American Self-Deception: A List of Wars and More

❝ There is a reason that most countries polled in December 2013 by Gallup called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world, and why Pew found that viewpoint increased in 2017.

But it is a reason that eludes that strain of U.S. academia that first defines war as something that nations and groups other than the United States do, and then concludes that war has nearly vanished from the earth.

❝ Since World War II, during a supposed golden age of peace, the United States military has killed or helped kill some 20 million people, overthrown at least 36 governments, interfered in at least 84 foreign elections, attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders, and dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries. The United States is responsible for the deaths of 5 million people in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and over 1 million just since 2003 in Iraq.

For the past almost 16 years, the United States has been systematically destroying a region of the globe, bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria, not to mention the Philippines. The United States has “special forces” operating in two-thirds of the world’s countries and non-special forces in three-quarters of them.

❝ The U.S. government as of 2017 provided military aid to 73% of the world’s dictatorships.

The emperor not only has new clothes since the end of World war 2. He and his peers kindly provided the whole cloth to both of the political parties we’re allowed to have – to cut and sew matching outfits for the whole nation.

Okinawa still fighting to get out from under the Japan-US “Security” Treaty

Okinawa officials have filed a lawsuit against the central Japanese government in a new bid to block the slated construction of a U.S. military base in the prefecture’s Henoko region.

“We will do whatever it takes to stop the new Henoko base,” Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said during a press conference… “Okinawa’s argument is legitimate, and I believe that it will be certainly understood.”

Residents and officials charge that the Japanese government’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism…acted unlawfully when it suspended Onaga’s permit cancellation for work needed to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to its slated spot in Henoko…

The legal challenge is the latest effort to block the continued militarization of the southern Japanese island, which has long served as home base for more than half of the 50,000 American military service members in Japan, as well as over two-thirds of U.S. bases in the country. In late October, hundreds of Okinawa residents, largely elders, linked arms and physically blocked vehicles transporting building materials to the base.

Don’t the people of Okinawa have sovereignty? one protester, 70-year-old Katsuhiro Yoshida, told Japanese paper The Asahi Shimbun at the time. “This reminds me of the scenes of rioting against the U.S. military before Okinawa was returned to Japan (in 1972). Now we are facing off against our own government. It is so contemptible.”

Time and again the people of Okinawa revolt against domination of their island home by the US military, the capitulation of the old Japanese government in Tokyo. Treaties, secret and public, enacted 70 years ago should not control their destiny just because it suits Uncle Sugar’s imperial dreams in Asia.

Anyone recall when Republicans weren’t “leaders of jaw-dropping incompetence”?

In a blistering New York Times column, David Brooks accuses today’s Republican Party of betraying the actual tenets of conservatism. “By traditional definitions,” he writes, “conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible.”

Today’s Republicans, he continues, have abandoned all that. The GOP is increasingly driven by a faction that “regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.”

It’s perhaps not a surprise that Brooks, a Burkean conservative, finds the party of Donald Trump and Ben Carson a bit objectionable. What’s interesting is the precise nature of his diagnosis. Republicans, he says, have become prisoners of their own rhetoric:

Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple.

This produced a radical mind-set.

The result is a party that has convinced its voters that America needs a political revolution and is now surprised to find its voters turning to revolutionaries. “These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed,” Brooks says. “But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around.”…

BUT…Establishment Republican candidates feel they have to use revolutionary rhetoric to win over the Tea Party, and since they face no sanction from the desperate moderates in their party when they pander to the right, it’s an easy choice. Until that changes — until players like Brooks are angrier at the center of their party for indulging these tendencies than they are at the fringe for taking advantage of the result — the Republican Party is going to continue to get pulled far to the right.

Ezra Klein pins the essential hypocrisy of moderate Republicans like Brooks. The rhetorical lie of George W Bush and Mitt Romney alike is that the Republican Party is a big tent. They only extend that teflon-coated sheet in one direction – to the Right – to accommodate their own bigotries, to allow room for the extensions of imperial arrogance to every corner of a planet they still feel destined to own – if not govern.

Photos of a war crime in progress


Click to enlarge — Ezz Al-Zanoun/Getty Images

A boy stands at a funeral ceremony held for Palestinian Abu Jamei, who died after an Israeli aircraft hit his house in Khan Yunis, Gaza

“You can’t have occupation and human rights.”

That’s what public intellectual and essayist Christopher Hitchens had to say about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, one of the most contentious components of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This conflict came to a head once again last summer, when Israel launched a seven-week military campaign in the Gaza Strip region of Palestine that resulted in about 2,200 deaths — 1,500 of them civilian.

This campaign is just the latest in a long line of fighting in Gaza — and beyond, so much so that the United Nations just reported that within five years, Gaza could be uninhabitable.

Click this link to see more of the story, more photos.

It’s worth $173 billion to Israel and Palestine if they stopped fighting

Researchers at the Rand Corporation’s Center for Middle East Public Policy recently mounted a study to determine the net economic costs and benefits of various alternatives in the Middle East over the next ten years. They looked at five possible scenarios: a two state solution; a coordinated unilateral withdrawal of 60,000 Israelis from much of the West Bank, with 75 percent of the cost covered by the international community and 25 percent of the bill footed by Israel; an uncoordinated unilateral withdrawal, in which only 30,000 Israeli settlers leave the West Bank and Israel bankrolls the withdrawal completely; nonviolent Palestinian resistance to Israel through boycotts of Israeli products in the region, and diplomatic efforts in the UN; and a violent Palestinian uprising beginning in Gaza, with the potential to spread to the West Bank and involve players like Hezbollah.

The study asserts that the two-state solution is most profitable, and could allow Israel to gain $123 billion by 2024. Assuming that an agreement is reached and Israel retreats to the 1967 borders (save for agreed-upon swapped territories), 100,000 Israeli settlers relocated from the West Bank to Israel, Palestinian trade and travel restrictions are lifted, and up to 600,000 refugees are returned to their homes in the West Bank and Gaza, the changes in “direct and opportunity costs”—among them a projected 20 percent increase in tourism and a 150 percent increase in Palestinian trade—would be immediate boons. The peace would bring the cessation of Arab country trade sanctions and with it, a raise of Israel’s GDP by $23 billion over what it would have been under the status quo. Palestine would pocket over $50 billion under these conditions. Palestinians would see an average per capita income increase of approximately 36 percent. Under such a peace accord, Israelis would experience a 5 percent increase in income.

The Israeli government is as likely to consider this report as is, say, the Republican Party’s platform committee considering open automatic voting rights like Oregon.

Nixon set the policy: OK for Israel to have nuclear weapons but not Iran


Nice to see continuity in American foreign policy, eh?

Iranian officials sometimes respond to accusations that Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability by replying that, not only do they not want a bomb, they’d actually like to see a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East. Yes, this is surely in part a deflection, meant to shift attention away from concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities by not-so-subtly nodding to the one country in the region that does have nuclear weapons: Israel.

But could Iran have a point? Is there something hypocritical about the world tolerating Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which the country does not officially acknowledge but has been publicly known for decades, and yet punishing Iran with severe economic sanctions just for its suspected steps toward a weapons program? Even Saudi Arabia, which sees Iran as its implacable enemy and made its accommodations with Israel long ago, often joins Tehran’s calls for a “nuclear-free region.” And anyone not closely versed in Middle East issues might naturally wonder why the United States would accept Israeli warheads but not an Iranian program…

The single greatest factor explaining how Israel got the world to accept its nuclear program may be timing. The first nuclear weapon was detonated in 1945, by the United States. In 1970, most of the world agreed to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which forbids any new countries from developing nuclear weapons. In that 25-year window, every major world power developed a nuclear weapon: the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, France and China. They were joined by exactly one other country: Israel.

The Israeli nuclear program was driven in many ways by the obsessive fear that gripped the nation’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, in which the new country fought off Egyptian and Jordanian armies, Ben-Gurion concluded that Israel could survive only if it had a massive military deterrent — nuclear weapons…

But Israel of the 1950s was a poor country. And it was not, as it is today, a close political and military ally of the United States. Israel had to find a way to keep up with the much wealthier and more advanced world powers dominating the nuclear race. How it went about doing this goes a long way to explaining both why the United States initially opposed Israel’s nuclear program and how the world came around to accepting Israeli warheads…

…First, in 1968, Israel secretly developed a nuclear weapon. Second, and perhaps more important, was a White House meeting in September 1969 between President Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. What happened during that meeting is secret. But the Nixon’s administration’s meticulous records show that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said to Nixon, in a later conversation about the Meir meeting, “during your private discussions with Golda Meir you emphasized that our primary concern was that Israel make no visible introduction of nuclear weapons or undertake a nuclear test program.”

That meeting between Nixon and Meir set what has been Israel’s unofficial policy ever since: one in which the country does nothing to publicly acknowledge or demonstrate its nuclear weapons program, and in exchange the United States would accept it. The Nixon administration had concluded that, while it didn’t like the Israeli weapons program, it also wasn’t prepared to stop it…

“Essentially the bargain has been that Israel keeps its nuclear deterrent deep in the basement and Washington keeps its critique locked in the closet,” Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy explained.

What do Americans do about a bankrupt policy put in place by one of the most corrupt presidents in American history? Not a damned thing.

Point out we are the world’s only military superpower, known for arrogance and hypocrisy – I think the average American would try to deflect the criticism by coming up with rationales to excuse our hypocrisy, redefine it as expediency, something done to “protect” our nation.

It ain’t a new ploy. Everyone from dictators to democrats employs the strategy. The only thing that counts is that ordinary citizens accept every lie and don’t seek to change anything.

The only difference in political parties, who sits in the White House, is the quality of the lies. Either flavor still accepts the Nixonian policy.

EU takes tough stance on Israeli settlements

The European Union has dealt a harsh blow to the Israeli settlement enterprise in a directive that insists all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish colonies in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

The move, described by an Israeli official as an “earthquake”, prompted furious criticism from the Israeli prime minister over “external diktats”.

But it was hailed by Palestinians and their supporters as a significant political and economic sanction against settlements.

The EU guidelines will prohibit the issuing of grants, funding, prizes or scholarships unless a settlement exclusion clause is included. Israeli institutions and bodies situated across the pre-1967 Green Line – including the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed — will be automatically ineligible.

In order to secure agreements with the EU in the future, the Israeli government will be required to concede in writing that settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are outside the state of Israel.

The directive, part of the 2014-20 financial framework, covers all areas of co-operation between the EU and Israel, including economics, science, culture, sports and academia…

The directive follows a decision by EU foreign ministers last December that “all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967”. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

Overdue, of course. Something the United States should emulate, of course.

Sooner or later, something approaching historic justice must begin to govern the economic relationship between Israel and the countries providing a stipend for a guilty conscience.

Crusaders struggled with worms and hygiene

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Medieval feces discovered at an ancient castle in Cyprus has revealed that the Crusaders suffered from a bad case of the worms, and had poor hygiene habits.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered that occupants of a 12th century Crusaders’ castle in western Cyprus were rife with parasites, reaffirming previous research which suggested high mortality rates among Crusaders from malnutrition and infectious diseases.

Tests on latrine samples in the Saranda Kolones castle, a crusader fortress which was built after King Richard I of England captured Cyprus during the Third Crusade in 1191 AD, showed two species of parasite eggs, the roundworm and the whipworm, prevalent in the soil of what was once a cesspit.

Both types of parasites can live in the human gut, and their eggs are released through bowel movement.

The parasites are transmitted orally and evidence of their presence reflects the poor hygiene conditions that prevailed in medieval castles, according to researchers Evilena Anastasiou and Piers D. Mitchell…

Modern research has shown that intestinal parasites absorb nutrients from the diet before they can be absorbed by the host, leaving those with poor diets vulnerable to malnutrition.

The ancient toilets were half-circle holes cut into what appeared to be a rock seat, connected by a sewer below.

Poor hygiene seems to have taken its toll among crusaders. An estimated 15 to 20 percent of crusaders in long expeditions died from malnutrition and infectious diseases, on a par with those who died from wounds in battle.

The mutual twins of ignorance and stupidity followed early imperial wars as well as the modern variety. The only thing we seem to have gotten better at is safe bowel movements. Troop movements still rely ultimately on politicians.