Posts tagged ‘United Nations’

04/11/2012

Korea: Time to Close Military Bases

The U.S. has roughly 39 disclosed military bases in South Korea, 57 years after an armistice put an end to the Korean War (1950-53), and the question now is whether they serve any purpose, or has our ongoing American military presence actually become an obstacle to reunification, and a roadblock to demilitarization?

A U.S. presence in Korea followed a vacuum caused by the defeat of imperial Japan in WWII. After trade started with Korea in 1875, the Japanese decided to simply take resources by force in the 20th Century, and their abuse did not stop until 1945, when the U.S. occupied South Korea, and the Soviets entered North Korea.

While the U.S. and Soviets forced Japan to grant independence, neither of the wartime allies was particularly focused on the needs of the Koreans. As the American and Russian forces withdrew in 1948, they divided Korea into a North Korean People’s Republic, north of the 38th Parallel, and the Republic of South Korea, south of it.

Two years later, the North invaded the South in an effort to reunite Korea. The United Nations, with Russia absent from the vote, found a breach of the UN Charter, and authorized the use of collective force to repel the invasion, in what became the Korean War (1950-53). Mao’s China soon entered the conflict on the side of the North, causing a stalemate, and an ultimate ceasefire. A 2½-mile Demilitarized Zone has separated two Koreas ever since.

After both North and South Korea joined the UN in 1991, train travel between the two was attempted to ease tensions, but the labeling of the North as a terrorist state, and fear of conflict, has kept both sides on edge, and has caused occasional flare-ups.

From the perspective of the North, since the Americans still have 30,000 troops stationed at various military facilities in the South along with their weapons, they must maintain a large military to repel a possible attack.

So what would really happen if the U.S. unilaterally withdrew all forces? Hawks may in a knee jerk fashion predict an invasion by the North. What is much more likely is a demolition of the barrier between North and South, and the commencement of trade. The North would gladly take the benefits of trade from the Southern economy, one of the strongest in Asia.

While a total unilateral withdrawal is largely a pipe-dream given the dysfunctional American political system, since very few American politicians would have the courage to do something so bold, progress always begins with an idea, and the idea is to unilaterally close our bases in Korea, and withdraw from their soil. Such a move would ease tensions, lead to reciprocal demilitarization, and eventual reunification.

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12/22/2011

Republican Debate in Iowa (12-15-11)

PAUL ON IRAN: What is happening regarding Iran, Paul said, is no different than the 2003 propaganda as to Iraq. There is no proof Iran has nuclear weapons. There is no UN or IAEA report with evidence. Why do we have 900 bases in 130 countries? Why are we flying drones over Iran? Why do we bomb so many countries? They may want to harm us, because we bomb them, not because of what we believe. They would not attack Switzerland or Sweden for what they believe. Sanctions are an act of war. They could lead to economic calamity, if oil is kept from Europe. The greatest danger is Presidential overreaction and a bombing of Iran. Even Israel’s Head of Security said it wouldn’t make sense to bomb Iran. While we don’t want to see Iran with nuclear weapons, it’s dangerous to declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims. Paul said when he was drafted in 1962, the world was dangerous, but as nuclear missiles were sited in Cuba, Kennedy talked Khrushchev down, and we avoided a nuclear exchange. We lived through the Cold War with 30,000 missiles pointed at us, and we shouldn’t jump the gun now. We just don’t need another war, Paul said.

OTHERS ON IRAN: Romney called Obama weak regarding the spy drone incident. Perry would have destroyed or retrieved the drone, but Obama did neither. Bachmann believes Iran will use nuclear weapons to wipe out Israel and attack the U.S. She believes an IAEA report says Iran is just months away from obtaining the bomb. Santorum thinks Iran has been at war with us since 1979. They tried to assassinate a Saudi Ambassador, and they make IEDs that kill our soldiers. He called them a radical theocracy. If they had nuclear weapons, it wouldn’t be like the Cold War, since they believe in martyrdom. He made the ridiculous argument: “they don’t hate us because of what we do, or the policies we have, they hate us because of who we are, and what we believe in.” He said we should work with Israel ro plan strikes against their facilities. Gingrich said the Iranians plan to close the Straits of Hormuz.

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul would adopt a pro-American foreign policy, which is the opposite of policing the world. Huntsman wants a policy driven by economics, which leaves the Cold War behind. Perry said we should assert the Monroe Doctrine as to Iran, Venezuela, and Mexico, like we did in the 60s with Cuba.

CHINA: Huntsman was questioned about a 22% tariff China imposed on U.S. sport utility vehicles, but he sidestepped it saying we need shared democracy, human rights, and religious toleration.

IRAQ: Bachmann said Obama intentionally chose to lose the peace, and Iran will now become a dominant influence in Iraq.

LATIN AMERICA: Santorum said Obama embraced Chavez and Ortega, and thinks jihadist training camps are working with drug cartels in Latin America, planning assaults on the U.S.

MILITARY: Romney wants to increase the number of Navy ships built each year from 9 to 15. He said we need another 100,000 military troops, but he did not explain how he would get them.

SYRIA: When Perry was asked if the U.S. should intervene in Syria, he said he supports a No-Fly-Zone, because he says they are attached at the hip to Iran, and we need to stand with Israel.

ISRAEL: Gingrich said 200 missiles were fired at Israel this year. He neglected to say how many strikes Israel made against others.

UN: Gingrich called the UN a corrupt institution that beats up on our allies. He would not fund it and would dramatically reduce our reliance on it. He claimed UN camps are training grounds for terrorism, and their textbooks are funded by the UN. Huntsman said the UN serves useful peacekeeping-humanitarian purposes, but noted they have anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments.

IMMIGRATION: Romney promised an ID card for legal aliens to use when applying for jobs, along with E-verify checks. If employers hire without the card, serious sanctions would apply. He would send illegals to the back of the line. Perry said the El Paso border is not safe. Gingrich suggested a loss of tax deductions for those who hire illegally. He would drop the lawsuits against AZ, SC and Alabama. Huntsman would not pander to Hispanics, adding illegals are down due to the economy. He reminded us legal immigration is a growth engine.

JOBS: Romney said 25 million Americans are out of work, but the government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does.

MANUFACTURING: Romney said manufacturing will come back to the U.S., but he did not explain how. Santorum thinks manufacturing is not competitive and tax rates should be lowered to zero and regulations should be repealed.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Romney claimed he successfully ran Staples, Bright Horizons Children’s Centers, and an Indiana steel mill. Some of the 100 different businesses he was involved with laid people off, but they also added tens of thousands of jobs. When Obama took over GM, he said, dealerships were closed, and he had the same experience. Gingrich accused Romney of making millions by laying off people and bankrupting companies. He appeared confused when he suggested electric coops and credits unions are government sponsored institutions.

HOUSING: Bachmann accused Gingrich of taking 1.6 million from Freddie Mac to influence Republicans into keeping the scam going. Gingrich did not deny earning 1.6 million and he said he liked “government sponsored enterprises” like Freddy Mac, because they made home ownership more affordable. He thinks it’s a conservative principle to help families buy homes. He now would break up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paul said government sponsored enterprises received excessive credit from the Fed under the Community Reinvestment Act. Money comes from taxpayers, and when they go broke, we bail them out. Huntsman complained of banks that are too big to fail.

ENERGY: Romney said we have energy resources and should give out permits to drill for natural gas and oil. Gingrich said the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to Houston will bring oil to the U.S. and create 20,000 American jobs. If not, the Canadians will send it to Vancouver, where it will be shipped to China. Huntsman wants to use natural gas to get rid of our heroin-like addiction to imported oil. Bachmann criticized Obama’s moratorium on Gulf drilling and supports Keystone. She thinks Obama opposes it, because he would lose the support of radical environmentalists.

HEALTH: Huntsman said he delivered on health care reform in his state, without a mandate.

BUDGET & TAXES: Paul said the budget is out of control because of earmarks, which he never voted for. He said there are two factions; the warfare group that wants cuts in welfare; and the welfare group wants to cut warfare. He would eliminate 1 billion in spending from the federal budget in the first year. Romney said the debt is now 15 trillion, and the President racked up as much as all others combined. Huntsman as governor delivered on a flat-tax, and refused to sign a no-tax-hike pledge. Perry supports a Balanced Budget Amendment and wants tax policies that help business become competitive. Bachmann pledged no new taxes, because we’ve been taxed enough. We cannot spend more than we take in.  Gingrich claimed to have balanced the federal budget and paid off 405 billion in debt.

JUDICIARY: Gingrich would subpoena judges before Congress as to controversial decisions and would impeach them. He said the courts have become dictatorial, too powerful, and arrogant. Jefferson abolished 18 of 35 federal judges in 1802. He thought it absurd to view the Supreme Court as supreme. Lincoln repudiated Dred Scott in 1861. Bachmann said the Founders wanted courts to be the least powerful branch. They do not have power to make law. She would appoint only judges who believe in the original intent of the Constitution. Paul said Congress can get rid of courts, but he questioned Congressional authority to subpoena judges, as this would violate the Separation of Powers. When Romney was accused of appointing Democrats to be judges in Mass., he said a 7-member council made the appointments. He promised to appoint prosecutors. He said Congress should not oversee judges, because they have less credibility. Perry’s favorite justices were Alito, Roberts, and Thomas. Romney added Scalia. Gingrich and Bachmann liked all four. Huntsman limited himself to Roberts and Alito. Paul said all of them have good and bad features. Perry called for a part-time Congress and a 50% cut in their salaries.

GAYS: Romney opposed discrimination against people based on sexual orientation. He also opposed same-sex marriage. Santorum said Romney issued gay marriage licenses, but Romney explained the Mass Constitution required him to do so.

GUNS: Romney signed an assault weapons ban, but is now pro-gun.

ABORTION: Romney changed his mind on abortion, saying he was a pro-choice governor, but realized he was wrong when he vetoed an embryo bill. He is now pro-life. Santorum, who is 100% pro-life from conception to death, said Gingrich could have defunded Planned Parenthood, but he chose not to. Gingrich insisted he has a 98.5% pro-life record. He said life begins at conception, when embryos are conceived. They should be regarded as life and not experimented with. He opposes partial-birth abortion.

RELIGION: Gingrich complained of a 9th Circuit ruling that said “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. He called the judges anti-American.

12/06/2011

Perry Should Not Be President

Texas Gov. Perry should not become the Republican nominee for President or VP, because his foreign policy would destroy the UN, violate international law, and expand our military role in the world. Perry does not understand economics. He would refuse to use Fiscal Policy during economic downturns. He would repeal corporate regulations that protect us all, and would not bust up entities too big to fail. His solution is to lower taxes for the rich, and increase them for the poor, by imposing a flat tax of 20% on all. He would not promote solar, but would instead advance gas and nuclear energy. On social issues, he would wreck Social Security Retirement, as we know it, by privatizing it. He would turn health care over to the states, and end federal Medicare and Medicaid. He would abolish the federal Dept of Education. On the issues, Texan Rick Perry simply does not deserve our vote.

FOREIGN POLICY: Perry asked why we contribute to the UN, and promised to defund it, a pledge that should work against him. He would use foreign aid to bribe recipients into approving U.S. foreign policy, right or wrong. Even though no nation attacked the U.S., or was named in a Congressional Declaration of War, Perry believes we are involved in a real war, and thinks nations at war have a right to use “enhanced interrogation techniques” to gather information, even though the Geneva Conventions we used in many previous conflicts, ban torture during wartime. Perry also has no reservation about continuing the use of Guantanamo Bay.

MIDEAST: Perry does not seem to realize America’s bipartisan foreign policy is dictated by Israel’s desire to disarm all Muslim countries in the Mideast, North Africa, and Asia. He is ignorant of the history of the Palestinian people, as he said their desire to seek statehood in the UN was a travesty. He would engage the U.S. in a No-Fly Zone over Syria. He would impose sanctions against Iran, and would shut down their economy, even though they did no harm to us. He actually thinks Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, are at work in Mexico, drawing up plans to come across our border.

ASIA: Perry lacks a vision of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He thought we are making progress in Afghanistan and wants to “complete the mission,” but failed to define what it is. After our nebulous mission is completed, he wants to maintain a presence, but failed to explain why. He opposes a timetable for withdrawal, saying it would telegraph a departure, but did not mention why that would be so bad. He never explained the point of staying in Afghanistan. As to neighboring Pakistan, ostensibly our ally, he said they can’t be trusted, and he wouldn’t give them a penny, until they showed they had our best interests in mind, even though Pakistan is a nuclear power we cannot alienate.

IMMIGRATION: Perry correctly placed blame on the federal government for not securing the 1,200-mile Texas border. He said it would take 15 years and 30 billion to build a fence. Since it is unrealistic to maintain a wall from Brownsville to El Paso, he recommended strategic fencing where it matters, and predator drones to direct boots on the ground. He opposed amnesty for illegals, and said businesses who hire them must be punished.

ECONOMY: Perry does not seem to have a handle on economics. He proclaimed the death of Keynesian fiscal policies for dealing with economic problems. He should have instead recognized that Fiscal Policy is sometimes necessary during economic downturns.

ANTITRUST: “If a company is too big to fail,” Perry said, “it is too big,” but then he failed to go to the next step, by promising to break up big corporations under federal Antitrust law.

JOBS: Perry wants to do away with regulations, because he thinks they kill American jobs, but he failed to identify any specific ones he would eliminate. While he said he wants to focus on the unemployed, he provided no plan for lowering joblessness. He thinks people will risk capital if taxes are lowered, and that will create employment, but President Bush tried that, and yet millions lost their jobs under his watch. Perry showed his true opposition to working people, by promising to eliminate the TSA union.

MANUFACTURING: Although Perry said he wants to bring manufacturing back, he failed to explain how he would do it. His proposal to eliminate the Commerce Dept. would certainly not help.

ENERGY: Perry rightly said we should not rely on oil producing countries. Without government subsidies, he thinks 1.2 million jobs could be created, through energy independence. He would repeal regulations that affect the energy industry, and would eliminate the Energy Dept. He would not invest in solar, like Obama did, but instead supports nuclear, saying France gets 70% of their energy from it. He thinks climate change is not science.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Perry is bad news for the seniors of the future. He considers SS a Ponzi Scheme, saying it was wrong from the very beginning. He thinks it’s a lie to tell young people they will receive benefits. In his book, he wrote it should not be a federal program. He would privatize it, and essentially destroy it.

HEALTH CARE: Perry would also repeal federal health care, by giving block grants to the states for Medicare, and letting them administer it, changes that would ultimately get the federal government out. Perry opposed Romney’s and Obama’s approach, saying people don’t want mandates. As to prescription drugs, he disagreed with President Bush for establishing Medicare Part D, but would not now repeal that unfunded budget busting program.

EDUCATION He would eliminate the federal Dept. of Education.

BUDGET-TAXES: Perry thinks a Balanced Budget Amendment is needed. He said we raise taxes, but don’t get spending down. He promised not to spend money we don’t have. He opposed Cain’s 999 tax plan. He said Texas has a 6.25% sales tax and no state wants a 9% federal sales tax on top of it. He would instead impose a flat tax of 20% on all personal and corporate incomes.

10/19/2011

Republican Debate: Nevada (10-18-11)

The Republican Presidential candidates debated in Nevada.

DEFENSE SPENDING: Ron Paul said there is a lot of money in the military budget that does no good. We have an empire with 900 bases in 150 countries, and would be safer if we were not in so many places. Why keep troops in Korea, Japan, or Germany? We have more weapons than all other nations combined, Paul said, enough to blow up the world 20 to 25 times. Bachmann said defense spending should be on the table, but not 500 million. Gingrich would determine our threats, and calculate the cost of a response. Santorum would not cut a penny of military spending.

AFGHANISTAN: Ron Paul said the U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan, because the Soviet Union was brought down by entering that country, and the same thing will happen to us.

FOREIGN AID: Romney said we spend more on foreign aid than we should, and we should let China do it, because it makes no sense to borrow from China to give aid to others. Paul would cut all foreign aid, including aid to Israel, saying the Constitution does not authorize it. Aid to Israel does not help, but only teaches dependency. We take from the poor, Paul said, and give to the rich in poor states. He said look at the aid we gave to Egypt. We spent billions pumping up a dictator, and yet they are hostile to us. Cain would give foreign aid to friends, like Israel, but not enemies. Bachmann opposed cutting foreign aid to Israel, since she believes they are our greatest ally.

ISRAEL: Bachmann incorrectly accused Obama of being the first president since Israeli independence to put daylight between our nations. (She never studied Eisenhower’s stand at Suez in 1956)

UN & PALESTINE: Perry thought it was a travesty for the Palestinian Authority to go to the UN to seek statehood. He asked why the U.S. is contributing to the UN. He would defund it.

LIBYA & IRAQ: Bachmann wants Libya and Iraq to reimburse us for the cost of bombing their countries. She wants our troops to have immunity for any and all wrongdoing committed in Iraq.

IRAN: Bachmann accused Iran of an attempted assassination on U.S. soil. The number one global issue, she said, is Iran and nuclear weapons. She called their leader a genocidal maniac, but offered no proof to back up her claim. Santorum also said our central threat is Iran. Neither candidate explained how or why they see Iran as a credible threat to the U.S.

TERROR: Paul said Reagan negotiated with Iranian terrorists for a return of hostages. Gingrich said Reagan made a mistake. Bachmann would not release anyone at Guantanamo. Can would not negotiate. Santorum would never negotiate, period.

WALL STREET: Cain had said: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job, and you are not rich, blame yourself.” He said Wall Street did nothing wrong; they did not spend a trillion for no good. Protesters should be in front of the White House, Cain said. Ron Paul accused Cain of blaming victims. He would protest in front of the Federal Reserve and in Washington. The bailout was supported by both parties, Paul said. They bailed out big corporations, who ripped off people in the derivatives market. They thought the world would end if we did not bail banks out. The middle class got stuck. Paul said if money was given out, it should have gone to people who lost their mortgages, not the banks. Romney called the protests dangerous class warfare, and said Obama is to blame over the past three years, as he says he has no idea how the private sector works.

HOUSING: Santorum said Romney, Perry, and Cain supported TARP. Cain said people on the top who took risks got bailed out in 2008, but the market should have been allowed to work. Perry wanted Congress to act, but did not want TARP. Santorum said Perry supported the particular TARP plan on the House floor. Romney said government should not give a couple thousand dollars to buy a new home, or to keep banks from foreclosing.

JOBS: Perry wants to focus on the 9% unemployed. Santorum said no more products “Made in America” hurts the middle class. Gingrinch wants America off food stamps and on paychecks. Romney said half the jobs created in Texas were filled by illegals.

IMMIGRATION: Texan Ron Paul said a fence is not the answer to illegal immigration. We worry more about the Afghan and Pakistan borders than our own, Paul said, and need to bring our National Guards home so they can guard our borders. Perry blamed the federal government for failing to secure the 1,200 mile Texas border, and for the huge number of illegals looking for jobs. Businesses who hire illegals ought to be penalized, Perry said. He does not want to repeal the 14th Amendment as to citizenship by birth. A fence could be built, Perry said, but it would take 15 years and 30 billion. He instead recommended strategic fencing where it matters, and predator drones to direct boots on the ground. Perry accused Romney of hiring illegals to work on his property, but Romney denied it, saying it’s hard to know if lawn care contractors employ illegals. When he learned they hired illegals, they were let go. Perry also accused Romney of offering amnesty to aliens. Romney said Perry was the one open to amnesty, and accused him of creating a magnet by giving aliens a $100,000 tuition credit, a practice that must end. We must stop employer magnets by enforcing E-Verify. Romney also said 4.5 million want to come here legally in an orderly way. He said Perry’s Texas had a 60% increase in illegal immigration, while California and Florida had none. Cain would build a fence and have it electrified. He would promote a path to citizenship, and shut the back door, so people could come in the front door. He wants to empower states. Bachmann accused Obama’s aunt and uncle of being illegal aliens. She took a pledge to build a wall, saying illegals cost 113 billion a year. She would also enforce English as the official language. She said they cross the border to have anchor babies and the welfare that come with it. Gingrich said to 50 million Latinos, not all of whom are illegal, that America is the most open nation to immigration in history.

ENERGY: Paul said it’s wrong for 49 states to dump nuclear garbage in Nevada. Romney said Nevadans should have the final say and not have it jammed down their throats.  He wants energy independence, using our own natural resources. France gets 70% of their energy from nuclear power, Perry said. He wants 1.2 million people working on energy. We shouldn’t rely on OPEC, saying we should be energy independent. We need not subsidize energy. Gingrich wants a safe way of take care of nuclear waste.

HEALTH CARE: Paul said we need more medical competition. Americans should be allowed to opt out of Obama’s health care. Bachmann said even the Obama Administration realized they cannot afford Long Term Care. Santorum said Obama failed to focus on the cost of health care, which is the real problem. He said Romney has no credibility, since Obama’s plan was basically his. Romney called Obama’s plan unconstitutional, which should be repealed, as it is a huge burden on the economy. He would turn Medicare over to the states. He said his plan for Mass. was not for the entire nation. The idea of the individual mandate came from Gingrich, Romney said. His state relied on private insurers. The uninsured got private not government insurance. When it comes to knowledge about health care, Romney said I am the doctor. Gingrich admitted supporting the individual mandate in opposition to Hillarycare, but the Heritage Foundation came up with the idea. He said a small business is Mass. is being ordered to pay a fine of $3,000 for not paying $750 month in premiums.

TAXES: Cain tried to defend his 999 tax plan, which would impose a 9% federal sales tax and repeal all tax breaks. He argued it would remove all hidden income taxes in goods and services, and was not a value-added tax, but a single tax, which was revenue neutral. He failed to convince anyone it would not raise taxes on those making the least. Bachmann, a tax lawyer, also wants to abolish the tax code, but said Cain’s 999 plan would destroy the economy. She warned if Congress was given a new sales tax, it would never go away. She argued it would be applied against products at every stage of production. Everyone should pay taxes, she said, even if it is only $1. Santorum said 84% of Americans would pay more under Cain’s plan, which eliminates all deductions and exemptions. Getting rid of deductions would mean those with home mortgages would pay more, and people with three children would pay the same tax as a single man. He favored cutting the tax rate for manufacturing to zero. Perry, whose state already has a 6.25% sales tax, said Nevada’s is 8%, and New Hampshire’s is 0%, but no state wanted a 9% federal sales tax; they want flatter and fairer taxes. Romney said to a cheering crowd, Nevada does not want a 9% federal sales tax on top of an 8% state sales tax.  Paul opposes Cain’s plan, because it is regressive and increase taxes. He would replace income taxes with nothing. Gingrich wants to reduce capital gains taxes to zero.

RELIGION: Perry disagreed with the pastor who said Mormonism is a cult. Romney said the Founders appreciated the Freedom of Religion. The Founders went to great length to create a nation with a Constitution that respected all.

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.

05/30/2011

Bosnia War Crime Trials Must Proceed

The Bosnian War (1992-95), a conflict that has never been easy to explain, is finally moving towards closure, with the arrest in Serbia of Bosnian-Serb military leader Ratko Mladic.

When the former Yugoslavia dissolved into six countries, namely: Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Serbia, some provinces did so in peace, but Bosnia had troubles, because their religions and ethnicities were a Balkanized mix of Bosnian-Muslim, Catholic-Croat, and Orthodox-Serb.

When the Bosnian-Muslims and Bosnian-Croats united to form a Federation, the Bosnian-Serbs set up their own Republika Srpska (RS). This triggered a Civil War (1992-95), during which the Bosnian-Serbs, forcefully removed Bosnian-Croats and Muslims from their homes, in what became known as an ethnic cleansing.

The UN failed to act militarily, because the issue was seen by China and Russia as an internal Yugoslavian affair. The Security Council did however set up the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to prosecute war crimes (1993).

After the Bosnian-Serbs attacked Sarajevo (1994), and under the lead of Ratko Mladic, slaughtered 8,000 defenseless Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica (1995), President Bill Clinton and other NATO country leaders finally used air power to stop the Serbs.

The Dayton Peace Accords (1995) recognized both the Bosnian Muslim-Croat Federation, and the Bosnian-Serb Republic (RS). The Federation now occupies 51% of Bosnia, while the RS Republic controls the other 49%, each with their own laws.

Since the war ended 16 years ago, the remaining task has been to bring justice to the victims, or their families, by prosecuting and convicting those who committed war crimes. Those commanders who ordered or allowed torture or murder, are individually responsible for breaching the rights of prisoners and civilians, under the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

Although it took 16 years to capture Mladic, there is no Statute of Limitations as to murder. After his extradition to the Netherlands, the judge must give him a few months to prepare for trial, but after that, the court must proceed promptly, as justice delayed is justice denied, and thus far, there has been no justice as to Mladic.

05/26/2011

Israel’s Netanyahu Offers Little Hope

If I was a Palestinian, this is what I would have heard, as Israeli Prime Minister Ben Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress.

He said Israel will not vacate the occupied territories by returning to the 1967 lines. “The border will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.”

He said certain occupied areas will be annexed by Israel. “650,000 Israelis, who live beyond the 1967 lines, reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and Greater Tel Aviv. These areas, as well as other places of critical and national importance, will be incorporated into the final borders of Israel.”

He told the Palestinian refugees, who had been driven from their homes, that there will be no right to return, and they will have to reside somewhere other than within Israel itself. “The Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel.”

He told the Palestinians, and the entire Islamic faith, the City of Jerusalem will never again be divided between Jews and Muslims, as it once was. “Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.”

He told the people of Gaza, Israel will never work with their elected leaders, people they chose in free, fair, and open elections.

He told the UN, a body to which Israel owes its very existence, and an organization that includes every nation on earth, that Israel will not accept a UN remedy. “The Palestinian attempt to impose a settlement through the UN will not bring peace.”

As he stated his uncompromising positions, he acknowledged it “would be difficult for the Palestinians,” and then also said, we must “find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians.”

To his credit, Netanyahu said: “The Palestinians…should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people in their own state…I publically committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: A Palestinian state, alongside the Jewish state.”

Although he said “I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace,” and later repeated: “I will be prepared to make a far reaching compromise,” the part of the speech he left out was what, if any, compromises he would actually make.

The problem with Netanyahu, and the Orthodox Likud Party, is their reliance on the Old Testament, instead of the UN Charter, and modern international law. He resorted to the Bible: “in Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers…This is the land of our forefathers, the land of Israel…Abraham…No distortion of history can deny the four thousand year-old bond, between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.”

Netanyahu’s 4,000-year claim to the occupied territories, based on who was there first, has no basis. Even if Abraham had led the Jews to Canaan in 1900 BC, the Canaanites were already there, since they arrived in 3000 BC. Today, the land would belong to the Arab descendants of Canaanites, who were there 5,000 years ago. Oh, by the way, if we are going to start using this type of logic, then Florida belongs to the Seminoles, the Iroquois own New York, and Texas has to be turned over to the Apache Indians.

Netanyahu failed to mention in his speech that after the Jewish Kingdom was established (1006 BC), many others subsequently conquered and occupied the area, including the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslim Arabs (since 7th Century), and Turks (1516-1918). The modern Jewish state, which is what we are talking about, did not come into existence until 1948.

Israel needs a new leader who has his head is in the 21st Century, and who respects the rule of international law. Once they find such a person, only then may there be a hope for a real and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

05/24/2011

Arab-Israeli 1967 War In Review

The 1967 Arab-Israeli War started as Israel launched a surprise attack against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Israel swept through the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, and on to the Suez Canal, where they broke a blockade by Egypt, in the Gulf of Aqaba, and at the Port of Elath. Following the war, Israel occupied the Sinai (Egypt), the Golan Heights (Syria), East Jerusalem, and the West Bank (Jordan). Up to 250,000 Palestinians became refugees.

Israel was censured by the UN Assembly (99-0, 20 abstentions). The UN Security Council found the taking of land by force illegal, and ordered a “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” (Res. 242, 1967). The U.S. also asked Israel to withdraw, and barred the use of U.S. economic aid in the occupied areas. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded by Yasir Arafat to resist Israel.

Israel ignored the UN, the U.S., the PLO, and international law, and started re-settling Jewish families in Arab Jerusalem, known as the Old City. The UN warned against changing the legal status of Jerusalem by conquest (Res. 252, 1968). They reminded Israel it is illegal under international law to expropriate land, or forcibly remove civilians (Res. 298, 1971). In a 14-0 vote, the Security Council directed Israel to return occupied East Jerusalem (1971).

Israel instead defiantly proceeded with 44 new settlements in the occupied territories, all started since 1967. 15 were in the Golan Heights, 15 in the West Bank, and 14 in Sinai and Gaza (1972).

Things changed in 1972 following a bombing raid, when the U.S. vetoed a Security Council Resolution censuring Israel. Since then, the U.S. vetoed another 40 odd resolutions critical of Israel. This explains why the Arabs and Muslims dislike U.S. foreign policy.

The Arabs tried to take back the occupied territories in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, but failed, mainly because Israel had superior firepower, supplied by the U.S. The UN nevertheless continued to demand an Israeli withdrawal (Res. 344, 1973).

In 1978, Israeli Prime Minister Begin proved a withdrawal to the 1967 borders could be accomplished. During the Egyptian-Israeli peace process, Egyptian leader Sadat insisted on an Israel withdraw from the occupied Sinai. After Prime Minister Begin, Sadat, and President Carter, signed the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty (1979), Israeli soldiers and civilians withdrew, and peace has existed along the Sinai border ever since.

But the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Golan Heights, and Jerusalem, remained occupied. The UN criticized settlements in the occupied areas, saying they violated the rights of civilians, under the Geneva Convention (Res. 446, 452, 1979, Res. 465, 1980).

When Israeli law was imposed upon Syrians in the occupied Golan Heights, the UN declared the act null and void, citing the Geneva Convention (Res 497, 1981).

In 1985, Arafat said the PLO would accept the Jewish state’s right to exist, if Israel would withdraw to the 1967 borders. The UN again called for a withdrawal, but Israel refused (Res. 592, 1986).

The UN deplored the killing of Palestinians in Jerusalem, and other occupied areas, in violation of the Geneva Convention (Res. 605, 1987). They also ordered Israel to stop deporting Palestinians (Res. 636, 641, ’89; Res. 694, ’91; Res. 726, 799, ‘92).

Another break came in 1994, when Israeli Prime Minister Rabin proved peace was possible, as he and President Clinton reached a agreement with Jordan (1994). After Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli extremist (1995), Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party came to power, and the peace process stalled, as Netanyahu lifted a ban on new settlements (1996).

Israel later built a Wall in and around occupied Jerusalem, which the International Court of Justice said was a de facto annexation, in violation civilian rights, under the Geneva Conventions. (2004).

When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it appeared that more progress was being made, but peace didn’t really have a chance, since Israel closed off all land, sea, or air access to the Gaza Strip, and denied Palestinians of a right to exist with their own leaders.

When President Obama suggested a withdrawal to the 1967 border in the West Bank, Netanyahu rudely lectured him, saying the 1967 line is indefensible. The truth is the current border is indefensible, as it has led to nothing but conflict for 44 years. Netanyahu’s fear-based approach will never work. Once the Palestinians no longer have a reason to be angry about an illegal occupation, only then may Israel enjoy peace and security. Since Netanyahu is unwilling to use the 1967 line, it’s time for a new Israeli leader, preferably one who listens more, and lectures less.