Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Israel's New Year - New War

Israel has been pounding Gaza with an aerial bombardment, in response to rocket attacks by Hamas. Israeli ground forces appear poised to invade.

Israeli official Ehud Barak has promised "a war to the bitter end."

We have to ask, What does Israel expect to accomplish here?

Surely not peace.

Tit for tat - revenge - doesn't work. Every person who loses a neighbor or loved one or who him- or herself is injured will feel justified in avenging that harm. Anyone harmed by the avenger's act will likewise feel justified in exacting violent revenge.

Israel's use of military force with its certain "collateral damage" has been creating and promises to create such victims, guaranteeing that the cycle of revenge will continue. The same goes for Hamas's rocket fire.

Israel's goal of a "war to the bitter end" is idiotic. Wars cannot be won, anymore. There will always be someone with a rocket or gun or grenade, or home-made bomb, or with the means to punch a hole in a railroad car carrying poison, or who can ram his car into a crosswalk crowded with pedestrians, who can keep on killing. That person might not even be from one of the combatant nations. It is reported that Iranians are signing up to become suicide bombers against Israel.

Look at Israel's 2006 war. What did it solve? Look at the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, which slog on.

When will Israel's and Hamas's killing of innocent people end?

When both sides end their violence.

It's as simple as that. Anyone who says it's more complex is, ultimately (and perhaps unconsciously), promoting violence.

Barring international intervention or a mutual, simultaneous cease fire, it will be up to one side to end its own use of violence.

That will be the most courageous, the most intelligent, the most moral, the most civilized side. The side with the truest strength.

That side then can say, "We are no longer using violence. We call on our opposites to stop, too: any further violence by them will not be defensive, but aggressive."

And any such aggressors should be punished by use of criminal process in civilized courts following the rule of law.

When the killing stops, the work of securing human rights and the ability of everyone in that region to live freely and to flourish must begin. For real, this time.

Which side will adopt this new consciousness and start the march toward peace?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Dogs - and Shoes - of War

Here’s a story with almost everything wrong about reporting on the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq (I don’t call it a “war” if I can help it):

"Iraqi reporter throws shoes at Bush, calls him dog"

Note the last sentence:

“The U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein triggered years of sectarian bloodshed and insurgency in Iraq, killing tens of thousands.”

This makes it appear that the U.S. military action was simply intended to topple a dictator, when the stated purpose was finding WMD (which were never found), and most likely other geostrategic reasons, such as securing Iraqi oil and other riches and resources for U.S. companies - see my piece, "The Profit-driven War". Perhaps worse, this story makes it look as if the U.S. military itself didn’t kill anyone - the sectarian bloodshed between Iraqis, and the insurgency (the impolite response to U.S. occupation force) is what killed those "tens of thousands" of Iraqis! It's really all their fault! This, of course, is simply untrue, and there was plenty of Iraqi blood that was shed from U.S. munitions fired by U.S. troops (and "contractors" (read: mercenaries)).

Why such a vague number of Iraqi dead? The U.S., which sought to count every last hair on every last head of every last victim of 9/11, using sophisticated DNA technology when possible, hasn't bothered to count the Iraqi dead. Nor have U.S. media. Instead, U.S. officials and their right-wing pom-pom boys generally claim agnosticism about the Iraqi dead - and attack the results of any effort to count them, as seen in the response a few years ago to the John Hopkins University - sponsored study published in British medical journal The Lancet.

"Tens of thousands" - close enough for us well-intentioned Americans, who at worst merely "trigger" negative events that somehow just spiral out of our helpless little hands.

(Here's a link to a National Journal story about this study and the response to it, from early 2008.
I don't purport to say whether the Hopkins study is correct or not - the controversy swirling around it as well as around counting the Iraqi dead raises the real question: Why won't U.S. officials count how many people they've killed in our name?? Let's have a real body count - and pay reparations to the Iraqis.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gov Blagovejevich - he's just kidding around

Everyone's talking about Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. (That's because they can't write about him - can't spell his name.)
I say his defense his simple: He was joking. Because who would say all this stuff? This is the kind of stuff I would say as a joke to my friends if I ever were governor. That's more believable than anything I've heard.
And a guy with a helmut haircut has to be kidding on some level.