Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Letter to the Boston Globe, July 29, 2014


To the editor:

Israel – with US financing and US weapons -- has created a massive humanitarian disaster in Gaza.  More than 1100 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more injured.  According to the UN, three-quarters of the dead are civilians, including hundreds of children and women.  Tens of thousands have been made homeless. The strip’s only power plant is now in flames from Israeli bombardment.

Yet our Congress has unanimously passed legislation blaming only the victims and is considering further resolutions  that aim to legitimize and prolong the slaughter.

What is needed are measures to end the bombing and offer the people of Gaza, as well as Israel, freedom from violence and the possibility to live normal lives without being under siege in their tiny patch of land.  In the longer run, only a just end to the blockade of  Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank can offer the prospect of a lasting peace.

As I understand it, Secretary of State John Kerry has been working to achieve a cease-fire and negotiations to achieve those outcomes.  For his efforts, he has been openly vilified in the Israeli press.  Kerry and his diplomatic process deserve our support, instead of joining the campaign to malign him as Israel and its US supporters are doing.

It is, frankly, shameful that our Congress – especially its Democratic Party members -- would even consider a resolution written by the agents of a foreign country, whose spokespeople have insulted our secretary of state and whose chief of state virtually endorsed the Republican candidate in the last US presidential election.

Sincerely,
Jeff Klein

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Cutting the Grass" Again in Gaza


Horror on Gaza Beach
DEMOCRACY NOW! Had The Best Roundup here

Meanwhile, in the US, the Obama administration and the Congress have piled on. . .in support of the slaughter and to back Israel’s aims in the current hostilities.

Obama Endorses Israel’s Gaza Assault at White House “Iftar”
At the annual White House Iftar dinner commemorating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, President Barack Obama endorsed Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip and defended government spying on Muslim-Americans. Alongside dozens of Muslim-American community activists and Muslim diplomats, the White House welcomed Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, an outspoken advocate of Israel's settlement enterprise who has claimed Muslim and Arab culture is endemically violent.  More

Senate passes resolution in support of Israel
The Senate passed a resolution expressing support for Israel on the same night the country launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) authored S.Res. 498, which reaffirms Senate support for Israel, condemns unprovoked rocket fire and calls on Hamas to stop all rocket attacks on Israel. “The United States Senate is in Israel’s camp,” Graham said on the Senate floor Thursday. Passage of the resolution came moments after Israel announced that it launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, following a week of heavy rocket attacks from Hamas forces.  More

Senator Elizabeth Warren was anxious to avoid responding to a question about Gaza.

The House and Senate resolutions, which were undoubtedly written by AIPAC, make no mention of casualties in Gaza, call the rockets “an unprovoked attack”  and also demand that the Palestinian Authority dissolve its unity agreement with Hamas.

Gaza: this shameful injustice will only end if the cost of it rises
For the third time in five years, the world’s fourth largest military power has launched a full-scale armed onslaught on one of its most deprived and overcrowded territories. Since Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip began, just over a week ago, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed. Nearly 80% of the dead are civilians, over 20% of them children. Around 1,400 have been wounded and 1,255 Palestinian homes destroyed. So far, Palestinian fire has killed one Israeli on the other side of the barrier that makes blockaded Gaza the world’s largest open-air prison. But instead of demanding a halt to Israel’s campaign of collective punishment against what is still illegally occupied territory, the western powers have blamed the victims for fighting back. If it weren’t for Hamas’s rockets fired out of Gaza’s giant holding pen, they insist, all of this bloodletting would end.   More

We single Israel out because we in the west are shamefully complicit in its crimes
For its many supporters in the west, Israel is being unfairly singled out for criticism… Why pick on plucky Israel? What about the Chinas, Russias, Syrias, Saudi Arabias, Irans, Sudans and Burmas? Where are the protests against Isis, Boko Haram or the Pakistani Taliban? … Israel is “singled out” today, but by its friends and not just by its enemies. It has been singled out for unparalleled support – financial, military, diplomatic – by the western powers. It is indeed, to quote Ben-Ami, a “special case”. Which other country is in receipt of $3bn a year in US aid, despite maintaining a 47-year military occupation in violation of international law? Which other country has been allowed to develop and stockpile nuclear weapons in secret?   More

THE CURRENT FIGHTING IN SOME HISTORICAL CONTEXT

“CUTTING THE GRASS is a racist term used by the Israeli security establishment as a way to “manage” Palestinian resistance by periodically launching limited attacks on Gaza to degrade to ability of Hamas and other armed factions to confront the occupation of their land. It is a strategy for limiting, rather than ending the conflict.  Short VIDEO here

GAZA is the size of heavily urban Suffolk County – but at 1.8 million inhabitants almost three times as densely populated. With all its borders closed, there is literally nowhere for people to escape or hide from the bombing.

Compared to the intermittent firing of small-caliber mortars and mostly home-made rockets from Gaza, since 2006 there have been almost continuous Israeli attacks and assassinations against political and civilian leaders in Gaza.  There have been thousands killed in Gaza and tens of thousands wounded or displaced from their homes.  During the same period, the best estimate is that 27 Israelis have died since 2004 in rocket attacks launched from Gaza. (In 2012 alone, 263 Israelis died in traffic accidents).

Gaza continues to be legally occupied territory:
While Israel has argued that it ceased occupying Gaza in 2005 when it unilaterally redeployed its troops outside of Gaza and withdrew its settlers from Gaza, Gaza continues to be occupied in accordance with international law and in the views of the international community, including the U.S.[i], the EU, and the U.N.[ii]. Israel’s continued responsibility as the occupying power in Gaza results from several factors.  First, Israel continues to exert effective control over Gaza including control of the borders, airspace, waterways, population registry, currency, the movement of people, trade, electrical supply, water supply, and more. Second, Israel maintains and exerts a right to conduct regular military operations in Gaza, giving it effective military control over the territory. Under international law[iii], effective control is the key measures of occupation.  More

Since 2005, when Israel decided to remove its settlers and troops from inside Gaza, in order to maintain its siege from outside and strengthen its colonization of the West Bank, there have been almost continuous restrictions on the entry of food and other humanitarian necessities.  Israeli politicians joked, in the infamous words of Dov Weissglass, chief aide to former Israeli President Ariel Sharon: “the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet but not to make them die of hunger… It's like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won't die…"

Israel’s Incremental Genocide in the Gaza Ghetto 
The present genocidal wave has, like all the previous ones, also a more immediate background. It has been born out of an attempt to foil the Palestinian decision to form a unity government [4] that even the United States could not object to… Ever since June 1967, Israel searched for a way to keep the territories it occupied that year without incorporating their indigenous Palestinian population into its rights-bearing citizenry. All the while it participated in a “peace process” charade to cover up or buy time for its unilateral colonization policies on the ground.  With the decades, Israel differentiated between areas it wished to control directly and those it would manage indirectly, with the aim in the long run of downsizing the Palestinian population to a minimum with, among other means, ethnic cleansing and economic and geographic strangulation.  More

Israel controls two out of three sides of Gaza on the land and its naval patrols maintain a sea blockade; Israel’s (and US) ally Egypt keeps the third land side mostly closed and in any case honors the agreement with Israel to limit Rafah access to foot traffic alone.  So all goods coming in and out of Gaza are controlled by Israel.

Compared to the intermittent firing of small-caliber mortars and mostly home-made rockets from Gaza, since 2006, there have been almost continuous Israeli attacks and assassinations against political and civilian leaders in Gaza, with concomitant “collateral damage” killing hundreds of others.  
Periodically, Israel launched heavier attacks resulting in even higher casualties, the majority civilian in all cases.  Notice the consistent and obscene Israeli terminology in naming its attacks:

June 2014 – Protective Edge: 265 killed and counting
November 2012 – Pillar of Defense: killing 168 Palestinians and destroying hundreds of homes
December 2008 – Cast Lead: More than 1,400 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, were killed and over 16,000 Gazans were permanently displaced from their homes which were destroyed during the attack. 
February 2008 – Warm Winter: killed 120 (34 children) and injured 269 (at least 63 children)
June 2006 – Summer Rains/Autumn Clouds: at least 351 Palestinians dead and 848 injured
February 2006 – Lightning Strike
September 2005 – First Rain
October 2004 – Days of Penitence: 130 killed, hundreds wounded
May, 2004 -- Operation Rainbow: at least 43 killed, hundreds wounded.

Whenever a temporary truce was negotiated (and scrupulously maintained by Hamas), the pattern has been for Israel to renege on the terms and break the ceasefire with fresh attacks when it deemed them useful.  And contrary to the Israeli claims that this was “to protect its citizens,” the pattern reveals that the most dangerous time for Israeli civilians is when Israel is launching an attack on Gaza.

Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End?
…we found that this pattern -- in which Israel is more likely than Palestine to kill first after a conflict pause -- becomes more pronounced for longer conflict pauses. Indeed, of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted 24, or 96%, and it unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days… Thus, a systematic pattern does exist: it is overwhelmingly Israel, not Palestine, that kills first following a lull. Indeed, it is virtually always Israel that kills first after a lull lasting more than a week.   More

A Tale of Two Ceasefires
Egypt, acting as the United States normally does, worked out the details of its ceasefire idea primarily with Israel. The deal reflects the Israeli and Egyptian agenda: it mostly follows the formula of “quiet for quiet,” essentially bringing back the status quo ante of early June. It offers Hamas a vague promise of future negotiations to address the siege of the Gaza Strip. But this is hardly something Hamas will put stock in. The 2012 ceasefire agreement, which was negotiated by then-Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a man much friendlier to Hamas than the current Egyptian leadership, also made such a promise and it never came to anything. Finally, Egypt says it is willing to open the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt more widely but only if Hamas allows Palestinian Authority security to police it instead of their own people.  It’s not hard to see why Hamas viewed that offer, and its exclusion from the talks, more like a call to surrender than a ceasefire…  Hamas recently confirmed its terms for a ceasefire: Israel should lift the siege it has imposed on the strip for the last seven years, and release all the prisoners it arrested last month during its sweep of the West Bank while the Netanyahu government was keeping the Israeli public and the world from immediately finding out that the three youths who were ostensibly being searching for were already dead. In exchange, Hamas would agree to a ceasefire.   More

Saturday, July 5, 2014

"Riots in Arab-Israeli Towns"

The Israeli press has reported -- and US media repeated without further confirmation -- that "Israeli-Arabs" (that is, Palestinian second-class citizens of Israel) in the segregated towns in the north-central part of the country are rioting violently in response to the gruesome murder of a Palestinian youth from Shuafat.

Here's a typical story, which was repeated almost word-for-word by the NPR correspondent in Tel Aviv:

Israelis attacked, car set on fire during riots in Arab Israeli towns
During riots overnight Friday-Saturday in the central Arab-Israeli town of Kalanswa, masked men attacked a number of cars belonging to Jewish Israelis, setting one on fire.
On Friday night and into Saturday morning, Arab Israelis burned tires and clashed with security forces in Kalanswa, and other central and northern towns including Taibe, Tira and Baqa al-Gharbiya, in protest of the death of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16. Police made 31 arrests and said more were expected.  and so on (see the link for the rest).

Al-Quds Street in Qalansuwe, also spelled out phonetically in Hebrew
I've been visiting the town of Qalansuwe ("Kalanswa") for many years and I have some long-time friends there, as well as in nearby Tira and Taibe.  I phoned one of them who spoke -- ironically -- of the local "intifada."  What the press did not report was that Qalansuwe and the other towns were invaded by right-wing Jewish-Israeli provocateurs before any of the "riots" began.

The Jews drove into the towns yelling "Death to the Arabs" and other slurs, and were followed by Israeli police to "protect them" and arrest local youths.  Then the protests -- that is "riots" -- began.  My friend says that the roads into and out of Qalansuwe remained closed by the police as of this afternoon.

Just a small example of how the news from Israel gets distorted.  The  Palestinian towns are a 30-40 minute drive from Tel Aviv and local testimony is just a phone call away.  But that is apparently too much to ask from US so-called news correspondents based in Israel.  Much easier to repeat the press releases of the Israeli security forces or copy from the Jewish Israeli media.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Colonial Roots of Middle East Conflict



During a post-armistice stroll though the gardens of his embassy in London, French wartime prime minister Georges Clemenceau turned to his British counterpart and asked:
“What do you want?”
“Mosul,” replied Lloyd George.
“You shall have it,” Clemenceau declared. “and what else?”
“Palestine.”
“You shall have that too.”
                        December 1, 1918
 I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum.
                        Winston Churchill, British War Minister, 1919

Julius Caesar opened his war memoire – possibly the world’s first campaign biography -- with the famous observation that “All Gaul is divided into three parts.” Yet Caesar’s Roman Gallia persisted and over two millennia evolved into the modern unitary French state.

Iraq, which was god-fathered by British colonial secretary Winston Churchill out of three former Ottoman provinces, appears to be on the brink of reverting into its constituent parts after less than a century. Why is this happening?

It is commonly observed among nearly all the pundits of the mainstream media – excepting the Bush/Neocon dead-enders – that the fuse leading to the present catastrophe in Iraq was lit by the 2003 US invasion.  True enough in the short term.

A longer historical perspective cites the post-World War I borders as the root of the present crisis.  But in the Middle East, it was not the fact of these borders which led to internal conflict, but the manner of imperial rule and the desire for colonial governance “on the cheap.”

The 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement awarded the British with direct control in lower Mesopotamia, which they regarded as a defensive shield for the oil fields in nearby Persia and their major refinery at Abadan. The British were also meant to be “predominant” in the territory around Baghdad and the land extending west toward the Mediterranean, along with the port of Haifa.

The French were to receive a strip of coastal Levant and a swath of central Anatolia to rule directly, with inland Syria and northern Mesopotamia as an area of exclusive influence, including the former Ottoman province of Mosul.

By the end of the war, the British were anxious to revise the agreement, in order to annex Mosul – where geological surveys suggested substantial petroleum reserves -- to their other holdings in southern Mesopotamia.  The French assented in return for a share of the oil and a free hand in Syria.  Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, who had been proclaimed king in Damascus, thus found himself abandoned by his British allies and was promptly expelled by the French, who divided Syria into the coastal protectorate of Lebanon and the inland mandate of Syria.

Thus were delineated the modern national boundaries, each of which encompassed states with a patchwork of ethnic and religious communities. But there is little truth to the view that this led inexorably to inter-communal conflict, or that Iraq and Syria were doomed by centuries-old religious hostility between Sunni Muslims and Shia or other minority sects forced into the same state.

All modern borders are more or less artificial creations, whether delineated by the outcomes of war or by the pencils of colonial map makers. Rather, instability was embedded in the political choices of the colonial powers.

The problem with empires, as their builders have come to recognize since ancient times, is not so much the conquest but the difficulty and expense in holding on to them over the long haul. From the time of the earliest known empires, rulers have sought to govern distant lands through local clients when possible, or through locally-recruited (and locally financed) troops when that was an option. Roman Judea under the dynasty of King Herod was a famous example.

The lessons were not lost on modern empire-builders, of whom the British were by far the most adept. This was how they ruled an immense Indian subcontinent, first by the British East India Company and later directly by the Imperial Raj, with a relative handful of European troops and administrators. Foreign control was mediated though a network of subservient local principalities and semi-autonomous regional client states.

The Indian Army was also largely composed of  “native” units staffed with British officers.  The colonial administrators recognized early on that the most reliable troops were largely to be recruited from among ethnic or religious minorities -- like the Indian Muslims, Sikhs and the famous Nepali Gurkhas -- who would be more likely to view European power as a bulwark against their more powerful neighbors

The British thus elevated the Latin maxim of Divide et Impera (“Divide and Rule”) to a modern colonial science. The same pattern was repeated, though not as efficiently, in European colonies across the globe, where  the imperialists relied on Catholic loyalists in French Indo-China, Protestants in Ireland, Tutsis in Central Africa – and “friendly” Indian tribes in North America.

“Native” levees were employed to bolster colonial rule and even to serve usefully in warfare outside of the possessions where they were recruited.  There were plenty of such units, mostly from French-ruled Africa, on the Western Front during World War I.  The “British” armies fighting the Ottomans in the Middle East actually consisted largely of Indian troops, supported by local transport auxiliaries. When the British conquered the Ottoman provinces that became Iraq in 1918, their occupying army of 73,000 included 61,000 Indian troops.

You can observe the results at the many British war cemeteries scattered throughout the region -- still meticulously maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission -- where the colonial dead were interred en masse, carefully segregated from the individually-marked British burials.

In Beirut, for example, not far from the Shatila Camp, the meticulously landscaped grounds of the British cemetery has an exclusively European WW I section, with touching headstones, and a number of (separate and segregated) monuments across the street announcing that “buried near this spot” were “Muslim Soldiers of the Indian Army,”  “the Hindu Soldiers of the Indian Army” and “Men of the Egyptian Labor Corps.” The nearby French cemetery has grave markers for Vietnamese and Senegalese combatants “Mort pour la France.”

In Iraq. opposition to British rule and the demand for independence initially united both Sunni and Shia, who cooperated in the political and military spheres.  However, the massive uprising of 1920-1, which the British defeated with some difficulty, was centered in the largely Shia-population Middle Euphrates and the holy Shia cities of Najaf and Kerbala

Casting about for local allies and proxy rulers, the British courted the influential Christian and Jewish urban communities, but it was obvious that these minorities could not rule an overwhelmingly Muslim territory. Instead, the colonial officials in Baghdad and London decided to recruit the now unemployed King Faisal to rule Iraq.  Faisal, with his retinue of Sunni former Ottoman military officers who had taken no part in the Iraqi resistance, was imposed on the country as a suitably loyal facade for enduring colonial rule.

This ploy enabled the British administrators to reduce the numbers – and cost – of their occupation forces.  But it also established a regime of Sunni minority dominance over a mostly Shia (and Kurdish) population in Iraq that would culminate, after independence, in the Saddam Hussein dictatorship.

While the British were consolidating their control of Iraq, General Gouraud’s French Army of the Levant advanced in 1920 from its base in occupied Beirut to conquer Damascus.

Following their occupation of inland Syria, the French colonialists established a Christian-dominated protectorate along the coast.  The French had maintained long-standing ties with the Maronite Catholic communities of Mt. Lebanon.  In 1860-61 the farcical Napoleon III sent an army to rescue their clients from Druze attacks, a feat of arms which was celebrated with an inscription among the monuments to Egyptian pharaohs and Babylonian kings at Nahr al-Kalb, north of Beirut.

But instead of a compact enclave with a substantial Christian majority the French incorporated within “Greater Lebanon” the cities of Beirut, Sidon and Tripoli along with the southern hill country and the rich agricultural lands of the Beqaa Valley.  These areas were populated by Sunni and Shia Muslims who did not accept the division of Syria or rule by a French-imposed proxy minority. This set the stage for generations of conflict, instability and latent or overt civil war in Lebanon that persists to this day.

In Syria proper, the nationalist resistance to the French was centered among the urban Sunni elites, who had been partisans of deposed King Faisal.  The colonial rulers experimented with various schemes to divide Syria into ethnic-based governates, then managed a puppet colonial administration staffed by loyal or bought officials under French supervision.  They also recruited a territorial military force from which the majority Sunni urban population was largely excluded.  The rural Alawites and other minorities formed the core of the collaborationist army and police forces, with predictable resentment on the part of many in the Sunni majority. This dynamic continued after Syrian independence and is part of the background for the current civil war.

Finally, the British deployed their support for the Zionist project as a means to gain the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.  Although there was genuine sympathy for the Zionist cause among sections of the British ruling class -- either on Christian religious grounds or from the desire to have the Jews settle “over there” rather than “over here” – other, more  practical imperial aims were discussed in private during the run-up to the Balfour Declaration of November 1917.

Strategically, Palestine was viewed as an outer defense for British Egypt and the Suez Canal -- as well as a Mediterranean terminus for a railway and an oil pipeline from British Mesopotamia. Imperial ministers also argued (naively, as it turned out) that a “Jewish Home” in Palestine would eventually become a European enclave in the Levant, dependent upon and loyal to the British crown.  Local Zionist rule would be cost-efficient colonialism by proxy – a prediction which turned out badly for the British and disastrously for the Palestinians. Eventually, it was the US rather than the British Empire which gained this advantage, at least during the Cold War.

In the light of this history, it is hard to argue that sectarian conflict in the Middle East arises purely from local causes.  Inter-communal violence was not entirely absent from the region before the advent of European colonialism, but sustained fighting  among the varied mosaic of ethnic and religious communities was unusual before the First World War. When sectarian conflict did occur, it tended to be localized, spontaneous and of short duration.

This pattern of tolerance and local sectarian autonomy was upset by the colonial project of building centralized bureaucratic administrations in which the European powers manipulated and sometimes exacerbated ethnic differences in the service of their imperial aims. The new state systems, continuing after independence or imitated by other regional actors, also introduced the potential for winner-take-all politics in which religious, ethnic or tribal groups – or even individual families -- could contend for control of the state apparatus, with the significant rewards of power and wealth deriving from that control.  In this way, the struggles we see playing out within the region trace much of their origins to the colonial period.

Imperial meddling continues to this day, with predictably catastrophic outcomes for the people of the Middle East. But, ironically, the former colonial alignment of local proxies has now been reversed.  Where the British once promoted Sunni predominance in Iraq, the US now backs Shia (and Kurdish) rule; where the French employed ethnic/religious minorities to control Syria, the US and its regional allies now promote Sunni revanchism. Only the continued reliance on Zionist control of Palestine remains unchanged.

The result has been to prolong the regional devastation begun by war and colonialism a hundred years ago. Today Syria lies shattered and wrecked as a unified country; Iraq struggles to overcome decades of foreign invasion and continuing internal conflict; Lebanon barely exists as an effective state; and most Palestinians remain stateless under Zionist rule or in exile.

As a Roman historian famously commented on the rapacious empire-builders of his own day:

“They make a wasteland and they call it peace.”

Saturday, June 21, 2014

DEAR NEOCONS: SHUT UP, PLEASE!


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?

THEY'RE BACK – and they’re everywhere in the media!  The architects and cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – you know who they are; Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Max Boot, Paul Bremer and the ever hopeful war booster John McCain – they are all coming out of the woodwork, screaming for another chance to prove the value of US intervention in the Middle East.  “Let’s not re-litigate the past” they intone. Let’s look forward to more wars to re-arrange more hearts and minds in the region.  The real disgrace is that these Neocon keyboard warriors are taken at all seriously and given respectable space in the media with absolutely no accountability for the  rivers of blood on their hands. They belong in the dock, not on the editorial pages.

And now, of all people, former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz, took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to laughably, shamelessly, claim credit for the Bush administration’s “victory” in Iraq and to criticize President Obama for the current situation. Like some shambling undead zombie, Cheney is back to blame Obama for frittering it all away through reluctance to commit more troops and more treasure to a failed Neocon project in the Middle East. On Wednesday, said the devil and his spawn: “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”  No, not Bush, Obama!The rest of establishment opinion on Iraq ranges from oil industry mouthpieces such as Bush family consigliere James Baker -- who argues for restraint in Iraq but takes the opportunity to promote energy development, more pipelines and fewer environmental restrictions (along with a nod to the supposed US “debt crisis) – to Congressional Democrats who are mostly lining up with the President.  Only Libertarian Republicans like Rand Paul are, like the anti-war movement, speaking out against Iraq intervention.. 


FITNA!
Meanwhile, the latest consensus among the “serious people” people in Washington is that “we” somehow have to get rid of the government of Iraq, whose election our occupying troops first oversaw -- and which then was chosen twice more by a majority of Iraqis, most recently just a couple of months ago.  Allegedly, the current Iraqi prime minister – chosen by a majority of the elected parliament --is “too sectarian” (unlike our monarchical allies in the Arab Gulf states?)  The only remaining unabashedly secular government in the region is the Assad regime in Syria, which our “friends” are doing everything in their power to replace by more of the same Sunni fundamentalists we are getting ready to battle in Iraq.
Repeat again: There was no “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” (or Syria) before our 2003 invasion, and the funding for the religious fanatics there comes from “our” allies Turkey and the Gulf petro-monarchies – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and others.  Just like the “Freedom Fighters” in Afghanistan during the 1980’s, where Osama bin-Laden came to prominence with the backing of the CIA, the Saudis and Pakistan.
Maybe the real “Mission Accomplished” is the complete disintegration of the Arab and Muslim Middle East into warring factions that are too busy killing each other to pose a threat to our allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel. There’s a word for it in Arabic: “Fitna” (as in the cartoon above), meaning “the burning fire of civil strife.”  Unfortunately, once lit, there is no telling – as 9/11 illustrated --where such fires will spread and how much damage they will do.  And instead of working with Iraq’s neighbor Iran to stabilize the situation, the Gulf monarchies, the Israelis and their amen corner in the US are urging that we bomb them too.  “Real men” still want to go to Tehran, not just stop at Baghdad.  Characteristically, President Obama moved to placate the Republican demands for “action” in Iraq.