Thursday, May 20, 2004


With friends like these...

What happened? I thought Ahmed Chalabi was our guy in Iraq? He and Bush were buddies? Apparently not. My favorite part of this article is at the end where the sentence "But analysts say he has struggled to drum up support" is repeated (along with a couple short paragraphs). It would have been great if they had thrown it in one last time at the end to close it out strong. It seems to me, though, that this is the drowning man dragging his friend under to try to get his head above water.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


mating vultures with broken wings

Two articles (one AP, the other American Prospect) that show the bind that the Democrats are in with Likud (and in general the Israeli Right) being in charge in Israel at the moment. The first one is about our boys Tom and Steny. I thought it was interesting how Tom DeLay made abundantly clear the connections between Iraq and Israel. They are the same fight, part of the global war on terror, etc, etc. Well, Steny seemed to think all that was good, except lets not talk about Iraq because the Democrats are trying to use that one to get Bush out of office. So only the Republicans can stand up there and be consistent, while the Democrats end up looking like hypocrites. In the American Prospect piece, Kenneth S. Baer argues that to win the Jewish and pro-Israel voters over, Kerry needs to talk tougher on terrorism. Basically, Baer asserts, he needs to be more like Bush:
Bush may be wrong on all the specifics, and show a lack of interest in them to boot, but his swagger, his crisp but high-minded public statements and his black-and-white view of the world all convey a toughness that appeals to terrorism-focused voters.
No wonder Gore lost - Baer was his speechwriter. The Democrats hate Bush and especially because of the way he talks about terrorism: his "crisp but high-minded public statements and his black-and-white view of the world" ("Bring 'em on", "either with us or against us", "axis of evil",etc. etc.).
So Kerry and the Democrats are in quite a bind. The problem seems to be in trying to wed the American Left with the Israeli Right. It's pretty seamless when Bush and Sharon talk because they share essentially the same world view. Increasingly, the US Left is asking the Democratic party to distance itself from that view, and it's getting harder for American Democrats to talk out of both sides of their mouths. On the other hand, I don't see them backing away from statements of eternal support for Israel. After all, if anybody can mate two crippled vultures, its Israel: check this out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


If only we could just make one exception for one of the good Arabs...

In today's Haaretz, Uzi Benziman writes about the case of Atallah Mansour, an Israeli Arab journalist whose daughter cannot return to Israel because she married a Jordanian. Unsettled by the situation, Benziman writes:
To dismantle the barricades of alienation and suspicion nourishing the conflict and condensing it, we must overcome our prejudices and distinguish between a potential terrorist and the Jordanian son-in-law of Atallah Mansour.
It seems that Benziman has missed the boat. Terrorism (and stopping potential terrorist from entering Israel) has very little to do with these kinds of restrictions on Israeli Arabs (restrictions on who can live in Israel, who can enter the country, who can buy land and where, who can build and where, etc.), other than to be trotted out by Ariel Sharon and others to explain away the treatment of Arab Israelis as second class citizens. The problem Israel faces is maintaining its Jewish identity while at the same time holding onto its status as the Middle East's only democracy (of which we are constantly reminded). Marriage, citizenship, and property ownership laws and regulations are set up and enforced to encourage Israeli Arabs to move elsewhere and to discourage them from staying in Israel. If terrorism were the real issue (and not maintaining the current demographic dominance of Jews in Israel), this is the kind of institutionalized racism that turns some Israeli Arabs from productive citizens (like Atallah Mansour and his family) towards the potential for terrorism.
I am glad that Benziman sees the need to get beyond prejudices, but to truly break down the barricades of alienation and suspicion on must dismantle the intitutionalized racism that is at the foundations of these walls, not simply make exceptions for those one knows personally to be "one of the good Arabs".


The Classic Hallmarks

More news on the Izzedine Salim assassination yesterday. Apparently (and I was unaware of this yesterday morning), the US suspects Abu Musab Zarqawi in the attack. I hope they have more evidence than this, but according to Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, this has "the classic hallmarks" of Zarqawi attacks. And what might these hallmarks be, you ask?

1) The use of suicide bombers
2) Attacking high profile targets
3) Causing great damage and destruction

Hmmm... to me these seem to be the "hallmarks" of quite a few terrorists. In fact, the last two seem to be the "hallmarks" of terrorism in general, and suicide bombing is hardly a tactic unique to Abu Musab Zarqawi. Like I said, I hope there is more evidence linking this attach to him than these hallmarks, otherwise I fear it may be a case of the US building this guy up to make it seem like a bigger deal when he is caught or killed. The insurrection in Iraq does not begin and end with Abu Musab Zarqawi and Moqtada al-Sadr.

Also interesting how Bush & Co. are raining down praise on Salim who for many years was an official in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite group based in (you guessed it) Iran.

Monday, May 17, 2004


News from the AIPAC conference

In Haaretz, reports that Tom DeLay and Steny Hoyer want to turn Bush's letter of assurances to Ariel Sharon into US law. Well, minus all the stuff about unilateral withdrawal. So Bush gets egg on his face by making promises that outrage the Arab world and getting nothing in return (Likudniks nix the Gaza pullout plan and now there are reports of the IDF setting up for a major offensive into the Rafah camp), but now these goons are tripping over each other to smear the same egg on their own faces. I'm not sure exactly how US law applies to negotiations between two parties, neither one of which is the US, bordering the US, in the same continent as the US, the same hemisphere as the US. If the US wants to take a certain stance in participating in negotiations thats one thing. If the US wants to refuse to negotiate with certain parties, if it wants to refuse to recognize a Palestinian state (should it ever come into existence), these are reasonable (though in my view counterproductive) tactics in diplomacy. Making Sharon's settlement policy US law is not only counterproductive, its daft and a bit silly. Why don't Tom and Steny try to keep US law to the US.

In other developments, FOXnews and a host of others are touting the discovery of WMDs in Iraq. STOP THE PRESSES: One possible Sarin gas armed artillery shell (that did not successfully detonate) and something about a mustard gas shell found a couple weeks ago that was harmless because of improper storage. The fact that the Fox anchor (Uma Pemmaraju) actually swung it to somebody else "for more information on these deadly developments" (deadly developments? but nobody died! the bombs were ineffective!) is laughable. If anybody tries to trump this up into what we went to war over, I'm going to be pissed. Oh wait, its already happening.


Two Things

First, the latest news from Iraq - Izzedine Salim, head of the Iraqi Governing Council, was assassinated today in a suicide bombing in Iraq. To think that anybody could point to Iraq today and call the US invasion & occupation a success is absolutely ludicrous. I think the situation is very similar to the assassination of Akhmad Kadyrov in Chechnya 8 days ago. The relationship between Iraq and the US has been poisoned, just as the relationship between Chechnya and Russia is poisoned. It doesn't matter if the governing council is made up of Iraqis, if they are perceived as being installed or backed by the US, they are sellouts, puppets, what have you, it all translates to the same thing: targets. It is a very, very dismal situation.
Second, allegations of filmed prison abuse at Guantanamo. I don't think most people would be shocked that there has been abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo - I'm just glad to see that Senator Patrick Leahy is demanding some action and I really hope that quite a few others stand up and demand the same, prompting calls from the right that this is being turned into a "political" issue. Well, goddamit, what is wrong with turning it into a political issue? It's the current administration with the backing of Congressional Republicans that pressed so hard to fight this war in Iraq, that made it so that Guantanamo was a void outside of international or domestic law, that got us into this mess. And they had plenty of help from Democrats and those Democrats should pay for it (politically) just the same. Either that or, or if everybody is so innocent, stand up and defend yourself or do take some corrective action. The only thing that it says to me when somebody accuses others of turning it into a political issue is that that person does not see a problem. They see a problem of getting some bad press maybe, but not in the abuse of Iraqis or Arabs or Muslims in Guantanamo. Sadly, a lot of them would agree with people like Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage that we aren't doing enough to the people we have in captivity in Iraq or Guantanamo. Getting back to the "Othering" of Middle Easterners, Arabs, Muslims, Afghanis, etc., so much of the language espoused by the war-mongers and right wing (I don't even know if I should insert the word "extremists" here because it has become so widespread) has been used to look on terrorists (well, Islamic terrorists, and by extension Muslims & Arabs) as inhuman abominations, evil subhumans that hate us because of who we are (humans), they hate our (human) way of life. Terrorism is about politics, not evolution. Let's make this a political issue (There, I said it again).

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