Is US ‘Pullout’ Talk Simply Tough Diplomacy for Karzai Visit?: Much attention has been given to the Obama Administration’s plan for a withdrawal from Afghanistan, with reports that they are considering to a total withdrawal from Afghanistan, using the eventual pullout from Iraq as a model. But it may just be a negotiating strategy.
A group of about 200 Palestinians have set up a small tent village – basically camping out – in the territory in East Jerusalem described by Israel as E1. They say they plan to start building a new Palestinian village there under the name Bab As-Shams.
These Palestinians and activists are basically saying: two can play at this settlement game.
Following the overwhelming UN vote for implicit recognition of Palestinian statehood in November, Israel authorized the construction of 3,000 more housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and is also speeding up the processing of 1,000 additional planning permissions.
According to the New York Times, the bulk of the new housing units Israel has plans for are set to be built “in a controversial area of East Jerusalem known as E1, where Jewish settlements have long been seen as the death knell for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The settlement would connect Jerusalem and the illegal Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, and “therefore make it impossible to connect the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem to Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.”
Israel has issued an eviction notice to the Palestinian settlers, ordering them to evacuate their own land. Apparently, the Israelis don’t like it when Palestinians settle on land Israel thinks is its own.
A number of human rights issues converge on Friday January 11, 2013. In Washington DC and many other cities around the country, including the Twin Cities, people will don orange “Gitmo” jumpsuits and black hoods to protest the 11th year anniversary-travesty of Guantanamo as well as the (bizarrely coincidental) national release of the despicable, CIA-inspired “zero conscience” film that falsely conveys the message that torture “works” and is somehow heroic.
The third, far less known issue involves the resignation (effective on January 11) of Suzanne Nossel, Director of Amnesty International-USA. Her resignation after only one year as American Director would be unimportant except for how it exposes more fundamental problems involving the way human rights principles during peace time and humanitarian rules governing warfare can function to undercut the more well established jus ad bellum prohibitions, under international law, of launching wars of choice. Nossel’s statement itself gave little clue of the more fundamental problematic issues underlying her resignation (except for the fact that she only mentioned her appreciation for working to uphold “human rights” in the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Syria but left out the human rights violations that the US-NATO-Israel is responsible for). Continue
A regular reader of Antiwar.com writes, “Professor Joe Salerno, academic vice president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in a recorded talk from the institute’s 30th anniversary celebration, talks about the Keynesian architects of the US Warfare state. Salerno explains how Keynesian economics teaches that wasteful consumption of all kinds, including warfare, generates additional income which makes society wealthier. For this reason, academic and government Keynesian economists have recommended additional military spending to help the economy out of the current recession.”
The Associated Press is reporting that “Chuck Hagel, is meeting with senior Pentagon staff to try to set the record straight about his stand on Iran, saying he backs strong international sanctions against Tehran and believes all options, including military action, should be on the table.”
As was eagerly pointed out in the pre-nomination debate over Hagel, his views on Iran have been pro-diplomacy and anti-war, throwing in a heavy skepticism about unilateral sanctions.
“Isolating nations is risky,” Hagel wrote in his 2008 book. “It turns them inward, and makes their citizens susceptible to the most demagogic fear mongering.”
Diplomacy, he wrote, is necessary to avoid war: “Distasteful as we may find that country’s rulers, the absence of any formal governmental relations with Iran ensures that we will continue to conduct this delicate international relationship through the press and speeches, as well as through surrogates and third parties, on issues of vital strategic importance to our national interests. Such a course can only result in diplomatic blind spots that will lead to misunderstandings, miscalculation, and, ultimately, conflict.”
Hagel even hints that containment of a nuclear Iran is preferable to war: “The genie of nuclear armaments is already out of the bottle, no matter what Iran does. In this imperfect world, sovereign nation-states possessing nuclear weapons capability (as opposed to stateless terrorist groups) will often respond with some degree of responsible, or at least sane, behavior. These governments, however hostile they may be toward us, have some appreciation of the horrific results of a nuclear war and the consequences they would suffer.”
These are the views Hagel caught flack for from the war-mongers in Washington. Those wondering what accounts for Hagel’s apparent abrupt switch shouldn’t be surprised: that’s politics.
On the one hand, I think the AP article describing Hagel as being suddenly supportive of an “all options, including military attack, being on the table” position may be misleading.
First of all, as my colleague Justin Raimondo pointed out in conversation, there isn’t a single direct quote from Hagel in the entire article. These are Pentagon officials and administration apparatchiks deliberately putting forth the Hagel they want the public to know.
Secondly, although I’ve never been in a presidential administration or sat in on conversations at the White House, it strikes me as obvious that “the administration” displays unity on the issues publicly, even if they vehemently disagree privately. That, to me, is a more likely explanation than to believe the caricature that Hagel opposed war on Iran the day before his nomination and supported it the day after.
And finally, while the Obama administration’s policy has been to continually regurgitate the euphemistic line for military attack – “all options on the table” – it’s policy on Iran thus far has decidedly been to avoid direct military action.
There is plenty to criticize the administration’s Iran policy for – I make a living doingjustthat. But to say the administration line is to bomb Iran back to the stone age, simply ignores the record. At the height of the war rhetoric on Iran in the last two years, Obama expended a certain amount of political capital by marching out his minions from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to reiterate the fact that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, despite constant rhetoric to the contrary.
And when Israel was feverishly lobbying for a US-backed war on Iran, Gen. Martin Dempsey, America’s top military official who answers directly to President Obama, reiterated that the US would not be “complicit” in an Israeli strike, which he also explained would be counterproductive. Less than a week later, Israeli press reports came out saying the Obama administration sent a surreptitious message to Iran promising not to back an Israeli strike, as long as Tehran refrains from attacking American interests in the Persian Gulf.
In September, a report by former government officials, national security experts and retired military officers – people who generally reflect establishment views in DC like Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Armitage, Thomas Pickering, James Dobbins – concluded an attack on Iran would prompt large-scale Iranian retaliation that would spark an uncontrollable regional war. It said “achieving more than a temporary setback in Iran’s nuclear program would require a military operation – including a land occupation – more taxing than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.”
Point being: Hagel’s position of multi-liateral sanctions and diplomacy – not war – are not as unwelcome in DC as some would have us believe.
So have Hagel’s views magically changed? I’d say no, not yet. But as Glenn Greenwald pointed out this morning, the example of Harold Koh and countless others proves that power in DC can and does intoxicate people, leading them to positions and policies wholly antagonistic to their previous iterations. If and when Hagel does turn, he’ll be as despicable as the rest who’ve done so.