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Total number of comments: 13 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:25)


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  • Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu
    • I'm not an American, but it seems to me to be a bit unrealistic to complain about the US Govt. failing to sanction Israel or Mubarak if such sanctions are really impossible for internal US political reasons.

      Pres. Obama may have thought that he could jawbone Israel out of settlements and Mubarak out of power, but it seems to me that Israel quite well enough informed about the US political climate and quite influential enough within the US to see that Obama really had nothing, politically, to back up his rhetoric. Ignoring him was something of a risk, but a calculated one, and one that seems likely to pay off.

      I don't know if it is really sensible to refer to this situation as "powerlessness". Commenter Moshe made what I think is a similar point above. If a toothy dog doesn't bite (Moshe's phrase), can you really conclude that it can't bite? In fact, the US has exerted considerable power in support of Israel and Mubarak in recent times, and probably will continue to do so.

  • Why Egypt 2011 is not Iran 1979
  • Kolin: How the US Became a Police State
    • People often forget that post-1917 Russia was a country partially dismembered (by Brest-Litovsk) and under attack by foreign-supported counter-revolutionary armies. The revolution was almost immediately followed by civil war fomented by Western European and US Govts. This immediately put the Bolsheviks in a desperate situation in which (a) they saw enemies everwhere because there were enemies everywhere and (b) they saw clearly that there was no chance of normal relations with non-Communist Govts.

      In the US, by contrast, there was no external threat after the end of the Revolutionary War. The new US Govt. was far more able to develop its own policies and strategies than was the Bolshevik Govt. in Russia in the years following 1917.

      I don't know why people insist on forgetting this fundamental difference. How a Bolshevik Govt. might have developed in Russia after 1917 if there had been no foreign-supported civil war will always remain one of the tantalising "ifs" of history, but there is no reason to assume that it would have been exactly the same as what actually occurred.

  • Abbas: Israeli Colonization Impedes Start of Direct Talks
    • The Independent on 7 Jul. published an article based on a recent report by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem which claimed that 42 per cent of the West Bank was claimed by settler groups.

      An extract:

      “The jurisdiction of some 200 settlements, illegal under international law, cover much more of the occupied Palestinian territory than previously thought. And a large section of the land has been seized from private Palestinian landowners in defiance even of an Israeli supreme court ruling, the report said, a finding which sits uncomfortably with Israeli claims that it builds only on state land.

      “Drawing on official Israeli military maps and population statistics, the leading Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, compiled the new findings, which were released just as the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, arrived in Washington to try to heal a gaping rift with US President Barack Obama over the issue of settlements.

      “While most of the Jewish settlement activity is concentrated in 1 per cent of the West Bank, settler councils have in fact fenced off or earmarked massive tracts of land, comprising some 42 per cent of the West Bank, B'Tselem said”.

      link to

  • World Cup Death Threats for Paul the Oracle Octopus
  • Turkey Forbids Israeli Military Overflights
    • I notice that Dani Rodrik is accusing the present Turkish Govt. of a "dirty war" against its political opponents, described as the "secular old guard". From one of Rodrik's posts:

      "As long as it felt persecuted by hard-line secularists, the AKP did appear to advance the cause of democracy, rule of law, and human rights -- most significantly in its efforts to join the European Union. But now that it has the upper hand, it is undermining that same agenda".

      link to

      It's hard to know how much weight to give to this, since Rodrik discloses that he is the son-in-law of one of the so-called victims of the Turkish Govt's. "dirty war". However I take Epppie's comment above seriously, and together with Rodrik's statements it may just be that the Turkish Govt. is putting some money on both horses (Israel/US, Iran/Syria/Palestinians) and awaiting the outcome.

  • McCain Bashes Obama's Afghan Withdrawal Timetable
    As British, Poles, Dutch Plan Exit
    • Both major parties in Australia make obeisance to Washington. Otherwise they get called communists and fear that the US will destabilise them. It has happened before.

    • " saying a Muslim Army invading the US could defeat the Republican Party".

      In such a case you would probably find even registered Democrats joining a resistance.

  • Tel Aviv Rally Against Gaza Blockade;
    Wave of Protests, Gov't Condemnation
    • I just noticed this piece which indicates that the cargoes are being sent to Gaza (Al-Jezeera) (extract):

      "But the biggest irony in this tragedy is not just that the "weapons" Israel claims were on board have not yet materialised or been shown to the media, its that the aid, which Israel says Gaza does not need, and the aid which was on board the flotilla heading to Gaza and prevented by Israel from reaching its shores is now being delivered to Gaza by Israel as quickly as possible".

      link to

      True?? Corroboration?? Unsupported Israeli statement??

    • Finding out what happens to the seized cargoes may not be easy. Juan Cole links to a piece on cement, but according to this Israeli piece, all the cargoes have already been distributed to Gaza (!):

      link to

      Meanshile, according to this piece Hamas will refuse to accept any of it unless the Turks agree:

      link to

      I hope that concerned bloggers and independent news organisations keep their eyes on the cargoes as far as is possible, because unless and until another flotilla sails the disposition of the cargoes (and the captured ships) is the main game.

  • Northern Ireland Condemns Israeli Raid on Rachel Corrie,
    "Completely unacceptable Use of Force"
    • Attention now needs to focus on the seized ships and their cargoes. The Israelis should come under pressure to release the cargoes into Gaza as intended, and to release the ships to their legal owners once unloaded.

  • Rachel Corrie Steaming toward Gaza
    Likud Vows it will Not Arrive
    • "It is increasingly clear that the violence on the Mavi Marmara came about in part because it was a large five-deck ship and could not easily be boarded from the sea".

      I know what you are trying to say, but the fact is that the violence on that ship came about because it was boarded by Israeli soldiers who were intent on siezing control of the ship in international waters, illegally as I believe. That is the reason for the violence.

      Trying to pretend that there is any other reason for the violence - eg. that different military tactics, or a different design of ship, or different reactions by the people on board would have prevented violence - is simply to excuse what happened. It is easy to slip into, but it should be avoided, or the fundamental shape of thses events is going to be obscured.

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