How much do the Americans (or Australians, for that matter) know about their military presence worldwide? Let Chalmers Johnson tell you a few facts of life:
As a continuation of my own analytical odyssey, I then began doing research on the network of 737 American military bases we maintained around the world (according to the Pentagon’s own 2005 official inventory). Not including the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, we now station over half a million U.S. troops, spies, contractors, dependents, and others on military bases located in more than 130 countries, many of them presided over by dictatorial regimes that have given their citizens no say in the decision to let us in.
Still unsure why imperial America is despised the world over?
My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:
Is a debate about the Israel-Palestine conflict too hot for The Australian to handle?
In his recent controversial book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, former US president Jimmy Carter describes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank as worse than apartheid South Africa.
I was commissioned in December by The Australian’s opinion editor, Tom Switzer, to write an article about the book and the associated controversy (he had published three Israel/Palestine-related articles of mine in 2006.) The piece was due to run in the days after Christmas when the paper was to be overseen by fill-in editor Nick Cater (replacing holidaying editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell.)
I was soon informed that Cater refused to print the article, although he gave no reason to Switzer’s summer replacement, Sian Powell. When Switzer returned from holidays he told me he hoped to prevail over Cater’s intransigence and publish my article. I’ve now been informed that the paper will not do so. The latest Cater excuse is that my recent Sydney Morning Herald essay on blogging criticised the mainstream media (though not The Australian) and therefore I clearly didn’t respect the Murdoch organ. Really.
Switzer is appalled at the level of censorship displayed in this case (and cannot recall another incident where similar moves have occurred). He had even commissioned an opposing piece by Muslim dissident Irshad Manji to counter my article.
My article simply explained the controversy surrounding Carter’s book, the hysterical response by the Zionist lobby in the US (the latest example is here) and that whenever Israel faces its greatest criticism the usual suspects in the media try and shut down debate.
Carter’s observations are remarkably similar to comments by any number of mainstream Israelis. For anybody who has spent time in the West Bank, as I have, Carter’s analysis is both obvious and long overdue. The Australian media has virtually ignored the firestorm created around the book (except for a shallow article in last weekend’s Australian).
If The Australian is serious about “keeping the nation informed”, this latest example of suppression reeks of desperation, intellectual laziness and arrogance. Its readers deserve better.
It’s remarkable how quickly everyone remembered the patterns set during Lebanon’s long civil war. When violence suddenly erupted in Beirut on the afternoon of January 25, people rushed to stock up at grocery stores, businesses quickly shut their doors and traffic was snarled throughout the city as everyone hurried home.
While most people prepared for a siege, others were intent on causing trouble: Bands of young vigilantes roamed the streets, armed with wooden clubs and metal pipes, eyeing passing cars for any strangers. The fighting started in the cafeteria of Beirut Arab University between Shiite and Sunni students. In less than an hour, it spread to the surrounding neighborhood of Tariq Al-Jadideh, a Sunni stronghold. Snipers took up positions on the roofs of residential buildings, firing at protesters and Lebanese soldiers trying to break up the melee. Bands of Sunnis and Shiites–some wearing blue and red construction helmets–fought running street battles with rocks and clubs. Armed men roamed through the crowds. Rioters set fire to cars and trash dumpsters, sending plumes of black smoke over the neighborhood.
By the time it was over, four people were killed, more than 150 were injured and the Lebanese army had imposed a curfew on Beirut for the first time since 1996. Rumors circulated wildly, evoking memories of the civil war. The most disturbing news was broadcast on Lebanese television stations shortly before the curfew: Armed vigilantes had set up a checkpoint on the highway linking south Lebanon to Beirut. They were asking people for their identity cards.
The image of gunmen stopping civilians at checkpoints to sort–and often murder–them on the basis of religion is perhaps the most enduring symbol of Lebanon’s fifteen-year civil war. One of the war’s earliest massacres took place in December 1975, during the so-called “Black Saturday,” when gunmen from the right-wing Christian Phalange militia set up checkpoints throughout Beirut and killed dozens of Muslims. That a checkpoint was erected within the short hours of violence on January 25 illustrates how close Lebanon might be to the brink of another civil war.
We’re all about to get some Dick Down Under. US Vice-President Dick Cheney is coming to town. He’s a man of mystery. He’s a “most happy fella.” And perhaps most importantly, he’s liked by the Decider.
Wait a few years, and people like Cheney will have to be very careful where they travel. Warrants for his arrest will be common. For what? Advocating torture, invading countries for no legal reason and lying to Congress.
Perhaps this time we’ll simply have to make-do with a citizen’s arrest. Of course, the Howard government (and Murdoch press) will welcome Dick with open arms. After all, he is the architect of this.
While ignored in the West, the Palestinians in Israel are starting to gain a stronger voice and demand equal rights. Zionism has much to fear.
But long-term peace can only be achieved through mutual understanding. An Israeli/Palestinian comedy night in East Jerusalem last week showed what is truly possible.
The evil begins in Gaza. The statistics are familiar: a crowded and besieged strip of land, largely cut off from the world, with an impoverished population lacking any economic future, political horizon and social infrastructure. The Palestinians have not succeeded in creating a government of law and order in Gaza, with an economic foundation.
But Israeli governments are also to blame for what is happening in Gaza. The Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip began about 17 years ago, in the wake of vigilante knifings and the first Gulf War. In the Oslo Accords Israel promised to maintain territorial contiguity between Gaza and the West Bank. There were several attempts to create such contiguity, but they were not implemented. On the Israeli side this was a blatant violation of the accords. Because of security fears, Israel prevented the regular operation of the airport in Gaza, and piled obstacles in the way of the construction of the seaport. The result: Besieged and impoverished Gaza became an economic, social and political pressure cooker.
The partially open border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt does not help Gaza economically; its only chance is forging some kind of connection to Israel. A regular connection between Gaza and the West Bank is, in effect, the only way of restraining the power and influence of Hamas, which is strong in Gaza and weak in the West Bank. The more Gaza has become disconnected from the West Bank, the more the Hamas regime has become entrenched there.
Former UN weapon’s inspector, writer and dissident Scott Ritter talks about the wars in Iraq and (potential) conflict against Iran (which incidentally, even a senior Israeli source believes can be solved through diplomatic, not military, means.)
One reason behind the Bush administration’s plans to change the Middle East? Curbing the growth of Iran and China.