Advertising, the “truth”:
The conventional wisdom seemed to be that Carter had damaged himself [after the release of his recent book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid], and badly.
But the fury has masked a quieter trend —nodding support for the president’s views across the country. The book still ranks sixth on the New York Times bestseller list three months after publication, and Carter has taken on a moral halo among progressives and realists, the shotgun marriage of the Bush years. Film director Jonathan Demme, who mainstreamed gay rights with “Philadelphia,” is making a documentary on the book tour. “NBC Nightly News” featured the former president breaking down in tears on a panel at the Carter Center when relating a story of praying to God to give him strength before he confronted Anwar Sadat at Camp David in 1978, when Carter forged an historic peace accord between Israel and Egypt.
“I think the attacks in some ways have made the book more effective,” says Michael Brown, a fellow at the Palestine Center. “It’s extraordinary, but when people oppose a book or a movie, and make a big fuss out of it, most Americans will say, ‘I want to know what this is about.’”
Some of the fury hides an old-fashioned power struggle. For the first time since the State of Israel was created in 1948, a prominent American politician has publicly taken up the cause of the Arabs, describing Israel’s practices as oppressive. Such voices are common in Europe and in Israel itself. But they are uncommon here, where staunchly Zionist voices routinely assert that Israeli and American interests are identical, a view uniformly reflected in our politics and policies. The Carter groundswell seems to represent a real political threat to that claim. A recent batch of letters to the Houston Chronicle ran three-to-one in Carter’s favor. “Can’t Israel defend itself without subjecting all Palestinians in the occupied territories to such shameful conditions?” one asked. “Nothing justifies treating an entire group of people as if they were second-class human beings.”
The Bush administration has agreed to sit around a negotiating table with official representatives of Iran and Syria next month – as part of a planned regional conference in Baghdad to discuss ways to stabilize Iraq.
In joining the Baghdad conference, the administration is tiptoeing into what has become one of the most contentious issues in the roiling Iraq debate. Critics for months have been urging the administration to end its diplomatic isolation of Iran and Syria and begin a constructive dialogue with them about how to stabilize Iraq. Even former secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who has generally supported administration policy on Iraq, argued in an op-ed piece last weekend that it’s time to end the diplomatic quarantine and convene an international conference on Iraq.
The Iraqi government is expected to announce the regional conference as early as Tuesday. The government will invite representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – Britain, France, Russia, China and the United States – in addition to all of its Mideast neighbors.
Though it will bring together American, Syrian and Iranian representatives, the Baghdad meeting doesn’t signal a direct U.S. diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria. A senior State Department official said Monday night that it wasn’t likely there would be separate bilateral meetings with Iran or Syria. Rather, the planned Baghdad meeting is an extension of the administration’s current policy of using the Iraqi government as the channel for discussions with Iran and Syria about Iraqi security.
US President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney might as well declare the Iraq war over and out. As far as they – and the humongous energy interests they defend – are concerned, only now is the mission really accomplished. More than half a trillion dollars spent and perhaps half a million Iraqis killed have come down to this.
On Monday, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s cabinet in Baghdad approved the draft of the new Iraqi oil law. The government regards it as “a major national project”. The key point of the law is that Iraq’s immense oil wealth (115 billion barrels of proven reserves, third in the world after Saudi Arabia and Iran) will be under the iron rule of a fuzzy “Federal Oil and Gas Council” boasting “a panel of oil experts from inside and outside Iraq”. That is, nothing less than predominantly US Big Oil executives.
The law represents no less than institutionalized raping and pillaging of Iraq’s oil wealth. It represents the death knell of nationalized (from 1972 to 1975) Iraqi resources, now replaced by production sharing agreements (PSAs) – which translate into savage privatization and monster profit rates of up to 75% for (basically US) Big Oil. Sixty-five of Iraq’s roughly 80 oilfields already known will be offered for Big Oil to exploit. As if this were not enough, the law reduces in practice the role of Baghdad to a minimum. Oil wealth, in theory, will be distributed directly to Kurds in the north, Shi’ites in the south and Sunnis in the center. For all practical purposes, Iraq will be partitioned into three statelets. Most of the country’s reserves are in the Shi’ite-dominated south, while the Kurdish north holds the best prospects for future drilling.
Doesn’t liberation feel good?
It looks like the American people are appeasing terrorists:
With Congress preparing for renewed debate over President Bush’s Iraq war policies, a majority of Americans now support setting a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from the war-torn nation and also support putting new conditions on the military that could limit the number of personnel available for duty there, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll.
Opposition to Bush’s plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq remained strong, with two in three Americans registering their disapproval – 56 percent said they strongly object. The House recently passed a nonbinding resolution opposing the new deployments, but Republicans have successfully blocked consideration of such a measure in the Senate.
Of course, the handful of politicians and pundits who still support the war (including Australia’s delusional Prime Minister) can only speak in meaningless rhetoric and sound-bites. The war is lost, children.
For at least one Iraqi blogger, the Bush administration’s support for the corrupt Iraqi leadership is unforgivable.
Forty years after the Six-Day War, the Palestinian attitude that has become consolidated toward the State of Israel is quite clear: It is possible and necessary to achieve an agreement for coexistence with Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders. Israelis who think it is possible to reach an accord with the Palestinians that includes annexation of settlement blocs in the West Bank or leaves East Jerusalem under Israeli jurisdiction are deluding themselves. In all the decades that have passed since occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, not a single Palestinian voice has been heard that agrees to less than that. Of course, there have been those who demanded more, and even today some want to destroy Israel entirely, but no Palestinian will agree to allow Israel to annex even one meter beyond the boundaries of the Green Line.
If one can speak of any power to this Palestinian position, it stems from the fact that it enjoys total public consensus. Aside from a few isolated exceptions, all Palestinians adhere to one position that the Palestinian state will be established within the 1967 borders and that East Jerusalem will be its capital. Of course, it is possible to speak about differences between the political approaches of the Hamas and Fatah movements regarding profound ideological gaps: Hamas’ leadership is, under no circumstances, willing to recognize Israel, while Fatah is. But this can be viewed as differences in principle that lack any practical significance.
Something remarkable is going on in a
This was not supposed to happen. The Bush Administration’s plan was to put José Padilla on trial for allegedly being part of a network linked to international terrorists. But Padilla’s lawyers are arguing that he is not fit to stand trial because he has been driven insane by the government.
Arrested in May 2002 at
According to his lawyers and two mental health specialists who examined him, Padilla has been so shattered that he lacks the ability to assist in his own defense. He is convinced that his lawyers are “part of a continuing interrogation program” and sees his captors as protectors. In order to prove that “the extended torture visited upon Mr. Padilla has left him damaged,” his lawyers want to tell the court what happened during those years in the Navy brig. The prosecution strenuously objects, maintaining that “Padilla is competent,” that his treatment is irrelevant.
Can Zionist love of Israel ever be too much? Believe it:
A Teaneck synagogue [in New Jersey] may become a flashpoint this weekend in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Congregation B’nai Yeshurun will host a real estate fair aimed at persuading American Jews to buy property in the disputed territories of the West Bank.
“The purchase of a home … is an ideological gesture of love of the Land of Israel,” said a letter to potential American investors from the Israeli group that’s conducting the event.
But critics say such land sales would inflame the conflict by bringing more Jewish settlers to the predominantly Palestinian territories….
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, the spiritual leader of B’nai Yeshurun, represents an Orthodox Jewish community that, generally speaking, opposes a Palestinian state and holds that Jews have a right, and a responsibility, to settle in the territories that are part of the biblical land of Israel.
Indeed, Pruzansky, who calls the territories by their biblical names of Judea and Samaria, said the meeting will be held in the sanctuary of his synagogue – rather than in its conference room – to underscore the notion of religious duty.
“It’s not occupied land – it’s disputed, unallocated land,” Pruzansky said. “And Israel certainly has a valid claim.”
He blamed the Mideast conflict on Arabs who don’t recognize Israel.
“I don’t think there is much hope for peace in my lifetime, unless the Messiah comes,” Pruzansky said. “And the main reason is that there are too many people who are not reconciled to Israel’s existence.”
Of course, illegal settlement expansion in Palestine is normal.
In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran. Its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made defiant pronouncements about the destruction of Israel and his country’s right to pursue its nuclear program, and last week its supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on state television that “realities in the region show that the arrogant front, headed by the U.S. and its allies, will be the principal loser in the region.”
After the revolution of 1979 brought a religious government to power, the United States broke with Iran and cultivated closer relations with the leaders of Sunni Arab states such as Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. That calculation became more complex after the September 11th attacks, especially with regard to the Saudis. Al Qaeda is Sunni, and many of its operatives came from extremist religious circles inside Saudi Arabia. Before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, Administration officials, influenced by neoconservative ideologues, assumed that a Shiite government there could provide a pro-American balance to Sunni extremists, since Iraq’s Shiite majority had been oppressed under Saddam Hussein. They ignored warnings from the intelligence community about the ties between Iraqi Shiite leaders and Iran, where some had lived in exile for years. Now, to the distress of the White House, Iran has forged a close relationship with the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.