The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

The idea seems to be a meeting for meeting’s sake. We have watched this procedure for many years. Successive American presidents have undertaken to bring the two sides together. It is an American belief, rooted in Anglo-Saxon tradition, that if two reasonable, decent people get together to thrash out their differences, everything will fall into place. It’s almost automatic: meet – talk – agree. … Unfortunately, it does not quite work this way with conflicts between nations, conflicts that may have deep historical roots. In meetings between leaders of such nations, they often just want to hurl old accusations at each other, with the aim of convincing the world that the other side is utterly depraved and despicable. Kerry and Chutzpah

… IN ALL this bickering, one basic fact is ignored.

It’s that elephant again. The elephant in the room, whose existence Netanyahu denies and which Kerry is trying to ignore.

The occupation.

The assumption is generally made that the negotiations are between equals. In cartoons, Netanyahu and Abbas appear to be of equal size. The American picture of two reasonable people talking it out between themselves presupposes two more or less equal partners.

But this whole picture is basically false. The proposed “negotiations” are between an almighty occupying power and an almost totally powerless occupied people. Between the wolf and the lamb.

Iran DM: Israel Should Draw ‘Red Line’ For Its Own Nuclear Program

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Saturday that Israel should draw a “red line” for itself, instead of Iran, according to AFP.

In the context of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, Vahidi said that “if having the atomic bomb is passing the red line, the Zionist regime, that possesses dozens of nuclear warheads and weapons of mass destruction, has passed the red line years ago, and it has to be stopped.”

Netanyahu has been on an aggressive political and media campaign to get the United States to outline “red lines” in Iran’s nuclear program, beyond which would warrant military action. This, despite the fact that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

The controversy about some imaginary Iranian nuke has long been hyped out of proportion, with hawks warning about all the dire consequences of a nuclear Iran. But Israel possesses a significant arsenal of deliverable nuclear weapons itself, which are not officially acknowledged and are hidden from international inspectors.

“Is the occupying and aggressor Zionist regime that possesses nuclear weapons more dangerous? Or an Iran that doesn’t have nuclear weapons and which insists more than anybody on nuclear disarmament, and seeks only to have peaceful nuclear energy abiding by international rules?” Vahidi reportedly asked.

Iran has indeed repeatedly called for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East, something Israel has balked at for decades.

(Source: jayaprada, via randomactsofchaos)

Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran (2) | Vijay Prashad

If Israel was serious about the principle of a nuclear-free Middle East, it would immediately sign onto the most important proposal made in this UN General Assembly session thus far: when Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi called for the creation of a Nuclear Weapons Free zone in the region by the end of 2012. The problem is that Morsi’s proposal will be blocked by two powers: the US and Israel. A Nuclear Weapons Free Zone would mean that the US would not be able to bring its nuclear weapons to its bases in the Middle East nor can it use depleted uranium in the weapons that its ships carry into the Gulf. “The only solution is to get rid of nuclear weapons,” Morsi said, “and all weapons of mass destruction.” However, “we also emphasize the right of all countries of the region to the peaceful use of nuclear energy within the framework of the NPT, with a commitment to honor their obligations in this respect and provide the necessary guarantees to the countries of the region so as to remove any doubts surrounding their intentions.”

Morsi’s sensible suggestion is buried beneath the shoddy coverage in the US media that concentrates on Ahmadinejad’s antics (although he was uncharacteristically subdued this year) and on Bibi’s baseless threats. The UN Charter emphasizes that its role is to fight for disarmament, not simply conflict prevention. The Charter is closer to Allen Ginsberg’s advice to the US about atom bombs (in Howl) than it is to the cynical use made of its chamber by Colin Powell in 2003 and now Netanyahu.

The real reason [for the antipathy against Iran’s nuclear program] is not whether Iran can have a nuclear program (or even nuclear weapons), but who can do so. Four countries have nuclear weapons programs outside the NPT: India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan. Three of them are US allies and one of them sneaked under the barriers when no one was looking (the US was then obsessed with Iraq). Iran cannot have a nuclear program because, we are told, it might move this into a weapons direction and because it threatens its neighbors. This is a legitimate fear, but it is not unusual to Iran. One forgets that Cuba, for six decades, has lived with the fear of annihilation, with the political class in the US routinely and casually passing a death sentence on the beleaguered island. The question of an ‘existential threat,’ as the Israelis put it, has been held over Cuba without any eyebrows raised in Washington. The principle at work here is no longer that countries that threaten their neighbors should not have nuclear weapons. The point seems to be allies of the US/Israel are acceptable; non-allies are unacceptable. This is not a principled objection to Iran’s nuclear policy, but a political one. Vijay Prashad, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran

[Every] indication we have is that he is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with every ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. If anyone makes an opposite assumption or cannot draw the lines connecting the dots, that is simply not an objective assessment of what has happened. Saddam is hell-bent on achieving atomic bombs, atomic capabilities, as soon as he can. Benjamin Netanyahu, Let’s All, For a Moment, Remember Bibi’s Wisdom on Iraq 10 Years Ago

must read. (h/t arielnietzsche)

And today the United States must destroy the same regime because a nuclear-armed Saddam will place the security of our entire world at risk. And make no mistake about it — if and once Saddam has nuclear weapons, it is only a matter of time before those weapons will be used.

Bibi Netanyahu

Jim Lobe, Let’s All, For a Moment, Remember Bibi’s Wisdom on Iraq 10 Years Ago via LobeLog.com

What applies to U.S. neo-cons should also apply to the current prime minister of Israel who, given his many years of growing up and living in the United States, as well as his close personal relations with leading U.S. neo-cons, has either drunk the same kool-aid or helped to brew it up himself. (After all, it was in 2001 that Bibi was bragging about how easy the United States could be “moved to the right direction.”) And just like them, he is now leading the charge for war with Iran in ways that are not only increasing the chances of a major breach between the United States and Israel, as M.J. Rosenberg and other informed observers see it, but are also raising serious questions among the national-security elite in Israel about his fitness to lead.

[..]

It’s also worth remembering that Netanyahu testified before Congress on this issue five days after then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told the New York Times in reference to the administration’s push for a war resolution on Iraq, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t roll out new products in August.” In that context, Netanyahu’s testimony has to be seen as part of the administration’s public campaign to roll Congress. Bibi subsequently drew heavily on his testimony in an op-ed published on the Wall Street Journal’s neo-con editorial page (September 20, 2002) and in an interview with the Washington Times a month later (October 23). Let there be no mistake: Bibi was a big booster of “one of the biggest and costliest blunders in the history of U.S. foreign relations,” as Pillar describes it.

Read this.

(via arielnietzsche)

(via jayaprada)

Netanyahu Deputy Breaks With Prime Minister’s ‘Red-Line’ Views on Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s deputy for intelligence and atomic affairs on Thursday broke with the Netanyahu’s call for Iran to be confronted with a “red line” which would prompt a military attack.

In an interview, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor appeared to side with the United States in rejecting at Netanyahu’s repeated for threatening Iran with an ultimatum about halting enrichment or facing war.

“I don’t want to set red lines or deadlines for myself,” he said before voicing support for the Obama administration’s posture of harsh economic sanctions coupled with negotiations.

“You always consider other options, for when everything else is exhausted. And I think that, for now, we have to continue with the pressure.”

Netanyahu’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, has also appeared to side with the American posture in recent days, praising aggressive US military build-ups around Iran as well as the sanctions as measure that could do away with the need for military action now.

Netanyahu is increasingly isolated in his pro-war views, both with his US allies and in his own cabinet. He has acknowledged that the US won’t back a strike now, but still has pushed forward his in argument for war.

(Source: jayaprada)

I don’t think I’ve ever, in the 40 years I’ve been doing this, have heard of another … American ally trying to push us into war as blatantly—and trying to influence an American election as blatantly—as Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud party in Israel is doing right now. I think it’s absolutely outrageous and disgusting. It’s not a way that friends treat each other. And it is cynical and it is brazen. And by the way, a little bit of history here: In December of 2006, George W. Bush went over to the Pentagon, met with the joint chiefs of staff and asked them, “What do you think about military action in Iran?” They were unanimously opposed to it. And as far as I know, the United States military, the leaders of the United States military, are unanimously opposed to it to this day. This is a fool’s errand. It would be a ridiculous war with absolutely no good coming of it.

Joe Klein

h/t Sullivan

(via letterstomycountry)

Well, sort of, except:

When it comes to Iran, Washington’s regional preparations for war are staggering. The continual build-up of U.S. naval power in the Persian Gulf, of land forces on bases around that country, of air power (and anti-missile defenses) in the region should leave any observer breathless. There are U.S. special operations forces near the Iranian border and CIA drones regularly over that country. In conjunction with the Israelis, Washington has launched a cyberwar against Iran’s nuclear program and computer systems. It has also established fierce oil and banking sanctions, and there seem to have been at least some U.S. cross-border operations into Iran going back to at least 2007. In addition, a recent front-page New York Times story on Obama administration attempts to mollify Israel over its Iran policy included this ominous line: “The administration is also considering… covert activities that have been previously considered and rejected.” - Tom Engelhardt

(via mohandasgandhi)

Israeli Opposition Leader Slams Netanyahu for “Creating a Panic” for War on Iran

Israel’s Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz made a statement on Thursday railing against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of “creating a panic” and “executing a dangerous and irresponsible” rally “for a premature military adventure” against Iran.

In remarks during a session at the Knesset, Mofaz, with whom Netanyahu tried to form a coalition earlier this year, addressed the Prime Minister, saying, ”You are headed for a rash confrontation at an unnecessary cost while abandoning the home front. Over the past few months, Israel has waged an extensive and relentless PR campaign with the sole objective of preparing the ground for a premature military adventure.”

The calls for war from Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak have intensified in recent weeks, only to be rebuffed by the Obama administration who has reiterated several times that Iran still does not have a nuclear weapons program.

“This PR campaign,” Mofaz continued, “threatens to weaken our deterrence, and our relations with our best friends. Mr. prime minister, you want a crude, rude, unprecedented, reckless, and risky intervention in the US elections. Tell us who you serve and for what? Why are you putting your hand deep into the ballot boxes of the American electorate?

Mofaz condemned the Prime Minister’s cabinet for “making threats and sowing the seeds of fear and terror. Mr. prime minister, you are playing a dangerous and irresponsible game with the future of an entire nation.”

“Mr. prime minister, you’re creating panic. You are trying to frighten us and terrify us. And in truth – we are scared: scared by your lack of judgment, scared that you both lead and don’t lead, scare that you are executing a dangerous and irresponsible policy.

Mofaz also warned of the possible retaliation Israeli civilians would face in the event of an unprovoked attack on Iran for a nuclear weapons program it doesn’t have. His firm criticisms serve as a reminder that much of the political spectrum in Israel, along with the great bulk of the Israeli defense establishment, vehemently disagree with Netanyahu’s drive for war.

(Source: jayaprada)

Netanyahu pledges to build larger settlement | Al Akhbar

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Wednesday to rebuild an illegal settlement in the West Bank, after parliament voted down a bill to legalize all outpost settlements.

The bill would have prevented the destruction of Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood, home to 30 families, which the Israeli High Court has said must be destroyed as it is built on Palestinian land.

The right-wing leader said that while he was in favor of the demolition, he promised to build a larger settlement elsewhere in the area.

"Beit El will be expanded, the 30 families will remain in Beit El, and 300 new families will join them," Netanyahu said after the vote.

"There is no government that supports or will support settlement more than the government I lead," he added.

International law considers all Jewish settlements built in the West Bank illegal, but Israeli law distinguishes between settlements it has approved and those it has not.

But the Palestinians are still the problem.

In surprise move, Netanyahu, Mofaz agree to form unity government, cancel early elections | Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition chairman MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) reached a surprise agreement early Tuesday morning to form a national unity government.

The move came as the Knesset was preparing to disperse for early elections, which were expected to be scheduled for September 4.

Under the agreement, Kadima will join Netanyahu’s government and commit to supporting its policies through the end of its term in late 2013. Mofaz is expected to be appointed deputy prime minister, as well as minister without portfolio.

In exchange, Netanyahu’s government will support Kadima’s proposal to replace the Tal Law, which enables ultra-Orthodox youth to defer national service.

The sides also agreed on instituting changes to Israel’s electoral system.

Meretz head Zahava Gal-On expressed outrage over the surprise move, calling it a “mega-stinking maneuver by a prime minister who wants to avoid elections and a desperate opposition chairman facing a crash.” […]

Shaul Mofaz was elected head of Kadima less than two weeks ago, when he defeated former party head Tzipi Livni in the party’s leadership primary.

In an interview with Haaretz ahead of the primary, Mofaz insisted that, if elected, he would not join a government led by Netanyahu.

“Kadima under my leadership will remain in the opposition. The current government represents all that is wrong with Israel, I believe. Why should we join it?” he said at the time.