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Israeli soldiers breach Lebanese border to retrieve crashed spy plane

Al-Akhbar | February 18, 2014

Israeli troops crossed the barrier separating Lebanon from Occupied Palestine on Tuesday, searching for parts of a crashed surveillance plane, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.

The Israelis then fired a shot in the air when a joint patrol by the Lebanese army and UNIFIL passed close by, near the southern Lebanese village of Mays al-Jabal.

The 11 Israeli soldiers were allegedly searching for pieces of an Israeli reconnaissance plane which had crashed inside Lebanon, eyewitnesses told the NNA.

In January, a group of 70 Israeli soldiers also crossed into southern Lebanon to retrieve surveillance equipment, all under the eyes of UNIFIL troops, who are tasked with monitoring breaches at the border.

Israeli drones and warplanes fly over Lebanon on a near-daily basis, violating Lebanese sovereignty despite complaints to the United Nations.

February 18, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

At least 5 dead, scores injured in Ukraine clashes

Press TV – February 18, 2014

At least five anti-government protesters have died and scores of others injured in clashes with police outside the Ukrainian parliament building in central Kiev, opposition sources say.

Five protesters were shot dead near the parliament building during Kiev’s worst clashes for more than three weeks, said Oleh Musiy, a top medic for the protesters.

Reports say over 47 police officers and 150 protesters were also injured in the clashes on Tuesday.

This is while anti-government protesters briefly seized the ruling party headquarters in Kiev on Tuesday.

Violent clashes erupted after opposition lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to pass constitutional changes stripping President Viktor Yanukovych of some of his powers.

Russia said the policies of Western countries have contributed to the latest clashes between pro-EU protesters and police.

The United States and the European Union have traded accusations with Russia, each side blaming the other of interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs by attempting to impose their own choices on the country.

The crisis began late last year after President Yanukovych pulled out of a deal with the EU, which could have paved the way for Kiev to join the bloc.

Yanukovych refused to sign the Association Agreement at the third Eastern Partnership Summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on November 29, 2013, after EU leaders called on Ukraine to allow jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to travel overseas for medical treatment.

February 18, 2014 Posted by | Video | , | Leave a comment

Are Palestinians Allowed to Resist? Part II

By Dina Jadallah-Taschler | Palestine Chronicle | February 28, 2009

There is an abundance of discourse over the means and methods that are pursued and/or justified by the Palestinians in their quest for independence and liberation. In the first part of this essay, I presented the legal, historical, and current context that forms the root of their current predicament. In this segment, I want to address the pros and cons of pursuing an exclusively non-armed struggle both by looking at the uniqueness of Palestinian circumstances and also by comparing it with the Indian National Liberation Movement, which is usually presented in Western narratives as almost exclusively non-violent, and successful, for having (ostensibly) been so.

A Brief History of Palestinian Non-Violent Resistance

Palestinians are continuously asked to not resist. The truth is that whether they resist violently or non-violently, Israeli violence continues unabated. Perhaps the scale, ugliness and the immediacy of the trauma are exaggerated in a massacre like we recently saw in Gaza, but the reality of purposeful eradication persists.

Examples of Palestinian non-violent resistance have existed since the very start of Jewish immigration into Palestine, but were never enough to attain freedom. Ultimately it is an imperative but frequently unstated precondition, that Palestinians accept a permanent subjugated and defeated status, preferably outside of their historic lands.  It is otherwise known as the Yigal Allon Plan (1967), a policy actively pursued by even the “Dove” Shimon Peres and entailing the expulsion of Palestinians. The Allon plan formed the basis of Israel’s settlements/colonization. Frequently unacknowledged in mainstream Western coverage is that only after acceptance of defeat and eradication can Israel’s violence (aka “retaliation”) against Palestinians stop.

Unwilling to accept that, and choosing a policy of “sumoud”/steadfastness on the land, Palestinians pursue(d) non-violent resistance as a complimentary and grassroots approach against the occupation. Here are just a few examples of Palestinian non-violent resistance to Israeli aggression: in 1902, villages of al-Shajara, Misha, and Melhamiyya peacefully protested against the takeover of 7000 hectares of agricultural land by the first Zionist settlers; in 1936, Palestinians held a six-month industrial strike protesting the British Mandate’s refusal to grant them self-determination; in 1986, Hannah Siniora and Mubarak ‘Awad (who advocates the power of non-violence and is a self-described disciple of Gandhi; recently deported by Israel) drew a list of civic disobedience activities heavily reliant on boycotting Israeli products and economic self-sufficiency, helping launch the 1987-93 First Intifada; in 1993, the signing of the Oslo Accords and the pursuit of the “settlement” path; and currently, the holding of protests in the villages of Jayyous, Budrus, Bil’in, Ni’lin and Umm Salamonah against the apartheid wall (1: See here). Today, the tradition of non-violence is still practiced and promoted by some secular and independent Palestinian political leaders, like the Palestinian National Initiative led by Mustafa Barghouti. And even Hamas, often presented as the ultimate terrorist organization, upheld a six month ceasefire with Israel but was still subjected to a non-lifting of the suffocating siege of Gaza. (The ceasefire ended on November 4, 2008 when Israel conducted a targeted assassination that killed six Hamas members.)

Needless to say, these facts are rarely, if ever covered in mainstream accounts.  Instead the focus is consistently on “terror” and “Israel’s right to defend itself,” ignoring the cumulative suffering of the occupation. As for Israel’s response, it consistently uses overwhelming force, including tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition, etc.  against protesters and justifies this as “self-defense,” even when protecting illegal settlement colonies.

Which raises the question of the efficacy of non-violent resistance as the sole or primary means of achieving national liberation. While each national liberation struggle is unique, there are certain conditions and methods that may translate across people. One thing that many have in common is that non-violent resistance was not pursued exclusively. This was true of the African National Congress’ anti-apartheid Boycott and Divestment Movement in South Africa, which accompanied armed struggle. It was also true of the struggle for national liberation from British rule in India, a fact usually unmentioned in Western press, which tends to focus on Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha / non-violent path to resistance. In doing so, there is a grave disservice done to explaining how Indian independence came to be. There is also a convenient decontextualization of the struggle.  And I use “convenient” intentionally, because Gandhi’s model is often held up (by Israel and the West) as the best and “most civilized” one that ought to be emulated by the oppressed Palestinians.

Gandhi in Context: Was the Indian National Liberation Struggle Entirely Non-Violent? The name Gandhi and non-violent resistance (satyagraha) are almost synonymous in most people’s minds. Satyagraha’s aim is not just to defeat the opponent, but aims to convert the adversary as well. And yet there are important nuances and definite progression in Gandhi’s approach to war and colonialism. On the subject of whether it is better to be a coward or to resist violently, he said: “I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence… I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour…” (2:  Eds. R. K. Rabhu & U. R. Rao, “Between Cowardice and Violence,” The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, Ahemadabad, India, 1967, p. 3) He also said: “Though violence is not lawful, when it is offered in self-defence or for the defence of the defenseless, it is an act of bravery far better than cowardly submission. The latter befits neither man nor woman. Under violence, there are many stages and varieties of bravery.  Every man must judge this for himself. No other person can or has the right. (3: Ibid, pp. 369-70) Applied to the Palestinian context, this would indicate that Palestinians have the duty to fight back against their own annihilation. However, he would have probably qualified that by saying that non-violence could cause the same changes with lower loss in life.

Historically, too Gandhi’s attitudes to war evolved.  While still in South Africa, and in reaction to the Bambatha (Zulu) Rebellion of 1906 against a new British poll-tax, to which Britain responded by declaring a war, Gandhi encouraged the British to recruit Indians. He wanted to advance Indian claims as full citizens of the Empire.  He also encouraged Indians to join the war through his columns in Indian Opinion.

Gandhi’s statecraft and thought did not happen in a vacuum. Likewise, India’s independence was not the work of only one man or one concept or one strategy.  In fact, India’s nationalist feelings pre-existed Gandhi and the Congress Party, and evidence of it can be found as early as 1857.  The first group to call for complete independence was the uncompromisingly secular Ghadar Party, organized in 1913 by Indian immigrants in California. (3: See here) The party actively pursued violent resistance and revolution (rejecting caste as well) and predictably, their actions were labeled as “terrorism” by Britain. Operating mainly in the first two decades of the 20th Century, the Ghadarites were successful in recruiting Indian soldiers in the British Army (in Hong Kong, Singapore, Rangoon, and Basra) and urging them to revolt.

As for Gandhi, once in India, he progressed to advocating non-violent resistance as a “weapon.” His political views on Indian independence evolved as well. Consider that at the age of 45, Gandhi still held some esteem for the British empire, calling it a “spiritual foundation,” in contrast to the views of most Indian revolutionaries. (4: See here) It wasn’t until after the Amritsar Massacre of civilians by British troops in the Punjab, that Gandhi advocated complete self-government  maturing into independence (swaraj). In the intervening years there was a constant push and pull between Gandhi’s satyagraha policy and other political personalities and groups pursuing independence — not always non-violently.

A massive wave of revolutionary unrest swept India in 1919.  British violent retaliation was unable to quell it. For example, there were more than 200 strikes in the first six months of 1920 alone. And yet in 1921, when Muslim leader Hasrat Mohani wrote a resolution asking for complete independence, Gandhi led the opposition against it and secured its rejection. Likewise, he supported Britain in WWI by trying to recruit Indians for the war effort. He himself volunteered twice for it, in present-day Iraq and in France, reasoning that he “owed” this to the empire in return for military protection. (5: Ibid) This led to deep divisions within the Congress party and also caused a dramatic drop in the popularity of Congress. Young revolutionaries like Rash Behari Bose, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, and revolutionary groups like the Workers and Peasant Party (Kirti Kisan Party) and militant unions like the Bombay textile workers were frequently at odds with Congress. Armed revolutionary groups that emerged in this period included the Hindustan Republican Army and the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army in northern India, as well as the “Revolt Groups” in Bengal (e.g. Chittagong group led by Surya Sen).  Working class and union resistance continued throughout the 1930s. Eventually, it was in response to this revolutionary tide, that the Congress Party became less conservative and more supportive of the more militant attitude. As for Gandhi, he returned to advocating non-violent struggle and launched the salt satyagraha (1930-31) and the boycott campaigns. He has been criticized by some for not taking advantage of this revolutionary tide, thereby delaying independence.

Even at the time of World War II, Gandhi prevaricated on non-violence: first offering “non-violent moral support” to the British effort, and only later rescinding that decision when members of the Congress Party objected to the inclusion of India in the war effort without her consultation. In 1939-40, strikes and uprisings in the countryside swelled dramatically. Afterwards, the Congress party was compelled by grassroots pressure to launch the Quit India movement in August of 1942. It is important to note that this period in the struggle was one of extreme violence, mass arrests, and so forth. And yet, Quit India’s success in contributing to independence is controversial.  Those arguing that it failed say that it fizzled out after five months (largely due to the army’s loyalty) and didn’t topple the Raj or bring it to the negotiating table for independence. In contrast, those who see it as a success, focus on how it sapped colonial energy and resources and on its success at mobilizing masses of people.(5: See here)  Importantly, it inspired the final phase of the fight for independence, which witnessed increasingly militant peasant uprisings, sometimes joined by some of the landlords.

By the end of the war, Britain was indicating that power would be transferred to Indians.  Aware that they couldn’t hold on any longer, they instead focused on partitioning India – bringing to mind Israel’s recent attempts to divide Gaza from the West Bank. In the meantime, Congress’ adherence to a policy of non-violence was entirely dependent on the British soldiers – as opposed to the armed Muslim League – and were unable to prevent partition. Thus, Congress’ inherent conservatism with regards to armed struggle hindered its goal of keeping India intact. They failed to build on numerous past instances of Hindu-Muslim cooperation against British colonialism. (Not all members of the Muslim league supported Muslim self-determination: Communist leader Ghaffar Ali opposed it vociferously.)

As is evident from the history recounted above, the agreeable and reasonable- sounding frame of the superiority of peaceful resistance sets up a false dichotomy. Presenting satyagraha as the exemplary approach to liberation is deceptive mainly because India’s independence was not achieved through non-violence alone. Moreover, its historical context and enemy are do not translate well across time and location.  Finally, while inspirational and useful on many levels, it is not sufficient as sole guide or solution to achieving Palestinian liberation.

Options for Palestinian Resistance

Fundamentally, all theories of national liberation emanate from the ethical and legal principle that a people have the right to be free from alien occupation and exploitation.  Resistance is their inalienable right. Insistence on non-violent resistance can sometimes be counterproductive – as happened with Gandhi’s insistence on it when confronting partition. Relying solely on non-violence subordinates the fundamental moral and ethical goal of independence to all sorts of conditionalities in order to achieve it in the “right” way.

All events so far indicate that non-violent resistance has been of modest benefit to Palestinians, with the important exceptions of tarnishing Israel’s image and moral claims.  One could argue that Israel pursued the (sham) Oslo peace process precisely because the First Intifada rendered the population ungovernable. Unfortunately for the Palestinians, the Fateh leadership of the PLO squandered those achievements and marginalized popular input.  Since then, pursuit of “settlement” and “negotiation” in the absence of a concomitant armed struggle has produced regressive and contradictory effects. Why is that?

One reason is the nature of the adversary. Zionist and Israeli ideology and statecraft are fundamentally violent, involving ethnic cleansing and relying first and foremost on war as an instrument in achieving Greater (Eretz) Israel. Unlike Great Britain, which had developed a liberal democratic tradition when Indians were struggling for their independence, Israel is essentially a highly militarized, ethnically-based and legally privileged society. It made no difference whatsoever how the Palestinians resisted, whether violently or not. As happened in other Western colonial historical experiences, like the US, Australia, or apartheid South Africa, the settlers use overwhelming force to convince the native populations of their ultimate defeat.

A second important difference is that after World War II, England could no longer hold onto its colonies. This is in sharp contrast to the US-superpower-backed-Israel, which maintains a pronounced military superiority over all its neighbors.

A third difference is that ever since the Jewish Land Agency started buying Palestinian lands from absentee landowners, and continuing after its war-time conquest of land, Israel stipulated that Palestinians cannot lease or be employed on purchased land.  As a result, Palestinians are less important to the Israeli economy than India was to Britain.  Their marginalization and de-development are intentional and serve to facilitate Israeli expropriation of valuable water, land, and other resources. Moreover, Israel receives significant financial and military “aid” from the United States which also reduces its need to integrate economically with its neighbors. The lack of economic dependency makes non-violent resistance much less effective as a weapon in fighting the occupation.  Any economic levers the Palestinians may have had were further diminished (intentionally) via their PA leadership’s dependency on and distribution of foreign “aid.” This had the double effects of corrupting and ensuring the cooptation and cooperation of the leadership, as well as minimizing the size and role of an educated middle class that could lead the struggle – as was the case in India.

A fourth difference is the lack of a charismatic leader like Gandhi. Which brings us right back to the first reason, the nature of the opponent. Israel has a long history of assassinating and / or deporting any potential leader who is incorruptible or charismatic or effective. (6: For a partial list of Palestinian leaders assassinated by Mossad, see here.)

In the final analysis, non-violence is still a worthy means of resistance. Significantly, it enhances growing international perceptions of the brutality of the occupation and builds on the legal consensus and framework of the legitimacy of Palestinian rights, as recurrently affirmed through UN General Assembly annual resolutions and the most recent ruling against the apartheid wall at the International Court of Justice. Non-violent resistance, by being more accessible to ordinary people, additionally creates more sustainable and widespread networks of resistance. At a minimum, it establishes a network of interdependence for the newly liberated society to build on.

But it is not enough. And arguably, it has never been enough, especially in the absence of a more just as opposed to legalistic international relations.

– Dina Jadallah-Taschler is an Arab-American of Palestinian and Egyptian descent, a political science graduate, an artist and a writer. Contact her at: dina.jadallah.taschler@gmail.com.

February 18, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Admin’s TPP Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks

By Lee Fang | Republic Report | February 18, 2014

Officials tapped by the Obama administration to lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations have received multimillion dollar bonuses from CitiGroup and Bank of America, financial disclosures obtained by Republic Report show.

Stefan Selig, a Bank of America investment banker nominated to become the Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce, received more than $9 million in bonus pay as he was nominated to join the administration in November. The bonus pay came in addition to the $5.1 million in incentive pay awarded to Selig last year.

Michael Froman, the current U.S. Trade Representative, received over $4 million as part of multiple exit payments when he left CitiGroup to join the Obama administration. Froman told Senate Finance Committee members last summer that he donated approximately 75 percent of the $2.25 million bonus he received for his work in 2008 to charity. CitiGroup also gave Froman a $2 million payment in connection to his holdings in two investment funds, which was awarded “in recognition of [Froman’s] service to Citi in various capacities since 1999.”

Many large corporations with a strong incentive to influence public policy award bonuses and other incentive pay to executives if they take jobs within the government. CitiGroup, for instance, provides an executive contract that awards additional retirement pay upon leaving to take a “full time high level position with the U.S. government or regulatory body.” Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, the Blackstone Group, Fannie Mae, Northern Trust, and Northrop Grumman are among the other firms that offer financial rewards upon retirement for government service.

Froman joined the administration in 2009. Selig is currently awaiting Senate confirmation before he can take his post, which collaborates with the trade officials to support the TPP.

The controversial TPP trade deal has rankled activists for containing provisions that would newly empower corporations to sue governments in ad hoc arbitration tribunals to demand compensation from governments for laws and regulations they claim undermine their business interests. Leaked TPP negotiation documents show the Obama administration is seeking to prevent foreign governments from issuing a broad variety of financial rules designed to stem another bank crisis.

A leaked text of the TPP’s investment chapter shows that the pact would include the controversial investor-state dispute resolution system. A fact-sheet provided by Public Citizen explains how multi-national corporations may use the TPP deal to skirt domestic courts and local laws. The arrangement would allows corporations to go after governments before foreign tribunals to demand compensations for tobacco, prescription drug and environment protections that they claim would undermine their expected future profits. Last year, Senator Elizabeth Warren warned that trade agreements such as the TPP provide “a chance for these banks to get something done quietly out of sight that they could not accomplish in a public place with the cameras rolling and the lights on.”

Others have raised similar alarm.

“Not only do US treaties mandate that all forms of finance move across borders freely and without delay, but deals such as the TPP would allow private investors to directly file claims against governments that regulate them, as opposed to a WTO-like system where nation states (ie the regulators) decide whether claims are brought,” notes Boston University associate professor Kevin Gallagher.

February 18, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lebanon: A new political alliance on the horizon?

Al-Akhbar | February 18, 2014

Yesterday, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MP Michel Aoun announced that he mediated between Hezbollah’s Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, and the leader of the Future Movement (FM), former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which coincided with the restoration of security and political channels of communication between Hezbollah and the FM.

Is Lebanon witnessing a new political scene based on a five-party alliance in the government that can manage a truce, which would in turn allow the election of a new president?

In 2005, the four-party alliance excluded the FPM which had won an unequivocal majority of the Christian vote in the parliamentary elections. The new alliance includes, in addition to Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, the FM, the FPM’s Change and Reform bloc, the Phalange Party and the Progressive Socialist Party. Based on the sectarian considerations governing Lebanese politics, the sectarian representation in this alliance appears to be complete. This five-party alliance seems to have become a reality, as an increasingly positive environment seeps out little by little.

Aoun announced yesterday that he mediated between Hezbollah and the FM, and specifically between Nasrallah and Hariri. In addition, a step was taken in the same direction yesterday, prior to Aoun’s announcement, when the head of Hezbollah’s Liaison and Coordination Unit, Wafiq Safa, visited the new Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi at his apartment in Achrafieh.

The official goal of the meeting was to offer congratulations to Rifi for his ministerial appointment, but the form the meeting took gives it additional significance. In addition to Rifi and Safa, the meeting was attended by the head of the Internal Security Force’s (ISF) Information Branch, Colonel Imad Othman and director of the ISF Operations Room, Colonel Hussam al-Tannoukhi.

According to political sources, Tannoukhi – who is on good terms with the leaders of both Hezbollah and the FM – arranged the meeting which relaunched the security and political communication back channels between the two sides. This back channel had maintained contact between both parties until Rifi’s retirement and the rising political tension between Hezbollah and the FM.

While at Rifi’s home, Safa called the new interior minister, Nohad al-Machnouk, and congratulated him on his new post. Political sources said that this “positive environment comes as a follow-up to the efforts that resulted in the formation of the new government and can be relied upon to carry the government through future political junctures such as the ministerial statement and the presidential elections.”

In a related matter, Aoun confirmed that he met both Hariri and Nasrallah, explaining: “Whoever wants to conduct mediation to bring disparate parties closer together has to talk to everyone, that is why I met both of them.”

When asked if his willingness to accept Rifi as interior minister during consultations on government formation angered Hezbollah, Aoun replied: “I was not present during the distribution of ministries and I am not the prime minister charged with assigning ministers to the various ministries. There was a difference of opinion between Hezbollah and the FM on this issue. To form the government, we suggested a kind of solution based on exchanging posts.”

Regarding concerns over the ministerial appointments of Machnouk and Rifi, especially since the Interior and Justice ministries could facilitate the work of terrorists and takfiris, Aoun argued “this issue is handled by the judiciary and the government as a whole and does not rely on the authority of one or two ministers.”

Akhbar Al-Yawm News Agency revealed that a family dinner was held Thursday evening at Aoun’s home in Rabieh and it included FPM minister Gibran Bassil and the director of the Future Movement’s presidential office, Nader Hariri. The obstacles that were still facing the formation of the government were overcome at this meeting.

In addition, information emerged in the past few days that Bassil traveled to Saudi Arabia last week where he met Saad Hariri.

February 18, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do We Care About People If They Live in Bahrain?

By David Swanson – February 17, 2014

I had a heck of a time making sense of the U.S. Navy’s new motto “A Global Force for Good” until I realized that it meant “We are a global force, and wherever we go we’re never leaving.”

For three years now people in the little island nation of Bahrain have been nonviolently protesting and demanding democratic reforms.

For three years now the king of Bahrain and his royal thugs have been shooting, kidnapping, torturing, imprisoning, and terrorizing nonviolent opponents.  An opponent includes anyone speaking up for human rights or even “insulting” the king or his flag, which carries a sentence of 7 years in prison and a hefty fine.

For three years now, Saudi Arabia has been aiding the King of Bahrain in his crackdown on the people of Bahrain.  A U.S. police chief named John Timoney, with a reputation for brutality earned in Miami and Philadelphia, was hired to help the Bahraini government intimidate and brutalize its population.

For three years now, the U.S. government has been tolerating the abuses committed by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, continuing to sell weapons to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and continuing to dock the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.  In fact, the U.S. military has recently announced big and pricey plans to expand its bases in Bahrain and add more ships.

For three years now, the U.S. government has continued to dump some $150 billion (with a ‘B’) each year into the U.S. Navy, a large portion of which goes for the maintenance of the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. Withdrawing and disbanding that fleet would save that gargantuan expense. Retraining and re-employing in peaceful activities all personnel would cost a fraction of $150 billion. Providing aid to nonviolent pro-democracy activists in Bahrain would cost a tiny fraction of a fraction. Establishing a policy in the case of this one country of supporting human rights over brutal dictatorship would be, as they say, priceless. It would create a very useful model for a transformation of U.S. policy in numerous other nations as well.

Accurate and timely information about the horrors underway for the past three years in Bahrain are available online, via Western human rights groups, and via small back-page stories in U.S. newspapers.  There’s little dispute over the general facts.  Yet, there’s little outrage.  There appears to have been no polling done of the U.S. public on the topic of Bahrain whatsoever, so it’s impossible to know what people think.  But my impression is that most people have never heard of the place.

The U.S. government is not shouting about the need to bomb Bahrain to protect its people. Senators are not insisting on sanctions, sanctions, and more sanctions.  There seems to be no crisis, no need for “intervention,” only the need to end an intervention we aren’t told about.

Which raises a tough question for people who give a damn.  We’re able to reject a war on Iran or Syria when the question is raised on our televisions. But we can’t seem to stop drone strikes nobody tells us about. How do we create a question nobody is asking, about a topic nobody has heard of, and then answer it humanely and wisely?  And how do we overcome the inevitable pretense that the Fifth Fleet serves some useful purpose, and that this purpose justifies a little teargas, a bit of torture, and some murders here and there?

The Fifth Fleet claims to be responsible for these nations: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.  None of these nations have ships in U.S. waters claiming to be responsible for it.  None of these nations’ peoples have indicated majority support for having the Fifth Fleet be responsible for them.  Afghanistan has suffered under U.S. occupation for over a decade, with chaos and tyranny to follow.  Egypt’s thugs are rising anew with steady U.S. support, money, and weaponry. Iran has threatened and attacked no other nation for centuries, has never had a nuclear weapons program, spends less than 1% what the U.S. does on its military, and moves away from democracy with every U.S. threat. Why not leave Iran alone?  Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and others of these nations, including Bahrain, suffer under the rule of U.S.-backed governments. One might reasonably add Israel and the lands it occupies to the list, even if the Navy cannot bring itself to mention them. Yemen and Pakistan suffer under the constant buzzing and missile launching of U.S. drones, which are creating far more enemies than they kill.  In fact, not a single nation falling under the past 19 years of benevolent “responsibility” of the Fifth Fleet has clearly benefited in any way.

At a third annual conference recently held in Lebanon, Bahraini activists laid out a plan of action. It includes building international connections with people who care and are willing to help. It includes supporting the International Day to End Impunity on November 23rd.  It includes pushing Bahrain to join the ICC, although that may be of little value until the U.S. can be persuaded to do the same and until the United Nations can be democratized.  The plan includes calls for an end to weapons sales and the initiation of sanctions against the Bahraini government (not its people).

Those would certainly be good steps. The first question in my mind remains: do the people in the nation that screams most loudly about “freedom” and does the most to support its repression wherever deemed useful, care?

February 18, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment