July 22, 2006

Collective Punishment Isn't Self-Defense
Neither the United States nor Israel is equivalent to Nazi Germany, yet both countries have adopted a Nazi-like obsession with collective punishment
By Ted Rall

As commander of a Nazi einsatzgruppen death squad in occupied Poland, Dr. Werner Best came to believe that the most effective response to terrorism was collective punishment. After the fall of France he went on to draft the Third Reich's counterterrorism policy for countries occupied by Germany. Towns where acts of "passive" resistance such as the cutting of telegraph cables had taken place were placed under curfews, fined and slapped with travel restrictions. "Active" resistance--the killing of a German soldier--would be met by reprisal killings of local civilians.

Dr. Best was trying to protect German troops. Rather than be cowed, however, leaders of European resistance groups saw Best's ruthless policy as their chance to radicalize moderates who were still on the fence about their German occupatiers. The insurgents stepped up assassinations of German troops. The killings prompted the Germans to shoot more local businessmen and political leaders. The cycle of violence was spiraling out of control.

Eventually Hitler himself got into the act. Convinced that collective punishment was failing because it wasn't severe enough, the führer issued a September 1941 order to use "the harshest measures" against civilians in areas where the Resistance was active. Arguing that "only the [collective] death penalty can be a real means of deterrence," Hitler ordered that 50 civilians be executed for each German soldier killed. more...

July 21, 2006

The Most Dangerous Alliance in the World
by Norman Solomon  

After getting out of Lebanon, writer June Rugh told Reuters on Tuesday: "As an American, I'm embarrassed and ashamed. My administration is letting it happen [by giving] tacit permission for Israel to destroy a country." The news service quoted another American evacuee, Andrew Muha, who had been in southern Lebanon. He said: "It's a travesty. There's a million homeless in Lebanon and the intense amount of bombing has brought an entire country to its knees."

Embarrassing. Shameful. A travesty. Those kinds of words begin to describe the alliance between the United States and Israel. Here are a few more: Government criminality. High-tech terror. Mass murder from the skies. The kind of premeditated action that the U.S. representative in Nuremberg at the International Conference on Military Trials -- Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Jackson -- was talking about on August 12, 1945, when he declared that "no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy."

The United States and Israel. Right now, it's the most dangerous alliance in the world.

Of course, Israeli officials talk about murderous crimes against civilians by Hezbollah and Hamas. And Hezbollah and Hamas officials talk about murderous crimes against civilians by Israel. Plenty of real crimes to go around. At the same time, by any measure, Israelis have done a lot more killing than dying. (If you doubt that, take a look at the website of the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem and its documentation of deadly events.) more...

July 20, 2006

Open Mike, Closed Mind

Bombs were exploding and innocents dying, from Beirut to Haifa to Baghdad, and yet George Bush managed to pose for yet another photo op, smiling as he gave the thumbs up at the close of the G-8 summit. Thanks to an unsuspected open mike, however, we could also glimpse the mindset of a leader unaccountably pleased with his ignorance of the world.

While it is refreshing to note that our President employs language that would earn a radio shock jock a fine from his own rabid obscenity-sniffers at the FCC, his profound ignorance is appalling. Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah all have their own hardcore agendas--Syria is just one player in the tortured region. Furthermore, Bush's complete disinterest in the Mideast peace process--especially as an "honest broker" between Israel and the Palestinians--since the Supreme Court handed him the job in 2000 has paved the way for this moment. more...

July 19, 2006

From Tom Tomorrow's web site, This Modern World:

Your heart just has to break to see these Shiite children in Lebanon smiling and writing „messagesš on the rockets that soon will devastate Israeli homes. What kind of sick society produces little girls who exult in the infliction of pain against people they‚ve never met?

And look at the woman in the background, presumably their motherųclearly she approves! Sadly, until the Arabs let go of their culture of incitement and rage, I‚m afraid there‚s no concession Israel can ever make that will bring peace with these people.

girls and shells

What‚s that?

Those aren‚t Lebanese girls writing on Hezbollah rockets, but Israeli girls writing on Israeli shells?

girls and shells


Never mind.
(Via via.)

July 18, 2006

The Force Is Not with Them
The Middle East Aflame and the Bush Administration Adrift
by Tom Engelhardt  

So, as the world spins on a dime, where exactly are we? As a man who is no fan of fundamentalists of any sort, let me offer a proposition that might make some modest sense of our reeling planet. Consider the possibility that the most fundamental belief, perhaps in all of history, but specifically in these last catastrophic years, seems to be in the efficacy of force -- and the more of it the merrier. That deep belief in force above all else is perhaps the monotheism of monotheisms, a faith remarkably accepting of adherents of any other imaginable faith – or of no other faith at all. Like many fundamentalist faiths, it is also resistant to drawing any reasonable lessons from actual experience on this planet.

The Bush administration came to power as a fundamentalist regime; and here I'm not referring to the Christian fundamentalist faith of our President. After all, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, and our Vice President seem not to be Christian fundamentalists any more than were Paul Wolfowitz or Douglas Feith. Bush's top officials may not have agreed among themselves on whether End Time would arrive, or even on the domestic social issues of most concern to the Christian religious right in this country, but they were all linked by a singular belief in the efficacy of force.

In fact, they believed themselves uniquely in possession of an ability to project force in ways no other power on the planet or in history ever could. While hardly elevating the actual military leadership of the country (whom they were eager to sideline), they raised the all-volunteer American military itself onto a pedestal and worshipped it as the highest tech, most shock-and-awesome institution around. They were dazzled by the fact that it was armed with the smartest, most planet-spanning, most destructive set of weapons imaginable, and backed by an unparalleled military-industrial complex as well as a "defense" budget that would knock anyone's socks off (and their communications systems down). It was enough to dazzle the administration's top officials with dreams of global domination; to fill them with a vision of a planet-wide Pax Americana; to send them off to the moon (which, by the way, was certainly militarizable).

Meanwhile, as no one could have missed by now, the Mediterranean edge of the Middle East is teetering at the edge of full-scale war, behind which lurks the threat of an even wider regional war of some previously almost unimaginable sort. There, too, the recourse to arms has overwhelmed any other possible option. Hamas guerrillas broke into Israel, killed two soldiers and captured another. They certainly must have had a sense of what the Israeli reaction to such a raid might be; but for the sake of argument, let's say they didn't.

In the meantime, at the Lebanese border with Israel, the guerrillas of the Hezbollah movement watched the Israelis mercilessly take out a power plant, government offices, and various other infrastructural targets in Gaza, while killing civilians and hammering urban areas as a "response" to the capture of their soldier. Hezbollah then launched their own incursion into Israel, killing several soldiers and capturing two more. With the example of Gaza in front of them, they had to know just exactly what the Olmert government would do to the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon itself -- and clearly it made no difference.

As for the Israelis, at this point they visibly feel free of all outside restraint or constraint, given the Bush administration, and so can bomb, blockade, missile, and attack almost at will -- and, with their eyes on Syria and Iran, are threatening to widen this war yet further, setting the region ablaze. As in the slums of Baghdad, so too in Gaza, Lebanon, and possibly elsewhere, the urge is to settle historic grudges via shock-and-awe tactics. And yet, as Rami Khouri has written recently, the Israelis are "in the bizarre position of repeating policies that have consistently failed for the past 40 years." The last time this happened, the Israelis made it all the way to Beirut and ended up stuck in Lebanon for 18 years before withdrawing ignominiously. In the process, they helped midwife the Hezbollah movement and give it luster, a reputation, and strength. more...

July 17, 2006

The Politics of American Greed
By Molly Ivins

Anyone who doesn't think this is a country where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer needs to check the numbers.

I don't get it. What's the percentage in keeping the minimum wage at $5.15 an hour? After nine years? This is such an unnecessary and nasty Republican move. Congress has voted seven times to raise its own wages since last the minimum wage budged. Of course, Congress always raises its own salary in the dark of night, hoping no one will notice. But now it does the same with the minimum wage, quietly killing it. more...

July 16, 2006

What Iraq War?
by P.J. Baicich and F. S. McArthur

There are mighty good reasons to be disturbed over the level of discussion on the situation in Iraq, especially with patriotic-sounding Republicans regularly rallying behind their President. Just consider the situation last month where they would insert the phrase "cut-and-run" into every third or fourth sentence they uttered. It was painful to watch as the clueless Democrats squirmed to avoid being painted as "sell-outs" and near-traitors to our troops.


The cycle must be broken.

This can only be done by facing the reality: The war in Iraq is over.


Ultimately, what remains is not the U.S. in a war, but the U.S. in an occupation. more...
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