Archive for ‘Mideast’

12/26/2016

WHAT WILL TRUMP DO ABROAD?

China: In 1971, after the UN voted to recognize the mainland People’s Republic of China in lieu of the Nationalist Chinese government on the island of Taiwan, Nixon visited Mao Tse Tung in 1972, and agreed to withdraw 8,000 U.S. troops from Taiwan. President Carter then recognized the People’s Republic as sole legitimate government in 1979, and the U.S. severed all official ties to Taiwan. The U.S. then started doing business in China under Reagan in 1980, and in 2001, George W. Bush helped them get into the tariff-free World Trade Organization. After the 2016 election, Trump didn’t realize that by communicating with the Taiwanese leader, he would be setting off a storm. Trump’s lack of knowledge of international law and history is a great concern.

Foreign Trade: The U.S. has had trade deficits with foreign nations since 1981, when Reagan took office. Trump said he couldn’t believe how much they’ve soared. While there is some truth to the need for better balance, Trump has not seriously thought through the issue. He speaks a good nationalist populist line, but he does not demonstrate an understanding of global economics. He talks about imposing 15% to 35% tariffs on goods imported from abroad. Most Republicans oppose such taxes, arguing they’d only be passed on to American consumers in the form of higher prices. Cheap clothing from abroad would suddenly cost a lot more. So would TVs, radios, and electronics. Prices for the vast majority of things purchased from abroad would increase. The bottom line is if tariffs are imposed, all American consumers will pay. When people talk about NAFTA, (which only affects 3 countries), it means they don’t understand trade. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the real player, since almost all nations belong. If the U.S. imposes tariffs, all WTO members will be authorized to punish the U.S. with retaliatory tariffs, and our exports to other nations will be priced out of the market. Bullies don’t get their way in trade—it’s a two-way street Donald.

Mexican Deportations: If Trump commands the army to go door-to-door to round up millions of Mexican workers, who may be in the U.S. illegally, there is a strong likelihood his order will be disobeyed. It would take an extremely long time to carry out, and the costs would be astronomical. We are a nation of laws, not dictators. Detainees would be entitled to due process before deportation. While Trump may stage some “show trials,” he would never rid the country of all illegals. Although he may continue to make verbal broadsides by calling “all” Mexicans rapists, without supporting evidence, the courts are not that abusive. The main reason nothing much will happen to illegal aliens is that the Republican business community needs them now more than ever. Certain segments of our economy would simply collapse without them.

Mexican Wall: Trump made the ridiculous assertion that he was going to build a wall from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California, a distance of 1,553 miles. He then added the absurd idea that he would make Mexico pay for it. The Great Wall of China stretches more than 1,500 miles and it is about 25 feet high. It took the Chinese literally hundreds of years to complete it. Even with modern equipment, building a wall separating the U.S. and Mexico would take an extremely long time. A baby born today would never see it. The cost of constructing such a wall would be astronomical, bankrupting the U.S. Treasury. Maintaining it with guards posted at every tenth of a mile or so, 24 hours a day, would also be extremely pricey. The smarter members of Congress laughed at Trump’s silly idea, as there is absolutely no chance of it being implemented.

Middle East: Trump has not shown any inclination to be an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians, or the rest of the Muslim world. As a result, he will have a tough time doing anything useful in the Mideast. He talks about defeating ISIS, but how does one defeat an attitude? How does one stop an individual suicidal bomber? One has to first acquire an understanding of the enemy mind. Thus far, Trump has not shown any intellectual capacity to even begin to understand.

Military: Trump said the military could be supported for much less than we spend on it. While he’s certainly correct, the Republican Congress is not going to propose any spending reductions, so nothing will change in that regard. We will continue to waste millions. The bigger problem is Trump’s ability to draw us into a shooting war. Although Congress holds the power to declare war, Presidents with hot heads, like Trump, can force their hand. Though Trump never served in the army, he went to a military academy as a teen. My suspicion is that he was arrested for battery or sexual assault as a teen, and his father kept him out of a juvenile court reformatory by asking a sympathetic judge to send him to a military school. Trump’s background bothers me, since the best predictor of future behavior is past conduct. Have no doubt, Trump will use military force.

NATO: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was originally set up as a check against a perceived Soviet threat in Western Europe. Their mission has now morphed into areas outside Europe. While all NATO nations need to belly up to the bar to pay for the treaty organization, and efficiencies could be made, Trump was mistaken to threaten a U.S. withdrawal. I doubt the Republican Congress will end our commitment to NATO.

Russia: Godless Russian communists are seriously our best friends against the fundamentalist religious Islamic fanatics. The old Soviet Union included areas where Islam was practiced and they have people who could easily infiltrate terrorist organizations. Having said that, Putin has suppressed free speech, manipulated elections, and violated international law by invading the Ukraine, conduct an American President cannot condone. Trump and his Exxon Sec of State see nothing but an oil deal with Russia. Sadly, energy alone should not govern our relationship.

Tanzania: There are 52 independent nations in Africa. One would expect a President to have at least a minimal understanding of each. One important country is Tanzania, where our U.S. Embassy was bombed by terrorists in 1998. On April 27, 2016, Trump pronounced Tanzania “Tan-ZAY-nee-uh,” instead of the correct “Tan-zu-KNEE-uh.” This elementary school gaff was troubling, as it indicates Trump has no real working knowledge of even important African states, like Tanzania.

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11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Foreign Policy Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) TRADE WITH CHINA: Although Romney called China a currency manipulator and promised to prosecute them in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the right to impose tariffs (10-11-11) (11-9-11) (11-12-11) (1-7-12) (1-19-12), since the Great Depression, both parties have worked together to eliminate tariffs, and in recent years, the Republicans have been the loudest advocate of free trade. It is highly unlikely Romney will seek or impose protective tariffs, or interfere with free trade.

(D) TRADE WITH CUBA: Although Romney said he would not open trade with Cuba, until Fidel Castro is dead (1-23-12) (1-26-12), there is actually no reason to treat Cuba any different than the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, or any other country we now trade with, who was once our enemy. Open the door now.

(D) EURO CRISIS: If the banks and economies around the world were collapsing, Romney said he would act to prevent contagion. (10-11-11). He also said Europe should take care of their own problems (11-9-11), and if Europe had a financial crisis, he wouldn’t give them a blank check, or save their banks (1-16-12). He was critical of the European for using IMF Funds (11-9-11). It appears, as usual, Romney wants to cover both sides of the issue.

(D) IMMIGRATION: Romney promised to crack down on immigration. (8-11-11). He said employers who hire illegal aliens are magnets. (9-7-11) (9-22-11). He would make businesses check the E-Verify data base. (10-18-11) (12-15-11) (1-19-12) (1-26-11). He thinks illegal aliens without jobs will self-deport (1-26-12). He said amnesty for illegal immigrants is another magnet that only encourages more. (12-10-11). He would not give aliens tuition assistance. (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (10-18-11). He would not give them Driver’s licenses. (9-12-11). He wants people with math and science degrees (11-22-11), and English language emersion for immigrants. (1-23-12) (1-26-12). He opposes special routes to citizenship (1-16-12). Although many Republicans favor what Romney has said, business owners in his own party wish to continue hiring illegal aliens, so they can keep paying cash under the table, to avoid payroll taxes and other legal obligations.

(D) MILITARY SERVICE: Romney, who received several deferments during the Vietnam War, found it extraordinary that only a few families were paying the price for freedom (1-7-12)

(D) IRAQ: Obama carried out his campaign pledge to end the misguided War in Iraq. Romney said he thought we had to go to war against Iraq. (1-16-12). Why is that even remotely true?

(D) BIN LADEN: President Obama was the Commander-in-Chief over the raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden. If a Republican had been President when the mission was accomplished, they would be carving his face into Mt. Rushmore. On the assumption Bin Laden was responsible for 911, it was a job well done, and Obama should be credited.

(D) ASSASSINATION: Romney said he thinks the President has a right to order the death of any “American citizens” suspected of terrorism (11-12-11) Sorry, Mitt, no such right.

(D) LIBYA: President Obama waged an almost flawless campaign to help the Libyan freedom fighters remove Gaddafi, their long-time dictator. He refused to put U.S. troops on the ground, but supplied aid to the rebels, and succeeded in bringing change to Libya. Republicans, who spend time on the recent incident in Bengazi, can’t see the forest for the trees.

(D) AFGHANISTAN: We should withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible, so our troops can come home, and we can save billions. Romney was vague about Afghanistan during the Republican debates. He said he would defer to generals and conditions on the ground. (6-13-11) (8-11-11) He thinks our commanders in the field don’t want to withdraw. He wouldn’t cut and run. He thinks Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal weakened us (1-16-12) He accused Obama of withdrawing early, but then he also said he would stay until 2014. (11-12-11) (11-22-11) He gave no reasons for wanting to stay until 2014. (1-7-12). He wouldn’t negotiate with the Taliban, since he said they’re terrorists. He incorrectly said they declared war on us. (1-16-12). Romney wants to win in Afghanistan by defeating the Taliban (1-23-12) He also said he wants a gradual transfer to Afghan Security Forces. Frankly, I think Romney wants to be President and will say just about anything, depending on who’s listening.

(D) LAWS OF WAR: Romney said the rights that apply to criminal law are different than those applicable in war (11-22-11)

(D) GUANTANAMO: As to the Guantanamo Prison, Romney thinks we have a right to deny al Qaeda due process. (1-16-12).

(D) PAKISTAN: Romney is concerned about the fact Pakistan has nuclear weapons (2-22-12) He believes they are a fragile nation close to a failed state. He wants to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century (11-22-11) He wants them to let us go after the Taliban and Haqqani Network inside Pakistan (11-12-11). We need to stay out of Pakistan, Mitt. You’re playing with fire there.

(D) SYRIA: Romney said Syria is a threat to Israel (1-26-12), and an ally of Iran. He would use covert means to end Assad’s dictatorship (11-12-11) He would not however impose a no-fly zone over Syria. He would use sanctions and covert means (11-22-11) I say let’s stay out of their war altogether.

(D) ISRAEL: Although Republicans accuse Obama of sticking a thumb in Israel’s eye (8-11-11), the American problem is not too little support for Israel, it’s too much. Our bipartisan American foreign-policy has been controlled by Israeli special interests for a long time. Romney is frightening, because he sounds like a weak leader, who would allow outsiders to control our foreign policy. Romney said it was wrong for Obama to criticize Israel for illegally constructing settlements in occupied Palestine (9-22-11) Weak Republicans like Romney would abandon our long-standing objection to Israel’s illegal taking of the Palestinian territories in 1967. (8-11-11) Since Obama courageously followed international law, we need him to keep Israel from taking the U.S. even deeper into their conflict. Romney pandered to the Jewish community while in Florida (1-26-12), and it’s not surprising his first foreign policy trip would be to Israel (11-22-11) We need a leader much stronger than Romney, one who would stand up to Israel.

(D) IRAN: Romney has a desire to impose crippling sanctions against Iran to keep them from developing nuclear weapons, which he called unacceptable (9-22-11) He falsely accused Obama of not putting crippling sanctions against Iran (1-7-12) He supports Iranian dissidents. He favors regime change and would take military action to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons (11-12-11) He called Obama weak on Iran (12-15-11) Romney said if Iran shut down the Straits of Hormuz, it would be an act of war (1-23-12). He thinks they will sneak dirty bombs into the U.S. through Latin America (2-22-12) Romney would indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Genocide Convention (11-22-11)

(D) LATIN AMERICA: Romney actually thinks the Hezbollah is working in Latin America (11-22-11) (2-22-12) Get real Mitt.

(D) RUSSIA: In one debate, Romney sounded like he didn’t know the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. He was still talking as though Russia was an enemy, as he accused Obama of giving them what they wanted. (11-12-11). Romney worries me.

(D) FOREIGN AID: Romney thinks the U.S. spends more on foreign aid than we should (10-18-11). We are still the richest nation on earth, and if we want allies, we need to give some aid.

(D) HOMELAND SECURITY: Romney would let people who are a “lower risk” go through TSA screening quickly. (11-22-11). Sounds like he wants to set up a fast track for his friends like Donald Trump, while the rest of us wait in line.

04/13/2012

Close Persian Gulf Region Bases

How many military bases does the United States really need for national security purposes in the Persian Gulf and the surrounding region? The following, which excludes any lingering unclassified facilities in Iraq, is just a partial list of our presence in the area.

KUWAIT
Army: Camp Arifjan
Air Force: Ahmed Al-Jaber Air Base
Air Force & Army: Ali Al-Salem Air Base (since 1991)
Army: Camp Buehring (NW)
Army: Camp Virginia
Navy: Kuwait Naval Base

BAHRAIN
Navy: Manama Naval Base
Air Force: Sheikh Isa Air Base
Air Force: Bahrain International Airport

SAUDI ARABIA
Air Force: Eskan Village

QATAR
Air Force: al-Udeid Air Base
Camp al-Saliyah

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Navy: Fujairah Naval Base
Navy: Jebel Ali Seaport
Air Force: al-Dhafra Air Base

OMAN
Air Force: Masirah Air Base
Air Force: Thumrait Air Base
Seeb International Airport (dual use)

DJIBOUTI
Navy: Camp Le Monier

TURKEY
Air Force: Incirlik Air Base

ISRAEL
Army: Dimona Radar Facility
Navy: Port of Haifa (6th Fleet)

INDIAN OCEAN
Navy: Diego Garcia

AFGHANISTAN
Marines: Camp Dwyer
Marines: Camp Leatherneck
Marines: Camp Rhino
Marines: FOB Delhi
Marines: FOB Delaram
Marines: FOB Fiddler’s Green
Marines: FOB Geronimo
Marines: PB Jaker
Air Force: Bagram Airfield
Air Force: Shindand Airbase
Air Force: Kandahar International Airport

KYRGYZSTAN
Air Force: Manas Air Base

UZBEKISTAN
Termez Air Base Khanabad

KAZAKHSTAN
U.S. military presence

TAJIKISTAN
NATO presence

12/20/2011

Iraq: Bush’s War Was A Total Waste

After nearly nine years, the War in Iraq ended, with the names of 92 Wisconsinites who died there, printed in the Wis. State Journal. While 89 returned in body bags under President Bush: 9 (2003); 23 (2004); 18 (2005); 16 (2006); 15 (2007); and 8 (2008); three died while Obama was President: 2 (2009) and 1 (2010).

The War in Iraq (2003-11) actually started with the Gulf War (1991) surrender document, which required the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter, a former Marine Corps Major, and his team, searched for, and destroyed weapons, over a seven year period (1991-98). When Ritter resigned in 1998, he announced Iraq had been disarmed.

Despite the disarmament, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle, and 15 others wrote a letter to President Clinton in 1998 saying the removal of Saddam Hussein through a pre-emptive strike “needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.” In response, Clinton announced the U.S. cannot allow Iraq to acquire nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, as he declared a regime change policy, and started bombing suspected Iraqi sites.

Under President Bush, a Defense Dept. strategy for pre-emptive War in Iraq was approved in Aug. 2002. Despite a National Intelligence Estimate, dated Oct. 2002, which reported: “Iraq does not yet have a nuclear weapon, or sufficient material to make one,” Bush declared at a State of the Union in Jan. 2003: Iraq tried to acquire uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger. He said: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Although Bush conceded on March 12, 2003, there was no evidence to link 911 to Iraq, officials constantly implied there was a connection, leading the NY Times to report 42% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 911.

Bush’s team scared many uninformed Americans in March 2003 by conjuring up images of a “mushroom cloud,” and by spreading the ridiculous notion Saddam Hussein had rockets capable of delivering chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons to the U.S.

The disciples of Bush whipped up crazy ideas, like Iraq could be defeated in one week. Richard Pearle, chair of the Pentagon Defense Policy Board, said in 2002: “Support for Saddam will collapse with the first whiff of gunpowder.” Less optimistic Defense officials predicted the war may last for “months.”

The Bush Administration argued Americans would be welcomed. Vice President Chaney said on Meet the Press on March 16, 2003: “We will in fact be greeted as liberators.” Military planners said the occupation will result in “flag-waving crowds hugging British and American soldiers.” Rush Limbaugh repeated the propaganda.

Bush’s people believed a large ground force would not be needed, as Rumsfeld said we could invade with relatively few troops, supported by air support. Rumsfeld rejected advice from senior military officials, who said a larger army would be required.

Congressman James Moran of Virginia, one of the few to speak the truth as to why the U.S. was about to go to war, said on March 13, 2003: “If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for war with Iraq, we would not be doing this.”

Bush tried to obtain UN Sec. Council Resolution to make his war look legitimate, but the level-headed Jacques Chirac of France wisely threatened a veto, as others also voiced opposition. Bush finally abandoned his attempt to gain UN approval on March 17, 2003.

Cowboy Bush nevertheless went it alone, and issued an ultimatum on March 19, giving Saddam and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq, or face war. He amassed 210,000 U.S. troops: including 150,000 in Kuwait, 10,000 in Saudi Arabia, and 50,000 at sea. American teams studied plans to find hidden weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as Halliburton, a company run by Cheney from 1995 to 2000, looked forward to making billions on post-war contracts.

Once the war started, the search for WMD became a top priority. Gen Tommy Franks said there were 2,000 to 3,000 possible weapons sites. When no hidden stockpiles were found, the military initially said some areas were not yet accessible. Gen. Myers reassured us on March 31: “there is no doubt they have chemical weapon loaded in artillery shells.” Chief Warrant Officer Gonzales, a member of a weapons team, said on April 16: “we’re not going to find just a smoking gun, but a smoking canon; it’s just a matter of time.” “It’s going to take time,” Rumsfeld repeated, on April 19, fabricating a story “they buried things,” and “used underground tunnels.” Later, Rumsfeld admitted Iraqis will have to find them, because “the inspectors didn’t find anything, and I doubt we will.” Bush nevertheless reassured Americans on June 10 he was convinced Iraq had WMD, and proof would be found. Press Sec. Fleisher advanced the ridiculous argument those who say Iraq does not have WMD have the burden of proof.

Meanwhile, Scott Ritter re-appeared in April 2003 to say I told you so: “I don’t see how these weapons could exist,” because the unconventional arms Iraq possessed were destroyed or degraded. Joe Wilson, a former Ambassador, came forward in July 2003, to say for 8 days in 2002, he was in Niger investigating reports of an attempted weapons sale, and found nothing but forged documents and fraudulent intelligence. British Prime Minister Tony Blair finally admitted on July 11, he no longer believed WMD would be uncovered, causing Bush on July 12 to shift blame to others, suggesting CIA Director Tenet approved the Jan. 2003 reference to obtaining nuclear weapons materials from Niger.

David Kay, the man who headed the U.S. weapons search, told Congress on Sep. 29, no WMD were found and we were all wrong. Ritter wrote a piece on Feb. 6, 2004 entitled, “Not Everyone Got it Wrong on Iraq’s Weapons,” challenging Kay’s assertion “we were all wrong.” Rolf Ekeus, another weapons inspector, declared Iraq was fundamentally disarmed as early as 1996. Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector just before March 2003, said his team found no evidence of WMD. By 2004, it was clear Bush had relied rumor, speculation, exaggeration, and falsification to lead the U.S. into war. Florida Sen. Bob Graham said Bush knowingly did it.

If U.S. troops had vacated Iraq after the Statue of Saddam Hussein was knocked down in Baghdad on April 10, 2003, or when Bush declared an end to hostilities on May 1, or when he landed on the Aircraft Carrier Lincoln near San Diego on May 2, or as soon as Hussein was captured on Dec. 15, 2003, perhaps the war would have been easy, but Bush made the additional mistake of occupying Iraq.

When 10,000 Shiites and Sunni Muslims joined hands through the streets of Baghdad on May 20, 2003, to oppose the U.S. occupation, fair warning was given. U.S. officers soon reported unexpected resistance, while Americans were bing lied to and told Iraq would not become another long 8-year struggle, like the one in Vietnam.

It did not take long before the brass changed their story as to how long the war would take. Gen. Myers said:  “Nobody ever promised a short war.” Deputy Defense Sec. Wolfowitz said it would take at least 6 months to create a new government. Ari Fleisher said they were a year away from turning over control.

Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, then triggered a guerilla war by issuing a decree on May 20 banning all Baath Party members from public sector jobs. Rumsfeld had to admit in July 2003 “we are still at war,” as he predicted attacks against U.S. forces would grow more vicious. Not enough troops were available to maintain order, or to guard supply lines, and once again Rumsfeld had to admit he might need more than 147,000 troops.

Instead, tours for enlisted men were extended indefinitely. Our troops became tired of patrolling hostile Iraqi streets in the extreme heat in search of an invisible enemy. It became unsafe for them to venture off post. Many accused the Pentagon of dishonesty with regard to their length of stay and mission. Finally, Rumsfeld adjusted the duration of the war saying: “We will be there as long as it takes.”

Well, we stayed nearly 9 years. We lost a lot of lives, and took a lot more. We destroyed a lot of property. We spent billions. After 9 years, it is really not a stretch at all to say, Bush’s war was a total waste.

12/16/2011

Gingrich-Republicans Wrong on Palestine

Former Congressman Gingrich incorrectly suggested the word “Palestine” was not commonly used until 1977, Palestinians are an “invented people,” and their “right of return” to Palestine, now illegally occupied by Israel, is based on a false story. Other Republicans have also harbored twisted views on the Mideast, including Santorum, who thinks, “the West Bank is Israeli land,” Romney who believes it’s wrong to criticize Israel for illegally erecting settlements in occupied Palestine, Perry who said the Palestinian request for statehood is a travesty, and Bachmann who complained when Obama said Israel should return to the pre-1967 borders. All of these Republicans need to learn some history.

Palestinians have continuously lived in Palestine for thousands of years. The Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Israel are all on land previously known as Palestine, an area ruled by the Turkish Ottoman Empire for 402 years (1516-1918). Only 30,000 Jews lived there as of 1880, and as of 1893, 95% were Arab. In WWI, as the Turks were about to surrender, former British Prime Minister Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration (1917), without first consulting the Palestinians, in which he promised a homeland for the European Jews in Palestine.

Once WWI ended, the League of Nations gave Britain a formal mandate to govern Palestine (1920). They in turn gave the Jews of Europe permission to start settling among the Arabs of Palestine. As the percentage of Jews in Palestine grew from 11% in 1922 to 29% in 1939, opposition from Arab Palestinians grew.

After WWII, upon the disclosure of the atrocities inflicted upon the Jews of Europe, momentum developed for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. UN Res. 181 partitioned Palestine into two areas, one Jewish, and one Arab (1947). Because the Jews were only 33% of the population, but received 55% of the land, the Palestinians rejected the plan, triggering a civil war (1947-48).

Meanwhile, terrorist attacks by Jewish militants, caused the British to give up on Palestine. As they were leaving the country, Israel declared independence, which caused the 1st Arab-Israeli War (1948-49). The Arab nations around Palestine tried to stop the formation of a new Jewish state, but failed. Israel proceeded to destroy 420 Arab villages, and seized lands that had been assigned to the Arabs, as 700,000 Palestinian refugees fled to neighboring states. Homeless Palestinians lived in caves and makeshift tents, in the winter of 1948-49. Following a 1949 Armistice, the UN recognized Israel as a nation-state, but many Arabs, at least initially, refused to accept Israel’s UN based right to exist.

U.S. foreign policy under Republican President Eisenhower (1953-61) took a middle course, as Israeli requests for military equipment were denied. Israel was persuaded to return to the 1949 borders after the Suez War (1956), by a U.S. threat to cut off aid.

Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), Golan Heights (Syria), East Jerusalem, and West Bank (Jordan), started in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, as Israel launched a surprise attack on Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. The UN Assembly censured Israel (99-0, 20 abstentions), and the Security Council found their seizure of lands illegal. The UN ordered a “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” (Res. 242). To this day, Israel has never fully complied.

Following the 1967 war, Israel ignored international law, and started building settlements in Arab East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. The UN warned Israel in 1968 against changing Jerusalem by conquest (Res. 252). They reminded Israel in 1971, it is illegal under international law to expropriate land, or forcibly remove civilians (Res. 298). In a 14-0 vote, the Security Council directed Israel in 1971 to relinquish control over East Jerusalem.

The U.S. made a major foreign policy change in 1972, when they started vetoing UN Resolutions critical of Israel. The shift in U.S. policy came about through campaign contributions supplied by the Israeli Lobby to both parties. Without the help of the U.S., the Arabs tried to take back the occupied territories in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, but failed, as Israel had superior firepower supplied by the U.S. The UN continued to demand withdrawal (Res. 344).

Progress was made in 1978 following talks between President Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Begin, and Egypt’s President Sadat, as Israel withdrew from the occupied Sinai, back to the pre-1967 Egyptian border, under the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty (1979).

When the right-wing Likud Party however gained power in 1980, they reversed the process, by escalating settlement construction on Arab lands. As they imposed Israeli law in the occupied Golan Heights (1981), the UN declared it null and void, as a violation of civilian rights, under the Geneva Conventions (Res 497).

Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), said as early as 1985, he would accept Israel’s UN right to exist, if only they would return to the pre-1967 borders.

President Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, and Jordan’s King Hussein, made progress with another agreement in 1994, but the process stalled in 1995, when an Israeli extremist assassinated Rabin, and Netanyahu lifted the ban on new settlements in 1996.

Israel also damaged the peace process by building a Wall in and around occupied East Jerusalem, which now separates Arabs from each other. The International Court of Justice ruled the demolition of Palestinian homes, and the deportation of civilians by Israel to construct the Wall, amounted to an annexation and a violation of international law, under the 4th Geneva Convention (2004). Although Israel was ordered to remove the Wall, they ignored the court, and declared it their new West Bank border (2006).

While Israel finally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, they closed off all land, sea, or air access to that Palestinian territory, and made prisoners of the 1.5 million Palestinians who reside there. Today, Israel maintains strict blockades around Gaza, and continues to occupy East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

President Carter, a person we should all listen to with regard to the Mideast, correctly said the U.S. squandered international prestige, and intensified global anti-American terrorism, by unofficially condoning Israeli confiscation of Palestinian lands.

President Obama also showed leadership in 2011, when he asked Israel to stop building illegal settlements and to end their longstanding occupation of Palestine, by withdrawing to the pre-1967 borders. He said Palestinians suffered the humiliation of occupation, and have a right to govern themselves in a sovereign state. He requested a “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces.” “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, so secure and recognized borders are established for both states,” he said.

Although Netanyahu agreed: “The Palestinians…should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people in their own state” and the solution is “two states for two peoples: A Palestinian state, alongside the Jewish state,” he rudely lectured Obama, saying Israel cannot defend the old 1967 lines. The truth is the current borders are the ones that caused nothing but conflict and violence for 44 years, and are the lines that are indefensible.

The problems in the Mideast will never be solved as long as aspiring American leaders ignore the truth of what has happened there over the past 94 years. They at least have to get the facts straight. This Republican crowd, running for President in 2012, has an awful lot to learn about Palestine and the Mideast before they could even begin to be ready for the White House.

11/30/2011

Iran: History Behind Embassy Seizures

While the British Embassy in Tehran was attacked yesterday by an angry mob, this was not the first time this kind of thing has happened. We all remember the takeover of the U.S. Embassy by armed Iranian students in 1979. To understand why Iranians distrust the U.S., Britain, and the West, a review of history is needed.

Iran (historically Persia) is a relatively large country of 66 million. It is in the Persian Gulf, and borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the east. The people are predominately Shiite Muslim. Ethnically, they are Persian, but some are Kurd. Their economy is fueled by the Khuzestan oil fields, in the northwest.

After colonial Britain severed Afghanistan from Iran in the Anglo-Persian War (1856-57), a British Protectorate was attempted, but the Persians resisted. England did however create an Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. (1909), and started taking the resource. The English Army subsequently occupied the Iranian oil fields at Khuzistan in WWI, and again in WWII (1941). This is also when Muhammad Reza Pahlavi became Shah of Iran (1941).

Upon the election of Mohammad Mossadeq as Prime Minister (1950), Iran nationalized their oil, and gave British and U.S. firms one month to get out of the country (1951). The UK sued on behalf of Anglo-Iranian Oil Co., but the case was dismissed, on a jurisdictional issue. UK v Iran (1951).

When the Shah of Iran subsequently lost a fight against Mossadeq, he fled, but soon returned, when CIA and British intelligence executed the Prime Minister (1953). The Shah allowed Anglo and American oil companies to resume their businesses (1954). These events were never lost on the collective memory of the Iranian people.

Under the Shah’s brutal dictatorship, the country joined the Central Treaty Organization, and helped to encircle the Soviet Union (1954). To Shiite Muslims, the Shah added insult to injury, as he launched a White Revolution to westernize Iran, by allowing women to vote (1963). Islamic resistance to the Shah’s puppet regime grew, as hundreds were executed, and political opposition was banned. Following riots against the Shah, religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini, and other important Shiites, were exiled (1963).

The Iranian dictator became a U.S. ally. During the Arab-Israeli War (1967), Iran thwarted a brief Arab oil boycott by increasing oil production by 20%. President Nixon supported the Shah during a visit, as Iran purchased U.S. Phantom jets and SAM missiles (1972).

Opposition to the Shah grew, as protests swept through the country (1978). Iran fell under military rule, when Shiites threatened civil war. Fundamentalist uprisings finally forced the Shah to flee, allowing the Ayatollah Khomeini to return from exile (1979). Scores who had backed the Shah were lined up and shot. The Ayatollah said: “Our final victory will come when all foreigners are out of the country.” He ordered women, who ventured in public, to wear veils and robes, and if they refused, they were to be called whores, and stoned. Alcohol was removed from the hotels.

A major international incident occurred when armed students took 62 American hostages at the U.S. Embassy (1979). They demanded a return the Shah, so he could be put on trial. Although four women and six blacks were freed promptly, the other 52 were held for 444 days. The UN reminded Iran of their treaty obligations to diplomatic and consular staff, and warned that international law made the taking of hostages illegal.

After a failed rescue attempt by U.S. forces, the Shah died in exile (1980), and the Iranians finally freed the hostages, one day after President Carter left office, in consideration for a release of frozen assets (1981). The International Court of Justice ruled Iran had an obligation to protect the U.S. Embassy, and they violated that duty by failing to stop the students. U.S. v Iran (1980). An Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal was convened at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Holland, where financial claims for the hostages, as well as 683 others adversely affected, were settled (1981).

The U.S. then enlisted Saddam Hussein to invade Iran on the pretext the oil-rich Iranian Khuzestan Province was actually in Iraqi territory. Even though Hussein started the Iraq-Iran War (1980-88), the U.S. supported Iraq, and opposed fundamentalist Iran. Meanwhile, President Reagan simultaneously sold more than one billion in military equipment to Iran, during the so-called Iran-Contra Scandal. He did this even though Persia was labeled a terrorist state, and the sales were illegal under U.S. law.

In the war, the U.S. helped Iraq by attacking three Iranian Persian Gulf offshore oil production complexes, acts the International Court of Justice found were not justified by self-defense. Iran v U.S. (1987). The U.S. also shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, while in flight over the Persian Gulf, killing 290 defenseless passengers, including 65 infants and children. President Reagan apologized for the conduct of the USS Vincennes, and agreed to pay wrongful death damages. Iran v U.S. (1988).

The U.S. subsequently accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism, and imposed trade sanctions (1995). The Congress passed the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (1996). President George W. Bush named Iran a part of an axis of evil (2002). The International Atomic Energy Agency found Iran violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, triggering UN sanctions (2006). Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad defended Iran’s right to make nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes (2007).

Over the years, the Iranians have not forgotten Britain was a 19th Century colonial power that severed Afghanistan from them, and tried to conquer them. They know Britain took their oil from 1909 onward, and occupied their lands in WWI and WWII to guard it. When Iran seized their own natural resources in 1950, to keep the profits for themselves, they have not forgotten the 1953 CIA intervention that took out their elected leader, and made them give their oil to Western corporations, while they were forced to live under a brutal dictatorship for the next 26 years. The Iranians have not forgotten the U.S. prompted Saddam Hussein to invade their country in 1980, in an 8-year war that caused many thousands to die. They remember the attacks by the U.S. military against their facilities in the Persian Gulf, and particularly the killing of 290 defenseless civilians, when the U.S. shot down one of their passenger airliners. They are aware of Israel’s paranoia regarding nuclear weapons, and they know the U.S. will foolishly and blindly follow.

One could ask: Why would any Iranian like the U.S. or Britain? Iranians lash out against U.S. and British embassies, because they are not a superpower, and that is all they can do to vent their anger. We should all pause, and think about why the Iranians get angry at us, before we do something really foolish, like bomb or invade Iran.

10/22/2011

Turkey Takes Iraqi-Kurds Out of Way

Turkey’s Army crossed the border into Iraq on Oct. 19, 2011 to fight Iraqi-Kurds, because they had attacked and killed 24 Turkish soldiers in a raid staged on behalf of the Turkish-Kurd minority.

Although we hear about Kurds and a place called Kurdistan, the UN has no country by that name, and very few of us are aware of who the Kurds are, where they come from, or what they want.

Turks, Arabs, Persians, and Kurds are ethnic groups in the Middle East, who share a common Islamic religion, though some are in the Sunni Muslim branch, and others belong to the Shiite school.

The ethnic Kurds live in an area that spreads across Eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, Western Iran, and Northeastern Syria. Kurdistan was ruled by the Turkish Ottoman Empire (1453-1918), until Britain seized it in WWI, and drew new borders that severed the Kurdish people into four countries. The Kurds resisted, as they fought for autonomy (1919-23), but the British Empire prevailed.

In Turkey, Turkish-Kurds made an early attempt to secede, but failed (1925). In Iraq, the Kurds fell under the control of the majority Arabs of the Sunni and Shiite Islamic faith. Since Britain created Iraq, the Arabs have refused to allow a separate Kurdistan, because the Kurds occupy the lands that have most of the oil.

After Iraq overthrew their king, a new 1958 constitution made the Kurds and Arabs equal partners, under a law that was to allow for an autonomous Kurdistan, but the dominant Arab Baath Party failed to deliver, causing the Kurds to launch a full-scale revolt (1962-64). The uprising ended with another pledge to create a separate Kurdistan, but yet another broken promise.

The Iraqi-Kurds used mortar attacks against the City of Kirkuk in 1969 to renew their struggle, until an amended constitution (1970) once more promised autonomy, but no change came. Iran, which had its own Kurdish minority, then started a surrogate war against Iraq, by feeding an Iraqi-Kurd insurrection (1971-74), which escalated into an Iraqi-Kurdish War (1974-75). The Iraqi Army shelled mountainous Kurdish towns, causing the Shah of Iran to open his borders to 250,000 fleeing Iraqi-Kurds. That war ended when Iraq cleverly convinced Iran to sign a treaty in which they jointly agreed to oppose their respective Kurd minorities (1975).

When Saddam Hussein seized power in Iraq in 1979, he kept control over the oil fields of Kirkuk, by subduing the Iraqi-Kurds. As his fragile peace with Iran frayed, however, Iran encouraged Iraqi-Kurds to revolt, prompting the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). During this conflict, 60,000 Iraqi-Kurd served as guerillas in the fight against Iraq, while demanding a separate state. Hussein once and for all decided to demolish 1,276 Kurd villages, and to exterminate the Kurds with poisonous gases (1987-88). Although most of those asphyxiated were non-combatants, Hussein claimed a right to kill any insurgents who had been allied with Iran.

Following the Gulf War (1991), when Iraq was pushed back out of Kuwait, the Kurds seized another opportunity to revolt. But 700,000 of them ended up fleeing into the mountains, where American aircraft were needed to drop relief, under Operation Provide Comfort (1991). The U.S. also protected the Kurds by imposing a No-Fly Zone against Iraq, north of the 36th parallel.

Turkey subsequently launched an offensive against the Kurds, and helped Iraq, in the Iraqi-Kurdish Civil War (1994-97), by keeping the beleaguered Iraqi-Kurds from crossing the Turkish border.

When President Bush invaded Iraq in the Iraq War (2003), the Iraqi-Kurd minority finally thought the day had come for an independent Kurdistan, but Bush did nothing to create a new state, since the Shiite-Sunni Iraqi Arab majority and Turkey objected.

So today, it appears the Kurds will never have an independent Kurdistan in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, or anywhere else, since the neighboring states will not agree, and the world will not intervene on the side of the Kurdish minorities. The best hope for the Kurds is for the Turks of Turkey, Arabs of Iraq, and Persians of Iran, to grant equality to their respective Kurdish minorities, so attacks by and against Kurds may finally come to an end.

09/26/2011

Palestine: Abbas Seeks Statehood In UN

Although the UN should grant the Palestinian application for statehood, submitted by President Abbas on Sep. 23, 2011, it will most certainly be vetoed in the Security Council by the U.S., because this is what the Israeli Lobby wants.

Abbas nevertheless made a plea to the UN, by reminding the world the Palestinians have been the victims of injustice since 1948. Although the Palestinians want a comprehensive peace, the last round of negotiations in 2010 broke down within weeks, because Israel disregards UN Resolutions, rejects international law, and continues to settle in parts of occupied Palestine.

Abbas reminded the UN that the late Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization signed a statement of principle with Israel, in Oslo and at the White House in 1993, but after 18 years, no Palestinian State has yet been created, despite an international consensus for a two-state solution.

Abbas said the absence of an agreement is because Israel systematically confiscates land and constructs settlements along the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while refusing to allow the Palestinians to build. Israel erected an annexation Wall through the West Bank, which separates Palestinian communities. They made Gaza a virtual prison, by imposing a blockade around it. They engaged in ethnic cleansing, by deporting Palestine’s elected representatives, and have allowed Jewish settlers to engage in acts of violence against Arabs without consequence.

It has been difficult for the Palestinians, said Abbas, who was personally forced from his home in 1948, with just the cloths on his back, and the things he could carry. Palestinians eventually realized they could never obtain an absolute justice regarding the historical injustice imposed upon them. They instead adopted a path to relative justice. They made major concessions by agreeing to compromise for only 22% of historical Palestine.

Abbas said the Palestinians have repeatedly tried to negotiate with Israel, but it is now futile. After 63 years of suffering, Abbas said, enough is enough, and business as usual cannot continue. Although Abbas said peaceful resistance will continue, as long as the occupation remains, the Palestinians are willing to return to the table, if Israel stops creating new settlements in Palestine.

Abbas said the Palestinians are entitled to an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as their capital. They want a release all political prisoners. They want refugees dealt with in accordance with UN Res 194. In exchange, they will renounce violence and reject terrorism in all forms, including state terrorism, and they will agree not to delegitimize Israel.

Abbas asked the UN: Are you going to permit the world’s last occupation to go on forever? Are you going to allow Israel to remain above the law, and let them continue to reject UN Resolutions, and the rulings of the International Court of Justice?

Abbas said it is time for the Palestinian Spring and for the Palestinians to gain independence. Accordingly, Abbas exercised the right of the Palestinian to self-determination and submitted an application for full membership to the Assembly, which he asked the UN to grant immediately, based on the June 4, 1967 borders.

09/23/2011

Palestinian Statehood In United Nations

The UN currently has 194 independent member states. Although the Palestinian Territory is not now an independent sovereign, the United Nations has the power to recognize them, and to make them a UN member. Palestine’s request for statehood would give them rights, and the ability to make claims in international courts. It would allow them to enter into treaties with other countries, and would make them subject to international obligations.

The criteria for statehood were set forth in the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States (1933). A state must have: 1) a permanent population; 2) a defined territory; 3) a government; and 4) a capacity to enter into relations with others.

As to population, although Antarctica has temporary visitors, it has no permanent population, and is the best example of a land that cannot become a state. The Vatican cannot become a state, since no one was born there, and it has no permanent residents. Western Sahara, with roving nomads, also fails in this regard.

Since Palestine has had a permanent population for over a thousand years, it clearly meets the first criteria for statehood.

A state must have a defined territory. Not all places with defined territories are independent states. Taiwan is a well-defined island that acts like a free state, but it is part of China. French-speaking Quebec has borders, but it is a Canadian province.

In the case of Palestine, their territories include at least the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Other lands occupied since 1967 may also be claimed. Although the boundaries with Israel are now disputed, that is no bar to statehood, and the second test is met.

A state must have a government, as every nation must speak with one voice. If Somalia had to re-apply for statehood today, they would have a problem, because they are governed by warlords, and not by a central government.

Palestine has long had elected governmental bodies in the West Bank and Gaza. Despite Israel’s disapproval of the freely-elected Hamas Party in Gaza, Palestine satisfies the third element.

A state must have the capacity to enter into relations with other nations. Palestine certainly has the ability to do this, and it therefore meets the fourth element of statehood.

The people of the occupied Palestinian territories have a right to self-determination under the UN Charter and the United Nations should proceed to recognize a Palestinian State.

09/22/2011

Palestine: Shot Down By Israeli Lobby

Although an independent Palestinian State should be recognized, it is not going to happen, because the U.S. has veto power in the United Nations, and the Israeli Lobby controls American foreign policy, as outlined in the book: The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007), by John Mearsheimer and Stephan Walt.

Palestine, 95% Arab in 1893, had been occupied by Palestinians for 1,300 continuous years. After WWI, European Jews started migrating to Palestine, and eventually created a state by removing Palestinians. The UN partitioned Palestine into Arab and Jewish areas in 1947, triggering a Civil War (1947-48), followed by an Arab-Israeli War (1948-49). Jewish forces drove 700,000 Palestinians out at that time, and barred them from returning.

Under President Eisenhower, U.S. foreign policy took a middle course in the 1950s, as Israeli requests to buy military equipment were denied. In the Suez War (1956), Israel was persuaded to return to their borders, when the U.S. threatened to cut off aid.

A major shift in U.S. foreign policy occurred after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when the U.S. first started favoring Israel. In 1967, another 100,000 to 250,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, as Israel started occupying the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza. 3.8 million Palestinians fell under Israeli rule. Although the Israeli Army withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it became a virtual prison, as the Jewish state controls their air, sea, and land access.

Israel came under worldwide criticism for their brutal behavior in the occupied territories. Although Congress legally barred Israel from using U.S. aid to build settlements, new roads and villages were constructed in Palestine, as Israel erected a Wall through it.

The issue now is whether Israel and the U.S. will finally recognize a Palestinian State, along the pre-1967 borders? The short answer is no. The reason is the Israeli Lobby controls the U.S. Congress.

The Lobby first of all shapes public discourse in the U.S. media. They help sympathetic journalists get jobs, and make sure Israel is portrayed favorably. The mainstream media is biased in favor of Israel. They permit no Arab view, or open discussions as to Israel.

The Lobby effectively determines who will mount successful campaigns for Congress, by funneling money to their campaigns through a network of 75 organizations, and no less than 51 pro-Israeli Political Action Committees (PACs). PAC money is essential, since elections are expensive. Money rolls in to those with the pro-Israel label. Candidates must state an unconditional support for Israel to receive funds. They receive in-depth briefings on Israel, are told what words to use, and what opinions to give.

The Lobby punishes politicians who do not support their agenda. No aspiring candidate publically criticizes Israel. Democrats and Republicans alike fear the Lobby. Congress does what they want, as they keep track of voting. Office holders who do not agree are defeated. Those who wish to reduce Israeli aid are called anti-Israel. Jimmy Carter, who did more for Israeli than any other President, said it is political suicide to even mildly criticize Israel. Carter’s book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, critical of Israel, received full page attacks. It happened to Carter; no one is safe.

The Lobby influences who receives appointed jobs. People critical of Israel do not get foreign policy positions. They make sure Israel is not attacked on Capitol Hill. No critic of Israel is ever heard in Committee. Arab viewpoints are banned.

The Lobby tries to convince Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are the same. They claim their fight against terrorism is our fight. They want Israel to be treated like a 51st state. They force Congress to pass resolutions favorable to Israel. One said: “the U.S. and Israel are now engaged in a common struggle against terrorism.” It passed in the House 352-21 and the Senate 94-2. When votes are taken to reaffirm support for Israel, almost all members of Congress vote as the Lobby directs.

The Lobby sees to it Israel receives billions in economic aid annually, even though they are not poor. They have been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since 1976. They receive lump sum transfers, and do not have to account for how they spend it. Israeli bonds receive favorable treatment under U.S. law.

The Lobby maintains Israel’s dominant military power in the Mideast. The U.S. 6th Fleet is used for the benefit of Israel. Israel receives access to U.S. reconnaissance and intelligence. They receive tanks, planes, and other military hardware. The Lobby favors a hawkish unilateral exercise of U.S. power. They want to maintain a U.S. presence in the Mideast, in places like Iraq. They want large numbers of U.S.  troops permanently stationed there.

The Lobby controls the U.S. veto power in the United Nations. Between 1972 and 2006, the U.S. vetoed 42 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel.

The Lobby does not want an independent Palestinian state, as they prefer occupation to peace. Anyone favoring a Palestinian state is denounced for betraying Israel. Israel indefinitely removed the idea of a Palestinian state from their agenda.

But change is possible: 1) Those who understand the history of Palestine must educate Americans; 2) The U.S. must establish public financing of federal elections to remove money from the system; 3) The U.S. must deal with the Palestinian issue, because terrorism is related to American support for Israel; 4) Israel must be treated like any other country; 5) If they refuse to settle the Palestinian issue, U.S. economic and military aid must be cut; 6) Israel must dismantle their settlements, end the occupation in the Palestinian territories, and create a Palestinian state.