Deja vu - Judith Apter Klinghoffer
Dr. Judith Apter Klinghoffer taught history and International relations at Rowan University, Rutgers University, the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing as well as at Aarhus University in Denmark where she was a senior Fulbright professor. She is an affiliate professor at Haifa University. Her books include Israel and the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East: Unintended Consequences and , International Citizens' Tribunals: Mobilizing Public Opinion to Advance Human Rights
This is the message of this op-ed Jerusalem Post piece by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook. I so wish it would not be so and I so hope an elected leadership would change matter. In the meantime - Here goes:
The Western world sees Hamas as a terrorist organization seeking Israel's destruction, but treats the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a peace partner, either actual or potential, for Israel. The fact that Israel continues to seek contact with PA leaders heightens the clear distinction made between the PA and Hamas.
But the distance between Hamas and the PA has been shrinking for years. And the way the PA has responded to the killing of Yassin shows just how close the two groups actually are. The PA has gone far beyond its expected level of condemnation of the killing, and has eulogized Yassin as a leader representing all the Palestinian Authority.
PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, for example, told PA TV that just as"Yassin united the Palestinians in his life he united them again in his death." Yasser Arafat's official daily, Al Hayat Al Jadida, published a cartoon of a wheelchair shaped as a map of what the PA calls"Palestine" (which erases all of Israel) thereby stating graphically that Yassin and"Palestine" are one and the same.
In an unprecedented move, PA television ceased all regular programming for days, and except for brief news reports broadcast only slides of the Koran sung to mournful tunes. In the Arab world, this Koran broadcasting is usually reserved for the deaths of heads of state, as was done on Syrian TV after the death of Hafez Assad. That PA TV treated Yassin in this fashion demonstrates his elevated stature among PA leadership and PA society.
Anyone listening to PA leaders' pronouncements in Arabic over the years has recognized that there never was a meaningful ideological divide between the PA and Hamas. It is well understood, for example, that Hamas believes Islam demands Israel's destruction. As the Hamas charter states,"Palestine is an Islamic Wakf the liberation of Palestine is an individual duty binding on all Muslims everywhere."
Less noted is that PA religious leaders have repeatedly made identical rulings. Even when the Oslo Accord appeared to be in its heyday, Yousuf Abu Sneinah, preacher of Al-Aksa Mosque, issued this ruling on PA TV:"The land of Palestine is a Wakf for all The liberation of Palestine is an obligation for the entire Islamic nation" (April 30, 1999).
The perception is that a difference between Hamas and the PA is that the latter, at least in principle, had given up using violence to reach its political goals. Yet it was Arafat who said in 1999, literally anticipating the current terror war:"The agreements won't liberate the land. Every centimeter needs struggle, and the land needs blood" (Al Hayat Al Jadida, January 25, 1999).
When Hamas started using suicide terrorists to kill Israelis in 1996, the PA condemned the killings in English. But in Arabic, PA leaders made it clear that there was no difference in attitude, only a division of labor.
Muhammad Dahlan, then head of Preventive Security in Gaza, said that the presence of Hamas"is important and essential in the cooperation in the building." Hani Alhasan, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, explained the role of Hamas:"Unity is in the nature of construction, and it is incumbent upon us to divide the work among the builders." (Al Ayyam, August 31, 1997).
As long ago as 1997, after the bombing at Tel Aviv's Apropos cafe, a member of the PA Legislative Council expressed his condolences to the family of the suicide bomber during a session of the Legislature, and"his words were interrupted by the applause of the members of the [PA Legislative] Council" (Al Hayat Al Jadida March 27, 1997). It should be stressed that all this cooperation was openly expressed in PA society long before the current terror war began in October 2000.
After starting the terror war, the PA completely erased any differences between the"builders" by creating its own suicide terror unit, the"Aksa Martyrs Brigade," which has committed numerous suicide terror attacks identical to those of Hamas.
IF THERE is any difference today between Hamas and the PA, it's in their attitudes toward temporary agreements with Israel.
While the Hamas charter states,"There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by jihad," the PA has argued that temporary agreements can be used to gain strategic territory from which to fight more easily for Israel's destruction.
Then PA minister Abdel Aziz Shahin explained this just months before the PA started the terror war:"The Oslo agreements [were] a foothold and not a permanent settlement, since war and struggle on the land is more efficient than a struggle from a distant land... The Palestinian people will continue the revolution until they achieve the goals of the '65 revolution..." that is, the destruction of Israel (Al-Ayyam, May 30 2000).
Faisal Husseini called the Oslo Accords a"Trojan Horse... the Oslo agreement, or any other agreement, is just a temporary procedure... according to the higher strategy [Palestine is] 'from the river to the sea.'" (Al-Arabi Egypt, June 24, 2001).
Today, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas both embrace the use of terror to fight Israel. The only meaningful difference between them is the acceptance or rejection of political process as a vehicle to destroy Israel.
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 01:04
The US Asian balancing act is getting more and more complex. The US needs to save Musharef by extending goodies to his army and at the same time develop close ties with the new Asian and thank god democratic giant, India. Parallels with Israel are hard to avoid despite the obvious difference in size. Ram Naharayan is running a terrific website which keeps excellent track of the Indian view of this developing relationship. It's worth visiting.
Posted on Friday, March 26, 2004 - 21:32
This is a must read -
It is of common knowledge that democracy cannot be established in one day. But, one day, the process of democratization must begin. This day has now arrived to the Middle East. Middle Eastern societies are facing a painful, dramatic and decisive choice between democracy and Islamocracy. It is not that the Middle East is a particularly fertile terrain for democracy, but rather because democracy is a necessity. Currently, the Islamic world is producing Oil, Terrorism and Emigration. This 'Islamic Bermuda Triangle' represents a major challenge to the world. Until recently, a combination of oil and despotism was tolerated and even supported by western powers; particularly by the USA. The global terrorism, the perpetual waves of emigration, the attempts to access of nuclear weapons, and the propagation of Islamism as a new totalitarian ideology which is claiming the conquest of the world by all means is too much to be ignored.
Unfortunately, it is illusory to think that the change in Muslim societies will come from within, alone. Four interrelated factors are hindering a successful internal and autonomous change: oriental despotism, the rentier economy, the domination of Islam, and external interventionism. These elements constitute a Gordian knot which can only be cut off by Alexander's sword. The USA's intervention in both Afghanistan and Iraq must be understood as an imperative chirurgical intervention to break this vicious chain. American plans to democratize the 'wider Middle East' are also a proposed remedy to the agony of Muslims. During decades, Americans have been strongly criticized for their support to dictatorial regimes. Now, when Americans are firmly demonstrating their will for democratization of the Middle East, they are again accused being too ambitious, too naïve and hypocritical! In this respect, Professor Amitai Etzioni refers to the Bush administration's plans as an 'American Fantasy' (Herald Tribune, March 5, 2004). The fantasy is rather to await the process of democratization to start by itself and to progress slowly, gently and peacefully from within the Middle Eastern societies. It is not so much because demands for democracy, justice and humanity are absent from the Middle Eastern arena. Forces for democracy in this region are under an organized, systematic and deep going repression. American plans cannot make miracles. Nevertheless, they do make a difference and they have especially changed the agenda. Already the paradigm has changed in the Middle East. For the first time in history, democracy figures on the agenda. Dynamism is going to replace stagnation and brutality gives place for dialogue. This is not a fantasy; it is a fact and it is real. The constitution of Afghanistan is now in place. The transitory constitution of Iraq is signed. Of course it is not fully conformed to Max Weber's ideal type of democracy; but there is no doubt that it will be moving in this direction.
The new wave of democratization is so strong that Arab and Muslim autocrats are trembling. In the name of national, cultural and religious identity, president Mubarak of Egypt together with president Assad of Syria and the Saudi family tries to build up a 'Refusal front'. It is astonishing that each time claims on freedom of speech, free elections and gender equality strongly arises, Arab and Muslim leaders immediately resort to counter attacks, considering these claims to be in contradiction with their culture and identity. What they are saying is actually that despotism and repression is more conform to Islamic and Arab values than democracy and liberty! They also argue that democracy should not be imposed from the outside. If demands for change comes from the outside, it is because nothing has been done in this direction by Middle Eastern autocrats who have been holding on to power for decades. Instead of a Philadelphian inspired democracy, they are looking for Islamocracy. Islamocracy or 'Islamic democracy' as president Khatami of Iran formulated it means selection instead of election, a parliament without real attributes, a judiciary without independence, political parties without liberty, and mass communication without a voice.
The time for Islamocracy is over and the waves of democratization have finally reached the shores of the wider Middle East. Max Weber would be delighted to witness the result of this historical experience.
Posted on Friday, March 26, 2004 - 21:37
Sometimes even the French get it right. Last night French channel 2 covered the child suicide bomb attempt with amazing accuracy. It not only showed the tape but noted that the child looked under developed and that only the previous day Israel intercepted a 11 year old who was given a dollar to carry a bomb accross a check-point. Israel released the boy. Use of children for such purposes noted the reporter is a war crime according to international law. Tonight channel 2 reported the parents of the 14 year suicide bomber wannobe held a news conference in which they said they old were not aware of his intention but failed to condemn suicide bombing. They merely suggested that he should have waited a few more years!
The BBC and the NYT coverage continued its well noted tradition of objectivity by adopting the PA line described bellow that Israel is"expoiting" the youth for propaganda purposes though NYT admitted that it was a Palestinian camera man who happened to be at the scene who filmed the events.
To understand the full dimension of the tragedy of the Palestinian people, one have to watch the documentary Relentless which not only shows the systematic indoctrination of school children to become human bombs but also Arafat giving a speech in which he tells his people:
"If you are tired (of the intifada), give me your children. Give me your children."
.God save us all!
Posted on Friday, March 26, 2004 - 21:47
By killing the leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, on March 22, Israel eliminated the most important terrorist leader who has been waging war against it. Yasin always made it clear that he was dedicated to destroying the state of Israel and killing its citizens wherever they could be found. He reaped the whirlwind he had created.
Yasin founded Hamas in the mid-1980s as a radical Islamist group opposed to any compromise or peace with Israel. The organization's Charter is full of hatred against Jews and uses the most antisemitic language. While among Palestinians it engaged in educational and social work to win adherents for its cause--and principally to identify and psychologically manipulate young people into becoming suicide bombers--the group's political tactics were terrorist, intended to kill the maximum number of Israelis.
As a result of his activities, Yasin was jailed by Israel. But Yasir Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Authority who was simultaneously Yasin's main ally and rival, campaigned for his release."I know him," Arafat told Israel."He will call for an end to the violence."
In 1997, during the Oslo peace process, Israel gave Arafat's claim a try. But while Arafat feted Yasin, the Hamas leader made clear his support for war against Israel and opposition to any peace deal. When Yasin was allowed to travel abroad, he went to Saudi Arabia and other countries to raise money for his armed struggle. Even the European Union condemned the actions of Hamas as terrorist.
After Arafat rejected peace proposals in 2000, Yasin rallied to his side. What followed was a 40-month-plus war on Israel using anti-civilian terrorism as its main instrument. The decision to launch and continue this war--and the strategy used--has brought great suffering and hundreds of casualties on both sides. This decision has actually delayed an end to Israel's occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, brought the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, and lost an opportunity to establish a Palestinian state.
Was Yasin merely the"spiritual guide" to Hamas and did he lead merely a"political wing" as opposed to a"military wing"? Certainly, the group was not organized along rigidly hierarchical lines. Obviously, Yasin did not plan out specific terrorist attacks in detail. But he did set the policy, sanction the killings, and praised the attacks. Yasin was as much the leader of Hamas and responsible for its terrorism as Usama bin Ladin is the leader of al-Qa'ida and a terrorist. Moreover, the title of"spiritual guide" is also the one generally given to the dictator of Iran and the leader of the Lebanese Hizballah group.
Why did Israel act against Yasin now? There are two main reasons. First, as Israel plans a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip it wants to show that this does not mean a retreat or surrender. To ensure domestic support for the move and to show Palestinian radicals that such a step is not an invitation to escalate terrorism, it is necessary to show that Israel still can and will strike against those attacking it.
Second, Yasin is the only unifying and charismatic leader possessed by Hamas. Without him, the organization is more likely to split and to be incapable of effective political action, though everyone knows it can still carry on terrorist attacks. In large part because of Arafat's disinterest in disciplining his own men, Hamas' power is growing. With Yasin as leader it stood a good chance of taking over the Gaza Strip. Whatever militant slogans, demonstrations, and threats Hamas can flourish in the immediate aftermath of Yasin's death, the group will be weakened by it.
In defending itself during the last three years, Israel has had to deal with the fact that its situation is a very unusual one and hence hard for others to understand. International law is premised on the existence of authorities willing to enforce it. What does a country do if its neighbor not only refuses to stop or arrest terrorists attacking it on a daily basis but actually encourages and supports them? There is no alternative to direct action against such a safe haven.
Equally, international diplomacy generally assumes that any dispute is ultimately resolvable through compromise and negotiation. What does a country do when the other side--Hamas, even if one were to believe that Arafat might ever make peace--openly expresses an intention to destroy it and implements that policy?
Another international assumption is that by targeting terrorist leaders, Israel provokes them to attack. But no such encouragement is needed. The attacks will continue any way and they do so more effectively with a leadership that enjoys immunity from punishment for its deeds.
Finally, it should not be forgotten that Israel has tried the route recommended to it by other countries and their various politicians, experts, and media. It spent seven years trying to make a peaceful compromise through negotiated agreement. The result is the existence of the Palestinian Authority as a safe haven which incites, finances, organizes, and permits terrorist attacks against Israel. In an attempt to moderate Hamas, Israel even released Yasin himself, who then became the leader of a more intensive terrorist campaign against it.
Whether or not the killing of Yasin was the right thing to do at this time, it was a step legitimized by the situation which he created.
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 21:11
Ram Narayanan sent me an article from THE TIMES OF INDIAentitled"Nuclear Bombshell: The Truth that John Kerry Knows" by K SUBRAHMANYAM published on SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004:
The myth that A Q Khan’s proliferation activities were conducted without the knowledge of the Pakistani army chiefs and prime ministers and further that the US administration was fully satisfied with this explanation stands demolished. Consider the following.
One, in an interview to the Far Eastern Economic Review US deputy secretary Wolfowitz indicates there was a deal between the US and Pakistan for the cover-up.
Two, according to Khan’s friends, General Zia-ul Haq directed him to respond to the 1987 Iranian overtures for nuclear technology but told him not to go too far.
Three, two former assistant secretaries of state of the Bush (Sr) administration, Harry Rowan and Henri Sokoslki, have disclosed that General Aslam Beg told them in 1990 that if the US were to cut off aid to Pakistan it might be forced to share nuclear technology with Iran at a price.
Four, between 1984-86, the US sold arms to Iran illegally to secure the release of hostages held by Hizbullah in Lebanon. A part of the proceeds of the arms sales was diverted as aid to contra rebels in Nicaragua in defiance of a Congressional ban.
When a CIA plane carrying the arms supply was shot down and the American pilot taken prisoner, the matter became public. The national security advisor, Admiral Poindexter, and Colonel Oliver North were put on trial and were initially convicted and subsequently acquitted on a technicality.
Whether the Iran-contra deal encouraged the Iranians to make overtures to Pakistan on nuclear technology and General Zia was emboldened to direct A Q Khan to respond positively would need to be further investigated.
However, it is an open secret that the US was permissive of the Pak nuclear weapons programme: The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) owned by the Pakistani, Agha Hasan Abedi, was chosen by the CIA to put through the Iran-contra arms deal.
The bank’s collapse in 1991 kicked up a lot of political dust: So much so, the bank’s illegal penetration of the US banking system, through a benami take-over of the First American Bank, became the subject matter of Senate Foreign Relations sub-committee enquiry chaired, most interestingly, by senator John Kerry — the present Democratic contender for the US presidency.
The enquiry report found that BCCI was involved in the sale of nuclear technologies and had indulged in various criminal activities — such as drugs trade, illegal arms deals, prostitution and money laundering.
The report also said that BCCI had cultivated many prominent US personalities — among them, former defence secretary Clark Clifford, directors of CIA, Richard Helms and William Casey, former president Jimmy Carter.
The report commented adversely on the inadequate cooperation of the CIA in the conduct of the enquiry. It recommended further action to make the CIA more accountable. The trial of Clark Clifford, who lent his prestige and name for the illegal activities of BCCI in the US, was dropped in view of his age and poor health.
Later, the BCCI affair was given a quiet burial presumably because the CIA and many prominent personalities were involved. There were even allegations of connections between BCCI and the Bush family.
Given the close interaction of the CIA and the BCCI which handled the banking transactions relating to the Pakistani nuclear programme and the Iran-contra illegal arms deals, could the CIA have been totally ignorant at that stage about Pakistan-Iran nuclear proliferation?
Since Agha Hasan Abedi was close to the Pakistani ISI and leadership, information on the involvement of so many leading US personalities in the BCCI deals would have given the Pakistani leadership an extremely powerful leverage on the US establishment.
It is quite possible that cassettes containing A Q Khan’s account of his proliferation going back to 1987, and sent out through his daughter to the UK, may contain not only details of the involvement of Pakistani generals and leaders in the proliferation activities but also information regarding the involvement of the CIA and other leading American personalities with BCCI and its criminal activities and the US permissiveness on Pakistan-Iran nuclear transactions. No doubt this is only a speculation, but it is a highly plausible one.
The Kerry committee specifically referred to BCCI’s involvement in the sale of nuclear technologies. The committee also said that “It was not merely BCCI’s deception that permitted it to infiltrate the United States and its banking system. Also essential were BCCI’s use of political influence-peddling and the revolving door in Washington”.
President Bush has attacked senator Kerry’s record in funding intelligence and referred to his move to reduce CIA’s funding in 1995. This was in response to Kerry’s charge that Bush had impeded investigations into intelligence failures.
Yet, can there be a greater intelligence failure than the US administration’s alleged inability to monitor the long and extensive proliferation activity under A Q Khan?
There is a remarkable similarity between the pardons given to the guilty in the Iran-contra affair, dropping the trial of Clark Clifford, the frontman for BCCI operations in US, and the pardon extended by General Musharraf to A Q Khan. Clark Clifford too was an icon in the US.
Before long, we will know whether the presidential campaign clashes between Kerry and Bush in the coming days will bring out the truth about the A Q Khan affair or the US establishment will close ranks to bury the issue to protect the CIA and many leading personalities
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 21:19
I have just returned from spring break and my calendar runneth over. But I could not avoid passing on to you this most pertinent observation I heard on the radio this morning. It was on the Glen Beck show. He was discussing the Israel's killing of Sheik Yassin and Hammas's subsequent threat to retaliate against Americans. Well, he most correctly observed, this time the shoe is on the American foot. Will the Bush administration stand by Israel or will it follow Spain's example and fold. Is it going to be Spain or spine? The entire world is watching!
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 21:29
Having spent last week on vacation in Mexico, I had the opportunity to watch the BBC world program - Iraq One Year On. I began with a most heartening report of the results of a survey conducted by the BBC. To my surprise, I discovered that some of its most heartening results got little or no play in the American media. They include:
1. Only 17% of the Iraqis considered attacks on coalition forces acceptable - 80% considered them unacceptable.
2. 96% considered attacks on Iraqi policemen unacceptable. And I believe a similar number opposed other types of terrorist attacks.
3. 80% of the Iraqis want a democratic form of government. Only 20% want an Islamic government.
4. 52% believe the war was justified and 70% are optimistic about the future.
The past year was not easy in Iraq but the BBC could not find (and I do not doubt that they tried their best) many people who wanted to go back to the slavery of the Saddam era. On the contrary, they loved their new freedom, including the freedom to complain.
No. The love of freedom and the wish to live under a democratic from of government are not foreign idea to Iraqis or other Arabs. It is a dream they never though would be realized. Like reasonable people, they wish the price would be lower. But they are not ready to give up on the dream or follow those who advocate that they should give in to terrorism and opt for a more traditional autocratic form of government.
As Arab leaders are preparing for their upcoming gathering. This survey should make it clear to them that their citizens would very much like to have the same freedoms enjoyed by the Iraqis. As for the BBC, its anchors should stop behaving as if nationalism trumps all. It is obnoxious to ask an Iraqi cabinet minister if she feel humiliated serving in a government appointed by Americans especially when it never asked Iraqi cabinet ministers if it is humiliating serving Saddam or Palestinian cabinet ministers if it is humiliating serving Arafat, etc.
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 21:33
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 21:37
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 21:38
Before I start complaining, let me express my deep sadness at the senseless terrorist massacre of Spanish commuters. It reminds me of Yasser Arafat's 1966 attacks on the trains to Jerusalem. As a student at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, I used to take that train from Haifa on Sunday mornings. They were fewer casualties during those innocent days when terrorists still believed that sowing terror did not necessitate a high body count. That changed, of course, during the second intifada when the Palestinians decided that only a high Israeli body count would get the Jews to evacuate Israel. The fact that the decision and the subsequent carnage in Israel failed to elicit universal condemnation, insured that other terrorists will follow in their footsteps. As I have written before, Jews are the canaries in mines. When they start dying and the air is not cleared, the rest of the world population is sure to follow.
Well, Israel has learned to take measures to reduce the body count and the rest of the world has to follow. The task is to reduce the vulnerability of soft targets. There was no reason for Spaniards or for us not to have been trained to pay attention to unaccompanied luggage or parcels. There is no reason not to have guards checking bags in entrances to train stations, mall or theaters. It is done in Israel (where is has saved lives) and should be done in elsewhere including the US. It is not a job for the Federal Government or its homeland security department. They should worry about the bridges. It is the job of local government which should demand businesses to provide such protection and recruit volunteers to protect schools, hospitals and other public places. The single guard at Cherry Hill east high school, for example, sits at a desk and has yet to have checked the bags full of weights that I carry to my exercise classes.
It is time to stop wining and harden soft targets.
By the way, its worth noting that Islamist consider Spain just as much an occupied territory as Israel since both lands were at one time under Muslim rule (i.e., Dar al Islam) and no Muslim fundamentalist can permanently relinquish such a land. The same, by the way, is true about the part of Eastern Europe once ruled by the Khalifat, i.e., the Ottoman Empire.
Posted on Friday, March 12, 2004 - 13:04
Democratic hopefuls have no shame and I am not talking only about those running for office. I am talking about those hoping to serve them. No one deserves more derision than Ken Pollack. I am sorry to say I used his on Iraq in my class. Today his is busying disavowing everything he wrote in his book. Clearly I am not the only disgusted reader. Prof. Henry Greenspan, of the University of Michigan, sent"60 Minutes" the following note, focused on Pollack's ever-shifting position:
I was astonished to see Ken Pollack wagging his finger at those who allowed themselves to be 'misled' about WMD by Ahmad Chalabi and his group of Iraqi defectors. In his book, The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, Pollack uses much of the same information, and there is no hint that he does so critically. In the specific case of mobile bio weapons labs, for example, featured in the 60 Minutes piece, Pollack writes: 'The biggest problem with tracking Iraq's biological weapons program is that it does not require large facilities to produce agents. Consequently, defectors report that Saddam has taken the entire Iraqi program on the road. Baghdad now has a number of mobile BW labs that can move around the country as needed, leaving no trace and having virtually no signature that Western intelligence can detect.' (pp. 172-3)
There is no suggestion of doubt in Pollack's assertions, no qualification or uncertainty. To hear him now blame others for their credulity (or worse) is breathtaking. To quote Pollack himself,"Fool me once, shame on you...".
Posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 23:27
Let me apologize right of the bat for overstepping my field of expertise. Indeed, if I get it really wrong, I expect you to correct me. But I must admit that all this hand wringing about the deficit leaves me puzzled. Deficits mean that the government is borrowing money. When is the time to borrow money if not when money is cheap - i.e., interest rates are real low? Why are we borrowing money? To help us finance the war.
Who helps us finance the deficits? Those who judge correctly that their money is safe with us including the Chinese government which has a large surplus of dollars and is interested in making sure that American consumers continue to buy its products and German capital which according to Le Monde Diplomatique"is being sucked into a maelstrom of high US profits, speculation and greed." See Germany: capital flees.
The drop in the value of the dollar is increasing the competitiveness of our manufacturing not to mention that it has decreased by 30% the value of our outstanding debt.
And do not tell me about deficits continuing"as far as the eye can see." The eye cannot see very far. Three years ago there were surpluses"as far as the eye could see." And twelve years ago there were deficits"as far as the eye can see." It is true that the job creation is disappointing but let's remember that an amazing 50% of the Americans are investors (i.e., direct or indirect players in the stock market)! Marx could never economy have imagined it. Home ownership has proven an excellent way of sharing the wealth with the poor. Increasing the size of the investor class may be yet another way to achieve the same results so that the citizens of the first world would not feel so insecure that they will protect themselves by blocking the efforts of the developing world to turn themselves from aid recipients to manufacturers.
Yes, we need safety nets but let's make the number of those dependent on them as small as possible and the number who benefit from outsourcing as large as possible.
Posted on Tuesday, March 9, 2004 - 00:51
I am teaching Revel's Anti-Americanism and I could not forgo sharing with you the following tidbit: Hubert Beuve-Mery, the future founder and editor of Le Monde, wrote in 1944:
"The Americans constitute a real danger for France - a danger different in kind from the threat represented by Germany, and the threat that may eventually emerge from Russia. . . . The Americans can always prevent us from making the necessary revolution and their materialism does not even have the tragic grandeur of the materialism of the totalitarians. If they cling to a veritable cult of the idea of liberty, they do not feel the need to liberate themselves from the sevitudes that their capitalism entails."
Posted on Tuesday, March 9, 2004 - 00:53
I just returned from watching the movie. It is a real sobering experience and a must see for anybody who believes slavery is no longer with us. For more, read this. Then complain about coalition human rights violations in the war to liberate the country or about the fact that women in Afghanistan are still oppressed.
I am not suprised that Iraqis have unrealistic expectations but what is the excuse of the Western media?
Posted on Monday, March 8, 2004 - 16:49
This has nothing to do with the emergence of democracy in Iraq, argue organizers of today's anti-Baath demonstration in Damascus. Smart move. Just keep up the pressure!
Posted on Monday, March 8, 2004 - 16:54
I received this excellent email from Laurie:
Over the past week, Amb. Paul Bremer and Gen. John Abizaid gave two, somewhat different accounts of the insurgency in Iraq. Bremer stressed the"Zarqawi network" as an explanation; Abizaid suggested Islamic militants who have at least some dealings with Iraqi intelligence.
Today's LA Times takes on the notion that this terrorism can properly be attributed to one person. Indeed, this simplistic understanding of the terrorist attacks goes back to events in the first half of 1993: the World Trade Center bombing, followed by the plot to bomb the United Nations, New York's Federal Building, and two tunnels. It is the product, in part, of the Clinton administration's policy of treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue, with the focus on convicting individual perps.
In the beginning, it was said to be Shaykh Omar. He was arrested in July 1993, but the terrorism continued, so then it was Usama bin Ladin. UBL is, at best, a fugitive in some remote region along the Afghan/Pakistan border and is in no position to direct terrorist attacks. So now it is someone else . . .
Well said, Laurie!
Posted on Sunday, March 7, 2004 - 16:41
Here is another insightful analysis by Barry Rubin though I must say that I only partially agree with his conclusion - change must come from within but one must emphasize that they will not be led by the current regimes:
The United States plans to present a major plan on democratization of the Middle East to a summit of industrialized states in June. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries have rejected the proposal before they read it. The reasoning here tells us a great deal about how the contemporary Middle East works.
In a meeting between Egyptian President Husni Mubarak and Saudi Arabia's rulers, these leaders' joint statement affirmed, of course, that they want to"proceed on the path of development, modernization and reform in keeping with their people's interests and values" but only if it is compatible with"their specificities and Arab identity."
This stance would, of course, be quite understandable if it were not a complete and total lie. Now it is not hard to understand why the leaders of dictatorial regimes in which power and wealth is monopolized by a small group do not want to give up their privileges. This is the way dictatorships have always worked throughout the world.
But these are not the rationales used by the regimes and their supporting bureaucrats, intellectuals, or media to justify their refusal to fight corruption, permit civil liberties, allow free speech, stop repressing moderate dissidents, and the many other ways they stay in power. In the Middle East, though, a great deal of sand is thrown into the air which succeeds in obscuring these simple facts. Precisely because they are able to persuade their people on these points--partly due to endless repetition of their arguments and discrediting or silencing all alternative viewpoints--the Middle East has remained a zone of dictatorships while other regions have proved far more flexible toward change.
What are the main excuses used to reject not just the U.S. plan but all serious efforts to bring about change? These are the four horseman of the Middle Eastern apocalypse which help account for the region's chronic disaster:
--The Arab-Israeli conflict paradox. Nothing can change unless this issue is resolved but Arab states ensure that it is not solved by refusing compromise, backing terrorism, and letting Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat sabotage any chance for progress. Thus, even the moderate Egyptian intellectual Muhammad Sid-Ahmed said in al-Ahram that under the U.S. plan,"The Palestinian cause would lose its specific character and central position" and leave the"region prisoner to interminable violence."
Yet what possible real connection does this issue really have with a better educational system, fair elections, freer speech, and less corruption in the Arab world?
--America and state-sponsored xenophobia. The pretense here is that the United States wants to impose a detailed program of specific changes on the Arab world. This is rejected as unwarranted (read"imperialistic") interference in sovereign states by a country with a record that makes it unworthy as a sponsor for democracy.
Former Arab League Secretary Esmat Abdel Meguid told the United States,"How can you speak about democracy when you have these things that are happening in Palestine, and in Iraq? This is something that is very surprising to us," he said."If [President Bush] would like to see democracy, that means equality, liberty, respect for others, then this should be applied to what is happening in Palestine."
Again, this is just what is called in American slang,"blowing smoke." Are Arab regimes doing the United States a favor if they consider treating their own people better? Moreover, as Secretary of State Colin Powell said in response to Arab criticisms of the U.S. plan,"We're not looking for something to impose on the region, we're looking for things we can work with the region on." Powell told a new, U.S.-funded Arabic television channel:"I agree with the Egyptians and the Saudis: (reform) can't be imposed from outside. It has to be accepted from the inside."
The leaks about the contents of the plan indicate that this is what it is, a series of mild, do-good programs to help civil society, train parliamentarians, and other such things that would lay a long-term foundation for progress toward democracy. Whether or not it is a good program, there's certainly nothing extreme or demanding in it.
--Arab and Islamic"specificity." When it suits them, mainstream Arab intellectuals and journalists rage that the West talks about them as if they are"different." But at other times, the nationalists claim that the requirements of the Arab identity and Islamic religion require a different system of government and society.
For example, the Egyptian academic and editor Osama el-Ghazali Harb, who takes some liberal positions, protests that the United States long supported traditionalists against reformers against the"long-term interests of the Middle East's peopleto further U.S. interests in fighting communism, protecting the oil supply, and defending Israel's security." This was done on the basis of stability being more important than democracy as well as under cover of"deference to the 'traditions and local traits' of traditional societies.
But which is it? Is the problem that the United States supports the regimes, which makes it an imperialist boss, or that it challenges them, which makes it an imperialist aggressor?
--Iraq. The Saudi-Egyptian statement demands the withdrawal of U.S.-led occupation forces as soon as possible and a greater role for the UN. Again, though, is this an issue which should delay any change or even serious examination of the well-known shortcomings of Arab states and societies? Is reform doing America a favor for which some price should be extracted?
The truly important issue is not what U.S. policy should be on promoting democratization but rather what is the policy of the Arab rulers. On this point, Powell is right: change must come from the inside and that is exactly why there isn't going to be any for a long time.
Posted on Sunday, March 7, 2004 - 16:53
Posted on Saturday, March 6, 2004 - 15:35
"How are you doing? I understand from all you articles, that there are lots of things in the world you are unhappy about. Writing about it, is a good way, and I am happy to get the articles". Thus began a recent email from a former Danish student of mine. Have I forgotten to look at the half full bottle? It would seem so. Actually, there is plenty of good news out there. I do not mean only the growing voices of Middle Easterners who unlike Iranian President Khatami not only admit that"democracy was a human experience, not a Western invention" but also challenge their own governments to act upon it. I mean that America is gaining allies in the promotion of democracy.
First, the vitriol directed at the US for making the world eat spinach i.e., confront its Middle Eastern problem has greatly diminished according to Foreign Policy report from Davos:"In a backhanded sign of the world's grudging tolerance of Uncle Sam as hegemon, President Thierry de Montbrial of the Institut Francais des Relations Internationales brought the house down by saying that"if the French were in your position, that would be terrible for the world." (This did not stop him from telling the US:"Do not conduct foreign policy only according to your ideology." In other words, do not push democracy too hard).
Second, Hosni Mubarak may fear reform but his son and heir apparent calls for an Arab Renaissance. Why? Because the Arab youth are actually according to the Jordanian planning minister Bassem Awadallah"obsessed with jobs" to the exclusion of nearly all else (like happily blowing themselves up for Allah?). In a refreshing self-mockery, he explained that when economic reforms failed to deliver fast enough"in true Arab fashion, we blamed the Israelis." An Arab journalist even dared to annoy Mubarak fils by complaining that the discussion was taking place"in a vacuum," with no mention of excessive military budgets and oppressive state police. And, last, but not least fully 60% of the several hundred Davos movers and shakers who were in the room, pushed the"no" button when asked"whether Arab leaders deserve more credit than they receive for the reforms they have undertaken."
Third, the European Union not only the US announced a program to push for democratic reforms in the Middle East. It may wish to compete rather than cooperate with the US. But it got with the program. Private enterprise is also getting with it by promoting internet technology. And there are even funny things like prince Turki Al-Faisal (who when asked"why doesn't Saudi Arabia allow churches?" shocked the audience by responding that"Christians and Jews ought to be content to worship in mosques.") getting together with a former British Bishop to promote intercultural understanding.
Last but not least, in Beijing it is not the US but China, Russia and South Korea which are offering energy assistance to North Korea if it agrees to a comprehending freeze on the way to finally abolishing its nuclear program.
In other words. Forget the nay sayers. American foreign policy is no the right track and American allies are getting on board.
Posted on Saturday, March 6, 2004 - 00:11