up as an alarming trend by Americans, but the media was largely unmoved.

The second is that making such comparisons between McCain and Democratic nominees doesn’t necessarily point to a lack of judgment in characters. Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy views would indeed qualify her as a faithful follower of the warmongering policies of Bush himself.

On the Democratic side, Super Tuesday only served to confirm Barack Obama’s recent gains. After the vote count, Clinton, who was previously seen as the uncontested frontrunner was now conceivably the underdog. True, the numbers of delegates’ votes garnered by both nominees is too close to place either on top, but Obama’s speed in squashing Clinton’s lead in national polls and his fundraising ability should be a cause for great concern in the Clinton camp.

Naturally, as both nominees will vie for as many votes as possible in the next round, charm and charisma alone can no longer suffice. The sizeable dilemma is that Obama and Clinton elections programmes are in many ways only superficially different.

Both nominees claim to be establishment nominees. Clinton appeals to an older generation by virtue of her “experience”. Obama appeals to the impressionable young, who have been taught political correctness early in life, and who are eager for new language and a new approach.

Obama’s record is certainly more honourable than Clinton’s. His genuine involvement in community activism at a young age and his anti-war stance during his Senate years point at a certain degree of moral clarity, a rare quality in Washington indeed.

But both nominees walk a very fine line. Aside from the Iraq issue — Obama voted against the war while Clinton voted for it — the remaining differences are not significant enough to be exploited by either to guarantee the decisive victory needed before the August Democratic Convention. If neither have enough votes to become the uncontested nominee, the party’s more influential delegates — the super-delegates — will have the final say, a worst-case scenario that could compromise the very democratic nature of the entire process.

There is a good chance that both candidates will avoid an all-out war over issues that are significant concerns for most Americans. While race and gender are supposedly defining issues for most voters, the fact that Clinton is a woman, and Obama is African-American does not mean they represent the interests of their respective group. Moreover, neither Obama wishes to be defined solely by his colour nor Clinton by her gender.

The Iraq war will most likely define President Bush’s legacy. Moreover, once the presidential candidates for both parties are determined, the war will probably position itself as the lead point of contention. Senator McCain is already gearing up for the anticipated fight over war with the democrats. In Norfolk, Virginia, he attacked Obama and Clinton for wanting to set dates for withdrawal from Iraq. “I believe that would have catastrophic consequences. I believe that Al-Qaeda would trumpet to the world that they had defeated the United States of America, and I believe that therefore they would try to follow us home.”

McCain — presumably a “war hero” — realises that the disastrous Iraq war is most likely to be his campaign’s weak point, and the faltering economy will not divert attention from it. In fact, in the minds of many Americans, both issues are linked. According to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll after Super Tuesday, the majority of Americans believe that the best way to escape recession is to pull out of Iraq.

If the Iraq debate has indeed emerged as the most significant in coming months, the chances are Obama will have the upper hand. But Obama’s anti-war stance has become a source of concern to Israel, whose “pro-Israel” camp in the US remains too significant to overlook. Justin Elliot, writing for Mother Jones, discussed Obama’s challenges in putting that group at ease. After all the man is black, his middle name is “Hussein” and has a few “slips” of a tongue on his record — notwithstanding his statement last March that “no one has suffered more than the Palestinian people,” which he grossly reinterpreted later.

MJ Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum, a dovish advocacy group, told Elliot, “the more right-wing segments of the Jewish community are the least likely to be comfortable with an African-American president.”

To prove them wrong, Obama sent a letter to the US ambassador at the Security Council demanding that the council “should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks against Israel… If it cannot… I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.” He also claimed to understand why Israel was “forced” to impose a siege on Gaza, a siege that human rights organisations have held responsible for causing mass starvation and unparalleled catastrophe.

What’s important about Obama’s dramatic shift is that he has proven to be just as self-serving and easily manipulated as the rest. If he can so readily support the starvation of 1.5 million people, who is to guarantee that he will not renounce his moral stances on issues pertaining to Iraq, Iran, and indeed America itself?

-Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8097

The True Miracle of Israel by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, January 26, 2008

Israelis and their supporters tend to depict Israel as a country of miracles. What else could explain the country’s astonishing “birth” and subsequent survival against all sorts of “existential threats”? How else would Israel develop at such a phenomenal pace, making the “desert bloom” and continually scoring a high ranking amongst developed nations in most noteworthy aspects?Meanwhile, Palestinians continue to be depicted as “their own worst enemies”, a people who “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” and who stand outside the parameters of rational human behaviour. Israel is often, if not always, contrasted against a regional backdrop of “backward”, “undemocratic” and essentially violent Arabs and Muslims.

Such depictions — of luminous, civilised Israelis facing wicked, backward Arabs — are the building blocks of a polemic sold tirelessly by Israeli, American and Western media. Most often, it goes unchallenged, thus defining the West’s understanding of Israel and its moral “right to exist”. The argument is rooted in the horrors of the Jewish holocaust; however, Israel’s handlers have managed to turn deserved sympathy for that tragedy into an unwarranted assertion, somehow equating Palestinians with Nazi Germany in order to justify a constant state of war in the name of self-defence.

In this specific context, the power of the media cannot be over-emphasised. It has defined a fallacious reality based on a skewed narrative. Never in history has a story been so slanted as that of Palestine and Israel. Never has the victim been so squarely blamed for his own misfortunes as the Palestinian. This is not an arrogant counter-narrative to Israel’s concoctions. It’s a glaring truth that continues to be either ignored or misunderstood.

The “miracles” often associated with Israel are not random; they are assertions. Miracles are a religious notion, referring to the unexplained and supernatural. Thus they become exempt from rational questioning. This formula has served Israel’s strategic purposes well. On one hand, Israel’s existence is portrayed as a resurrection of sorts: from near-annihilation to a “miraculous” rebirth. Indeed, considering how the birth of Israel story is offered, the narrative is no less impressive than biblical legends. Such discourse has been used successfully to appeal to a much larger group than those who identify with Israel on ethnic or religious grounds. It has impressed tens of millions of Christian fundamentalists worldwide. In the United States, Christian Zionists represent the popular backbone of the pro-Israeli camp. While American Jews tend to vote based on economic or political interests, Christian Zionists see their allegiance to Israel as a religious duty.

Like all religious miracles, Israeli miracles are “matters of faith”. They can either be accepted as one package or rejected as such; the bottom line is that they are beyond argument, beyond the need for tangible proof. Those foolish enough to deconstruct this — and thus question Israel as a state accountable to law, like all others — are subjected to the wrath of God (in the case of the “true believer”) or the wrath of the media and the Zionist lobby (in the case of the sceptic). When an American politician, for example, is accused of not standing “fully behind Israel”, the accusation doesn’t warrant justification. It stands on its own, like a biblical command that has survived the test of time and reason: Thou shalt stand fully behind Israel. The accused politician can only defend his record of support for Israel; he cannot question why this is necessary in the first place, or ever acknowledge the fact that the latter’s track record is soaked in blood, sullied by illegal occupations, and grounded on human rights violations and defiance of international law.

As the 60th anniversary of the so- called birth of Israel draws near, a most impressive — albeit grotesque — misrepresentation of that history will be offered in abundance. Media pundits and politicians will celebrate the miracle, omitting how Israel was delivered on top of the ruins of hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages. The killing and ethnic cleansing that became known as the Palestinian Catastrophe — or Nakba — was not the work of invisible and miraculous seraphs, but rather well trained and well-armed Zionist gangs and their supporters.

Nor did Palestinians lose the battle due to their laxity or backwardness. Their bravery, for those who care to consult serious historical works (such as those of Israeli historian Ilan Pappe or late Palestinian Professor Edward Said), is a badge of honour that will be carried by Palestinians for years to come. They lost because, as parallel historic experiences demonstrate, neither bravery nor fortitude are enough to withstand so many powerful forces at play, all plotting for their downfall.

Moreover, those celebrating Israel’s miraculous efforts in making the desert bloom — the inference being that “nomadic Palestinians” failed to connect with the “neglected” land, and only the “return” of its rightful owners managed to bring about its renewal — will most likely forget that its was the Palestinian proletariat — the cheap, oppressed, and dispossessed labour force — that mostly worked the land, erected the homes and tended to the gardens of the miracle state. No less than $100 billion of American taxpayers’ money contributed to Israel’s current economic viability, as well as military preparedness.

All of this is likely to be overlooked as Israel and “friends of Israel” around the world celebrate another miraculous year of survival and affluence. Will they pause to wonder why over five million Palestinian refugees are dispossessed and scattered around the world? Will they lend a moment’s silence to the many thousands who were brutally murdered so that Israel could live this fallacious miracle? Will they ever understand the pain and the tears of successive generations dying while holding onto the keys of homes that were destroyed, deeds to land that was stolen, and memories of a once beautiful reality from which they were violently uprooted?

If there is any miracle in Israel’s existence it is that the lies upon which it is founded could be perpetuated for so long, despite glaringly obvious truths to the contrary. Indeed, it is a miracle that such grave injustice could reign for so long uncontested.

-Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

Ramzy Baroud is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7904

Guantanamo as a Symbol by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, January 18, 2008

11 January marked the sixth year anniversary of the establishment of the Guantanamo detention camp. Mere months after the start of the 2001 United States invasion of Afghanistan, a large cargo plane landed in a US military base in Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, bringing in a group of hunchbacked, orange-clad, blindfolded, “terrorist” suspects, apparently representing the worst of the worst. They included children and aged men, charity workers, journalists and people who were sold to the US military in exchange for a large bounty.

The debate over this notorious prison has ever since been marred by easy reductionism. The fact is that Guantanamo is neither a warranted compound holding “bad people” — as explained by the ever straightforward President Bush — nor is it a dark spot in the otherwise luminous US record for respecting human rights, rules of war and international treaties. If anything, Guantanamo is a mere extension of a long list of untold violations practiced by the Bush administration, which condenses the camp to being a symbol of widespread policy predicated on nonchalantly undermining international law.

The prison is arguably one of the worst mockeries of international law, which was itself drafted partly by American legal experts. Past US administrations may not have been devoted followers of the Geneva Conventions, but neither have they ever discarded international treaties as openly and as arrogantly as the current one. Former attorney-general Alberto Gonzales, a personal friend of President Bush, mastered this art in a way that allowed his bosses to adorn their gratuitous actions with the air of legitimacy. Guantanamo was his ultimate masterpiece.

Hundreds of Guantanamo prisoners have subsequently been released, some to the custody of their respective governments. Roughly 275 remain in the camp. Out of a total of about 1,000 only 10 have been charged.

The prisoners at Guantanamo are “among the most dangerous, best trained vicious killers on the face of the earth,” according to former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld. If that was the case, why wasn’t Rumsfeld prepared to try them in a court of law? After all his self-assured judgment shows that he possessed more evidence than needed by any court to convict and throw them into jail. But, of course, the subject of evidence or lack thereof was irrelevant.

Neither habeas corpus, due process, nor any set of laws, national or international, mattered much to an administration that prided itself on its ability to transcend all of that. Of course, such disregard was justified on the basis of national interests and a whole set of tired pretences. Time, however, showed that Guantanamo, and the overriding militancy it symbolized, has probably done more damage to US national interest than any other event in US history.

In the early years, prisoners at Guantanamo were held in open air cages, with nothing but a mat and a bucket for a toilet. Anthony D Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in Salon.com, “We now know that only a small percentage of the many hundreds of men and boys who have been held at Guantanamo were captured on a battlefield fighting against Americans; far more were sold into captivity by tribal warlords for substantial bounties.” Romero cites comments made by a former Guantanamo commander for several years, Brigadier General Jay Hood. The commander told the Wall Street Journal, “Sometimes, we just didn’t get the right folks.”

Moreover, both former secretary of state Colin Powell and current Secretary Condoleezza Rice called for the shutting down of Guantanamo, along with various international bodies and numerous rights groups in the US and abroad. But the Bush administration still persists in maintaining Guantanamo. The chances are if the Guantanamo prisoners were of any value in Operation Enduring Freedom and in the so-called global war on terror, whatever information some of them might have possessed has already been extracted, violently or otherwise. Moreover, if overwhelming evidence against them was indeed at hand, the Bush administration would have tried them long ago. Neither scenario is convincing.

Leigh Sales, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald made the dubious assessment that the “the problem is what to do with the prisoners [if the detention camp is shutdown]. If they are moved to American jails, they will have to be charged and tried under US law. Evidence gathered through coercive interrogations will not be admissible in regular courts and so Bush would risk watching the likes of Mohamed and Hambali walk free.” Such commentary, emulated by others, suggests that the underlying reason behind the preservation of Guantanamo is, more or less, national interests.

However, Guantanamo is staying in business, for the exact same reason that the Iraq war rages on, and for similar reasons to why the Bush administration’s failing global policy persists. Shutting down Guantanamo would be an admission of defeat, a declaration of failure, which is something that the patrons of the empire cannot afford, at least not now.

September 11 was an opportune moment to turn a new doctrine into reality, as outlined by the Project for the New American Century, a desperate attempt to sustain an empire that is facing challenges. The tactics, utilized almost immediately after the terrorist attacks, pointed at a foreign and military policy style designed to free itself from accountability to anyone, including the American people, the United Nations and international law. Guantanamo is a grotesque representation of that tactic — and the failure of that tactic.

Indeed, Guantanamo is a dark spot in US history and shall go down in world history as a symbol of injustice and oppression. And it will continue to be a jarring reminder of the inhumanity, the torture, and the extreme violence associated with the Bush administration’s so- called war on terror.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

Ramzy Baroud is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Ramzy Baroud

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7833

US Elections: Just Like the Movies by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, January 11, 2008

The United States political process bears an uncanny resemblance to mainstream filmmaking. Elections and speeches are scripted to the letter, politicians put on a tirelessly rehearsed act, catering endlessly to the whims of the target audience. A successful Hollywood filmmaker can’t afford to risk raising issues in a way that don’t immediately reflect audience sympathies. Good politicians vying for votes are similar in that they speak according to the already existing expectations — and prejudices — of the voting public.

Rarely do candidates stand behind a podium without amending or overriding their personal beliefs in return for generating applause. You would hardly hear, for example, of a US presidential candidate getting booed by an audience.

Candidates do not bring fresh principals to the table, but instead shape their views based on what national and local polls tell them matters to the voting public. And what matters is largely manipulated by the media and the state. Their combined scare tactics convinced most Americans of outright falsehoods, such as Saddam’s ties to 9/11, his stockpiles of WMDs, the “liberation” of women in Afghanistan, and so forth.

In a healthy democracy, the media is expected to represent the interests of the people — all the people, while the government serves as a conduit to carry and defend these interests without violating the constitution. But in the age of evangelical fanatics, lobby groups, international corporations and lucrative Iraq contracts, democracy itself can be placed on hold.

Indeed, maintaining the image of a democracy while violating its genuine principles has consumed the efforts of successive US administrations. No other administration, however, has compromised the interest of the American people and flouted the constitution as much as the brazen Bush administration. No wonder Republicans were squarely defeated in the Congressional elections of 2006. Americans clearly voted for change, but change in a system so skilfully corrupt doesn’t come easy. The way in which Democrats supported the recent spending bill for 2008, their vacillating stance on Iraq, and their downright hawkish stance on Iran say volumes about their contribution to maintaining the status quo.

Democrats are also bound by the rules of the game. They need the money, media coverage and lobbyists. Currently there are 35,000 registered federal lobbyists representing all sorts of special interests, including foreign powers such as Israel, whose collaborative role in the Iraq fiasco is too blatant to overlook.

Barack Obama, who does indeed have little experience of understanding how the system works still possesses a talent for pleasing the crowd. Thus his initial assertion that lobbyists “won’t work in my White House”. Then, possibly after being told by his campaign managers that special interests are more influential than the rest of the country, he tweaked his vow slightly whereby lobbyists “are not going to dominate my White House.” Although his pledge changed its substance almost entirely, he was able to receive victory in Iowa.

For now, analysts can extract temporary comfort from the prevailing interpretation of the Iowa caucuses’ results. Obama was elected by the Democratic caucuses with 37 per cent because he was the only nominee that managed to present a truly new message — that he and only he can advocate real “change”. As for former Arkansas governor, Republican Mike Huckabee, he was the best possible candidate to represent the Republican voters’ conservative concerns. The former Baptist pastor is the rising star of the Christian evangelicals who boast 40 million followers, all tied by an outrageous message of doomsday.

Rev Stan Moody of the Christian Policy Institute, writes, “Huckabee is a Rapturist” in reference to the mid-19th Century interpretation of biblical text which culminated in 1909 as the Scofield Desk Reference Bible. This envisions — and not metaphorically — a Greater Israel as a precondition to the return of Christ, who, with the true Christians, will defeat Satanic forces, convert 144,000 Jews and exterminate the rest. It has no Harry Potter twists, but it puts Hollywood horror movies to shame. The actual concern is that this group has cultivated an alliance with the Israeli government since the late 1970s and is a major powerbroker in US foreign policy in the Middle East.

In her article, which appeared in The Jerusalem Post on 3 January, Hilary Leila Krieger reported from Iowa that Huckabee “has also been staunchly supportive of Israel, writing in Foreign Affairs that, ‘I will not waver in standing by our ally Israel.’ It is a country he has visited several times, leading groups there as well as taking his family.”

According to the same article, “Huckabee has drawn on his experience in the Holy Land in making his pitch to voters, which has especially resonated with evangelicals.”

With the notable exceptions of Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich, most visible presidential candidates were eager to compromise the interest of their country to guarantee that of Israel’s. Clinton and Obama exemplify this. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) wrote, “Obama has always enjoyed strong Jewish support since entering state politics in Illinois in 1996, although some in the pro-Israel establishment are wary of his calls to negotiate with rogue states such as Syria and Iran.” JTA, of course, nonchalantly substitute the word ‘Zionist’ for ‘Jewish’, but that’s another story.

While supporting Israel, right or wrong, is business as usual for US politicians, Huckabee’s advent — described as the “second coming” of Ronald Reagan by a producer at an Iowa TV station, is the truly alarming trend. He cannot simply be dismissed as a lunatic Armageddonist who thinks that he can win an election; he actually captured the Republican endorsement in Iowa.

Huckabee knows well how to carry the momentum to the next destination — he needs to keep up the religious fervour, as narrow-minded and irrational as it may be. We are told that this is what voters are expecting. To win, like a good filmmaker, Huckabee must deliver.

Life can indeed resemble the movies, but in the case of US elections the movie has become so familiar and predictable that it’s no longer even entertaining.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).
Ramzy Baroud is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Ramzy Baroud

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7780

see

2008 Election

Kucinich-Dennis

Paul-Ron

Politicising Gaza’s Misery by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, December 20, 2007

Intense debate over Gaza is subsiding as the status quo is delineated — predictably — by those with the bigger guns. But to what extent can human suffering be politicised, turned into an intellectual polemic that fails to affect the simplest change in people’s lives?

Hamas’s political advent in January 2006 as the first “opposition” movement in the Arab world to ascend to power using peaceful and democratic means was successfully thwarted in a brazen coup, engineered jointly by the United States, Israel and renegade Palestinians factionalists. Following this, history was rewritten, as is usual, by the victor. Thus Hamas, a party embodying democratic institutions in the occupied territories, became the party that “overthrew” Abbas’s “legitimate” democracy. As strange a notion as that is (a government overthrowing itself), it went down in the annals of Western media as uncontested truth.

All parties involved, directly or otherwise, were expected to determine their position from this fallacious claim, and they did so to meet their own interests. Some had little problem in disowning Palestinian democracy altogether. The United States government, Israel, the European Union, and various non- democratic Arab governments were delighted by the outcome of Palestinian infighting. They celebrated Abbas and his faction as the true and legitimate democrats, and chastised those who disagreed. Countries such as Russia, South Africa and some Arab Gulf states followed suit, with some hesitation and disgruntlement, but too weak or indecisive to confront the status quo.

On the Palestinian front, the choices were harder, but nonetheless those who were previously aligned neither to Fatah nor Hamas now positioned themselves quickly on the side that served them best. Renowned leftists, for example, who normally spoke as though they were representatives of the voice of reason, now couldn’t risk losing what few ineffective NGOs they operated in a management style more reminiscent of “grocery stores” (the actual name that many Palestinians use to mock many of the NGOs in their midst).

Fear of losing freedom of movement and access to US and European financial institutions motivated many Palestinians to disown Gaza completely. The sympathy millions of people worldwide felt towards the perpetually suffering Gazans translated mostly in the realm of the intangible. Helplessness prevailed and quickly joined the prevalent sense of powerlessness and incapacity long affiliated with Palestine in general and Gaza in particular.

To distract from this issue, Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were hurriedly rushed to Annapolis for a badly needed photo-op. Exalted by the self-proclaimed champion of democracy, President Bush, both leaders are on a new quest for peace. The US-sponsored sideshow has achieved its aim. Dates such as January 2006 among others are now completely cast aside; new dates, new rhetoric and new promises are replacing the old ones; all eyes are now on Abbas and Olmert, Ramallah and Tel Aviv, with calls for future conferences and painful compromises. And Gaza is becoming a forgotten or irrelevant footnote.

The Strip is under a harsh and unprecedented siege, with people dying as a result of the lack of medical aid. Israel has cut diesel supplies to 60,000 litres, when 350,000 litres are required daily. How can an already underdeveloped economy run on such a meagre amount of energy, let alone hospitals and schools? Electricity is also being drastically cut, as per the recommendation of Israel’s High Court, and unemployment is at the highest level it has ever been (past the 75 per cent mark). One and a half million inhabitants are literary trapped in a 365-square kilometre prison without any breathing room whatsoever and little food, little energy, and are told, more or less, that they deserve their fate.

If the media mentions Gaza at all, it does so in a politicised context. For example: three militants killed by Israeli missiles; Israeli army says militants were on their way to fire rockets into Israel; Hamas leader remains defiant, and so on. Much of the coverage is now focussed only on augmenting the sins of Hamas, whereby every single conduct or misconduct is blown out of proportion. The bottom line is that whatever suffering Gazans endure, it is caused by the Hamas militant menace and their “forces of darkness”. Whether Hamas’s violations of human rights are at all related to the state of siege, murder and chaos created by the many circumstances that preceded it, remains completely irrelevant. Gaza has become the needed leading precept for Palestinians, and others, reminding them of what they cannot dare do if they want to be spared the same fate. Palestinians in the West Bank are being asked to contrast the images of angry, bearded Hamas police officers cracking down on protesters with the soft-spoken bespectacled Abbas in international conferences brimming amid healthy, overfed faces.

The true reasons behind Gaza’s suffering are entirely omitted, except by a few Arab and progressive newspapers like this one. The debate is now being moved from the immediate concern of media circles into academic conferences, books and long essays; parallels are abundantly invoked between Gaza and other spheres of US influence.

This is not to deny credit to those who have had the courage to take the right stance on the dramatic events unfolding in Gaza. Many possess enough humanity to separate the politics that led to Gaza’s complete isolation from the fact that real people with feelings and hopes and aspirations are suffering, enduring and dying unnecessarily before our very eyes. Israel’s camp is relentless in justifying Israel’s racism and the brutality inflicted on Palestinians, using the same tired arguments, such as Israel’s security and right to exist, and accusing their detractors of anti-Semitism at every turn. But what argument could there be for those who are troubled by human suffering and yet losing sight of Gaza’s misery? I cannot think of any justification for apathy before a dying child, whether black, white, Arab, Jewish or any other.

Let’s not allow inhumanity to become the accepted norm. If we allowed it to triumph in Gaza, we are deemed to repeat it elsewhere.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

 The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7662

Somalia: What the News Failed to Report By Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

By Ramzy Baroud
11/18/07 “ICH

The people of Somalia are enduring yet another round of suffering as Ethiopian forces wreck havoc in the capital, Mogadishu. Apparently in response to an attack on one of its units, and the dragging of a soldier’s mutilated body through the city’s streets, an Ethiopian mortar reportedly exploded in Mogadishu’s Bakara market on November 9, killing eight civilians. A number of Somalis were also found dead the following day, some believed to have been rounded up by Ethiopian forces the night before.

Nearly 50 civilians have reportedly been killed and 100 wounded in the two-day fighting spree between fighters loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts and government forces and their Ethiopian allies. A report, issued by Human Rights Watch, chastised both Ethiopian troops and ‘insurgents’ for the bloodletting. Peter Takirambudde, the watchdog’s Africa director, was quoted as saying, ‘The international community should condemn these attacks and hold combatants accountable for violations of humanitarian law – including mutilating captured combatants and executing detainees.’ Of course, one cannot realistically expect the international community to take on a constructive involvement in the conflict. Various members of this ‘community’ have already played a most destructive role in Somalia’s 16-year-old civil war, which fragmented a nation that had long struggled to achieve a sense of sovereignty and national cohesion.

To dismiss the war in Somalia as yet another protracted conflict between warlords and insurgents would indeed be unjust because the country’s history has consistently been marred by colonial greed and unwarranted foreign interventions. These gave rise to various proxy governments, militias and local middlemen, working in the interests of those obsessed with the geopolitical importance of the Horn of Africa.

Colonial powers came to appreciate the strategic location of Somalia after the Berlin Conference, which initiated the ‘Scramble for Africa’. The arrival of Britain, France and Italy into Somali lands began in the late 19th century and quickly the area disintegrated into British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. Both countries sought expand their control, enlisting locals to fight the very wars aimed at their own subjugation.

World War II brought immense devastation to the Somali people, who, out of desperation, coercion or promises of post-war independence, fought on behalf of the warring European powers. Somalia was mandated by the UN as an Italian protectorate in 1949 and achieved independence a decade later in 1960. However, the colonial powers never fully conceded their interests in the country and the Cold War actually invited new players to the scene, including the United States, the Soviet Union and Cuba.

One residue of the colonial legacy involved the Ogaden province of Somalia, which the British empire had granted to the Ethiopian government. The region became the stage of two major wars between Ethiopia and Somalia between 1964 and 1977. Many Somalis still regard Ethiopia as an occupying power and view the policies of Addis Ababa as a continuation of the country’s history of foreign intervention.

The civil war of 1991, largely a result of foreign intervention, clan and tribal loyalties, and lack of internal cohesion, further disfigured Somalia. As stranded civilians became deprived of aid, Somalia was hit by a devastating famine that yielded a humanitarian disaster. The famine served as a pretext for foreign intervention, this time as part of international ‘humanitarian’ missions, starting in December 1992, which also included US troops. The endeavour came to a tragic end in October 1993, when more than 1,000 Somalis and 18 US troops were killed in Mogadishu. Following a hurried US withdrawal, the mainstream media rationalized that the West could not help those who refuse to help themselves; another disfiguration of the fact that the interest of the Somali people was hardly ever a concern for these colonial philanthropists. Since then, the importance of Somalia was relegated in international news media into just another mindless conflict, with no rational context and no end in sight. The truth, however, is that colonial interest in the Horn of Africa has never waned.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 provided an impetus for US involvement in the strategic region; only one month after the attacks, Paul Wolfowitz met with various power players in Ethiopia and Somalia, alleging that al-Qaeda terrorists might be using Ras Kamboni and other Somali territories as escape routes. A year later, the US established the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) to ‘monitor’ developments and to train local militaries in ‘counterterrorism’.

The US contingent was hardly neutral in the ongoing conflict. Reportedly, US troops were involved in aiding Ethiopian forces that entered Somalia in December 2006, citing efforts to track down al-Qaeda suspects. The Ethiopian occupation was justified as a response to a call by Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), whose legitimacy is questioned. TGF, seen largely as a pro-Ethiopian entity, had been rapidly losing its control over parts of Somalia to the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which came to prominence in January 2006, taking over the capital and eventually bringing long-sought stability to much of the country. Their attempts engage the US and other Western powers in dialogue failed, however, as a US-backed Ethiopia moved into Somalia in December 2006. On January 7, 2007, the US directly entered the conflict, launching airstrikes using AC-130 gunship. Civilian causalities were reported, but the US refused to accept responsibility for them.

The last intervention devastated the country’s chances of unity. It now stands divided between the transitional government, Ethiopia (both backed by the UN, the US and the African Union) and the Islamic courts (allegedly backed by Eritrea and some Arab Gulf governments). Recently, the UN ruled out any chances for an international peacekeeping force, and the few African countries who promised troops are yet to deliver (with the exception of Uganda).

This situation leaves Somalia once more under the mercy of foreign powers and self-serving internal forces, foreshadowing yet more bloodshed. Our informed support is essential now because the Somali people have suffered enough. Their plight is urgent and it deserves a much deeper understanding, alongside immediate attention.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.n t) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

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Why Burma is Not Iraq by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, October 12, 2007

The 2003 invasion of Iraq has enabled two important realisations. First, that imperial powers act only to preserve their interests, and second, that humanitarian intervention — i.e. humanitarian imperialism — is touted and encouraged by the media and official circles mostly to circumvent the true self-serving intents of aggression. Granted, many Americans are still under the impression that Iraq harboured Al-Qaeda, developed weapons of mass destruction and threatened America’s security. But who can blame them? Compare the relentless campaign of fabrication and half-truths prior to the invasion — courtesy of the Bush administration and its willing allies in the media — to the dismal follow-ups on whether such military adventurism actually achieved any of its declared objectives.

Every facet in America’s propaganda machine was in ceaseless motion to make a case for war; aside from the obvious pretext, Iraq’s horrors under Saddam were repeatedly emphasised. Also showcased were Iraq’s exiled elites who “proved” that the US war was in tune with the desperate pleas of the Iraqi “masses”. Forget the actual masses thereafter butchered with impunity. Compare again the attention given to Saddam’s victims to the subsequent attention given to victims of the US war (estimated to number more than one million), who were not even validated as victims but instead presented as grateful beneficiaries. A few months into the invasion, a leading US neo- conservative claimed to me in an interview that the Iraq democracy experiment was so successful that “Iranians are calling me at my office angrily saying, ‘How come you liberated the Iraqis and are yet to liberate us?'”

So why aren’t the US and Britain responding to the situation in Burma with the same determination that they exhibited for Iraq, and now Iran? Why haven’t media pundits rushed in to make a case for war against the brutal regime of General Than Shwe who has denied his people not only political freedom but also the basic requisites of a dignified life? To maintain their extravagant lifestyles in the midst of crushing poverty, junta generals jacked up fuel prices by 500 per cent in August. This even provoked Burmese monks — legendary symbols of peace and endurance — to demonstrate en masse, demanding greater compassion for the poor. The protests, starting in a rural town 19 August, culminated in massive rallies of hundreds of thousands and lasted for weeks.

The media correctly drew parallels between the most recent Safrron Revolution and the 1988 uprising, when students in Rangoon triggered nationwide demonstrations that were suppressed brutally by the army, claiming 3,000 lives. General Than Shwe became the head of the junta in 1992 and continued to rule with an iron fist. However, his subversion of democracy was not a strong enough reason to prevent large multinationals from seeking lucrative contracts in the gas-rich country. He accumulated wealth and his officials continued to roam the globe with few hindrances, while the Burmese people continued to suffer. This eventually led to the most recent revolt, which was once again crushed without remorse. The number of dead this time remains unknown; estimates range between 200 and 2,000. Thousands have also been arrested and many monks have reportedly been tortured, their monasteries ransacked. From a media angle, no revolution could be as sentimental or appealing. But, of course, it takes more than tens of thousands of monks leading hundreds of thousands of the country’s poor in mass rallies to make Burma relevant for long.

Western leaders, aware of the criticism that awaits them, have paid the necessary lip service, but little else. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown decried the use of violence against protesters and demanded European sanctions. President Bush declared that Americans “stand in solidarity with these brave individuals”. Israel, on the other hand, denied its military links to the junta, despite much contradictory evidence. It justified its unwillingness to influence the situation on the grounds of nostalgia — Burma was the first South Asian country to recognise Israel. The UN sent its envoy to Burma to meet General Than Shwe and Ibrahim Gambari was left waiting for days before he was allowed to express the concerns of the international community. And that’s that.

Burma is as important to China as the Middle East is to the US. China cares more about the political stability of its neighbours than human rights and democracy; the US cares about such a nuisance insofar as its ability to serve its own militaristic and economic interests is affected. China is the world’s fourth largest economy, and will soon be the third; its holds $1.4 trillion in reserve, mostly in US treasury bonds. Its sway over the global financial system is undeniable, and under no circumstance will it allow America a significant role in a country that shares with it a 2,000-kilometre border. The US, on the other hand, pays lip service to democracy in Burma, and its continued “support” of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy is aimed at maintaining a foothold in Burma for a future role, should the relationship between the West and China turn sour.

Humanitarian imperialism has proved more destructive than the injustices it supposedly eradicates. But expect none of that in the case of Burma, because intervention does not serve the interests of the influential parties — not the West’s, or China’s, or Russia’s. We may see a few sentimental meetings between Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives of the generals, and perhaps a few gestures of goodwill by the latter, at the behest of China and the West. But they will bring no sweeping reforms, nor meaningful democracy or human rights. These can only be achieved by the people of Burma, their monks, civil society activists, and by ordinary people.

If Iraq has been a lesson of any worth it is that the Burmese are much better off without American bombing raids or British napalm in the name of intervention. True reforms and democracy can only come from within, from the closed fists of the determined dispossessed. Indeed, Burma is not Iraq, and Thank God for that.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

Ramzy Baroud is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Ramzy Baroud
www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is:
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Lebanon and Syria: The Politics of Assassination by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, October 1, 2007

The assassination of Lebanese politician Antoine Ghanem on September 19 is likely to be used, predictably, to further US and Israeli interests in the region. Most Western and some Arab media have industriously argued that Syria is the greatest beneficiary from the death of Ghanem, a member of the Phalange party responsible for much of Lebanon’s bloodshed during the civil war years between 1975 and 1990. The reasoning provided is that Syria needs to maintain a measure of political control over Lebanon after being pressured to withdraw its troops. This political clout could only be maintained through the purging of anti-Syrian critics in Lebanon, and by ensuring a Lebanese parliament friendly to Syria. And indeed, with the elimination of Ghanem, the anti-Syrian coalition at the fractious Lebanese parliament is now left with an even slimmer majority – 68 MPs in a 128-member assembly.

Case solved.

Or is it?

The Syrian regime may, in fact, be responsible for the murder of six Lebanese political figures, including Ghanem, since the tragic car-bombing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. However, to understand the situation in Lebanon, one needs to refrain from any simplistic conclusions. This is not an easy task, however, given that media reports pertaining to Lebanon classify every Lebanese political figure as ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ Syrian. Such reporting rests on the idea that the Syrian regime—and only the Syrian regime—has a keen interest in bringing death and chaos to a small but strategically important Lebanon. By the same logic, all of Syria’s allies – Iran, Hizbollah in Lebanon, and the Damascus-based Palestinian groups, including Hamas and various socialist factions – are regularly implicated by the Western media.

Considering the elaborate politics of assassination in Lebanon and the many bloody events that were justified on the basis of such killings – notwithstanding the rationalization of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and

the massacre of Sabra and Shatila in 1982 – one would assume that media reporters and commentators have learned to become extra cautious before following official American and Israeli lines.

As a country either fully or partially responsible for destabilizing Lebanon, Syria may be a probable culprit in Ghanem’s death. This is a view underscored daily by both those who are either genuinely seeking to liberate Lebanon from foreign influence and those who wish to dominate the Lebanese political landscape. But self-interested as it may be, Syria is also known for being politically savvy and judicious. It has shown this by serving as a valuable ally in the US ‘war on terror’ since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; it willingly collaborated in securing its borders with Iraq, and even went as far as torturing America’s prisoners in the CIA’s infamous ‘extraordinary renditions.’

Why would a country that was willing to sink so low now provide pretexts for hostilities by carrying out brazen assassinations against America’s allies in Lebanon? Each such assassination only helps cement the anti-Syrian cries stemming from Washington, Tel Aviv and Beirut. The Syrian regime’s past is indisputably cruel, but inanity has hardly been one of its features.

Could it be plausible that Syria is innocent of the most recent bloodletting in Lebanon? It is mind-boggling to imagine a country which has managed to survive amidst the incalculable hostility stemming from across all its borders being so foolish as to carry out such ludicrous crimes with such harmful consequences at such a critical time. Despite Lebanon’s value in the Middle East’s ongoing Cold War, Syria, like any other regime under threat, should be less concerned about dominating a smaller neighbour than in securing its own survival.

So who are the other possible culprits? Considering Lebanon’s bloodstained past and the numerous players, sects and factions operating within its borders, the list seems endless. However, taking into account the nature of the assassinations (all targeting ‘anti-Syrian’ figures) and the official line championed by the US and Israel, one can reasonably include those who wish to drive Syria into a military confrontation, or perhaps a humiliating political settlement with Israel (which Damascus has refused since its talks with Tel Aviv broke off in 2000), including a compromise on the occupied ‘Golan Heights’. It would be worth noting here the neoconservative doctrine prepared by Richard Perle in 1996 for then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Tellingly entitled ‘A Clean Break: Securing the Realm,’ it outlines plans to subdue Syria through the Lebanese route. Could this help to explain why the U.S. and Israeli governments are no longer pursuing previously concerted efforts and publicly declared objectives and instead blaming Israel’s military setback in Lebanon in 2006 largely on Syria’s – and Iran’s – backing of Hizbollah?

It might also be helpful for those who insist that Syria alone is capable of inflicting such mayhem in Lebanon to remember that Netanyahu recently and unsurprisingly admitted that the ‘mysterious’ air strike inside Syrian territories on September 6 – clearly an attempt to coerce Syria into a military confrontation – was indeed deliberate. US diplomats scrambled to justify the palpable act of war on the mediocre claim that the Syrian target bombed by Israeli US-supplied F15 jets ‘may have had links to North Korean nuclear arms,’ according to the British Guardian. Mediocre or not, a case against Syria that involves the US, Israel and their allies in the region is being diligently weaved, and one should not be surprised if the next military confrontation against Hizbollah will widen to include Syrian territories as well.

As media and official efforts have conveniently overlooked all other possible culprits behind the determined efforts to destabilise Lebanon, the region seems headed for another military confrontation and Lebanon for a possible civil war. This will most likely be blamed on Syria, Iran, Hizbollah and Palestinian factions, and Israel will once again be presented as acting in self-defence and the US as defending the cause of Israel, democracy and human rights.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

Ramzy Baroud is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Ramzy Baroud

 


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Racism and War by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, September 22, 2007

Racism is, among many things, convenient. It provides simplified, definite and ready-to-serve answers to complex and compounded questions. Racists, in turn, come from all walks of life; their motivation and the root causes behind their contemptible views of others may differ, but the outcome of these views is predictably the same – racial discrimination, social and political oppression, religious persecution and war.

The textual definition of racism pertains only to race, but in practice racism is a consequence of groupthink, whereby a group of people decides to designate itself as a collective and starts delineating its relationship with other collectives – or other people in general – with a sense of supremacy. When coupled with economic and/or political dominance, supremacy translates into various forms of subjugation and cruelty.

The adulation of the self/collective and the disparagement of the other is an ancient practice, as old as human civilisation itself. It is everlasting for the simple reason that it has always served as a political and economic tool and will likely remain effective so long as the quest for political and material power drives our behaviour.

It is also pertinent to stress that the need for this negative group designation is not always as straightforward as “black” and “white”. For example, less economically advantaged Eastern Europeans seeking (and competing for) employment in Western Europe find themselves lumped in the same group and subject to all sorts of classifications. Equally convenient has been the caricatured misrepresentation of “Arabs” by mainstream media, which serves to further specific political and economic interests.

Ironically, an extreme form of racism also exists in various Arab countries where foreign workers find themselves placed in a demeaning hierarchy based on country of origin. Western Europeans and Americans top the scale and are readily accommodated, while Southeast Asians are often at the bottom. A very qualified Indian engineer, for example, may find himself getting paid a lot less than a French one with relatively little experience.

In some countries, like South Africa, racism has wreaked havoc on society for generations. It manifests itself in the refusal of some people to identify with their original ancestral cultures because they fear that such affinity would negate the fact that they are “full” South African citizens – a right for which they fought a most arduous fight.

In Malaysia, which exhibits considerable social harmony compared to some of it neighbours, racial classification is still very much real. Despite the government’s commendable efforts to accentuate the Malaysian national model while carefully underscoring Malay, Chinese or Indian sub-groupings, members of these groups are wary of their statistical representation in Malaysian society. Some react by stressing their number in comparison to the other groups, while others tirelessly underscore the types of discrimination they experience at the hands of the politically and economically advantaged.

While racism is universally recognised, few individuals would admit to their own prejudices and racist tendencies. Moreover, it would be self-deceiving to view racism as a purely Western phenomenon. While the Western model of racism, influenced by 18th century colonialism, is unique in many respects, group prejudices based on class, race and religion are shared almost equally between all nations.

The racism of those with political, military and economic power is often violent and detrimental, but it is important to remember that the underdog can be just as racist. An Arab reader from London sent me an e-mail demanding that I explain myself for collaborating on various projects with some well-known Jewish authors. “You are either naïve or you are selling out,” she wrote. It made no difference to her that these authors are anti-Zionist and have been, for many years, on the frontline of the struggle for Palestinian rights and justice. She simply couldn’t break away from a deeply ingrained racist belief that “Jews are not to be trusted.”

Of course, this is not an Arab, but a global predisposition; prolonged conflicts and wars tend to validate and inflate already existing prejudices. Although the Israeli educational system has produced generations of students saturated with grossly misleading images of Arabs and Palestinians, the relationship between Arabs and Jews hasn’t always been negative. For centuries, both groups lived in harmony; some of the best Arab poets of past times were Jews and some of the most luminous Jewish texts were written originally in Arabic. Unfortunately, conflict and war have a way of undermining such facts; racism in Israel is so intense now that few dare use the term “Arab Jew”.

Even when it doesn’t pertain to race, most people seem to slide easily into greater tribal memberships that divide the world into “us” and “them”, often using words of negation and often utilising religion. The “non” factor becomes very useful here: “non-Muslim”, “non-Jew”, “non-Christian”, and so on. Such negations are never well intended and always produce negative results. Less conspicuous terms such as “non-democratic” (a neo-colonial equivalent to “uncivilised”, perhaps?) could be similarly loaded and dangerous and are often used to promote and justify war.

It remains to be said that a true fight against racism and various other types of group prejudice requires first accepting personal responsibility in shaping one’s own society, and this includes the racism that exists within it. Martin Luther King Jr. refused “to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality”. We, too, must uncompromisingly reject such pessimism if we truly wish for peace, harmony and equality to replace war, social discord and injustice.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. His latest volume, “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle” (Pluto Press, London) is available from Amazon and other book venues. He is the editor of PalestineChronicle.com and his articles are archived at ramzybaroud.net

Ramzy Baroud is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Ramzy Baroud

 


To become a Member of Global Research

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is:
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6846