Saturday, January 21, 2017

My Thoughts onTrumps's Inauguration Speech

"Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!" Trump tweet following UNSC resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016

That pre-inaugural tweet really says it all, but, for what they're worth, here are my (gloomy) thoughts on aspects of Trump's blatantly populist, no-specifics inauguration speech of 20/1/17:

* "We are transferring power from Washington DC and giving it back to you, the people... January 20, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again."

Total bullshit, of course.

* "For many decades, we've... subsidized the armies of other countries... That is past."

And the US$38 billion dollars worth of arms Obomber pledged to Israel last year?

* "From this day forward, it's going to be only America first, America first."

First to veto any resolution critical of Israel in the UN Security Council, that is.

* "We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones - and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth."

It's the reinforcing of old alliances that particularly worries me. As for "radical Islamic terrorism," you'll be reading the riot act to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, right? Oh yeah....

* "At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America..."

And the bedrock of our Middle East policy will be a total allegiance to Israel.

* "The Bible tells: 'How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity'... We are protected by God..."

OFFS... God's on our side.

* "Now arrives the hour of action."

Chaos, confusion and disorder, your time has come.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Obomber: Image & Reality

The image:

"Against a backdrop of stars and stripes and presidential seal flags, Obama stood at the podium at the White House for the very last time. Over eight years, at this spot, he has addressed the nation through highs and lows, sometimes choking with emotion when responding to incidents of gun violence." (Barack Obama's final press conference pep talk: 'I think we're going to be OK', theguardian.com,

The reality:

"As President Obama leaves office, much of his foreign policy record remains shrouded in the symbolism that has been the hallmark of his presidency. The persistence of Obama's image as a reluctant war-maker and a Nobel Peace Prize winner has allowed Donald Trump and his cabinet nominees to claim that Obama has underfunded the military and been less than aggressive in his use of US military might. Nothing could be further from the truth, and their claims are clearly designed only to justify even more extravagant military spending and more aggressive threats and uses of force than those perpetrated under Mr Obama's 'disguised, quiet, media-free' war policy.

"The reality is that Obama has increased US military spending beyond the post-World War II record set by President George W. Bush. Now that Obama has signed the military budget for FY2017, the final record is that Obama has spent an average of $653.6 billion per year, outstripping Bush by an average of $18.7 billion per year (in 2016 dollars). In historical terms, after adjusting for inflation, Obama's military spending has been 56% higher than Clinton's, 16% higher than Reagan's, and 42% more than the US Cold War average, when it was justified by military competition with a real peer competitor in the Soviet Union. By contrast, Russia now spends one-tenth of what we are pouring into military forces, weapon-building and war.

"What all this money has paid for is the polar opposite of what most of Obama's supporters thought they were voting for in 2008. Behind the iconic image of a hip, sophisticated celebrity-in-chief with strong roots in modern urban culture, lies a calculated contrast between image and reality that has stretched our country's neoliberal experiment in 'managed democracy' farther than ever before and set us up for the previously unthinkable 'post-truth' presidency of Donald Trump.

"Obama's doctrine of covert and proxy war was modeled on the Phoenix Program in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s and Ronald Reagan's proxy wars in Central America in the 1980s. It involved a massive expansion of US special operations forces, now deployed to 138 different countries, compared with only 60 when Obama took office. As senior military officers told the Washington Post in June 2010, the Obama administration allowed, 'things that the previous administration did not,' and, They are talking publicly much less but they are acting more. They are willing to get aggressive much more quickly.' Whenever possible, US forces have recruited and trained proxy forces to do the actual fighting and dying, from the Iraqi government's Shiite death squads to Al Qaeda splinter groups in Libya and Syria (supporting 'regime change' projects in those countries) to mercenaries serving Arab monarchies and seemingly endless cannon fodder for the war in Afghanistan.

"Obama's ten-fold expansion of drone strikes further reduced US casualties relative to numbers of foreigners killed. This fostered an illusion of peace and normality for Americans in the homeland even as the death toll inflicted by America's post-9/11 wars almost certainly passed the two million mark. The targets of these covert and proxy wars are not just guerrilla fighters or 'terrorists' but also the 'infrastructure' or 'civilian support mechanism' that supports guerrillas with food and supplies, and the entire shadow government and civil society in areas that resist domination. As a US officer in Iraq explained to Newsweek in 2005, 'The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving the terrorists. From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation.' [...]

"Obama's failure was the result of his deference to generals, admirals, the CIA and hawkish advisers like secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, and of his blind faith in US military power. But war was never a legitimate or effective response to terrorism. The misuse of military force has only spread violence and chaos across the Muslim world and spawned an explosive mix of political disintegration, rule by militias and warlords, a dizzying proliferation of armed groups with different interests and loyalties and, ultimately, more blowback for the West. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Israel, Qatar and other 'allies' have been only too eager to exploit and redirect our aggression against their own enemies: Iran, Syria, Libya; and different ethnic groups, minorities and political movements in what was, for centuries, a diverse, tolerant region of the world. The US has become a blind giant stumbling through a thick forest of shadows and unseen dangers, striking out with its devastating war machine at the instigation of self-serving allies and the same dark forces in its own 'intelligence' bureaucracy who have stirred up trouble, staged coups and unleashed war in country after country for 70 years. The only consistent beneficiary in all this death, destruction and chaos is the 'military industrial complex' that President Eisenhower warned us against in his farewell address in 1961.

"In 2012, I researched and wrote about how General Dynamics CEO Lester Crown and his Chicago family backed and bankrolled the political career of Barack Obama. As manufacturers of Virginia class submarines, Arleigh Burke and Zumwalt destroyers and littoral combat ships (all programs saved, revived or expanded by Obama) as well as other types of munitions, the Crown family's patronage of Barack Obama has proven to be a profitable investment, from the violence and chaos in the Muslim world to the New Cold War with Russia to the 'pivot' to the South China Sea. Now Mr Trump has nominated General Dynamics board member, General James 'Mad Dog' Mattis as Secretary of Defense, despite his responsibility for illegal rules of engagement and systematic war crimes in Iraq, an obvious conflict of interest with the millions he has earned at General Dynamics and clear laws that require civilian control of the military.

"When will we ever learn to tell the difference between corrupt warmongers like Obama and Mattis and progressive leaders who will let us live in peace with our neighbors around the world, even at the expense of General Dynamics' profits?" (Obama's bombing legacy, Nicolas J.S. Davies, antiwar.com, 18/1/17)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Joe Blow

George Carlin once said: "Bullshit is the glue that binds us as a nation."

If so, it's the msm that dispenses the bullshit.

Take for example, journalist Laura Gambino's panegyric on Joe Biden in The Guardian:

"The vice-president will leave office with a favorable image and a reputation as authentic, a rare attribute for a politician, let alone a longtime establishment one." (Joe Biden brought laughs, gaffes & authenticity to White House, 19/1/17)

For the real Joe Biden, we must go to the alternative media:

"Joe Biden was a terrible senator... He was, throughout his career, a tool of the Zionist lobby. He once had lunch with a foreign policy person I knew to discuss the Middle East. I asked him if he was one of those people who criticize Israel in private, but then says that he can't say it in public. He said, 'No, he speaks in AIPAC talking points in private and in public.' He has a history of plagiarism, fake claims and fabrications. He has no legislative record to speak of. He is annoying and sleazy. Yet liberals are in love with him because they have no one else to love." (The liberal love for Joe Biden, The Angry Arab News Service, 18/1/17)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Our Debt to Israel

Italy had its Oriana Fallaci, Britain's got its Melanie Phillips, and, not to be outdone, Australia's got... Jennifer Oriel:

"Thank God for Israel. If it weren't for the Jews, the UN would have to battle despots, communists and Islamists." (Say goodbye to a UN that attacks the free world, The Australian, 9/1/17)

How lucky are we, who live in the "free world," to have "the Jews" battling "despots, communists and Islamists" on our behalf?

How fortunate that these Israeli brave hearts should do what they do, solely for our benefit, solely to protect us from the gathering Forces of Darkness... out there... in the night.

How fortunate, too, that we have Jennifer Oriel to remind us of their sacrifice. Because, without it, how could we possibly sleep at night?

So what exactly is it that they do?

Gideon Levy tells us:

"What do you call a regime that every night drags people from their beds? How would you label mass detentions without a warrant? How would you define brutal home searches in the dead of night, some of which have no purpose except as training exercises? What should we call such acts, which the army, the border Police and the Shin Bet security service carry out nightly? What should we call the state in whose name they act - a democracy, the only one in the Middle East? Do you recall dark regimes, think of Latin American juntas, are shocked by Turkey? Welcome to Israel's occupation of the West bank, night after night, just a short drive from your home.

"Each morning, in its Twitter account, the IDF describes its misdeeds of the previous night with a touch of pride: 'During the night our forces arrested wanted men who are suspected of popular terror activities and violent disturbances. They were handed over to the security forces for interrogation.' Wanted men, popular terror, disturbances - the language is polished yet stilted, with childish Hebrew acronyms that seem to conceal a secret. The wording is formulaic, without naming or otherwise disclosing the humanity of the detainees. The army is like a nighttime hunter who each morning displays his nightly catch. Last week there was a night with 23 arrests, 14 the previous week, 10 and 11 in the weeks before that. There is no night without such abductions. Who are they? What did they do? Who cares? They are all part of the 'popular terror' movement, all of them now in the hands of the security services.

"Sometimes, there's a special treat: 'Last night our forces sealed off an apartment and a warehouse in Nablus, which had served for the preparation of terror explosive devices.' Explosive devices? An apartment, a warehouse? By what authority? Nablus is in Area A, supposedly controlled by the Palestinians, but who cares about such trifles? Occasionally there is money involved. 'During the operations of the Etzion Territorial Brigade, our sources seized thousands of shekels that were used to finance terror. These were transferred to the security services.' Sometimes it borders on the grotesque: 'The forces of the Ephraim Territorial Brigade also arrested a person suspected of violent and disorderly conduct in which he climbed onto an army vehicle two months ago. He was sent for interrogation by security forces.' He climbed on a vehicle? Should we laugh, or cry?

"To anyone familiar with the nature of these operations, there is nothing funny about them. They are stomach-turning. Hundreds of thousands of people live in constant terror: children who wet their beds, parents who are afraid to even close an eye. The soldiers blow up the doors of the homes and invade. Before you can even understand what is happening there are dozens of armed men, their faces sometimes covered, in your home, in your bedroom, in your children's bedrooms, in the bathroom. This is how the nightmare begins, the search and the arrests, with neither an explanation nor a court order.

"Sometimes the occupants are pulled out of their home and into the street, without being allowed to get dressed. Occasionally a father is beaten in front of his children. Frequently belongings are broken. All accompanied by bullying and humiliation. Tear gas is often sprayed at the neighbors, outside. These are traumatic experiences for any human being. There is no Palestinian who has not experienced it. There is no Israeli who can imagine it. I once spent a night in the Jenin refugee camp. When soldiers approached the home I was staying in, I almost died of fright. In the end they did not come in, but I will never forget those moments of terror. That's only the beginning of the nightmare. Then the 'wanted person' is taken, handcuffed and blindfolded, for an interrogation whose end is difficult to predict. It will go on for weeks and it will involve humiliation and torture, sometimes without any foundation. Nearly one million Palestinians have been arrested in this manner in the course of the occupation. Nearly one million.

"The Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported last week, based on a United Nations report, that between October 4 and October 17 there were 178 such nighttime raids, around 14 each night. This, in a time of relative calm, apart from the lone-wolf attacks that no raid can prevent. A girl who seeks to die won't be arrested at night. The nighttime terror may actually drive others to another desperate attack.

"Every night, while you were sleeping. And afterward there are more Israelis who dare to claim - out of ignorance or chutzpah - that the occupation is over, or at least that discussing it bores them." (Good morning from the Israeli army's Twitter account, Haaretz, 6/11/16)

So next time you go to bed for a good night's sleep, spare a thought for those on the front line, in far-away Israel, who are making it all possible. Thank God for Israel! And bless you, Jennifer.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Be Very Afraid: Trump on the Middle East

The late (2008), great George Carlin once quipped: "When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front-row seat." Could there be a more apt description of the coming Trump administration than 'freak show'?

What would Carlin, who famously remarked that so many people were either stupid, or full of shit, or fucking nuts, and that one-time presidential wannabe Dan Quayle was all three, have said about Donald Trump?

OK, so brace yourselves. Here, from The Trump interviews: what he said about Brexit, Putin, Israel, Syria... & Twitter (Kate Connolly, theguardian.com, 16/1/17) is Trump on the Middle East. (Note the highlighted words.):

Iran:

"The Times: Trump said he would not reveal the details of his policy - 'I just don't want to play the cards' - but reiterated his attack on Barack Obama's landmark deal with Iran on nuclear weapons. 'I'm not happy with the Iran deal, I think it's one of the worst deals ever made, I think it's one of the dumbest deals I've ever seen... Where you give... $150bn back to a country, where you give $1.7bn in cash. Did you ever see $100m in hundred dollar bills? It's a lot. $1.7bn in cash. Plane loads'."

Just read that over and over again...

Syria:

"The Times: Trump was critical of Obama for failing to restrain Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Putin in their war on rebel forces in the country. The US could have made them stick to 'a line in the sand' but now it was 'too late' and the lack of western intervention had helped to create a humanitarian crisis. 'Aleppo was nasty. I mean when you see them shooting old ladies walking out of town - they can't even walk and they're shooting 'em - it almost looks like they're shooting 'em for sport - ah no, that's... a terrible situation.'

"Bild: Trump said he thought security zones should have been set up in Syria. 'That would have been considerably cheaper. And the Gulf states should have had to pay for them. After all, they have money like hardly anyone else has. The whole thing would have been considerably cheaper than the trauma that Germany is now going through. I would have said: create security zones in Syria'."

What the hell Trump was watching here is anyone's guess. As for the Gulf states, they are, of course, among those US clients directly responsible for the refugee-generating murder and mayhem in Syria.

Iraq:

"The Times: The invasion of Iraq in 2003, he said, was 'possibly the worst decision' ever made in American history. 'It's like throwing rocks into a beehive'."

I'd like to think Trump will hold this thought long enough to prevent a repeat performance elsewhere in the Middle East but I seriously doubt his attention span is up to it.

Middle East & Jared Kushner:

"Bild: Trump said that he would appoint Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, to broker a Middle East peace deal. Asked what role Kushner would play, Trump said: 'You know what? Jared is such a good lad, he will secure a good deal which no one else has managed to get. You know, he's a natural talent, he is the top, he is a natural talent. He has an innate ability to make deals, everyone likes him.' Kushner's wife, Trump's daughter Ivanka, would not have any role in government, he said. She currently 'has the kids' and was busy buying a house in Washington.

"He said the Obama administration's decision to abstain in the UN Security Council vote on Israeli settlements in December 'was terrible' and said that Britain should have vetoed the resolution instead of voting in favour. He said he was hopeful that Britain would veto an upcoming resolution on Israel that could be presented this week. 'I would hope for a British veto, because I am not sure the US would do so - extraordinarily enough. They won't do it, right? Do you believe the US will place a veto? I have Jewish friends who organised a donor event for Obama. I say to them: 'What on earth are you doing? Okay - what are you doing?'

"He refused to be drawn on whether he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 'I'm not going to comment on that. But we'll see'."

As George Carlin also said: "In America, anyone can become president. That's the problem."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Jews Who Don't

If Zionism dictates that Palestinians must be out, it just as strongly dictates that Jews must be in. And, in the case of the latter, woe betide any Jew who doesn't get with the Zionist program. This "EXCLUSIVE" report comes from today's Australian:

"A Sydney mayor has refused a personal invitation to attend the annual Great Synagogue Law Service, citing Israel's 'illegal" actions in the West Bank, which he says 'will cause endless terrorism across the globe, including here.' Peter Abelson, the Mayor of Mosman on Sydney's lower North Shore, has in return been accused of anti-Semitism by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, which said he was not effectively representing Jewish residents in the area. 'Thank you for your invitation to the Great Synagogue Law Service for 2017. I will not be attending,' Dr Abelson wrote to the synagogue's rabbi, Benjamin Elton, earlier this month. 'I should express my deep personal concern about the gross and illegal occupation of the West Bank which creates intense international division and bitterness, and, unresolved, will cause endless terrorism across the globe, including here.'

"Writing in response to Dr Abelson, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said: 'We are appalled that you would refuse to represent the Jewish constituents of your ward because of your views on the Israeli-Palestine conflict.' Mr Alhadeff's letter accused the mayor of anti-Semitism, citing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition, a section of which defines the term as 'holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.' He also rejected Dr Abelson's characterisation of Israel's actions.

"Dr Elton, who has invited nearby mayors and all NSW federal and state parliamentarians to the event, was shocked by Dr Abelson's response: 'Sometimes people decline with thanks, but to receive a reply with a stark message that attacked Israel's policies... I'm astonished really. 'The policies of the state of Israel is another discussion. To boycott a Jewish event in Sydney because of the actions of Israel, that's a form of anti-Semitism.'

"Dr Abelson, a PhD in economics who has spent time in northern Israel and worked as an adviser to the NSW Treasury, said he attended all the events he could within his council area and described accusations of anti-Semitism as 'nonsense'. 'There are large numbers of people, Jews around the world, who respect Jews and Jewishness, who are critical of the occupation of the West Bank. To say someone who is critical of the [occupation of] the West Bank is anti-Jewish is just nonsense - My father's family was wholly Jewish,' he said. 'I don't think my views are that important. I'm mayor, I run Mosman... for the people of Mosman. There is no discrimination against Jewish or any other race in Mosman'." (Rabbi pans mayor's anti-Israel boycott, Sam Buckingham-Jones)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Politicians Who Fly Under the MSM Radar

Not all frequent-flying Australian politicians get the media scrutiny they deserve:

"A few weeks ago, I was pleased to receive updates from Michael Borowick and Adam Slonim, the co-convenors of the Australia-Israel Labor Dialogue (AILD), which had just completed two successful missions to Israel - a trade union mission and its first-ever Innovation Mission, led by senator Kim Carr,* a prominent figure in the left-wing faction of the Labor Party. All who care about the Australia-Israel relationship must care that members and representatives of the ALP understand Israel and its unique history and precarious situation better, which makes tours run by AILD, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and others so important." (Stop tarring Israel's critics as Israel's enemies, Dean Sherr, The Australian Jewish News, 13/1/17)

[First rambammed in 2010.]