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Posts Tagged ‘Aaron David Miller

Chuck Hagel: Combining two Defense ministries: USA and Israel?

The Zionist lobby in the US has been throwing sand in the eyes of the US citizens claiming that Chuck HAGEL IS NOT PRO-ISRAEL IN WHATEVER ISRAEL POLICIES UNDERTAKE…

AND DURING CONFIRMATION HEARING TO Secretary OF DEFENSE, Hagel said:  “I’ve said that I’m a strong supporter of Israel… I’ve said that we have a special relationship with Israel… Ive never voted against Israel in my career… I’ve been to Israel many times,” he told Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

The first few hours of Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing have been sickening. WE THOUGHT he was named to be United States Secretary of Defense, not Israel’s defense.

The most urgent questions were about Israel, and many came from liberal Democrats insisting that Hagel is pledged to going to war against Iran if it acquires a nuclear weapon.

Philip Weiss, Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net, posted:

“While Kirsten Gillibrand of New York made no bones about “the most urgent issues– Israel and Israel’s security issues… We are fundamentally tied to [Israel].”  And Gillibrand demanded that if there has to be a continuing resolution in the event of a budget crunch, Hagel’s Pentagon will take pains to keep money going to Israel for its Iron Dome missile defense.

Does she believe this or is this just now the religion of Washington?

Hagel repeatedly asserted that he regards Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Revolutionary Guard of Iran as terrorist organizations. He abandoned every bold stand he has taken on Israel.

Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi said Hagel was reversing himself for political expediency, and that a week after Hagel had told the Omaha World-Herald that he opposed unilateral sanctions (American-only) against Iran, he reversed that position in a letter to progressive Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

But the most revealing part of the spectacle was watching Hagel stand up to John McCain when McCain said he had been wrong to oppose the Iraq surge in 2007 and the Afghanistan surge in 2009– and then watching Hagel fold pathetically when Lindsey Graham asked him to condemn Israeli settlements.

So: it was alright for Hagel to criticize the U.S. But not alright to criticize Israel.

Here’s Hagel’s show of spine with McCain [transcript from contemporaneous notes]:

“Do you stand by those comments?” McCain asked.

“I stand by them because I made them.”…

“I want to know if you were right or wrong.”

“I’m not giving you a yes or no answer. I think it’s far more complicated than that. I’ll defer that judgment to history.”

Later Graham the former military prosecutor badgered Hagel as though he had been un-American when he told Aaron David Miller that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people on Capitol Hill and gets Congress to do “dumb” stuff; and Hagel ate his words.

The critical moment in this exchange comes when Hagel refuses to say what dumb stuff the Congress did.

In the Miller interview, he was surely referring to the license that the Congress gave to Israel to keep building settlements, savaging the two-state solution.

Graham: Name one person in your opinion who’s intimidated by the Jewish lobby in the US Senate.

Hagel: I don’t know…

Graham: I can’t think of a more provocative thing to say about the relationship of the U.S. and Israel… [Next, Graham challenged Hagel, tell me one dumb thing Congress did because of the pressure.]

Hagel: I have already stated that I regret [the statement].

Graham: You can’t name one senator intimidated [or] give me one example of dumb things pressured to do… One thing!…

Hagel: Well I can’t give you an example.

Graham: Do you agree with me that you shouldn’t have said that?

Hagel: Yes I agree with you.

Years back, Hagel repeatedly criticized Israel for building settlements and wrecking the two state solution. But not now.

So, again, it is OK for Hagel to criticize the US troop increases in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he can’t say a word against a blatantly illegal practice, building settlements in occupied territory.

Graham drew more blood when he savaged Hagel for being one of four senators in 2001 to fail to sign a letter expressing solidarity with Israel during the Second Intifada and denouncing Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.

“It was  a very big deal. At a very important time. The lack of signature from you sends chills up my spine,“ Graham said. `

Graham asked Hagel to reconsider the letter: to say whether he would tell the world at large and Israel that he had made a mistake in not signing. And Hagel said he would have a look at the letter.

Richard Blumenthal, the progressive Connecticut Senator, said he also wanted Hagel to reconsider that letter.

This hearing is a wonderful event because it demonstrates the naked influence of the Israel lobby in our political life.

But, you say, Lindsey Graham is a South Carolina senator; he is operating out of his nationalist understanding of imperial interest; the Israel lobby cannot also reach him? But I think it has.

I think Zionism has so influenced the American political culture, via political money and think-tanks and columnists and editors, that it has folded Israel’s war against Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinians and Iran into our outlook on the Middle East.

The conflation of American and Israeli interests has become an article of faith in the establishment. Graham is the latest example of a Scoop Jackson, the national security hawk/intellectual who has listened to neocons and merged the two nations’ futures.

Now it’s the afternoon, and Hagel is walking away from his comment that Israel keeps Palestinians “caged up like animals.”

Under questioning from Utah Senator Mike Lee, Hagel regrets that statement too.

Pathetic.

Pathetic state of affairs

So many of such minorities…? Only in Israel counting is a sacred business…

“Liberal” Zionists have acquired this tendency of glorifying the apartheid nature of Israel by avoiding the occupation policies and the ever expansion of illegal settlements in the Palestinian Territories, and putting forth the “imaginary threats that Israel is facing or might be facing, without reminding the readers that these threats are the results of Zionism ideology of supremacy and heaping indignities on the “goyim” everywhere the Zionists are in majority and in control… This following article is an example.

AARON DAVID MILLER published on August 14, 2012 In the New York Times under “Preserving Israel’s Uncertain Status Quo”:

“If someone asked me to sum up in a sentence where Israel will be a decade from now, I’d paraphrase Dickens: It will be neither the best nor worst of times. The Israelis will prosper and keep their state, but the Arabs and Iranians will never let them completely enjoy it.

What drives many Israelis and the successive governments is not a Scrooge-like Christmas Eve glimpse of a terrifying future, but a strange mix of accomplishment, comfort and anxiety that reinforces the desire to maintain the status quo, particularly on the Palestinian issue.

And that attitude is not going to change anytime soon.

Mitt Romney’s stumble on the Palestinian question highlighted just how comfortable many Israelis are, and the sheer magnitude of what they have accomplished. Romney mistakenly lowballed Israel’s per capita G.D.P. (about $31,000 in 2011, according to the World Bank, rather than his misstated $21,000).

Israel has serious worries:

1. The gaps between rich and poor are growing.

2. The military conscription issue highlights the resentment toward the ultra Orthodox, their unemployment rate (60 percent for men) and the drain they place on state resources.

3. The country’s demographics look bad — too many ultra-Orthodox Jews, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs and not enough secular Jews.

4. The frequent mass demonstrations that have been organized for a year now by Israelis young and old protesting the extremes in wealth and poverty and the squeeze on the middle class were stunning reminders of the extent of general disaffection.

Still the demonstrations weren’t sustainable. Most likely, it’s because — all in all — times are just not that bad. Indeed, along with all the forecasting of gloom and doom there’s this: Per capita Israel gives rise to more startups than any other country in the world.

On the U.N.’s 2011 Human Development Index, Israel — a country of seven-and-a-half million people — stands 17th out of 187 nations. The discoveries of natural gas in the Mediterranean will not only take care of Israel’s needs but by 2017 make it a significant exporter.

As for the Palestinian issue that threatens to undermine Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic State, the dangers seem mitigated by the current situation.

The Palestinian Authority’s state-building enterprise and the security cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian services have generated more than a manageable status quo and all but eliminated terrorism.

The Arab Spring has left the Hamas leadership with few options and no real desire to wrangle with the Israelis militarily. And the approaching demise of the Assad regime in Syria will weaken Hezbollah.

If economic prosperity and a tolerable Palestinian problem seem to reinforce the status quo, the disquiet caused by instability elsewhere in the region validates Israel’s caution in not wanting to change it.

Israel seems bookended by two major worries that have all but subordinated the Palestinian issue to the back burner: Egypt’s future and Iran’s centrifuges.

The Israelis may have gotten over the shock of Hosni Mubarak’s ouster and the immediate fear that a Muslim Brotherhood president was going to abrogate the peace treaty. The Egyptian military and Cairo’s need for Western support will prevent that.

Yet the range of problems from security in the Sinai to support for Hamas in Gaza will introduce new uncertainty into Israel’s most important relationship with any Arab state and the only one based on the exchange of significant territory for the promise of normalized relations. Should that relationship deteriorate, the chances of a deal with the Palestinians on the same basis will recede.

The Iranian nuclear issue presents an even greater challenge and strategic priority. Israel is seeing its worst fears now realized. Sanctions hurt but won’t retard Iran’s enrichment of uranium, and negotiations aren’t capable now of producing a deal to stop that process at bomb-grade levels.

The fall of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria will help weaken Iran. But it could also serve to accelerate the Iranian nuclear program out of Tehran’s fear of Sunni encirclement.

One of the biggest losers from the Iranian nuclear program may well be the Palestinians. The Israelis never bought the argument that solving the Palestinian issue would weaken Iranian influence in the region.

For this Israeli government, Iran is a much bigger priority. And if there is an Iranian-Israeli conflict or one involving the United States, the resulting turmoil would make Israeli-Palestinian negotiations almost impossible.

Given the uncertainties in the region, the odds of resolving its most complex problems — Palestine, the Iranian nuclear issue, the Arab quest for representative government — seem very long indeed.

Even under more enlightened governments than the current one, the issue has never been about comprehensive solutions. Instead, Israel traditionally looks to buy time, pre-empt and prevent on the military side when necessary, and take calculated risks in pursuit of peace when possible.

It’s not an ideal strategy — and one not always well-suited to the Silicon Valley of the Middle East and to a country that wants a more peaceful and prosperous future. But it’s kept a small country living on knife’s edge alive and in remarkably good shape. And that’s got to count for something…”

Philip Wiess replied: “Search for these phrases in the New York Times: Too many blacks in Alabama. Too many Jews in New York City.
Obama’s friend Eric Yoffie, a liberal Zionist, has used the same phrase, “too many Arabs.”  You don’t pay a price for such rhetoric in the U.S. No; you get into the New York Times!”

Aaron David Miller is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the author of “The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace.”

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on August 15, 2012, in The International Herald Tribune.

Drone “Kill List”: When to be reviewed and revised?

U.S. President Barack Obama used to be criticized for being too liberal. The past week witnessed a flurry of news reports targeting the credibility of Obama: Reports revealing he personally oversees a “kill list” for drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen.

Daniel Klaidman, Newsweek editor, published “Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency“

Many Washington insiders are quoting for this book.

The New York Times and Newsweek exposed Obama:

1. How Obama,came to the White House with no military background and negligible national-security experience,

2. Is now overseeing the counterterrorism meeting of two dozen security officials where the targets for drone attacks are decided every Tuesday.

3. How the president has presided over a massive secret surveillance of U.S. citizens by the National Security Agency.

The book is based on interviews with named and anonymous sources within the Obama administration.

AL ARABIYA published:

“University of Utah law professor Amos Guiora told the Guardian that one problem with the so-called “kill list” is that U.S. policy has not firmly defined how people get on it.

Guiora said: “If Bush did what Obama is doing, then the journalists would have been all over it.”

In fact, the media reports from last week revealed that the Obama administration defines a militant as “any military-age male in the strike zone during a drone attack unless there is specific information posthumously proving them innocent…”

The logic is, people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with an al-Qaeda operative is probably up to no good.

Obama, who came to office with a pledge to break from the Bush-era, seems to be building on his predecessor’s national security platform.

He has made more government documents classified that any of his predecessors.

He has maintained CIA rendition flights and launched a crackdown on whistleblowers.

He has failed in meeting his promise of shutting down the controversial Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba.

The scope of Obama’s national security policy has shocked even keen Bush supporters and members of the Washington DC establishment.

Aaron David Miller, a Middle East policy adviser to both Republican and Democratic administrations, delivered a damning verdict in a recent issue of Foreign Policy magazine, writing that “Barack Obama has become Georges W. Bush on steroids.

James Badford told the Guardian: “Obama did not reverse what Bush did, he went beyond it. Obama is just able to wrap it up in a better looking package. He is more liberal, more eloquent. He does not look like a cowboy…” 

One example is a $2 billion heavily fortified building being constructed in the mountain deserts of Utah. Once the Utah Data Center is complete, it will be five times the size of the U.S. capital and house gigantic servers that will store vast amounts of data from ordinary Americans that will be sifted for traces of intelligence. It will cover everything from phone calls to emails to credit card receipts.

Obama added a clause to the National Defense Authorization Act that had such an ambiguous definition of support of terrorism that activists and journalist decoded to go to court claiming it threaded them with indefinite detentions for things like interviewing members of the Hamas-rulers of Gaza.

However it has been the drone attacks and the “kill list” that have emerged as the most hardline element to Obama’s national security policy.

In January 2009 when he came to power, the program only existed for Pakistan which has seen 44 attacks over five years. The attacks have since been expanded to Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia with over 250 strikes.

Deliberations on targets even turned to legal justification when it included the deliberate killing of a U.S. citizen , al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki that was killed in Yemen last year. His 16 year-old son Abdul-Rahman was accidentally killed in the same attack.

It is impossible to determine with any certainty how many civilians have been killed in drone attacks due to the “covert” nature of the operations, lack of timely access to remote areas and the integral biases of the U.S. government, targeted terrorist organizations, and host governments.

Estimates by non-governmental experts vary widely. In 2009, Pakistani terrorism researcher Amir Mid said civilian deaths accounted for over 98 percent of deaths from drone attacks in Pakistan, while Georgetown University Professor Christine Fair, stated “actually drones are not killing innocent civilians.”

In April 2012, White House Senior Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan vaguely stated: “Unfortunately, in war, there are casualties, including amok the civilian population. Sometimes you gave to take life to save lives.”

In response to the Newsweek and New York Times reporting last week, the White House spokesperson said, “I am not going to get into the specifics of the process [and] I don’t have the assessments of civilian casualties…we make great efforts to reduce the risk of civilian casualties.”

That same day, the Pentagon spokesperson told reporters, “Specifics I can’t get into … I can assure you that the number of civilian casualties is very, very low [and] we’re very confident that the number is very low.”

Read the response by Glenn Greenwald on these official leaks https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/news-leaks-or-spoonfed-official-news/

Note: For detailed accounts https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/more-drone-attacks-more-collateral-casualties-of-babies-and-civilians-glenn-greenwald/


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