Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Glenn Greenwald on fair trials & Lieberman on Iran plus quibble

The President's praise of fair trials and the rule of law

by Glenn Greenwald
Saturday, December 30, 2006

It is truly vile to listen to George Bush anoint himself the Arbiter of Due Process and Human Rights by praising the Iraqis for giving a "fair trial" to Saddam when we are currently holding 14,000 individuals (at least) around the world in our custody -- many of whom we have been holding for years and in the most inhumane conditions imaginable -- who have been desperately, and unsuccessfully, seeking some forum, any forum, in which to prove their innocence. This lawlessly imprisoned group includes journalists, political activists, and entirely innocent people.

Read more:

Joe Lieberman's declaration of war on Iran
by Glenn Greenwald

December 29, 2006


In his Washington Post Op-Ed today, the Great Warrior Joe Lieberman predictably endorsed sending more troops to Iraq, in the process dutifully spouting (as always) every Bush/neoconservative talking point. But Lieberman had a much larger fish to fry with this Op-Ed, as he all but declared war on Iran, identifying them as the equivalent of Al Qaeda, as the Real Enemy we are fighting:

While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States. Iraq is the most deadly battlefield on which that conflict is being fought. How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but the worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001.

Everything that is happening in Iraq is the fault of Iran and Al Qaeda:

This bloodshed, moreover, is not the inevitable product of ancient hatreds. It is the predictable consequence of a failure to ensure basic security and, equally important, of a conscious strategy by al-Qaeda and Iran, which have systematically aimed to undermine Iraq's fragile political center.

Joe Lieberman's desire for the U.S. to view itself as being at war with Iran also has nothing whatsoever to do with this: [[here Greenwald is being sarcastic]]

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday compared Iran's nuclear ambitions and threats against Israel with the policies of Nazi Germany and criticized world leaders who maintain relations with Iran's president. . . .

Israel has identified Iran as the greatest threat to the Jewish state. Israel's concerns have heightened since the election of Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who frequently calls for the destruction of Israel and has questioned whether the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews took place.

"We hear echoes of those very voices that started to spread across the world in the 1930s," Olmert said in his speech at the Yad Vashem memorial.

Read more:

At the end of this blog on Lieberman's warmongering against Iran, Greenwald adds an update. And here's the only place I would quibble with him. First, read his update.

Glenn Greenwald writes:
UPDATE: For the sake of clarity, and to avoid being misunderstood, I want to add one point here that really merits its own separate discussion. If I were an Israeli, I'd very likely perceive Iran as an enemy (and vice-versa). And as I've argued many times before, one can reasonably argue that the U.S. should have a policy of supporting its most important allies and/or other democracies, including Israel. The U.S. provides security guarantees for all sorts of countries. That's all fair game for open discussion.

But few things are more threatening to Israeli interests than deceitfully securing American policies based on pretext or by concealing the real agenda. People can be fooled only for so long, and people who feel deceived generally backlash against the deceivers. The argument is not that people like Joe Lieberman do too much to help Israel but that, though that might be their motive, they achieve the precise opposite result.

Ronald writes:
First, if I were an Israeli, I wouldn't perceive Iran as the enemy. I would perceive my warmongering government and the US as the enemy because a war against Iran would be the worst thing for Middle East stability and for Israeli security.

I wonder if my next point will contradict what I've just said. In his second paragraph Greenwald effectively repeats the mantra that peace and fair play and transparency in government is in the best interests of Israel. But Israel and its US friends and Lobby have been operating in secrecy and behind clouds of obscurity since 1948 and they have successfully transferred 70+ billions of US tax dollars to Israel since then. Until the revolution, the forces maintaining the status quo seem overwhelming.


Comment from Carl:
Dear Ronald,
Here's something I wrote during the most recent Israeli attack on Lebanon. It's been sitting in my computer ever since, but I think it bears upon your 'quibble.' The fact of the matter is that, as Jabotinsky pointed out, there is no peaceful way to establish a Jewish state in Palestine and no peaceful way to maintain it. The native population cannot be overwhelmed by vast numbers of immigrant settlers, as were the natives of North America and Australia. The Zionists knew from the outset that they would need the support of some great power and offered all of them that they would advance its interests, but in the end they betrayed them all. Now they have dragged America into a never-ending war against their enemies. The longer it goes on the more the question will be asked: what do we gain from supporting a Jewish state in the Near East?-- an irrational scheme that was seen as such from the very outset. This is the question that is being asked more and more, despite the efforts to convince people that even asking this question is antisemitic.
Best wishes for the new year,


There's something about the Israel question that brings out an irresistible and near universal temptation for kibitzing. Everyone seems to know how the opposing forces ought to conduct themselves better that they themselves do. At random --I must have read a dozen such statements in the last couple of days--here is John Nichols in the Nation:

No serious participant in the contemporary discourse would deny that Israel has a right to protect itself. But no one in their right mind thinks Israel is going about the mission in a smart manner.

Well I guess I am not a "serious participant in the contemporary discourse" --in fact I'm sure I'm not and, moreover, wouldn't want to be -- but first of all, I think that what Israel is protecting is what it has stolen, and while I understand that it is unrealistic to expect that people not to try to hang on to stolen property, I wouldn't use the word 'right', to describe this understandable behavior.
Even more fatuous is the idea that Mr Nichols knows better than the Israeli government how to advance its interests! And, what is more, if you don't agree with him, he thinks you're crazy. There are legions of such people. They are all for Israel and its sacred 'right to exist' (though they're not quite sure where) but they are against the 'policies' of the Israeli government. They are in favor of kindness and moderation and are convinced that that is the way to realize its objectives -- or rather what they assume its objectives to be. This could be ascribed to well intentioned naïveté if it were written by children, but after more than a half century of relentless assaults by the Jewish state as well as the irrefutable logic of its theoreticians such as Jabotinsky, such naïveté can't help seeming disingenuous (" pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.")
But it's not just the friends of the Israelis that are chock full of helpful suggestions. "Friends" of the Palestinians are forever offering helpful advice. Don't provoke the Jews. Avoid violence. Appeal to the conscience of the "international community," reject Islamic parties, make common cause with the Jewish working class, etc., etc. Such friends are quick to point out how Palestinian militants are 'hurting their own cause" whenever they cause trouble for Israel and the US.
Then there is a much smaller group of 'friends' who cheer on any act of violent resistance on principle, since they believe that those are the only methods that work and because it lifts their spirits.

Then there were the advocates of the "Peace Process" whose wishful thinking allowed them to swallow this cynical deception. The idea of discussing unimportant details first and leaving the essential question until later is unheard of in any serious negotiation.

"So what is your solution?" one might ask. I obviously have none for either the Israelis or the Palestinians. But there is a solution for Americans: Real neutrality and a cut-off of all of our subsidies. We could in theory impose conditions on our subsidy to the Israelis, but we don't -- with the obvious result that they can act irresponsibly and count on us to bail them out. Only if they were on their own would the have to consider the consequences of their actions. Our continuing support allows them to avoid this. If it is continued indefinitely this we can only look forward to incalculable catastrophes.

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