Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Syria 8-28-13

28, August 2013         Syria

The use of chemical weapons to kill innocent men, women and children is barbaric and those responsible should be held fully accountable – but there is no conclusive evidence that the Assad regime was responsible.  It appears that the Obama administration is acting on alleged proof from Israel as reported in Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli mass daily. We have followed this path before in the run up to the Iraq war claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was an imminent threat.  Before we express moral outrage over the chemical attack let us also remember that, according to recent internal CIA disclosures, our government was complicit in providing Saddam Hussein critical logistics “which resulted in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched." To act unilaterally without a UN Resolution would be an act of folly and illegal under international law. Unfortunately, President Obama has boxed himself in with his red line rhetoric and seems to be unduly influenced by the jingoistic speeches of Eliot Engel, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. In the absence of conclusive proof, an attack on Syria could very likely result in significant  increase in civilian fatalities and engulf the whole region in a much wider conflict. It would be far more prudent to engage the regional powers in a political dialogue rather than use our mighty hammer to pound more nails which could lead to signifant more nails – big and small.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Israel 8-24-13

24, August 2013         Israel

The Israel-Palestinian talks are doomed for failure. Israel continues to mock and abuse the US hand that feeds it billions of aid money by declaring the building of more and more settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Another 1,200 new settlements were recently announced. Predictably, our super meek Secretary of State John Kerry, like all of his predecessors, failed to admonish Israel for their transgressions but instead urged Palestinians "not to react adversely." Terrified of offending pro-Israel politicians and the powerful Jewish lobby, Kerry continues to use the soft noodle approach instead of the big stick or preferably using Netanyahu’s red line rhetoric. Granting Israel a free pass on settlements, its illegal occupation and violation of international law will only encourage Israel to ignore Kerry’s ‘cap in the hand’ soft overtures.  In 1991 200,000 Israelis settled on occupied territory. Today, four presidents later, 400,000 settlers have occupied Palestinian land. Today generations of Palestinians are forbidden to visit Jerusalem resulting in the ghettoization of Palestinians. The “peace process” consists of indulging Israeli intransigence and is yet another example of deflecting much needed US taxpayers money away from the have-nots of our own society. 

Finally, Israel should heed the actions of thousands of artists around the world who have a declared a cultural boycott of Israel which they perceive to be an apartheid state. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reporters Leaving the US 8-20-13

20, August 2013   Reporters leaving the US

The heavy handed actions of the US master spy agency, the NSA, have struck a piercing blow at the heart of democracy and freedom of the press. Acutely embarrassed by the revelations of Edward Snowden via the London Guardian and reporter Greg Greenwald, the British government held David Mirandra, Greenwald’s partner, for nine long hours at London’s Heathrow Airport.  

Jacob Appelbaum, computer security specialist has experienced similar harassment by US and other officials and lamented that “what is at stake is the ability for a human being to have dignity and for journalists to have integrity with their sources, threatening the whole concept of a free democracy,"

Reporters without Borders issued a strongly statement castigating Miranda’s detention and 
stated, "the world’s most repressive states often identify journalism with terrorism and now the British authorities have crossed a red line by resorting to this practice.”
Gareth Peirce, a prominent British attorney stated that Section 7, of the British law under which Mirandra was detained was a gross violation of the law’s intended purpose and was merely used to intimidate and punish Greenwald’s reporting activities. 
Laura Poitras, a prominent journalist mocked the White House’s alleged claim that they had not instigated Mirandra’s detention.  She has also been continually harassed and intimidated by security officials. Sadly, more and more reporters are leaving the US and are working for foreign bureaus to escape the tentacles of US and British officials – a sad commentary to our claim to be free and functioning democracy.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

US Embassy Closures 8-6-13

6, August 2013   US Embassy Closures

Perhaps the worldwide travel alert of possible al-Qaeda threats coming on the heels of mounting public outrage over domestic spying – should come as no surprise. Is this a real or imagined threat? Is the massive NSA spying agency using the terror threats to wage war on our civil liberties? Prior administrations have used terror threats to goad us into disastrous wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The NSA alleges that the terror threats arose from chatter on the Internet. But don’t our enemies adjust their terror activities to thwart our terror alerts? With the credibility of the NSA at an all-time low, the general public is highly skeptical of the true reasons for its recent unprecedented actions. The closures of 19 embassies would clearly suggest that al Qaeda is a growing menace and not “on its last legs” as the Obama administration claims.

The escalation of drone attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and more recently in Yemen has clearly intensified the seething hatred of the U.S. and continues to be a major recruitment tool of the growing network of al Qaeda and its affiliates. The BBC recently showed the scarred images of 20 innocent men, women and children from a failed drone strike in Yemen. The hasty retreat of American civilians in Yemen by helicopter is eerily similar to the final withdrawn from Vietnam and is a sad testament to failed U.S. foreign policies.