The Potential Miracle of Dreaded Thanksgiving Political Discussion

Many seem to dread political discussion over the Thanksgiving Day table. What to do about you relative who voted for Trump (or Clinton)?

A bit of courage can turn it all around.

Solution is VotePact.org. The duopoly is dividing you and your family. The grassroots left and right want meaningful change and actually agree on some issues.

They keep getting sold out by establishment figures posing as agents of meaningful change like Trump and Obama.

Both sides should acknowledge problems with each major party and candidates and what disagreements they have with them. Do you both want perpetual war? Do you want the government to back Wall Street? That what both Trump and Obama get you.

In the next election, instead of cancelling out each other, you can team up and both vote for the independent candidates of your choice. Syphoning votes in pairs from the establishment parties.

Start now.

You can talk it out so you’re not motivated by nothing better than Trump (or Clinton) hatred. Freedom from hatred. That would be truly something to be thankful for.

With Trump in China, Henry Rosemont's Moral Reflections

God I so hate it when this happens. I want to get in touch with an expert, someone whose voice and wisdom is so needed, and find they've died. I remember it happening with China scholar Robert Weil and Kurdish expert Vera Beaudin Saeedpour in years past. 

Today I was -- later than I should have -- trying to get hold of Henry Rosemont, a great scholar of Chinese philosophy and author of Chinese Mirror: Moral Reflections on Political Economy and Society among other books only to find out he died in July from this fine obituary

I think Noam Chomsky originally pointed me in his direction. I never met him, but had several fascinating talks by phone and emailed back and forth at times, putting him on several news releases.

I enjoyed seeing several of his talks online. Here's one he gave in 2012, titled "Individual Freedom and Human Rights vs Social Justice: A Confucian Meditation", which begins: "Some of what I say this evening will worry liberals greatly. Some of the things I will say will annoy conservatives even more greatly. So that suggests that either I'm totally bipolar -- or Confucius is -- or that it might be helpful for you to try to bracket those kinds of labels and try hard to listen to what I'm going to say on its own terms about the Confucian persuasion." Here's that talk:


Perhaps my favorite quote of his of the dozen or so times I had him on Institute for Public Accuracy news releases over the last 20 years was this one:

“I first went to live in China in 1982. I thought they should build hostels and welcome foreigners to visit inexpensively, in keeping with the egalitarianism the government supposedly championed. Instead, they built five star hotels. Partly it was a matter of the capital needed from Western companies like Holiday Inn but partly they bought into a certain Western economic model.

“While the Cultural Revolution was successful in many respects — it stopped the famines, provided enough clothing — the leadership over the last two decades pursued a plan of growth that virtually no one thought they could achieve, quadrupling the economy. But this came at enormous human and environmental cost. Inequality is stark and worsening in China, life in the countryside is very bleak, especially for women; only in China do more women than men commit suicide, almost 60 percent of the world’s total.

“Many hawks would make China out to be a grave military threat to the U.S., but consider, for example, some very simple facts: The U.S. has 12 aircraft carriers, China has none; the United States has over 700 military bases and other installations outside its borders, while China has none; 250,000 U.S. military are stationed overseas — not counting the mercenaries — but again, China has none. China has 100-400 nuclear weapons, the U.S. has 10,000. The Chinese have much better grounds for fearing the United States than the other way around.”

My latest real interaction with him was after I wrote the posting "'Democracy Now' Gets Nuclear Ban Vote Totally Wrong" late last year. He saw it and responded:

Excellent letter, Sam; thanks for doing it. I'm quite disappointed in Amy Goodman; what has happened?
Have a good weekend,
Henry

I thanked him for his note, wrote that I wanted to get him on a news release soon. I emailed him again in April with no response and -- especially since he was just about the age of my father who died in January -- had an occasional worried thought in the back of my mind, until today.

How "Both Sides" Forge U.S. Supremacy: The Nationalistic Hypocrisies of "Violence" and "Free Speech"

Many have focused on President Donald Trump's statements on Charlottesville condemning the "violence" from "both sides". Which is understandable, since the killing of Heather Heyer and overwhelming violence came from white supremacists. But virtually no one has scrutinized the first half of his remarks: Trump criticizing the "violence" of others.

How is it that Trump is designated to be in a position of judging the perpetrators of violence? The U.S. government is regularly bombing a number of countries. Just last week, Trump threatened North Korea with nuclear destruction in unusually blunt language -- "fire and fury" rather than the typical Obama administration veiled nuclear attack code lingo "all options are on the table". 

On Monday, the same day Trump read a scripted condemnation of white supremacist violence, Airwars.org reported that in Syria: "Marwa, Mariam and Ahmad Mazen died with their mother and 19 other civilians in a likely Coalition strike at Raqqa." 

You'd be hard pressed to find a "news" story about them. That's the concern with the effects of "violence" when it emanates from the U.S. government. 

But the threats and use of violence are not new, nor is the hypocrisy. As he was ordering the ongoing bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, President Bill Clinton took time out of his schedule to address the shooting at Columbine High School: “We must do more to reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.” 

Such outbreaks of domestic political violence are used not as openings for introspection about longstanding violence in U.S. society, but for rallying cries to uphold alleged virtues of the nation. The recent attacks are "repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans" Trump claims.

Since we live "under law and under the Constitution...responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice. No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God."

The words Trump uttered seemed to echo Saint Augustine. Charles Avila in Ownership: Early Christian Teaching, outlines Augustine's beliefs: "The Creator, who alone is Absolute Owner, did not make us human beings so many 'islands,' without any relation to each other, but one human family, 'made from one mud' and sustained 'on one earth.'...We enjoy the same natural conditions: 'born under one law, living by one light, breathing one air and dying one death.'"

Thus, what seemingly originated as a universal theological admonition -- to attack the notion of private property no less -- has been perverted into a narrow nationalist one with universalist trappings. It simultaneously seems to condemn violence while actually facilitating it.

Nor is this new, either. during the presidency of Bill Clinton, he ordered up an "Initiative on Race". It's largely forgotten because its primary goal wasn't actually improving relations between different ethnic groups. Its goal was noted in its title: "One America in the 21st Century”. Not “Finally Overcoming Racism.” Not “Towards an America of Equality.”

National cohesion is the driving concern here. How can we make these differing ethnicities get along well enough to ensure that this stays one nation is a question elites must ask themselves. See my piece at the time: "'One America' -- To what Ends?"

There's a tightrope being walked here. There's a functionality to the "debate" between "both sides". The system requires a great deal of tension to keep people in their partisan boxes. The main thing that each political faction has going for it is the hatred towards the other. 

But there's the threat that it could reach a threshold that tears at national unity, which is why you get Terry McAuliffe and other political figures making Trump-like brazen contradictory statements, pleading for unity one minute and denouncing white supremacists as being repugnant to American values the next, wholly unworthy of engagement. 

The Democratic Party has to offer people something more than Russia-bashing, and that something seems to be opposition to a war that the party of Jefferson was on the losing side of.

Many were aghast at Trump's remarks about Washington and Jefferson: "So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"

If we do honest history, it doesn't stop. That's the point. It condemns most of the political class. And would do so to most of current political class. But that's not a conclusion many in the political class are interested in. A line can certainly be drawn from Washington to Lee, as Confederates frequently argued.

As historian Gerald Horne has argued, the U.S. Revolutionary War was largely a war to ensure the continuation of slavery. Part of the "genius" of the U.S. was the "unification" of many non-black and non-native people as "white", including southern and eastern Europeans and some Arabs. So you have a large immigration pool to forge the nation.

Nor of course is slavery the only crime. It's perhaps focused on to at least some extent in our current political discourse because it's the main aspect of the imperial project that created, rather than destroyed, a major domestic constituency that was a victim of it. Native Americans are not a major domestic constituency because, unlike black folks in the U.S., their ancestors were not chained and brought to U.S. shores as slaves, but were driven out, killed en mass or made to die or be confined and marginalized. 

And that project predated the formal creation of the United States. Kent A. MacDougall notes in "Empire—American as Apple Pie" in Monthly Review that "George Washington called the nascent nation 'a rising empire.' John Adams said it was 'destined' to overspread all North America. And Thomas Jefferson viewed it as 'the nest from which all America, North and South, is to be peopled.'"

Of course, Trump isn't raising Washington and Jefferson to broaden the critique of the crimes of white supremacy, but to try to limit it. This is somewhat similar to when Bill O'Reilly said in an interview with Trump that Putin is "a killer" -- Trump replied: "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?" Trump thus becomes the only honest person on the national stage, but largely not for the purpose of positive change. He's using what is mostly a left wing critique to entrench the establishment, which is similar to what "neocons" have done. 

Trump's statements, understated as they were, about current U.S. government violence were roundly condemned by most of the political class. CNN's "chief national security correspondent" Jim Sciutto called them "relativistic" -- when they were they are the exact opposite. What's relativistic is condemning the actions of others while approving of similar actions by one's "own side". Of course, Trump is relativistic when he condemns the violence from "many sides" in Charlottesville. 

So we have two relativistic dead ends: Trump "vs" the rest of the establishment. One victim for the time being is people's brain cells who have to endure and try to parse through the constant machinations. 

Comments like those about U.S. violence or the history of Washington give Trump a legitimacy of sorts. The establishment media effectively keep the microphone away from anyone else who would note such defining facts, while giving reams of coverage to Trump. He effectively becomes the leading "dissident" while also being the head inquisitor. This discourse effectively immunizes the establishment from meaningful change or even dialogue. 

Contrast Trump's realistic statement with what passes for dissent on "Democracy Now", which recently reverentially interviewed Ta-Nehisi Coates of the once somewhat dignified journal The Atlantic. Coates stated: "The Civil War was the most lethal war in American history. The casualties in the Civil War amount to more than all other wars—all other American wars combined. More people died in that war than World War II, World War I, Vietnam, etc." 

"People." 

Martin Luther King warned African Americans were "integrating into a burning house." Robert E. Lee said of blacks in the U.S.: "The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things." Many have seemingly accepted such instruction. 

A path for "acceptance" by the establishment for African Americans, immigrants and others is to kiss the ring of U.S. supremacy. 

This insular discussion of "both sides" in the U.S. context frequently renders the non-U.S. "other" even more expendable. As I wrote in 2015: "How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life": 

Both sides limit who they mean by “lives.” They effectively exclude the victims of the U.S.’s highest officials. When most people use #BlackLivesMatter, they seem to be saying that all black U.S. lives matter when taken unlawfully by the government. And when most people who use #AllLivesMatter use it, they seem to be saying all U.S. lives matter when taken at the hands of police authorities — not just black U.S. lives. But the formulation effectively excludes the lives of millions of people who U.S. officials have deemed expendable for reasons of state.

Coates also claimed: "What you have to understand is, Donald Trump’s very essence, his very identity, is the anti-Obama. ... I mean, there was a piece, I think, like just last week in BuzzFeed. It was talking about, you know, Trump’s foreign policy. And his basic deal is: 'Is Obama for it? Well, I’m against it.'"

This shows remarkable ignorance or deceit about the continuity of U.S. foreign policy in recent decades, which obviously extends to include Obama and Trump. This is especially the case for someone who lives outside the United States. Certainly, the branding and rhetoric is different, but it's supposed to be the job of "public intellectuals" to see beyond that, not calcify it. 

There are many ramifications of the nationalistic blinders that are dutifully imposed by so many. Take the discussion of the ACLU's role in defending the white supremacists marching. The "both sides" here are: We should care so much about bigotry and violence that we should curtail the right of gun wielding white supremacists to march wherever they want. The other side is: Our devotion to free speech is so great that we should even allow this. 

They both ring hollow to me. It is not at all clear that what is happening will root out structural racism; it has been at the level of symbols, which is where the establishment wants it to remain contained. Nor do I see a serious commitment to freedom of speech being displayed by the ACLU and others, as serious infringement of freedom of speech occur with hardly an objection. Partisan establishment apparatchiks dominate media at virtually every level, with government facilitation. Google, Facebook, Twitter and others have effectively taken over much of the town square and are increasingly skewing what speech gets heard. Such is the nature of corporate power, backed by the state, right now. 

The likely "collateral damage" of such "debates" will be critics of U.S. empire. Consider that as the national ACLU seemed to be backtracking from their position, the California ACLU put out a statement that read in part "First Amendment does not protect people who incite or engage in violence." Who is going to be the likely victim of this? White supremacists -- or someone who explains why Hezbollah might want to lob missiles at Israel? The line that the California ACLU seeks to draw would seemingly ironically lynch John Brown, whose actual execution was overseen by none other than Robert E. Lee in blue uniform. 


Hezbollah's Al-Manar television channel -- possibly the most anti-ISIS outlet going -- is banned in the U.S. without outcry; with barely a note. 

The very discussion about "hate groups" is perverse. The entire political culture in the U.S. lives off of hate. The pro Hillary Clinton rhetoric is "Love Trumps Hate", but Clinton, like Trump, feeds off hate. There certainly are explicitly white supremacist groups. And there can be some distinction made between them and the merely implicitly structurally racist establishment. But the Democratic and Republican Parties would implode in a minute if it were not for the hatred of the other. 

What's needed is that freedom of speech triumph and in today's world it's not clear if that is compatible with the nation state and corporate power in their current construct. In its present form and use, the internet is ceasing to be "world wide web" -- it is constricted in a myriad of ways by national boundaries and unaccountable corporate diktat that need to be questioned if not obliterated in our contemporary world. 

The taking down of Confederate monuments poses a some opportunity -- a groundswell of democratic grassroots action could happen. But the tearing down needs to be built upon. In Baltimore, faced with the prospect of activists taking down Confederate statues, city officials abruptly arranged for their overnight disappearance. Local artists put a sculpture of an African American woman atop the pedestal in their place. 

This hints at a greater solution to the immediate controversy over Confederate monuments. I recall the first time I saw, or at least comprehended, a Confederate memorial -- with Lee or some other general atop a horse, I think in New Orleans. I thought the solution would be not to remove them, but to build around them. A tree could hover above with strange fruit hanging down, for example. 

This would diminish the "beauty" that Donald Trump sees in the Confederate statues while acknowledging the history, both in its illusion as to what it pretends to depict -- and the reality of the selective erection of such statues. 

Indeed, perhaps we need more -- not fewer -- monuments to the Civil War, to all wars. If done right, they would actually be monuments for peace. Consider the nature of war, the consequences, the actual reality of mangled corpses beneath the "great men" atop their horses. 

But there are perils at every turn. When the U.S. Treasury decided to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill last year, many welcomed it. But it seemed to me to be a subtle but real step to co-opting the legacy of the Underground Railroad to one that could be used to help justify "humanitarian interventionism" -- ie, U.S. militarism with some bogus moral pretext attached. That is, the language of the U.S. Civil War could be used to "free" people around the world as the State Department sees fit, as now with Venezuela. As Simon Bolivar said: “The United States seems destined by Providence to plague America with torments in the name of freedom.”

Ironically, some denouncing Trump's "fascist" proclivities have taken refuge in the actions of corporate bosses who have resigned from the American Manufacturing Council that Trump launched earlier this year. As Noam Chomsky and others have long noted, corporate structure is totalitarian. The saviors here are part of the threat. Perhaps doubly so since the Council was a corporate-government cooperative entity. 

The pretexts and posturing run throughout public discourse in the U.S., as it's dominated by apparatchiks around Trump and around the Democratic Party. Only an ever vigilant parsing of the deceits and actions that are rooted in principles and a sense of the global commons will see us through. 

Special thanks to Berkley Bragg.  

Sam Husseini is founder of VotePact.org, which advocates principled left-right cooperation to break the duopoly. He's also the founder of CompassRoses.org, an art project to make apparent the one world we inhabit. 

We Need Many More Civil War Memorials

I recall the first time I saw, or at least comprehended, a Confederate memorial, with Lee or some other general atop a horse. I thought the solution would be not to remove them, but to build around them. A tree should hover above with strange fruit hanging down for example. I'd be delighted if such a thing were to catch on now. 

And perhaps we need more -- not fewer -- monuments to the Civil War, to all wars. If done right, they would actually be monuments for peace. Consider these images that confront the reality below the "great men" atop their horses: 






"Democracy Now" Again Misreports Nuclear Ban Treaty

Last October, I wrote the piece "'Democracy Now' Gets Nuclear Ban Vote Totally Wrong". 

This morning, again, "Democracy Now" got crucial information about the treaty wrong. The lead headline on this morning's show was: 

At the United Nations headquarters in New York, 122 countries have approved a global treaty to ban the use of nuclear weapons, despite the United States leading the opposition to the treaty.

Actually, unacknowledged in the transcript (and spliced on the current online version) is that during broadcast, Amy Goodman initially read the headline as "despite the United Nations leading the opposition to the treaty" -- and then corrected it at the end of headlines, which is somewhat darkly amusing.

But the core statement is not true [perhaps I should have written the core statement is an drastic understatement that distorts what's happening]. The treaty doesn't "ban the use of nuclear weapons" -- it bans possession. The name of the agreement is "Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons".


Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to: (a) Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;...

"Democracy Now" should correct this and be be far more serious about reporting on the role of the U.S. government in forcing the continued possession and threatening use of nuclear weapons. 

After a Terrorist Attack, Spain Rejected Its Hawks. Will Britain?

[This piece originally appeared at The Nation magazine on June 5.] 

Spanish voters turned against the incumbent conservative party after the 2004 Madrid bombings.

On March 11, 2004, just a few days before a critical election, a series of nearly simultaneous bombs exploded on four commuter trains in Madrid, killing over 190 people. Before the bombing, the Socialist Party (PSOE) was about five points behind in the polls, but it ended up winning by five points. The party promised that if it won the election, Spain would get out of Iraq in six months. That happened after only five. I can find no evidence of any Middle East–related terrorism in Spain since, though there apparently have been thwarted plots.

This history may offer a critical lesson to Britain now, just days away from an election following a series of attacks near London Bridge. Incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May has backed virtually every war that Britain has participated in. In contrast, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had criticized virtually every war.

The situation in Spain was heightened by the incumbent government of José María Aznar (now a director at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation), which blamed the Basque group ETA for the attack. This move certainly crystallized public disgust with the government. But why did the government lie about ETA’s involvement in the first place? It assessed—probably correctly—that the Spanish people would be furious that so much blood had been shed in Madrid in retaliation for Spain’s involvement in the invasion of Iraq, which was already deeply unpopular.

Contrast the path that Spain took with that of France, which had originally criticized the invasion of Iraq. Since then, France has become more interventionist, particularly in Syria—a former French colony. It has also become far more of a target of terrorism in the name of Islam in recent years.

It’s noteworthy that the interrelation between the 2004 Madrid attacks and the election has been either ignored or totally misrepresented. Last year, following the massacre in Orlando by Omar Mateen, in a discussion about how that attack might affect the US election, Dina Temple-Raston, NPR’s “counterterrorism correspondent” exactly reversed the apparent lesson of Madrid. She claimed that after the Madrid attack “the more conservative party won.” NPR refused to offer an on-air correction for this brazen falsehood.

Of course, the election of a Corbyn government doesn’t guarantee an end to terrorist attacks in Britain. For one, it’s not clear that Corbyn will adhere to a pro-peace, non-interventionist stance. Recently, he has seemed to distance himself from prior positions, like withdrawal from NATO. While the Socialist Party in Spain pledged to withdraw from Iraq, the Labour Manifesto contains no such explicit pledge.

Theresa May, however, has supported interventionist policies that helped create the conditions for radicalization. Specifically, while May was home secretary, the UK allowed extremists from the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (of which the Manchester bomber was a member) to freely travel to Libya to take out Muammar Gaddafi (see John Pilger at Consortium NewsPaul Mason at The Guardian, and Max Blumenthal at Alternet). This is a point that Corbyn has raised in less specific but notable terms: “Many experts have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home.” He’s also added: “We do need to have some difficult conversations, starting with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fueled extremist ideology.”

Brzezinski's Biggest Disaster: Camp David

On Tuesday's "Morning Joe," Zbigniew Brzezinski was eulogized by Jimmy Carter along with the MSNBC show co-hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski — daughter of the former national security advisor.

The segment, of course, avoided issues that Brzezinski has been criticized for, see "How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen." Though even the New York Times obit noted: "But in at least one respect — his rigid hatred of the Soviet Union — he had stood to the right of many Republicans, including Mr. Kissinger and President Richard M. Nixon. And during his four years under Mr. Carter, beginning in 1977, thwarting Soviet expansionism at any cost guided much of American foreign policy, for better or worse. He supported billions in military aid for Islamic militants fighting invading Soviet troops in Afghanistan."

The shadow cast by such policies quite arguably lead to the 9/11 attacks and a great deal of other pain and suffering in the Mideast and beyond. 

Few have delved into the depths and aims of Brzezinski's anti-Russian bias. He wrote in “A Geostrategy for Eurasia” in the journal Foreign Affairs (1997): “A loosely confederated Russia — composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic — would also find it easier to cultivate closer economic relations with its neighbors. Each of the confederated entities would be able to tap its local creative potential, stifled for centuries by Moscow’s heavy bureaucratic hand. In turn, a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.” 

Indeed, two main strains that we see in our current foreign policy owe a great deal to Brzezinski. One is a desire of much of U.S. establishment to further neuter — if not actually break up — Russia. The other — being employed in Syria now — is using militarized fanatics fighting in the name of Islam for foreign policy purposes.

What was highlighted by Carter and others after Brzezinski's death was the "triumph" of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt. 

And this is something that few question, though such praise leads to some wild statements, as in this MSNBC interview. 

Joe Scarborough claimed: "Mr. President, I was talking to Mika's daughters this weekend and trying to explain the impact that you all had on the world and talking about the Middle East. You hear about the Middle East peace. But you know, President Carter's peace efforts between Israel and Egypt prevented a ground war in the Middle East for 40 years."

Huh? Joe Scarborough is unaware of any ground wars in the Mideast over the last 40 years. He must have tuned out the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the 1991 Gulf War, as well as the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Never mind the numerous Israeli invasions of Lebanon. 

And it's quite arguable that Camp David actually set the stage for all those things. As the late Eqbal Ahmad stated in 1990 (at an event I attended):

There has been nothing (that I have seen) in the media about what compels Saddam Hussein's extraordinary ambitions. ... What has suddenly in 1990 compelled his ambition, that requires 350,000 American troops to control? What did it?

No one has named the Camp David Accords. And Saddam Hussein's ambitions are directly attributable to the Camp David Accords. I won't go into details of it — just in two sentences, remember the following. Since the decline of the Ottoman Empire (in other words, since the beginning of the 19th Century) Egypt has played the role of the regional influential in the Arab World. Politically, culturally, even militarily, Egypt has led the Arab World (and ideologically). The Camp David Accords' supreme achievement was to isolate Egypt from its Arab milieu.

When Anwar Sadat signed that piece of paper, his hope had been that this would lead to the return of Egyptian territory to Egypt. Occupied territories, one (which he did get). And two, a modicum of justice for the Palestinians. So that, over time his isolation will be ameliorated. And that minimum that was promised to Sadat in the Camp David Accords was not honored. In fact, the maximum was dishonored.

To remind you of one reality alone, Carter, and Saunders, and William B. Quandt — the three American negotiators from top to the bottom (with Carter at the top, Saunders in the middle, and Quandt at the bottom) — have testified and recorded in their books that in the last three days of the Camp David negotiations, the negotiations had broken down on one issue. And the issue was Sadat's insistence that there should be written in the Camp David Accords that Israel will put up no more settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. And Begin would say, "I am willing to agree on it informally, but won't do it in writing." And Carter weighs in and says, "You must understand Begin's difficult position. I give you guarantee that there will be no settlements. ...

Now, obviously, Camp David meant moral, ideological, political isolation of Egypt from its Arab milieu. There would be a political vacuum in the Middle East after Camp David. And smaller players — like Syria and Iraq — would love, would aim at, would have the ambition, to fill that vacuum.

Similarly, the late Patrick Seale wrote in 2011 in "The future of the (de)stabilizing Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty": 

By removing Egypt — the strongest and most populous of the Arab countries — from the Arab line-up, the treaty ruled out any possibility of an Arab coalition that might have contained Israel or restrained its freedom of action. As Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan remarked at the time: "If a wheel is removed, the car will not run again."

Western commentators routinely describe the treaty as a "pillar of regional stability," a "keystone of Middle East diplomacy," a "centerpiece of America’s diplomacy" in the Arab and Muslim world. This is certainly how Israel and its American friends have seen it.

But for most Arabs, it has been a disaster. Far from providing stability, it exposed them to Israeli power. Far from bringing peace, the treaty ensured an absence of peace, since a dominant Israel saw no need to compose or compromise with Syria or the Palestinians.

Instead, the treaty opened the way for Israeli invasions, occupations and massacres in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, for strikes against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear sites, for brazen threats against Iran, for the 44-year occupation of the West Bank and the cruel blockade of Gaza, and for the pursuit of a "Greater Israel" agenda by fanatical Jewish settlers and religious nationalists.

In turn, Arab dictators, invoking the challenge they faced from an aggressive and expansionist Israel, were able to justify the need to maintain tight control over their populations by means of harsh security measures.

All these factors deflated Arab Nationalism and ultimately opened the way for Saudi dominance of much of the region. This helped lead to the collapse of the three other major secular states in the region: Iraq, Syria and Libya. Egypt itself has been relegated to the role of puppet police state and may descend further given the current dynamics. 


Sam Husseini is communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy and founder of VotePact.org. Thanks to Berkley Bragg for research help.

Postol: The New York Times Video Analysis of the Events in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017: NONE of the Cited Forensic Evidence Supports the Claims

[I just received this from Theodore A. Postol (professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) regarding claims put forward by the New York Times and others about Syria. Note full report is PDF at bottom.] 

May 30, 2017 

The New York Times Video Analysis of
the Events in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017:
NONE of the Cited Forensic Evidence Supports the Claims

Theodore A. Postol
Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Summary

On April 26, 2017 the New York Times released a video titled How Syria and Russia Spun a Chemical Strike.  This video provides extensive forensic evidence that the New York Times used to develop its conclusions about an alleged nerve agent attack in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017.  In this report, I show that NONE of the forensic evidence in the New York Times video and a follow-on Times news article supports the conclusions reported by the New York Times.

The forensic evidence and analytical claims in all of these reports can be traced back to a single source, an organization called Bellingcat.  This organization represents itself as “specializing in analyzing information posted online.”  As will be shown in what follows, not a single claim made by Bellingcat is supported by the forensic evidence it used to reach its conclusions.

The particular evidence of concern in this report are claims made by Bellingcat about three sites that were attacked by air on April 4, 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun with general-purpose bombs.  Bellingcat’s claims about forensic evidence of an alleged sarin release in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017 are addressed in my previous report, The Human Rights Watch Report of May 1,2017 Cites Evidence that Disaffirms Its Own Conclusions About the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on April 4,2017, issued on May 8, 2017.  This earlier report shows that Bellingcat’s claims of forensic proof for the sarin release site is based on evidence that does not exist.

This report shows that NONE of the bomb-damage areas identified by Bellingcat and shown in the New York Times video show any indication of bomb damage from 500 to 1000 pound bombs.  That is, the data from a composite panoramic view that is the foundation of the Bellingcat and New York Times analyses is clearly and unambiguously inconsistent with the claims of bomb damage from before and after satellite photographs used in the same analyses.  In fact NONE of the forensic data claimed by Bellingcat and the New York Times as evidence of general-purpose bomb damage on April 4 supports the conclusions that are said to have been derived from the forensic data.  In all, when these false claims about information provided in the forensic data are brought together with the claims about a sarin release site, the conclusion is inescapable that all of the evidence referred to by Bellingcat in the New York Times contains no forensic proof to support their narrative.

Thus, the narratives put forward by the New York Times, and the closely related Human Rights Watch report of May 1, are all based on forensic evidence and conclusions that are unambiguously false.

The specific problems with the forensic analysis produced by Bellingcat are as follows: