Netanyahu to Obama: Stop Iran—Or I Will

Ya’alon, a former army chief of staff who is slated to serve as Netanyahu’s minister for strategic threats, dismissed the possibility of a revitalized peace process, telling me that “jihadists” interpret compromise as weakness. He cited the reaction to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza four years ago. “The mistake of disengagement from Gaza was that we thought like Westerners, that compromise would defuse a problem—but it just encouraged the problem,” he said. “The jihadists saw withdrawal as a defeat of the West … Now, what do you signal to them if you are ready to divide Jerusalem, or if you’re ready to withdraw to the 1967 lines? In this kind of conflict, your ability to stand and be determined is more important than your firepower.”

216103127_f48d3d0e14_oAmerican administration sources tell me that President Obama won’t shy from pressuring Netanyahu on the Palestinian issue during his first visit to Washington as prime minister, which is scheduled for early May. But Netanyahu suggested that he and Obama already see eye-to-eye on such crucial issues as the threat posed by Hamas. “The Obama administration has recently said that Hamas has to first recognize Israel and cease the support of terror. That’s a very good definition. It says you have to cease being Hamas.”

When I noted that many in Washington doubt his commitment to curtailing Jewish settlement on the West Bank, he said, in reference to his previous term as prime minister, from 1996 to 1999, “I can only point to what I did as prime minister in the first round. I certainly didn’t build new settlements.”

Netanyahu will manage Israel’s relationship with Washington personally—his foreign minister,Avigdor Lieberman, of the anti-Arab Israel Beiteinu party, is deeply unpopular in Washington—and I asked him if he could foresee agreeing on a “grand bargain” with Obama, in which he would move forward on talks with the Palestinians in exchange for a robust American response to Iran’s nuclear program. He said: “We intend to move on the Palestinian track independent of what happens with Iran, and I hope the U.S. moves to stop Iran from gaining nuclear weapons regardless of what happens on the Palestinian track.”

In our conversation, Netanyahu gave his fullest public explication yet of why he believes President Obama must consider Iran’s nuclear ambitions to be his preeminent overseas challenge. “Why is this a hinge of history? Several bad results would emanate from this single development. First, Iran’s militant proxies would be able to fire rockets and engage in other terror activities while enjoying a nuclear umbrella. This raises the stakes of any confrontation that they’d force on Israel. Instead of being a local event, however painful, it becomes a global one. Second, this development would embolden Islamic militants far and wide, on many continents, who would believe that this is a providential sign, that this fanaticism is on the ultimate road to triumph.

“Third, they would be able to pose a real and credible threat to the supply of oil, to the overwhelming part of the world’s oil supply. Fourth, they may threaten to use these weapons or to give them to terrorist proxies of their own, or fabricate terror proxies. Finally, you’d create a great sea change in the balance of power in our area—nearly all the Arab regimes are dead-set opposed to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. They fervently hope, even if they don’t say it, that the U.S. will act to prevent this, that it will use its political, economic, and, if necessary, military power to prevent this from happening.”

If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, Netanyahu asserted, Washington’s Arab allies would drift into Iran’s orbit. “The only way I can explain what will happen to such regimes is to give you an example from the past of what happened to one staunch ally of the United States, and a great champion of peace, when another aggressive power loomed large. I’m referring to the late King Hussein [of Jordan] … who was an unequalled champion of peace. The same King Hussein in many ways subordinated his country to Saddam Hussein when Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990. Saddam seemed all-powerful, unchallenged by the United States, and until the U.S. extracted Kuwait from Saddam’s gullet, King Hussein was very much in Iraq’s orbit. The minute that changed, the minute Saddam was defeated, King Hussein came back to the Western camp.”

One of Iran’s goals, Netanyahu said, is to convince the moderate Arab countries not to enter peace treaties with Israel. Finally, he said, several countries in Iran’s neighborhood might try to develop nuclear weapons of their own. “Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons could spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. The Middle East is incendiary enough, but with a nuclear arms race it will become a tinderbox,” he said.

Few in Netanyahu’s inner circle believe that Iran has any short-term plans to drop a nuclear weapon on Tel Aviv, should it find a means to deliver it. The first-stage Iranian goal, in the understanding of Netanyahu and his advisers, is to frighten Israel’s most talented citizens into leaving their country.  “The idea is to keep attacking the Israelis on a daily basis, to weaken the willingness of the Jewish people to hold on to their homeland,” Moshe Ya’alon said. “The idea is to make a place that is supposed to be a safe haven for Jews unattractive for them. They are waging a war of attrition.”

The Israeli threat to strike Iran militarily if the West fails to stop the nuclear program may, of course, be a tremendous bluff. After all, such threats may just be aimed at motivating President Obama and others to grapple urgently with the problem. But Netanyahu and his advisers seem to believe sincerely that Israel would have difficulty surviving in a Middle East dominated by a nuclear Iran. And they are men predisposed to action; many, like Netanyahu, are former commandos.

As I waited in the Knesset cafeteria to see Netanyahu, I opened a book he edited of his late brother’s letters. Yoni Netanyahu, a commando leader, was killed in 1976 during the Israeli raid on Entebbe, and his family organized his letters in a book they titled Self-Portrait of a Hero. In one letter, Yoni wrote to his teenage brother, then living in America, who had apparently been in a fight after someone directed an anti-Semitic remark at him. “I see … that you had to release the surplus energy you stored up during the summer,” Yoni wrote. “There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s too bad you sprained a finger in the process. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with a good fist fight; on the contrary, if you’re young and you’re not seriously hurt, it won’t do you real harm. Remember what I told you? He who delivers the first blow, wins.”

The Shocking Story of Ali al-Marri

Ali al-Marri

Ali al-Marri

In brighter times, before a fog of fear descended on the United States, and the discourse of decent men and women was coarsened by an acceptance of the use of torture as a “no-brainer,” it would have been inconceivable that an American could have been held for seven years without charge or trial on the US mainland, in a state of solitary confinement so debilitating that he is said to be suffering from “severe damage to his mental and emotional well-being, including hypersensitivity to external stimuli, manic behavior, difficulty concentrating and thinking, obsessional thinking, difficulties with impulse control, difficulty sleeping, difficulty keeping track of time, and agitation.”

And yet, this is exactly what has happened in the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. A Qatari national — and legal US resident — al-Marri had studied computer science in Peoria, Illinois in the 1980s, had graduated in 1991, and had legally returned to the United States on September 10, 2001 to pursue post-graduate studies, bringing his family — his wife and five children — with him. Three months later, on December 12, 2001, he was arrested at his home by the FBI, and taken to the maximum security Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where he was held in solitary confinement as a material witness in the investigation into the 9/11 attacks.

In February 2003, al-Marri was charged with credit card fraud, identity theft, making false statements to the FBI, and making a false statement on a bank application, and was moved back to a federal jail in Peoria, but on June 23, 2003, a month before he was due to stand trial, the charges were suddenly dropped when President Bush declared that he was an “enemy combatant,” who was “closely associated” with al-Qaeda, and had “engaged in conduct that constituted hostile and war-like acts, including conduct in preparation for acts of international terrorism.” Also asserting that he possessed “intelligence,” which “would aid US efforts to prevent attacks by al-Qaeda,” the President ordered al-Marri to be surrendered to the custody of the Defense Department, and transported to the Consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina.

full article: www.insight-info.com

Caged Citizen Will Test President Obama

If our new president intends to try to make America resemble what it was meant to be, he will have to deal with the noxious residue of the Bush-Cheney war against terrorism. Barack Obama will be confronted, as Harold Reynolds predicted in the October 29 New York Law Journal, with bringing justice to “thousands of . . . men and women cut off from access to their families, tortured, humiliated . . . and kept off stage to this day by Bush’s resistant administration.”

Among these purported menaces to national security are survivors, if they can be found, of CIA secret prisons (“black sites”); victims of CIA kidnapping renditions; and American citizens locked up indefinitely as “unlawful enemy combatants.”

We have one such pariah right here in New York at the Metropolitan Correction Center. He is 28-year-old Sayed Fahad Hashmi, whom I first told you about in this column last week. Confined in extreme isolation as if he were in a supermax prison, Hashmi was put away about a year ago by Bush’s Attorney General Michael Mukasey under what are euphemistically called Special Administrative Measures (SAMs).

Of the 201,000 prisoners presently in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, fewer than 50 are so dangerous to the state that they are held under SAMs, which can be imposed in one-year increments. Mukasey was supposed to inform Hashmi’s lawyer, Sean Maher, on October 29 whether those fierce conditions that were described here last week would be renewed for another year. But as of this writing, no word has come from the Justice Department, and the keys to Hashmi’s cell will soon be in the hands of Barack Obama’s attorney general. When Jeanne Theoharis—a professor of political science at Brooklyn College who has been leading the campaign to get Hashmi out of the cage where he’s been jammed for his daily one hour of “recreation”—asked a Bureau of Prisons staff member how Hashmi has been SAM’d without even being charged with violence, she was told curtly: “He’s being charged with terrorism, right?”

full article: www.insight-info.com

What “Change” In America Really Means

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

My first visit to Texas was in 1968, on the fifth anniversary of the assassination of president John F Kennedy in Dallas. I drove south, following the line of telegraph poles to the small town of Midlothian, where I met Penn Jones Jr, editor of the Midlothian Mirror. Except for his drawl and fine boots, everything about Penn was the antithesis of the Texas stereotype. Having exposed the racists of the John Birch Society, his printing press had been repeatedly firebombed. Week after week, he painstakingly assembled evidence that all but demolished the official version of Kennedy’s murder.

This was journalism as it had been before corporate journalism was invented, before the first schools of journalism were set up and a mythology of liberal neutrality was spun around those whose “professionalism” and “objectivity” carried an unspoken obligation to ensure that news and opinion were in tune with an establishment consensus, regardless of the truth. Journalists such as Penn Jones, independent of vested power, indefatigable and principled, often reflect ordinary American attitudes, which have seldom conformed to the stereotypes promoted by the corporate media on both sides of the Atlantic. Read American Dreams: Lost and Found by the masterly Studs Terkel, who died the other day, or scan the surveys that unerringly attribute enlightened views to a majority who believe that “government should care for those who cannot care for themselves” and are prepared to pay higher taxes for universal health care, who support nuclear disarmament and want their troops out of other people’s countries.

Returning to Texas, I am struck again by those so unlike the redneck stereotype, in spite of the burden of a form of brainwashing placed on most Americans from a tender age: that theirs is the most superior society in the history of the world, and all means are justified, including the spilling of copious blood, in maintaining that superiority.

That is the subtext of Barack Obama’s “oratory”. He says he wants to build up US military power; and he threatens to ignite a new war in Pakistan, killing yet more brown-skinned people. That will bring tears, too. Unlike those on election night, these other tears will be unseen in Chicago and London. This is not to doubt the sincerity of much of the response to Obama’s election, which happened not because of the unction that has passed for news reporting from America since 4 November (e.g. “liberal Americans smiled and the world smiled with them”) but for the same reasons that millions of angry emails were sent to the White House and Congress when the “bailout” of Wall Street was revealed, and because most Americans are fed up with war.

full article: www.insight-info.com

Conservatives Lost More Than An Election

Chuck Baldwin

Chuck Baldwin

That Barack Obama trounced John McCain last Tuesday should have surprised no one. In fact, in this column, weeks ago, I stated emphatically that John McCain could no more beat Barack Obama than Bob Dole could beat Bill Clinton. He didn’t. (Hence a vote for John McCain was a “wasted” vote, was it not?) I also predicted that Obama would win with an electoral landslide. He did. The real story, however, is not how Barack Obama defeated John McCain. The real story is how John McCain defeated America’s conservatives.

For all intents and purposes, conservatism–as a national movement–is completely and thoroughly dead. Barack Obama did not destroy it, however. It was George W. Bush and John McCain who destroyed conservatism in America.

Soon after G.W. Bush was elected, it quickly became obvious he was no conservative. On the contrary, George Bush has forever established himself as a Big-Government, warmongering, internationalist neocon. Making matters worse was the way Bush presented himself as a conservative Christian. In fact, Bush’s portrayal of himself as a conservative Christian paved the way for the betrayal and ultimate destruction of conservatism (something I also predicted years ago). And the greatest tragedy of this deception is the way that Christian conservatives so thoroughly (and stupidly) swallowed the whole Bush/McCain neocon agenda.

full article: www.insight-info.com

Bush’s Last 100 Days the Ones to Watch

Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson

The air crackles with anticipation. Fingers are crossed. It gets hard to breathe. Hope, for so long locked in a closet, begins pounding on the door.

And throwing caution to the wind, many already are talking about Barack Obama’s first 100 days. Will he move directly to the Apollo investment agenda, providing money to refit buildings, implement the use of renewable energy and generate jobs in the drive to reduce our dependence on foreign oil? Will he put forth a comprehensive health-care plan or begin by covering all children? Will workers finally be given the right to organize once more? How will he handle mortgage relief and/or help cities burdened by poverty?

But even as our minds, against all discipline, look beyond this day to the possible victory and change, we’d better start paying attention to another 100 days — President Bush’s last months in office.

Bush and Vice President Cheney represent a failed conservative era — and they know it. As the administration moves into its last 100 days, there seems to be a flurry of activity: regulations to forestall Obama’s new era of accountability; a flood of contracts to reward friends and lock in commitments; a Wall Street bailout that is pumping money out the door.

Consider: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is handing out $350 billion to the banks, drawing a special circle around nine banks — including Goldman Sachs, the firm he previously headed — as clearly too big to fail. The money apparently has no conditions, even though the entire purpose was to get the banks to start lending once more to one another and to companies and individuals.

full article: www.insight-info.com

Secret Muslims: Islamophobia in the 2008 presidential campaign

Obama in a Turban

Obama in a Turban

So far, it seems as though they may be on to something. A Pew Research Center poll (6/18=29/08; reported 7/15/08) found that twelve percent of both Democrats and Republicans reported having the erroneous belief, while 10 percent of all voters profess to not knowing his religion because they’ve “heard different things” about it. Fifty-two percent of respondents who knew Obama was a Christian intended to vote for him, versus 37 percent of those who mistakenly believed he was Muslim.

But with few exceptions, media have not reacted nearly as forcefully to the bigotry behind the rumor campaign on their own turf as they did when the tactic was tried in Poland. Instead, journalists often accepted the idea that there was something suspicious or bad about being Muslim by referring to the canard as a “smear”

full article: www.insight-info.com

This Is The Lowest McCain Has Sunk Yet

John Mccain and Sarah Palin

John Mccain and Sarah Palin

The increasingly sleazy John McCain, who once promised to run a clean campaign, has now attacked my friend Rashid Khalidi and attempted to use him against Barack Obama. Khalidi is an American scholar of Palestinian heritage, born in New York and educated at Yale and Oxford, who now teaches at Columbia University. He directed the Middle East Center at the University of Chicago for some time, and he and his family came to know the Obamas at that time. Knowing someone and agreeing with him on everything are not the same thing.

Scott Horton has a fine, informed and intelligent discussion of the issue.

I know it may seem a novel idea to people like McCain and Palin, but it would be worthwhile actually reading Khalidi’s book on the Palestinian struggle for statehood. (I urge bloggers interested in this issue to link to his book, which the American reading public should know).

At the least, read a whole essay Khalidi has written.

Far from being a knee-jerk nationalist, Khalidi has been critical of the decisions of the Palestinian leadership at key junctures in modern history.

McCain’s and Palin’s attacks on Khalidi are frankly racist. He is a distinguished scholar, and the only objectionable thing about him from a rightwing point of view is that he is a Palestinian. There are about 9 million Palestinians in the world (a million or so are Israeli citizens; 3.7 million are stateless and without rights under Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza; and 4 million are refugees or exiled in the diaspora; there are about 200,000 Palestinian-Americans, and several million Arab-Americans, many living in swing vote states). Khalidi was not, as the schlock rightwing press charges, a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization. He was an adviser at the Madrid peace talks, but would that not have been, like, a good thing?

Much of the assault on Khalidi comes from the American loony Zionist Right, which quietly supports illegal Zionist colonies in the West Bank and the ethnic cleansing of the remaining Palestinians. They have been tireless advocates of miring the US in wars in Iraq and Iran to ensure that their dreams of ethnic cleansing are unopposed. They are a tiny, cranky but well-funded group that has actively harassed anyone who disagrees with them (at one point, cued by Daniel Pipes, they cyberstalked Khalidi and clogged his email mailbox with spam for weeks at a time). All opinion polling shows that most American Jews are politically liberal, overwhelmingly vote Democrat, and support trading land for peace to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Khalidi is their political ally in any serious peace process, which many have recognized.

full article: www.insight-info.com

Dawn of a new era in global politics

Globe

Globe

Within a period of less than 30 years, Muslims have consigned one superpower—the Soviet Union—to the dustbin of history and are about to deliver the other—the US—to the same fate, together with its regional surrogate, Israel. The achievements against the US are particularly remarkable because the mujahideen have had little or no external help. Defeat of the Red Army in Afghanistan in 1989 should have led to a “peace dividend” for Muslims, but it did not. Instead, their sacrifices freed the captive peoples of Eastern Europe and led to the emergence of the US as the “sole superpower”. Far from being grateful, US elites immediately set out to crush the emerging power of Islam. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were the direct result of this mindset. Thanks to the valiant resistance of Muslims and the monumental stupidity of American rulers, the US itself is on the verge of a massive military defeat, coupled with economic meltdown.

The West in general and the US in particular have historically plundered the resources of other peoples to build their own societies. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, executed under the rubric of the “war on terror”, have also been aimed at plundering the resources of these regions. Afghanistan is a conduit for access to the resources of Central Asia, while control of Iraq’s oil has been the main aim of for US aggression there. Neither appears achievable now.

The rise and fall of civilizations is a constant in history. Every great power ultimately declines, often as a result of the destructive germs it carries within it. Even if we are charitable and call America a civilization — some would call it barbaric, given its horrible record — its demise has come more quickly than that of any earlier civilization. Contrary to the claims of American propagandists that the twenty-first century is theirs, the US’s glory has lasted less than a decade.

full article: www.insight-info.com

American people back Iran`s right to enrich uranium: Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky lashed out at western media reports saying Tehran was “defying the world” over its nuclear program.

“That’s a funny definition of the ‘world’. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), for example which is the majority of countries, endorses Iran’s right to enrich uranium,” said Chomsky.

“Now nobody thinks they have the right to develop nuclear weapons, however that’s different issue. But the majority of the (American) population agrees (on Iran’s right to enrich uranium),” he added.

Iran has repeatedly stressed that having nuclear arms would be against its Islamic teachings and laws.

The distinguished 80-year-old professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said, “Public opinion here overwhelmingly holds that Iran should have the right to develop nuclear energy…”

Chomsky reaffirmed also that Iran was “of course entitled to uranium enrichment as a member of the NPT.”
The US scholar made clear that most Americans reject the Iran policy of President George W. Bush.

“With regard to Iran, a substantial segment of pretty mainstream opinion has been harshly critical of the confrontational approach and has called for negotiations and diplomacy,” Chomsky said.

He added there could have been a US-Iranian “rapprochement for the last 10 years.”

“It did not happen because of the extremism of the Bush administration was simply directed at making relations harsher, more bitter, militarizing them and that’s why the Bush administration even antagonized allies,” Chomsky said.

Asked whether the US-Iranian estrangement could finally end, he pointed to the possibility of a “working relationship” between both adversaries.

full article: www.insight-info.com

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