Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rafah - worse than a crime

Worse Than A Crime
By Uri Avnery

27 January, 2008
Gush Shalom

It looked like the fall of the Berlin wall. And not only did it look like it. For a moment, the Rafah crossing was the Brandenburg Gate.

It is impossible not to feel exhilaration when masses of oppressed and hungry people break down the wall that is shutting them in, their eyes radiant, embracing everybody they meet - to feel so even when it is your own government that erected the wall in the first place.

The Gaza Strip is the largest prison on earth. The breaking of the Rafah wall was an act of liberation. It proves that an inhuman policy is always a stupid policy: no power can stand up against a mass of people that has crossed the border of despair.

That is the lesson of Gaza, January, 2008.

ONE MIGHT repeat the famous saying of the French statesman Boulay de la Meurthe, slightly amended: It is worse than a war crime, it is a blunder!

Months ago, the two Ehuds - Barak and Olmert - imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, and boasted about it. Lately they have tightened the deadly noose even more, so that hardly anything at all could be brought into the Strip. Last week they made the blockade absolute - no food, no medicines. Things reached a climax when they stopped the fuel, too. Large areas of Gaza remained without electricity - incubators for premature babies, dialysis machines, pumps for water and sewage. Hundreds of thousands remained without heating in the severe cold, unable to cook, running out of food.

Again and again, Aljazeera broadcast the pictures into millions of homes in the Arab world. TV stations all over the world showed them, too. From Casablanca to Amman angry mass protest broke out and frightened the authoritarian Arab regimes. Hosny Mubarak called Ehud Barak in panic. That evening Barak was compelled to cancel, at least temporarily, the fuel-blockade he had imposed in the morning. Apart from that, the blockade remained total.

It is hard to imagine a more stupid act.

THE REASON given for the starving and freezing of one and a half million human beings, crowded into a territory of 365 square kilometers, is the continued shooting at the town of Sderot and the adjoining villages.

That is a well-chosen reason. It unites the primitive and poor parts of the Israeli public. It blunts the criticism of the UN and the governments throughout the world, who might otherwise have spoken out against a collective punishment that is, undoubtedly, a war crime under international law.

A clear picture is presented to the world: the Hamas terror regime in Gaza launches missiles at innocent Israeli civilians. No government in the world can tolerate the bombardment of its citizens from across the border. The Israeli military has not found a military answer to the Qassam missiles. Therefore there is no other way than to exert such strong pressure on the Gaza population as to make them rise up against Hamas and compel them to stop the missiles.

The day the Gaza electricity works stopped operating, our military correspondents were overjoyed: only two Qassams were launched from the Strip. So it works! Ehud Barak is a genius!

But the day after, 17 Qassams landed, and the joy evaporated. Politicians and generals were (literally) out of their minds: one politician proposed to "act crazier than them", another proposed to "shell Gaza's urban area indiscriminately for every Qassam launched", a famous professor (who is a little bit deranged) proposed the exercise of "ultimate evil".

The government scenario was a repeat of Lebanon War II (the report about which is due to be published in a few days). Then: Hizbullah captured two soldiers on the Israeli side of the border, now: Hamas fired on towns and villages on the Israeli side of the border. Then: the government decide in haste to start a war, now: the government decided in haste to impose a total blockade. Then: the government ordered the massive bombing of the civilian population in order to get them to pressure Hizbullah, now: the government decided to cause massive suffering of the civilian population in order to get them to pressure Hamas.

The results were the same in both cases: the Lebanese population did not rise up against Hizbullah, but on the contrary, people of all religious communities united behind the Shiite organization. Hassan Nasrallah became the hero of the entire Arab world. And now: the population unites behind Hamas and accuses Mahmoud Abbas of cooperation with the enemy. A mother who has no food for her children does not curse Ismail Haniyeh, she curses Olmert, Abbas and Mubarak.

SO WHAT to do? After all, it is impossible to tolerate the suffering of the inhabitants of Sderot, who are under constant fire.

What is being hidden from the embittered public is that the launching of the Qassams could be stopped tomorrow morning.

Several months ago Hamas proposed a cease-fire. It repeated the offer this week.

A cease-fire means, in the view of Hamas: the Palestinians will stop shooting Qassams and mortar shells, the Israelis will stop the incursions into Gaza, the "targeted" assassinations and the blockade.

Why doesn't our government jump at this proposal?

Simple: in order to make such a deal, we must speak with Hamas, directly or indirectly. And this is precisely what the government refuses to do.

Why? Simple again: Sderot is only a pretext - much like the two captured soldiers were a pretext for something else altogether. The real purpose of the whole exercise is to overthrow the Hamas regime in Gaza and to prevent a Hamas takeover in the West Bank.

In simple and blunt words: the government sacrifices the fate of the Sderot population on the altar of a hopeless principle. It is more important for the government to boycott Hamas - because it is now the spearhead of Palestinian resistance - than to put an end to the suffering of Sderot. All the media cooperate with this pretence.

IT HAS been said before that it is dangerous to write satire in our country - too often the satire becomes reality. Some readers may recall a satirical article I wrote months ago. In it I described the situation in Gaza as a scientific experiment designed to find out how far one can go, in starving a civilian population and turning their lives into hell, before they raise their hands in surrender.

This week, the satire has become official policy. Respected commentators declared explicitly that Ehud Barak and the army chiefs are working on the principle of "trial and error" and change their methods daily according to results. They stop the fuel to Gaza, observe how this works and backtrack when the international reaction is too negative. They stop the delivery of medicines, see how it works, etc. The scientific aim justifies the means.

The man in charge of the experiment is Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a man of many ideas and few scruples, a man whose whole turn of mind is basically inhuman. He is now, perhaps, the most dangerous person in Israel, more dangerous than Ehud Olmert and Binyamin Netanyahu, dangerous to the very existence of Israel in the long run.

The man in charge of execution is the Chief of Staff. This week we had the chance of hearing speeches by two of his predecessors, generals Moshe Ya'alon and Shaul Mofaz, in a forum with inflated intellectual pretensions. Both were discovered to have views that place them somewhere between the extreme Right and the ultra-Right. Both have a frighteningly primitive mind. There is no need to waste a word about the moral and intellectual qualities of their immediate successor, Dan Halutz. If these are the voices of the three last Chiefs of Staff, what about the incumbent, who cannot speak out as openly as they? Has this apple fallen further from the tree?

Until three days ago, the generals could entertain the opinion that the experiment was succeeding. The misery in the Gaza Strip had reached its climax. Hundreds of thousands were threatened by actual hunger. The chief of UNRWA warned of an impending human catastrophe. Only the rich could still drive a car, heat their homes and eat their fill. The world stood by and wagged its collective tongue. The leaders of the Arab states voiced empty phrases of sympathy without raising a finger.

Barak, who has mathematical abilities, could calculate when the population would finally collapse.

AND THEN something happened that none of them foresaw, in spite of the fact that it was the most foreseeable event on earth.

When one puts a million and a half people in a pressure cooker and keeps turning up the heat, it will explode. That is what happened at the Gaza-Egypt border.

At first there was a small explosion. A crowd stormed the gate, Egyptian policemen opened live fire, dozens were wounded. That was a warning.

The next day came the big attack. Palestinian fighters blew up the wall in many places. Hundreds of thousands broke out into Egyptian territory and took a deep breath. The blockade was broken.

Even before that, Mubarak was in an impossible situation. Hundreds of millions of Arabs, a billion Muslims, saw how the Israeli army had closed the Gaza strip off on three sides: the North, the East and the sea. The fourth side of the blockade was provided by the Egyptian army.

The Egyptian president, who claims the leadership of the entire Arab world, was seen as a collaborator with an inhuman operation conducted by a cruel enemy in order to gain the favor (and the money) of the Americans. His internal enemies, the Muslim Brothers, exploited the situation to debase him in the eyes of his own people.

It is doubtful if Mubarak could have persisted in this position. But the Palestinian masses relieved him of the need to make a decision. They decided for him. They broke out like a tsunami wave. Now he has to decide whether to succumb to the Israeli demand to re-impose the blockade on his Arab brothers.

And what about Barak's experiment? What's the next step? The options are few:

1. To re-occupy Gaza. The army does not like the idea. It understands that this would expose thousands of soldiers to a cruel guerilla war, which would be unlike any intifada before.

2. To tighten the blockade again and exert extreme pressure on Mubarak, including the use of Israeli influence on the US Congess to deprive him of the billions he gets every year for his services.

3. To turn the curse into a blessing, by handing the Strip over to Mubarak, pretending that this was Barak's hidden aim all along. Egypt would have to safeguard Israel's security, prevent the launching of Qassams and expose its own soldiers to a Palestinian guerilla war - when it thought it was rid of the burden of this poor and barren area, and after the infrastructure there has been destroyed by the Israeli occupation. Probably Mubarak will say: Very kind of you, but no thanks.

The brutal blockade was a war crime. And worse: it was a stupid blunder

Gaza: Concentration camp

Palestinian Genocide:
Why Palestinians Are Fleeing Apartheid Israel’s Gaza Concentration Camp

By Dr Gideon Polya

27 January, 2008

For over 40 years Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) inhabitants have been held prisoner, stripped of fundamental human rights by Racist Zionist-run Apartheid Israel with post-invasion excess deaths now totalling 0.3 million out of an average 1967-2008 population of 1.8 million.

The only chink in the Wall of the OPT Concentration Camp is that at Rafah in the Gaza Strip where thousands of desperate Palestinians are fleeing their horrendously abusive Prison – a Prison in which now 4 million people (half of them children, three quarters women and children) are held in horribly abusive conditions without charge or trial and subject to regular high technology shelling, rocketing and bombing.

However Racist Zionist-beholden Western media present the racist FICTION that the Occupied Palestinians starving in Gaza are somehow masters of their own destiny and that the overwhelmingly democratically-elected Hamas administration (76 Hamas seats versus Fatah’s 43 out of 132 seats in the now Apartheid Israel-disbanded OPT Parliament in the 2006 elections) and is somehow an illegitimate representative of the Occupied Palestinians who are somehow not even “Occupied”.

The UTTERLY FALSE and intrinsically anti-Jewish anti-Semitic Racist Zionist conflation of their evil, racist, violent, human rights-abusing philosophy with “Jews” and “Judaism” has been accepted by the Racist Bush-ite- and Racist Zionist-beholden Mainstream media and politicians of Apartheid Israel’s racist, anti-Arab anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, Western backers, the American Murdochracy and the other Anglo-Celtic and Western Murdochracies and their NATO partners in horrendous war crimes of the Bush Wars (post-invasion excess deaths in the Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories now total 5-8 million) (see:
rudd-australia-report-card-1-continued.html and
rudd-australia-report-card-3-australian.html ).

However what do outstanding anti-racist, Humanitarian JEWS have to say about this continuing Racist Bush-ite- and Racist neo-Bush-ite-backed Racist Zionist atrocity in the Holy Land?

For good reasons my great grandfather had exactly the same name as the outstanding 19th century Orthodox Jewish scholar Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (see: ). Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch was dead opposed to political Zionism as contrary to the Jewish theological orthodoxy that “Israel” (the complement of Torah-observant Jews) will only return to Zion when Moschiach (the Messiah) reveals the glory of Adonai (the Lord) to the whole world (to confirm this simply ask a Jewish friend to take you to a synagogue - while the Racist Zionists have convinced the Mainstream media to LIE about Apartheid Israel and the OPT they have been unable to edit out the Torah and the Talmudic dissertations).

Indeed, writing in 1919, Nathan Birnbaum, the formerly Zionist Jewish journalist who actually coined the term “Zionism”, decried political Zionism in an essay entitled “In bondage to our fellow Jews”: “And is it at all possible that we, who regard Judaism as our one and only treasure, should ever be able to compete with such expert demagogues and loud self-advertisers as they?” (see Michael Selzer, editor, “Zionism Reconsidered”, Macmillan, London, 1970).

In 1939, notwithstanding the evil of Nazi Germany, Australia’s most outstanding Jewish public figure, former Governor General Sir Isaac Isaacs supported the UK 1939 White Paper that opposed Jewish entry into Palestine because it would violate the rights of the Indigenous Palestinian people in contravention of the Balfour Declaration that insisted explicitly on no detriment of the Indigenous Inhabitants (see: and Max Gordon, “Sir Isaac Isaacs”, Heinemann, Adelaide, 1963).

Later still, in 1945, outstanding Jewish intellectual Hannah Arendt wrote an essay “Zionism reconsidered” in which she declared, so presciently: “Thus the social-revolutionary Jewish national movement, which started half a century ago with ideals so lofty that it overlooked the particular realities of the Near East and the general wickedness of the world, has ended – as do most such movements – with the unequivocal support not only of national but of chauvinist claims – claims not against the foes of the Jewish people but against its possible friends and present neighbours” (The Menorah Journal, Autumn 1945, volume 33, number 2).

Half a century later, the Racist Zionist agenda of an anti-Arab anti-Semitic ethnic cleansing of the Holy land – the Palestinian Genocide – is substantially achieved (0.3 million post-invasion OPT excess deaths, 0.2 million post-invasion under-5 year old OPT infant deaths, passive murder of 2,400 under-5 year old OPT infants annually, 7 million Palestinian refugees, 1.5 million Arab Israelis as second class citizens and 4 million Occupied Palestinian prisoners on the OPT Concentration Camp). However decent, anti-racist, humanitarians Jews around the world are PROTESTING the horrendous , racist human rights abuses of racist Zionist-run Apartheid Israel.

Outstanding anti-racist, humanitarian Jews have banded together for Justice in the Holy Land e.g. British Jew and Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter and his very distinguished Jewish associates in the organization Jews for Justice for Palestinians (see: ) ; the Israeli Gush Shalom (see: ); the UK Independent Jewish Voices, IJV (see: ); Independent Australian Jewish Voices, IAJV (see: ); the US Not in My Name, NIME (see: ); and the anti-Zionist Orthodox Jewish organization Neturei Karta (see: ).

Numerous profound statements have been made by outstanding anti-racist, humanitarian Jewish scholars and leaders about the horrendous, continuing crimes of Racist Zionist-run Apartheid Israel of which the following is a pertinent selection.

Ronnie Kasrils, outstanding, anti-racist Jewsih South African MP, Government Minister and hero in the fight against US-, UK- and Israel-backed Apartheid: “Israel 2007: worse than Apartheid” (see:
insight/insight__comment_and_analysis/&articleid=30896 ).

Professor Noam Chomsky, outstanding Jewish American linguistics scholar at 63-Nobel-Laureate MIT, describes the OPT as a “Prison”: “If there's a conflict going on, aside physical war, not in a military conflict going on, abduction -- if soldiers are captured, they are to be treated humanely. But it is not a crime at the level of capture of civilians and bringing them across the border into your own country. That's a serious crime. And that's the one that's not reported. And, in fact, remember that -- I mean, I don't have to tell you that there are constant attacks going on in Gaza, which is basically a prison, huge prison, under constant attack all the time: economic strangulation, military attack, assassinations, and so on. In comparison with that, abduction of a soldier, whatever one thinks about it, doesn't rank high in the scale of atrocities.” (see: ) .

And outstanding Jewish American scholar Professor Bertell Ollman talks of anti-Arab anti-Semitism by anti-Semitic racist Zionists : “For obvious reasons, the Zionists are very sensitive about being compared to the Nazis (not so sensitive that it has restrained them in their actions but enough to bellow "unfair" and to charge "anti-Semitism" when it happens). Yet, the facts on the ground, when not obscured by one or another Zionist rationalization, show that the Zionists are the worst anti-Semites in the world today, oppressing a Semitic people as no nation has done since the Nazis.” (see: ).

What Apartheid Israel has been doing amounts a slow Palestinian Genocide, with genocide being defined here according to Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention (see: ) : “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Now compare the provisions of Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention with the crimes of the anti-Arab anti-Semitic Racist Zionists: 50,000 Palestinians violently killed post-1948; 0.3 million post-1967 excess deaths (avoidable deaths); post-invasion under-5 year old OPT infant deaths; 2,400 under-5 year old Occupied Palestinian infants passively murdered by Apartheid Israel EACH YEAR; 7 million refugees (4.3 million registered with the UN); 85% of Palestinian Christians have fled; horrendous living conditions in the OPT Concentration Camp, and particularly so for Palestinian children (see UNICEF: ); 1.5 million of Palestinian Israelis suffering Nazi-style race laws; millions of Occupied Palestinians (currently 4 million) held without charge or trial in an increasingly abusive Concentration Camp for over 40 years.

One can well understand why Palestinians are fleeing the one gap in the wall surrounding the Apartheid Israel-run Occupied Palestinian Territory Concentration Camp.

As far as I know, the Nazis murdered all but about a dozen of my wider family in Hungary in 1944-1945. About 0.2 million Jewish Hungarians were murdered by the Nazis out of a Jewish population of 0.7 million (see: Gilbert, M. (1969), Jewish History Atlas (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London);

Gilbert, M. (1982), Atlas of the Holocaust (Michael Joseph, London). Compare this with the 0.3 million post-invasion Occupied Palestinian Territory excess deaths (out of an average 1967-2008 population of 1.8 million).

About 5-6 million Jews died in the WW2 Jewish Holocaust and about 30 million Slavs, Jews and Roma people were murdered by the Nazis WW2 Holocaust in general, including 20 million in the Soviet Union, 6 million in Poland, 1 million in Yugoslavia, millions elsewhere in Europe and 1 million Roma (see: Gilbert, M. (1969), Jewish History Atlas (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London);

Gilbert, M. (1982), Atlas of the Holocaust (Michael Joseph, London).

Accordingly the primary message of the Holocaust to me and to ALL anti-racist humanitarians throughout the world is zero tolerance for racism – whether the racism of the Nazis, the neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, the US-, UK- and Israel-backed South African Apartheiders, the Racist Bush-ites ( 8 million excess deaths in the 21st century, Racist Zionist-promoted Bush Wars: ), American democratic imperialism (1950-2005 excess deaths in countries partly or completely occupied post-war by the US total 82 million – 1950-2005 excess deaths for countries partly occupied by Apartheid Israel total 24 million) (see: “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: and ).

About half the Occupied Palestinians are children and three quarters are women and children. Any person who knowingly ignores, denies, minimizes, excuses, obfuscates, supports, advocates or is other wise complicit in the gross abuses of woman and children has crossed the line between decent humanity and proto-Nazi barbarism.

Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. In the face of horrendous, ongoing abuses of humanity, decent folk are obliged to (a) inform others, (b) apply sanctions and boycotts to those complicit in such atrocities (such as Apartheid Israel and its Bush-ite and neo-Bush-ite backers in the Western Murdochracies) and (c) work for PEACE in other possible ways.

Peace with equality, justice and reconciliation IS possible NOW in the Holy Land ( see: , and ) - but the prerequisite is zero tolerance for racism.

Dr Gideon Polya published some 130 works in a 4 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003). He has just published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: ).

The Farce of Sovereignty

Mike Ghouse:

We may get away imposing His Majesty George Bush's will on the people of Iraq for today, but what His majesty does not understand is the resentment being cultivated by these impositions. This will boomerang one of these days and then we will call it a betrayal. I think we are betraying civility and democracy by not giving them value to manage thier own affairs.


The Farce of Sovereignty
The coalition made much of bringing democracy to the 'liberated' country by handing the reins to the Iraqi government. But, as Jonathan Steele relates in this extract from his new book, it also ensured that it retained complete control
by Jonathan Steele
Wednesday January 23, 2008

A US military transport plane regularly lifts off from Amman in Jordan and lands at the "American side" of Baghdad's international airport. This is the Baghdad shuttle: no visas required, no need to show a passport to any Iraqi official. For embassy staff, contractors, and other civilians working for the occupation it is the perfect beeline into the "other Iraq", the set of vast US-controlled compounds where Iraq's real power resides. If you have access to a helicopter, you can be whisked aloft from Baghdad airport to your final destination in the Green Zone in 10 minutes. For less important people, the trip to the Green Zone entails overland travel, a 30-minute ride in an armour-plated US bus called a Rhino. On this trip you cannot avoid spotting a few Iraqis, but in your sealed vehicle you still do not need to notify any locals of your arrival in their country.

These high-handed arrangements apply even more starkly to VIPs. US congressmen and senators, the secretaries of state and defense and other cabinet ministers, and of course the vice-president and president of the United States land in Baghdad without even the formality of an invitation. In no other country of the world are foreign leaders able to show up at whim. In Iraq, they can.

Many of these high-level visitors proceed to lecture their "hosts" on how to run the country. In the best imperial manner, they recommend who to sack from the cabinet, and who to appoint. They insist on certain laws being passed or demand changes in the constitution.

They even tell elected Iraqi leaders to resign, as I witnessed on April 3 2006. The scene was Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's office deep in the Green Zone. A fleet of bullet-proofed Chevrolet Suburban SUVs with tinted windows was parked in the drive. American security guards in mirrored sunglasses and baseball caps patrolled the entrance with their forefingers clamped on the triggers of submachine-guns. There was no sign of any Iraqi security personnel.

Inside, almost like a hostage, Jaafari was being harangued by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw. The two had decided only one day earlier to make the trip to Baghdad, exasperated that the prime minister was continuing to resist a steady flow of hints from the US ambassador that it was time to go. All kinds of arguments were trotted out. Iraq needed a leader who could unify the country. The government must clamp down on Shia militias. The cabinet had to be led by a man who could command support across the spectrum, including from Kurds and Sunni Arabs.

Jaafari did not listen, or at least he did not obey. Not even a phone call from Bush in the White House had done the trick. Now he was being given his marching orders by Rice and Straw in person.

Their brutal mission got off to a bad start. A rare torrential storm burst over Baghdad just after they landed, making it too risky to take helicopters to the Green Zone. They were forced to travel like low-level officials in a Suburban and soon got stuck in a traffic jam caused by an Iraqi army checkpoint. It was a unique opportunity for Rice and Straw to sample the fear of car bombs that Iraqis felt on a daily basis.

Why Washington did not like Jaafari was never entirely clear. A family doctor who spent many years of exile in London, he had served as prime minister for just over a year. It was true that he was a dull, humourless man. It was also true that his government's record was patchy. But Jaafari had usually done what the Americans wanted and it was hard to see how any Iraqi government could make much impact in the midst of an insurgency and growing sectarian tensions. In any case, as head of a coalition dominated by Shia Islamist parties, Jaafari had little freedom of manoeuvre. The Dawa party which he headed was not the biggest party in the coalition.

Accustomed to a presidential system, the Americans hankered after a "strong leader" who would take tough decisions. Ignorant of any culture other than his own, Bush is reported to have shouted during the "crisis" over Jaafari: "Where's George Washington? Where's Thomas Jefferson? Where's John Adams, for crying out loud?" But giving leaders overwhelming powers is not how parliamentary politics usually work, especially in a system where the ruling group is itself a coalition. Not only was Jaafari unable to hand out cabinet posts; he himself had been chosen to head the Shia coalition by the smallest of margins - 64 votes to 63. This made it likely that, if he did resign, his successor would also be from the Dawa party, since any other choice would disturb the balance that had been painstakingly reached when the government jobs were carved up.

The Bush administration's hostility to Jaafari was based mainly on frustration. Security in Iraq was manifestly not improving, so the Americans decided to blame the chaos on the Iraqis. And what better target than the man who was nominally in charge?

The other reason for US anger was that Jaafari's winning score of 64 votes depended on MPs loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr had long been an American bugbear because he was the one Iraqi leader they had not been able to co-opt or isolate. He also irritated Washington because he and his MPs regularly called for a timetable for the US to leave Iraq.

While Rice and Straw were urging Jaafari to step down, I was in a side room with the prime minister's press secretary and other officials. Jaafari had decided to turn to the Guardian to get his point of view across, perhaps as a snub to the Americans or because he knew the paper regularly criticised the British government. I was promised an interview before I knew of the super-secret Rice/Straw trip. As news of it broke, I rang Jaafari's press secretary expecting to be told that the interview was off. "Only delayed," she told me, which was why I was now waiting in the prime minister's office.

The meeting with Rice and Straw was a tense affair, and when it ended, I could see through the open door into the hall as the two western visitors swept angrily out. They went off to lunch with Jaafari's political rival Adel Abdel Mahdi, a snub that they must have known Jaafari would soon learn of. The prime minister showed his own annoyance by not bothering to accompany his uninvited guests to the door of the building. After a 10-minute pause he was still so upset that he decided he could not do the interview. It was re-arranged for the following day.

This time I was asked to come to the premier's official residence, a typically tasteless sandstone Saddam-era palace in the Green Zone surrounded on three sides by an artificial lake. It was still light outside, but the heavy velvet curtains were drawn, adding to the sense of a bunker-within-a-bunker.

Looking stern and unsmiling as he fingered yellow-brown worrybeads, Jaafari struck a defiant note. He would not step down in spite of the pleas from Rice and Straw, he told me. "I heard their points of view even though I disagree with them," he declared. Taking the claim that the US and Britain had toppled Saddam in order to bring democracy, he turned it against them by recalling that he had won the vote within the Shia block to be the next prime minister. "There is a decision that was reached by a democratic mechanism, and I stand with it ... We have to protect democracy in Iraq and it is democracy that should decide who leads Iraq," he said.
Tampering with democracy was risky, he warned. "People will react if they see the rules of democracy being disobeyed. Every politician and every friend of Iraq should not want people to be frustrated. Everyone should stick to democratic mechanisms, no matter whether they disagree with the person."

It was powerful, though perhaps rather desperate, stuff. Like every other mainstream Iraqi politician, he knew the rules of the game. The Americans could not be opposed for ever. They had the money and the troops. Three weeks later, Jaafari resigned. Nouri al-Maliki, his replacement, was a colleague from the Dawa party and another Islamist. If anything, his background was "worse" than Jaafari's, since he had spent the Saddam years in Syria and Iran rather than the west. As time went on, the Americans became as frustrated with him as they had been with Jaafari. He ran a pro-Shia regime, refused to make concessions to the Sunnis, and used the language of national reconciliation without doing anything to give it substance.

When Maliki's appointment was announced, US intelligence knew little about him, so Rice flew back to Baghdad to check him out. This time she came with secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld. They wanted to discover Maliki's gut feelings about the crucial issue of US troop withdrawals. The danger that an Iraqi government might ask for an end to the occupation was always Washington's biggest anxiety.

Sitting stiffly with his American visitors, Maliki told them of his plans to handle sectarian tensions and improve public services, including electricity. So far, so good. He talked of retraining and improving the police. Then he mentioned a security plan with the ambiguous name Take Back Baghdad. It was not clear if he meant from the insurgents or from the Americans. Rumsfeld decided to test him by hinting at the need to discuss cutting back on the number of US patrols in Baghdad. "It's way too early to be talking about that," Maliki replied to the Americans' relief.
Keeping US troops in Iraq on a long-term basis was a key part of the neo-cons' agenda. They were well aware of the link between military power and political control. As long as the US had troops on the ground that the Iraqi government felt it needed, the US would be able to use them as leverage for defining the main lines of Iraqi government policy. It might not mean the US could micromanage every last Iraqi decision, but it would have a veto on anything with which it disagreed fundamentally.

This was the trick that underlay the transfer of sovereignty from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to an Iraqi government in June 2004. The issue for the Americans was how to guarantee the future of the military occupation once the Iraqis had their own government. Paul Bremer, the head of the CPA, described Article 59 in the Transitional Administrative Law that he had drawn up as "in effect our 'security agreement' providing the legal rationale for our post-sovereignty troop presence". "For us," he said, "it was the brightest of red lines."

Article 59 referred to Iraq's newly formed armed forces "as a principal partner in the multinational force operating in Iraq under unified command". The use of the word "principal" was a smoke screen, since the reference to a unified command clearly meant the Iraqi army would be subordinate to the Americans. Bremer spelled it out unambiguously in a decree in March: "All trained elements of the Iraqi armed forces shall at all times be under the operational control of the commander of coalition forces for the purpose of conducting combined operations."

The best pretext for the US to justify maintaining troops in Iraq is, of course, the insurgency. As long as the emphasis is kept on dealing with it militarily rather than finding a political solution, the US can always claim American troops are needed in Iraq to train Iraq's own security forces. The US cannot leave until Iraqis are ready to take over - and the definition of "ready" is infinitely flexible. Sometimes the progress of the programme is measured in numbers of men recruited and trained. Sometimes it is calculated in terms of combat capability - and, inevitably, the Iraqis have been less well equipped than US forces, with worse communications systems, less modern weaponry and less experience. For as long as it suits them, the Americans can easily argue that it is not yet safe to hand the Iraqis total control over security.

High-profile media events have been held to mark the transfer of responsibility for security in various provinces from the US to the Iraqis. But in every case the Americans or the British remain as a back-up to provide air support, logistical assistance and, on occasion, their own troops. It is exactly the same system as "Vietnamisation" during the Vietnam war. Local forces take an increasing share of front-line combat as well as static guard duty and manning check-points, but the foreigners remain in ultimate charge. Their military superiority continues to give the Americans political control at almost every level of the Iraqi government.
© 2008 Jonathan Steele.

· Extracted from Defeat: Why They Lost Iraq, by Jonathan Steele, published by IB Tauris at £20 (and in the US in March by Counterpoint). To order a copy for £18 with free UK p&p go to or call 0870 836 0875.

Jonathan Steele is a British journalist. He has reported on Afghanistan, Russia, Iraq, and other countries. Currently he is a contributor to The Guardian.
To view this article online, go to:,,2245302,00.html,,2245308,00.html
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

Neocons who?

Mike Ghouse: Necons are extremists in all groups be it Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus or others.

The Neocons as a Hostile Conservatives

The Neocons as a Hostile Conservative (!!) Elite (access the above URL for the links which embedded in the following blog entry by Dr. MacDonald):

By Dr. Kevin MacDonald

I haven’t read Jacob Heilbrunn’s book on the neocons — yet, but I’m not sure I need to after seeing Philip Weiss’s review. Weiss’s review makes it clear that Heilbrunn’s book corroborates several of the themes in my writing on the neocons and on Jewish intellectual and political movements generally.

First, neoconservatism is a Jewish movement. That should have been clear to everyone by now, but references to the Jewish basis of the movement have been noticeably missing from much of the mainstream media, to the point that Bill Kristol was introduced as a columnist at the New York Times as simply a “conservative.” This is critical because the neocons have now become the conservative establishment. When Kristol (or Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity) hold forth at Fox News, most people have no idea that they are tuning into the public face of a fundamentally Jewish movement that elbowed out more traditional conservatives.

Secondly, Jewish neocons not only have a strong Jewish identity, they also have strong Jewish interests. This is obvious from their involvement in pro-Israel activism, their personal relationships with Israeli leaders, and close ties with other Jews and with the wider Jewish community. In fact, I have argued that the neocons are more strongly identified as Jews than the mainstream liberal/left Jews — that the neocons form the vanguard of the Jewish community. After all, neocons were the first segment of the Jewish community to strongly condemn the USSR, both for its domestic anti-Semitism and for its alliances with Arab governments. Prominent neocons like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz began their political careers by making alliances with Cold War hawks like Henry Jackson This was at a time when the Jewish left was prominently involved in defending the USSR, apparently blind to the fact that the status of Jews as an elite in the USSR had changed greatly following World War II.

And the neocons are notorious for their strong ties to the most extreme racialist and nationalist segments of Israeli society — elements that the mainstream liberal/left Jewish community probably wishes would disappear or at least be less visible. (Hence the uproar over Christiane Amanpour’s God’s Jewish Warriors.)

Indeed, the Jewish liberal/left has a huge blind spot, continuing to pursue its leftist multicultural agenda in the U.S. while ignoring the fact that the organized Jewish community is deeply complicit in dispossessing the Palestinians and erecting a racialist, apartheid state in Israel. As Weiss has noted elsewhere, “Steve Rabinowitz, Clinton friend, told me this year that if anyone did a study of how much [Democrat] money comes from Jews, it would fuel conspiracy theories.” The Jewish liberal/left lavishly supports Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, but makes no attempt to wrest control of the pro-Israel lobby from the hands of what James Petras terms the “reactionary minority of American Jews” who head the major American Jewish organizations.

But more interestingly, Heilbrunn points to the “lifelong antipathy toward the patrician class among the neocons … [that] prompted them to create their own parallel establishment.” In this regard, the neocons are entirely within the American Jewish mainstream. As I noted in a previous blog (also commenting on Philip Weiss), “Jews have become an elite, but an elite that does not identify with its subjects — a hostile, estranged but very wealthy elite that still sees themselves as outsiders.” And along with the American Jewish mainstream, the neocons have been vital players in the establishment of a variety of policies opposed to the interests and attitudes of the American majority, most egregiously unrestricted immigration which has successfully altered the ethnic composition of the country. Indeed, neoconservative Ben Wattenberg famously wrote that “The non-Europeanization of America is heartening news of an almost transcendental quality.”

This hostility toward the traditional peoples and culture of America among people calling themselves conservatives is striking — the antithesis of normal and natural conservative tendencies. As Sam Francis noted, what the neocons dislike about traditional conservatives is simply that they “are conservative at all”:

There are countless stories of how neoconservatives have succeeded in entering conservative institutions, forcing out or demoting traditional conservatives, and changing the positions and philosophy of such institutions in neoconservative directions…. Writers like M. E. Bradford, Joseph Sobran, Pat Buchanan, and Russell Kirk, and institutions like Chronicles, the Rockford Institute, the Philadelphia Society, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute have been among the most respected and distinguished names in American conservatism. The dedication of their neoconservative enemies to driving them out of the movement they have taken over and demonizing them as marginal and dangerous figures has no legitimate basis in reality. It is clear evidence of the ulterior aspirations of those behind neoconservatism to dominate and subvert American conservatism from its original purposes and agenda and turn it to other purposes…. What neoconservatives really dislike about their “allies” among traditional conservatives is simply the fact that the conservatives are conservatives at all—that they support “this notion of a Christian civilization,” as Midge Decter put it, that they oppose mass immigration, … that they entertain doubts or strong disagreement over American foreign policy in the Middle East, that they oppose reckless involvement in foreign wars and foreign entanglements, and that, in company with the Founding Fathers of the United States, they reject the concept of a pure democracy and the belief that the United States is or should evolve toward it.

Francis, S. (2004). The neoconservative subversion. In B. Nelson (ed.), “Neoconservatism.” Occasional Papers of the Conservative Citizens’ Foundation, Issue Number Six, 6–12. St. Louis: Conservative Citizens’ Foundation, p. 9.

That the New York Times can call Kristol a conservative without shame or irony is a striking commentary on the death of American conservatism.

There are several other themes highlighted in Weiss’s review that are worth mentioning because they are typical of other Jewish intellectual and political movements. Heilbrunn describes neocon “cabals” in the State Department and in academic departments at elite universities. This is a reference to Jewish ethnic networking. In general, all of the important Jewish intellectual and political movements — from psychoanalysis and Boasian anthropology to neoconservatism — have a mutually reinforcing core of Jews centered around charismatic leaders. In the case of the neocons, individuals such as Leo Strauss, Richard Perle, and Norman Podhoretz have played this role. Neoconservative cabals have been largely successful in controlling or at least heavily influencing elite institutions in academia, the government, think tanks, and the media.
And finally, the neocons are prime examples of another important theme of Jewish intellectual life — self-deception. Weiss writes:

The reader is left with the shadowy sense that the neocons have a pro-Israel agenda that they are not upfront about. But it isn’t a conspiracy, Heilbrunn warns. The neocons have convinced themselves that the U.S. and Israel have congruent interests. “They just believe this stuff. They’re not agents,” an anonymous source tells him, speaking of Cheney aide David Wurmser, who is married to an Israeli.
Married to an Israeli. The neocons may believe it, but the rest of us need not be so foolish. For example, Douglas Feith is depicted by Heilbrunn as having published a letter defending the capture of the West Bank while still a teenager. Feith has also been credibly charged with spying for Israel, and was deeply involved in the disinformation used by the U.S. government to justify the invasion of Iraq. He has close ties to the settler movement, and was a participant in the notorious “ A Clean Break” paper that advised the Israeli government that removing Saddam Hussein should be an Israeli strategic goal. The authors of this report speak as Jews and Israelis, not as U.S. citizens: “Our claim to the land—to which we have clung for hope for 2000 years—is legitimate and noble.”

European Americans may have a difficult time processing all of this. Their individualism and their own fragile and beleaguered sense of ethnicity make them less likely to attribute ethnic motives to others. And there is an imposing edifice of taboos surrounding even the mention of Jewish influence, much less anything that hints that Israel is the first loyalty of Jewish neocons — an edifice aggressively maintained by the organized Jewish community. But the rather unpleasant facts are staring European Americans in the face, even if the New York Times insists on calling them conservatives.

January 24th, 2008
More Professor MacDonald at Kevin MacDonald’s Blog

Bomb-bomb-bomb Iran?

TIME: Bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran?
January 23, 2008 11:39
Posted by Scott MacLeod / TIME

Mike Ghouse: Evil exists because good people do nothing about it. John McCain, and Guiliani are bent in destroying other nations, with our money. I'd rather see that money spent on education around the globe about the values of respecting different points of view. It is the war mongers like these that are destructive. I hope we speak up against these men. You cannot destroy others and not expect enemies for eternitiy, these guys are more dangerous to America and the world than any one else.

Leading neoconservative thinker Norman Podhoretz is back, and so is the campaign to bomb Iran

Podhoretz has a followup to his 2007 Commentary article, The Case for Bombing Iran, in a lengthy new piece arguing that his case is still valid despite the recent adjustment in U.S. intelligence's assessment of the threat posed by Iran. Podhoretz remains thoroughly convinced of the need to bomb Iran to prevent the Islamic Republic from gaining a nuclear weapon. He seems to maintain his faith in President Bush's determination to do the right thing. But he now believes that it may be up to Bush's successor to have the "clarity and courage" to discharge the "responsibility" for bombing Iran. If somebody doesn't do it, he believes, the outbreak of a future nuclear war will become "inescapable."

No doubt about it, this guy--a Giuliani campaign advisor, by the way-- is talking scary stuff. Podhoretz is accustomed to being labeled, as he puts it, "as a warmonger for contending that bombing was the only way to stop the mullahs from getting the bomb." He wears like a badge of honor the fact that he has been "excoriated by more than one member of the foreign policy elites" for rejecting a carrot-and-stick approach to Iran. It goes to his credit that Podhoretz does not pretend that bombing Iran would be free of dire consequences. "Iran would retaliate by increasing the trouble it is already making for us in Iraq and by attacking Israel with missiles armed with non-nuclear warheads but possibly containing biological and/or chemical weapons," he writes. "There would also be a vast increase in the price of oil, with catastrophic consequences for every economy in the world, very much including our own. And there would be a deafening outcry from one end of the earth to the other against the inescapable civilian casualties."
The reason for Podhoretz's WSJ update is his concern that the recent National Intelligence Estimate downplaying the Iran threat has now placed formidable political obstacles in the way of Bush's military option. The NIE, the consensus view of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies released in December, stated that Iran had shelved its nuclear weapons plans in 2003. The NIE said Iran probably acted due to international pressure, using a cost-benefit approach, and seemed to be less determined to acquire nukes "than we have been judging since 2005."

Podhoretz recounts the familiar litany of concerns about Iran's nuclear program. Tehran refuses to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities, which can be diverted from civil to military use. Iran is a state-sponsor of terrorism. Iran's quest for the bomb will trigger a cataclysmic nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

In trying to discredit the NIE, Podhoretz chronicles the history of CIA foul-ups, like failing to anticipate crises from the Korean War to 9/11, and cites the inability of the International Atomic Energy Agency to detect all of Iran's enrichment activities prior to 2003. Podhoretz then takes direct aim, disparaging the NIE's authors as "bureaucrats" out to "blow up the near-universal consensus" about the threat Iran posed. Moreover, Podhoretz insists, the halting of the weapons program in 2003 "was much less significant than a layman would inevitably be led to think." That's mainly because the civilian uranium enrichment that continues can easily be diverted to a re-started weapons program someday. Podhoretz is concerned that the NIE's conclusions also undermine the argument for tighter sanctions against Iran, given that Bush had been arguing that compelling Iran to stop enrichment through sanctions was the only alternative to doing it through force. The most disastrous development, in Podhoretz's view, is the forming of a "new consensus within the American foreign-policy establishment... that the only thing worse than letting Iran get the bomb was bombing Iran." Podhoretz is worried that the foreign policy establishment is ready to adopt "the complacent idea that we could learn to live with an Iranian bomb."

Podhoretz's reasoning until this point is not altogether unreasonable. Iran's behavior and ambitions do pose serious strategic challenges; U.S. intelligence does have an uneven record of assessing threats; the NIE does change the calculus in dealings with Iran. The problem as before is that Podhoretz's case for bombing Iran rests on something more: a simplistic, vastly overblown depiction of the Iranian regime and the threat that it poses--as if the long, troubled history of the Middle East were a Marvel comic book story of super-heroes and super-villains.

In Podhoretz's assessment, Iran is "ruled by Islamo-fascist revolutionaries who not only [are] ready to die for their beliefs but [care less] about protecting their people than about the spread of their ideology and their power." He equates the Islamic regime with Hitler's Nazi empire, arguing that failing to "stop" Iran is equivalent to European appeasement of Hitler in 1938. Quoting the work of Bernard Lewis, Podhoretz argues that "Mutual Assured Destruction is not a deterrent, it is an inducement. We know already that [the mullahs ruling Iran] do not give a damn about killing their own people in great numbers. We have seen it again and again. In the final scenario, and this applies all the more strongly if they kill large numbers of their own people, they are doing them a favor. They are giving them a quick free pass to heaven and all its delights."

In practice, Podhoretz contends, Iran would transfer nuclear technology to terrorists, who would use it to attack the U.S. They would seek "to realize their evil dream of (in the words of Mr. Ahmadinejad) 'wiping Israel off the map.'" Iran would use nuclear "intimidation and blackmail" to transform Europe "into a continent where Muslim law and practice would more and more prevail." He goes so far as to state that "nuclear weapons would even serve the purposes of a far more ambitious aim: the creation of what Mr. Ahmadinejad called 'a world without America.'" Stopping Iran, Podhoretz concludes, is necessary so "millions of lives can be saved."

Islamic revolutionaries do indeed play a role in Iran's regime. But as anyone who has spent an hour in Tehran knows, this is a complex regime and political system that can hardly be described so glibly. As the powerful reformist forces that elected moderate President Khatami in 1997 demonstrated, there are strongly competing influences within the Iranian system. Iranian experts estimate Supreme Leader Khamenei's popular following at little more than 15% of 65 million people, hardly the profile of an unstoppable "Islamo-fascist." President Ahmadinejad is bitterly opposed by many, including some of his fellow hard-liners and conservatives. Compared to people throughout much of the Arab world, citizens in Iran are largely tired of Islamic rule. There's little appetite for goose-stepping military parades in Tehran. The regime's die-hards are ready to sacrifice for their beliefs, but so are America's fine soldiers in Iraq--that doesn't make them evil. Khomeini did seek to spread Iran's revolutionary ideology throughout the Islamic world. It didn't succeed very well, and for a decade Iran has been busy working to improve relations with rather than overthrow autocratic Arab regimes. Podhoretz-Lewis's claim that Iranian rulers actually seek the deaths of millions of their countrymen as a religious experience is at best a bizarre and at worst an Islamophobic assertion. Iran did send hundreds of thousands to die at the war front with Iraq--after Saddam invaded Iran and proceeded to use weapons of mass destruction on the battlefield. Comparing Ahmadinejad to Hitler suggests an intolerable if unintended trivialization of the Nazi Holocaust; in the three decades since the '79 revolution, no Iranian army has invaded another country. Iranian Jews may not be living in paradise, but they are represented in the Iranian parliament and have managed to emigrate safely to Israel.

Regarding Iran's potential behavior, there is little evidence to justify Podhoretz's sweeping claims that Iran seeks to destroy the U.S., turn Europe into a province of a Shi'ite Muslim empire and kill all the Jews living in Israel--perhaps by providing terrorists with nuclear weapons, and with an overall global death toll reaching into the millions. To the contrary, rhetoric aside, Iran has proved to be a pragmatic actor in international affairs, and increasingly so since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988 and the death of Ayatullah Khomeini a year later. Iran has made a major effort to develop better relations with every part of the world, except for the U.S. and Israel. In the crisis over Iran's nuclear program, it is often overlooked that unlike some countries, Israel for example, Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Despite the international focus on Iran's foreign policy, the Iranian regime itself is mostly preoccupied with domestic issues like political struggles, including crackdowns on dissent, and economic welfare.

Iran clearly does seek to become a regional superpower. That may be very worrying but it is not very surprising. No other country in the Gulf has even half the size of Iran's population. But having strategic ambitions is hardly the same as having genocidal ones. Podhoretz's characterization of Iran and its motivations completely ignores various factors that Political Science 101 would tell you about some of Iran's behavior. Might Iran's aggressive posture toward the U.S. be related to certain U.S. policies toward Iran, such as the CIA overthrow of Iran's prime minister in 1953, support for the Shah's repressive regime for a quarter century, backing for Saddam Hussein's war against Iran from 1980-88 and efforts to undermine the current government? Could Iran's support for Hizballah be related at all to Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and military occupation of the Shi'ite third of the country until 2000?

It's easy to demonize Iran, and Podhoretz's selective description lays out an extreme problem to justify his extreme solution--if Iran is threatening the lives of millions of people, it seems reasonable to prevent that by bombing Iran. But Podhoretz's concern may be less over Iran's theoretical nuclear threat than its actual political threat. A struggle for hearts and minds is underway in the Middle East, and Iran's outlook is winning more of them than America's is. Iran's real threat--with or without a nuclear weapon--is how it gives Islamic and political sustenance to those who oppose the policies of America and its allies in the region. If Iran poses the massive threat to humanity that Podhoretz claims it does, it seems like it would be a good idea to do something that the U.S. has not done and Podhoretz has not bothered to recommend: send a U.S. Secretary of State to Tehran to get a first-hand look, not to appease but to judge whether diplomacy has a chance to avert Bush's feared World War III (Podhoretz feels we are already fighting WW IV). If Podhoretz is worried about a nuclear arms race, perhaps its time to invite all the countries in the region, including Israel and Iran, to sign a pact destroying nuclear arsenals or pledging not to acquire them.

Iran's nuclear ambitions do not pose a clear and imminent danger, according to the NIE. But perhaps bombing Iran would mainly deal a good blow to a center of Islamic power in the Middle East, just as the toppling of Saddam Hussein dealt a setback for Arab power in the region. In both cases, false or trumped up fears about nuclear threats would have provided the convenient excuse to act.
--By Scott MacLeod/Cairo

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reflections on Holocaust

Reflections on Holocaust
Mike Ghouse, January 15, 2008

The United Nations has designated January 27th as the Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, in behalf of the Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress, I request us to reflect upon the human sufferings inflicted by humans through out the world.

We may start out by scribbling a title for each one of the small and large injustice we have witnessed or learned through news. What did we do with that information and how did we feel about ourselves? The conflicts emanating from injustices are rife in Congo, Darfur, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Pakistan and other places. Please take a moment to reflect upon the viciousness of the humans, the vulgarity of the few that has engulfed the innocent bystanders. We have to work towards the idea of “saving a life is like saving the whole humanity,” says God in Torah and Qur’aan. You and I exist because someone believed in it before us.

Six Million Jews were brutally murdered simply because of their faith. Imagine if we were in that situation, ruthlessly packed in a rail car along with 100 other humans to be thrown in gas chambers. The helplessness and the humiliation should have been palpable, but the world stood by silently finding bliss in self designed ignorance. If it happens to us we feel like tearing the world apart.

The world reacted belatedly, thank God; the evil plan of the Nazis did not materialize. We said, never again and we keep falling short on our own promise. It is time to reflect if our hearts can feel the pain and if our minds can do something about it. We should visit the holocaust museum in our area; it will upload humanity into us, it is good to be a human again and again.

Our hearts and minds are endowed with a sense of justice, and whenever we see that balance disturbed, we react to it with anger, helplessness and distress. Religion and common sense have taught us to regain that balance by taking an action, least of which is to speak up. Our minds work mysteriously, the act of seeking balance and justice relieves us from the anguish and gives us a sense purpose in life that we stand for something.

If my actions and words aggravate a conflict, then I have become a contributor toward chaos, on the other hand if my words and actions mitigate the conflict, I become a peace maker. Peace has got to be unconditional without any score keeping, “do your duty without the greed of results”, says the Bhagvad Gita.

No one is an island; we have to develop an open mind and an open heart towards each other in the process of healing and repairing the world. We should short change our humanness by thinking that we were not responsible for it.

We should honor our divine instructions to demur and honor the suffering of others. It will be a day for all of us to reflect upon and promise ourselves "never again" and hope each one of us makes a commitment to oneself to speak out against any injustice.

If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. The healing and recovery for Humanity can only occur when we each examine our own hearts, our own cultures and our own faith traditions to discern where seeds of prejudice, cruelty and even genocide remain hidden.

A Good deed is creating peace, security and balance for all creation. The wisdom of Bible is crystal clear “do unto others as you would want others to do to you”. Indeed, that is essence of all religions.

This is an invitation to people of all backgrounds to reflect upon the tragedies humans have endured, and bring about a change, however little we can. The least we can do is to speak up whenever we see injustice or words and actions that promote chaos.

In 2006, the United Nations proclaimed January 27th as a Holocaust remembrance day to commemorate the worst atrocity the world had ever witnessed. In support of that, the Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress organized an event on Thursday, January 26, 2006 to accommodate the Jewish Sabbath as January 27 fell on a Friday in 2006. For more information please visit:

I request you to pray and mourn for the massacres and deaths of all human beings. I beg you to forgive me if I have missed a tragedy that you are familiar with. I admire you if you could send me a 100 word description or a link from a news paper to be included in the comments.

If you felt sorrow for some and not for the others, please check out your peace meter for your bias and prejudices against groups, nations, ethnicities, religions, cultures or races. Higher the prejudice lesser the peace and vice versa.

You can increase your peace and happiness by repenting in your solitude for your biases and see the meter start rising, and when you actually do not feel any bias toward any human, see the mercury miracles. Finally if you can volunteer one hour a week for people you don't know or you did not like in the past, you can be the happiest person on the earth. God guarantees that and I will underwrite it. Ha! Try it, it is effortless and won't cost you a dime but gain you happiness.

May God help us become prejudice free,

May God give us the guts to speak up when we see wrongs,

May God remove arrogance from us and

May God bless us with the humanness to feel the pain and sorrow of others.

Please pray (wish it, if you are an atheist) and invoke the goodness in each one of us.

Write your comments to:
In the subject line please write :: Reflections on Holocaust


Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. His comments, news analysis, opinions and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website He can be reached at or (214) 325-1916


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bush's Middle East Hopes

Bush's Middle East Hopes
by Daniel Pipes, Jerusalem Post, January 17, 2008

Mike Ghouse: Daniel Pipes and the Neocons (thinking in terms of extreme exclusivity, either you or I kind of idelogy) are conditioned to think that solving the problems of the world comes through military might, destruction, force and chaos. If the world leaders listen to them there will be a holocaust of Arabs and Muslims to begin with, and then others. What does not enter their minds is that you cannot have peace when you have created destruction around you. The remnants of the destruction will be hounding you for ever, neither you will be in peace nor the world around you. If they can spend their energy, time and resources instead to build goodwill and working for peace, the results would be far greater at a far less cost and without messing up one's mind for being chaotic.


George W. Bush's policies toward the Middle East and Islam will loom large when historians judge his presidency. On the occasion of his concluding his 8-day, 6-country trip to the Middle East and entering his final year in office, I offer some provisional assessments.

His hallmark has been a readiness to break with long-established bipartisan positions and adopt stunningly new policies, and by late 2005 he had laid out his novel approach in four major areas.
Radical Islam: Prior to 9/11, American authorities viewed Islamist violence as a narrow criminal problem. Calling for a "war against terror" in September 2001, Bush broadened the conflict. Specifying the precise force behind terrorism peaked in October 2005, when he termed it "Islamic radicalism," "militant Jihadism," and "Islamo-fascism."

Pre-emptive war: Deterrence had long been the policy of choice against the Soviet Union and other threats, but Bush added a second policy in June 2002, pre-emption. U.S. security, he said, "will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives." Nine months later, this new doctrine served as his basis to invade Iraq and eliminate Saddam Hussein before the latter could develop nuclear weapons.

Arab-Israeli conflict: Bush avoided the old-style and counterproductive "peace process" diplomacy and tried a new approach in June 2003 by establishing the goal of "two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side, in peace and security." In addition, he outlined his final-status vision, specified a timetable, and even attempted to sideline a recalcitrant leader (Yasir Arafat) or prop up a forthcoming one (Ehud Olmert).

Democracy: Deriding "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East" as a policy that "did nothing to make us safe," Bush announced in November 2003 "a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East," by which he meant pushing regimes to open up to citizen participation.

So much for vision; how about implementation? At the end of his first term, I found that the Bush policies, other than the Arab-Israeli one, stood "a good chance of working." No longer. Today, I perceive failure in all four areas.

George W. Bush and Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, hand in hand.

Bush's once-improved understanding of radical Islam has been reversed, to the point that he uses lengthy and inelegant euphemisms to avoid referring to the problem by name, relying on formulations like "a group of extremists who seek to use religion as a path to power and a means of domination."

Pre-emptive war requires convincing observers that the pre-emption was indeed justified, something the Bush administration failed to do. Only half the American population and many fewer in the Middle East accept the need for invading Iraq, creating domestic divisions and external hostility greater than at any time since the Vietnam War. Among the costs: greater difficulty to take pre-emptive action against the Iranian nuclear program.

Bush's vision of resolving one century of Arab-Israeli conflict by anointing Mahmoud Abbas as leader of a Palestinian state is illusory. A sovereign "Palestine" alongside Israel would drain the anti-Zionist hatred and close down the irredentist war against Israel? No, the mischievous goal of creating "Palestine" will inspire more fervor to eliminate the Jewish state, especially if accompanied by a Palestinian "right of return."

Finally, encouraging democracy is clearly a worthy goal, but when the Middle East's dominant popular force is totalitarian Islam, is it such a great idea to rush head-long ahead? Yet rushing ahead characterized Washington's initial approach – until the policy's damage to U.S. interests became too apparent to ignore, causing it largely to be abandoned.

At a time when George W. Bush arouses such intense vituperation among his critics, someone who wishes him well, like myself, criticizes reluctantly. But criticize one must; to pretend all is well, or to remain loyal to the person despite his record, does no one a favor. A frank recognition of shortcomings must precede their repair.

I respect Bush's benign motivation and good intentions while mourning his having squandered a record-breaking 90 percent job-approval rating following 9/11 and his bequeathing to the next president a polarized electorate, a military reluctant to use force against Iran, Hamas ruling Gaza, an Iraqi disaster-in-waiting, radical Islam on the ascendant, and unprecedented levels of global anti-Americanism.

Conservatives have much work ahead to reconstruct their Middle East policy.

Highlights of Bush's Trip to the Mideast
By The Associated Press – Jan 8, 2008

Highlights of President Bush's upcoming trip to the Middle East, according to the planned schedule as outlined by the White House:
Jan. 9:
_Arrives in Israel. Meets with Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and president, Shimon Peres.
Jan. 10
_Visits the West Bank to meet with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and prime minister, Salam Fayyad, at their headquarters in Ramallah.
Jan. 11
_In Israel to meet with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now a Middle East peace envoy. Lays a wreath at the Israel's official Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem. Travels to Kuwait to meet with the emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah.
Jan. 12
_In Kuwait to meet with U.S. troops at Camp Arifjan and receive updates on the situation in Iraq from the top U.S. commander, Gen. David Petraeus, and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker. He also meets with Kuwaiti women. Travels to Bahrain to meet with King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.
Jan. 13
_Visits the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain. Travels to the United Arab Emirates to meet with the president, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and gives a speech in Abu Dhabi on freedom in the region.
Jan. 14
_Visits Dubai and then travels to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah.
Jan. 15
_In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for meetings.
Jan. 16
_In Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, to meet with President Hosni Mubarak before returning to Washington.

Bush on September 2001
Statement by the President in His Address to the Nation

View the President's Remarks View the President's Remarks Listen to the President's Remarks
8:30 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong.

A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.

Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America -- with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C. to help with local rescue efforts.

Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.

The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight, and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business, as well.

The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance.

America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism. Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me."

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.
Thank you. Good night, and God bless America.


October 2002

President Bush Delivers Graduation Speech at West Point
United States Military Academy
West Point, New York

Video (Real)

9:13 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, General Lennox. Mr. Secretary, Governor Pataki, members of the United States Congress, Academy staff and faculty, distinguished guests, proud family members, and graduates: I want to thank you for your welcome. Laura and I are especially honored to visit this great institution in your bicentennial year.

In every corner of America, the words "West Point" command immediate respect. This place where the Hudson River bends is more than a fine institution of learning. The United States Military Academy is the guardian of values that have shaped the soldiers who have shaped the history of the world.

A few of you have followed in the path of the perfect West Point graduate, Robert E. Lee, who never received a single demerit in four years. Some of you followed in the path of the imperfect graduate, Ulysses S. Grant, who had his fair share of demerits, and said the happiest day of his life was "the day I left West Point." (Laughter.) During my college years I guess you could say I was -- (laughter.) During my college years I guess you could say I was a Grant man. (Laughter.)

You walk in the tradition of Eisenhower and MacArthur, Patton and Bradley - the commanders who saved a civilization. And you walk in the tradition of second lieutenants who did the same, by fighting and dying on distant battlefields.

Graduates of this academy have brought creativity and courage to every field of endeavor. West Point produced the chief engineer of the Panama Canal, the mind behind the Manhattan Project, the first American to walk in space. This fine institution gave us the man they say invented baseball, and other young men over the years who perfected the game of football.

You know this, but many in America don't -- George C. Marshall, a VMI graduate, is said to have given this order: "I want an officer for a secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point football player." (Applause.)

As you leave here today, I know there's one thing you'll never miss about this place: Being a plebe. (Applause.) But even a plebe at West Point is made to feel he or she has some standing in the world. (Laughter.) I'm told that plebes, when asked whom they outrank, are required to answer this: "Sir, the Superintendent's dog -- (laughter) -- the Commandant's cat, and all the admirals in the whole damn Navy." (Applause.) I probably won't be sharing that with the Secretary of the Navy. (Laughter.)

West Point is guided by tradition, and in honor of the "Golden Children of the Corps," -- (applause) -- I will observe one of the traditions you cherish most. As the Commander-in-Chief, I hereby grant amnesty to all cadets who are on restriction for minor conduct offenses. (Applause.) Those of you in the end zone might have cheered a little early. (Laughter.) Because, you see, I'm going to let General Lennox define exactly what "minor" means. (Laughter.)

Every West Point class is commissioned to the Armed Forces. Some West Point classes are also commissioned by history, to take part in a great new calling for their country. Speaking here to the class of 1942 -- six months after Pearl Harbor -- General Marshall said, "We're determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand, and of overwhelming power on the other." (Applause.)

Officers graduating that year helped fulfill that mission, defeating Japan and Germany, and then reconstructing those nations as allies. West Point graduates of the 1940s saw the rise of a deadly new challenge -- the challenge of imperial communism -- and opposed it from Korea to Berlin, to Vietnam, and in the Cold War, from beginning to end. And as the sun set on their struggle, many of those West Point officers lived to see a world transformed.

History has also issued its call to your generation. In your last year, America was attacked by a ruthless and resourceful enemy. You graduate from this Academy in a time of war, taking your place in an American military that is powerful and is honorable. Our war on terror is only begun, but in Afghanistan it was begun well. (Applause.)

I am proud of the men and women who have fought on my orders. America is profoundly grateful for all who serve the cause of freedom, and for all who have given their lives in its defense. This nation respects and trusts our military, and we are confident in your victories to come. (Applause.)

This war will take many turns we cannot predict. Yet I am certain of this: Wherever we carry it, the American flag will stand not only for our power, but for freedom. (Applause.) Our nation's cause has always been larger than our nation's defense. We fight, as we always fight, for a just peace -- a peace that favors human liberty. We will defend the peace against threats from terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. And we will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.

Building this just peace is America's opportunity, and America's duty. From this day forward, it is your challenge, as well, and we will meet this challenge together. (Applause.) You will wear the uniform of a great and unique country. America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish. We wish for others only what we wish for ourselves -- safety from violence, the rewards of liberty, and the hope for a better life.

In defending the peace, we face a threat with no precedent. Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger the American people and our nation. The attacks of September the 11th required a few hundred thousand dollars in the hands of a few dozen evil and deluded men. All of the chaos and suffering they caused came at much less than the cost of a single tank. The dangers have not passed. This government and the American people are on watch, we are ready, because we know the terrorists have more money and more men and more plans.

The gravest danger to freedom lies at the perilous crossroads of radicalism and technology. When the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, along with ballistic missile technology -- when that occurs, even weak states and small groups could attain a catastrophic power to strike great nations. Our enemies have declared this very intention, and have been caught seeking these terrible weapons. They want the capability to blackmail us, or to harm us, or to harm our friends -- and we will oppose them with all our power. (Applause.)

For much of the last century, America's defense relied on the Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment. In some cases, those strategies still apply. But new threats also require new thinking. Deterrence -- the promise of massive retaliation against nations -- means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend. Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies.

We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign non-proliferation treaties, and then systemically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. (Applause.)

Homeland defense and missile defense are part of stronger security, and they're essential priorities for America. Yet the war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. (Applause.) In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act. (Applause.)

Our security will require the best intelligence, to reveal threats hidden in caves and growing in laboratories. Our security will require modernizing domestic agencies such as the FBI, so they're prepared to act, and act quickly, against danger. Our security will require transforming the military you will lead -- a military that must be ready to strike at a moment's notice in any dark corner of the world. And our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives. (Applause.)

The work ahead is difficult. The choices we will face are complex. We must uncover terror cells in 60 or more countries, using every tool of finance, intelligence and law enforcement. Along with our friends and allies, we must oppose proliferation and confront regimes that sponsor terror, as each case requires. Some nations need military training to fight terror, and we'll provide it. Other nations oppose terror, but tolerate the hatred that leads to terror -- and that must change. (Applause.) We will send diplomats where they are needed, and we will send you, our soldiers, where you're needed. (Applause.)

All nations that decide for aggression and terror will pay a price. We will not leave the safety of America and the peace of the planet at the mercy of a few mad terrorists and tyrants. (Applause.) We will lift this dark threat from our country and from the world.

Because the war on terror will require resolve and patience, it will also require firm moral purpose. In this way our struggle is similar to the Cold War. Now, as then, our enemies are totalitarians, holding a creed of power with no place for human dignity. Now, as then, they seek to impose a joyless conformity, to control every life and all of life.

America confronted imperial communism in many different ways -- diplomatic, economic, and military. Yet moral clarity was essential to our victory in the Cold War. When leaders like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan refused to gloss over the brutality of tyrants, they gave hope to prisoners and dissidents and exiles, and rallied free nations to a great cause.

Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong. I disagree. (Applause.) Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities. (Applause.) Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place. Targeting innocent civilians for murder is always and everywhere wrong. (Applause.) Brutality against women is always and everywhere wrong. (Applause.) There can be no neutrality between justice and cruelty, between the innocent and the guilty. We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name. (Applause.) By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem. And we will lead the world in opposing it. (Applause.)

As we defend the peace, we also have an historic opportunity to preserve the peace. We have our best chance since the rise of the nation state in the 17th century to build a world where the great powers compete in peace instead of prepare for war. The history of the last century, in particular, was dominated by a series of destructive national rivalries that left battlefields and graveyards across the Earth. Germany fought France, the Axis fought the Allies, and then the East fought the West, in proxy wars and tense standoffs, against a backdrop of nuclear Armageddon.

Competition between great nations is inevitable, but armed conflict in our world is not. More and more, civilized nations find ourselves on the same side -- united by common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos. America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge -- (applause) -- thereby, making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace.

Today the great powers are also increasingly united by common values, instead of divided by conflicting ideologies. The United States, Japan and our Pacific friends, and now all of Europe, share a deep commitment to human freedom, embodied in strong alliances such as NATO. And the tide of liberty is rising in many other nations.

Generations of West Point officers planned and practiced for battles with Soviet Russia. I've just returned from a new Russia, now a country reaching toward democracy, and our partner in the war against terror. (Applause.) Even in China, leaders are discovering that economic freedom is the only lasting source of national wealth. In time, they will find that social and political freedom is the only true source of national greatness. (Applause.)

When the great powers share common values, we are better able to confront serious regional conflicts together, better able to cooperate in preventing the spread of violence or economic chaos. In the past, great power rivals took sides in difficult regional problems, making divisions deeper and more complicated. Today, from the Middle East to South Asia, we are gathering broad international coalitions to increase the pressure for peace. We must build strong and great power relations when times are good; to help manage crisis when times are bad. America needs partners to preserve the peace, and we will work with every nation that shares this noble goal. (Applause.)

And finally, America stands for more than the absence of war. We have a great opportunity to extend a just peace, by replacing poverty, repression, and resentment around the world with hope of a better day. Through most of history, poverty was persistent, inescapable, and almost universal. In the last few decades, we've seen nations from Chile to South Korea build modern economies and freer societies, lifting millions of people out of despair and want. And there's no mystery to this achievement.

The 20th century ended with a single surviving model of human progress, based on non-negotiable demands of human dignity, the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women and private property and free speech and equal justice and religious tolerance. America cannot impose this vision -- yet we can support and reward governments that make the right choices for their own people. In our development aid, in our diplomatic efforts, in our international broadcasting, and in our educational assistance, the United States will promote moderation and tolerance and human rights. And we will defend the peace that makes all progress possible.

When it comes to the common rights and needs of men and women, there is no clash of civilizations. The requirements of freedom apply fully to Africa and Latin America and the entire Islamic world. The peoples of the Islamic nations want and deserve the same freedoms and opportunities as people in every nation. And their governments should listen to their hopes. (Applause.)

A truly strong nation will permit legal avenues of dissent for all groups that pursue their aspirations without violence. An advancing nation will pursue economic reform, to unleash the great entrepreneurial energy of its people. A thriving nation will respect the rights of women, because no society can prosper while denying opportunity to half its citizens. Mothers and fathers and children across the Islamic world, and all the world, share the same fears and aspirations. In poverty, they struggle. In tyranny, they suffer. And as we saw in Afghanistan, in liberation they celebrate. (Applause.)

America has a greater objective than controlling threats and containing resentment. We will work for a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror.

The bicentennial class of West Point now enters this drama. With all in the United States Army, you will stand between your fellow citizens and grave danger. You will help establish a peace that allows millions around the world to live in liberty and to grow in prosperity. You will face times of calm, and times of crisis. And every test will find you prepared -- because you're the men and women of West Point. (Applause.) You leave here marked by the character of this Academy, carrying with you the highest ideals of our nation.

Toward the end of his life, Dwight Eisenhower recalled the first day he stood on the plain at West Point. "The feeling came over me," he said, "that the expression 'the United States of America' would now and henceforth mean something different than it had ever before. From here on, it would be the nation I would be serving, not myself."

Today, your last day at West Point, you begin a life of service in a career unlike any other. You've answered a calling to hardship and purpose, to risk and honor. At the end of every day you will know that you have faithfully done your duty. May you always bring to that duty the high standards of this great American institution. May you always be worthy of the long gray line that stretches two centuries behind you.

On behalf of the nation, I congratulate each one of you for the commission you've earned and for the credit you bring to the United States of America. May God bless you all. (Applause.)

END 10:05 A.M. EDT

Throwing out the rule book - Daniel Pipes

"Our goal is two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side, in peace and security." So spoke President Bush at a Middle East summit on June 4. Then, despite the jump in violence over the next 10 days, leaving 63 dead, he reiterated on Sunday his belief in "a peaceful Palestinian state, living side by side with the Israelis," though now adding "we've got a lot of work to do."

Bush's goal may appear to be just another diplomatic twist in the half-century search for an Arab-Israeli resolution. But it is much more. Indeed, it could well be the most surprising and daring step of his presidency. Here's why:

It is surprising, first, because he largely stayed away from this issue during his first two years as president. To be sure, he met with Middle East leaders, made speeches and rapped some knuckles - but his general approach was to stand aloof and let Palestinians and Israelis sort out their mess on their own. Then, in recent weeks, Arab-Israeli diplomacy moved very quickly from the periphery to the center, becoming as high a priority as it had ever been under prior administrations, perhaps even higher.

Second, the president in late 2001 surprised observers by adopting the idea that the creation of a Palestinian state would solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, a policy no U.S. government has proposed since 1947, before the State of Israel had come into existence.

Third, this policy did not emerge from the usual process of consensus-building of White House aides brainstorming, State Department proposals, think tank studies and congressional initiatives. Rather, it reflects the president's personal vision.

Fourth, aiming to create a Palestinian state is surprising because it turns the domestic calculus upside-down. The "right and the left have both switched their opinion of Bush," observes Jonathan Tobin in the Philadelphia Exponent. Exactly so: Conservatives who were applauding the president's demand for Palestinian democracy now fret about the impact of a Palestinian state on Israel's security. Conversely, liberals not usually counted among his supporters now enthusiastically endorse the goal of a Palestinian state.

Finally, Bush threw out the rulebook for American mediators in Arab-Israeli diplomacy.

Rules of thumb he is ignoring include:

Don't pre-judge the final status. Presidents usually content themselves with vague intentions, leaving it to the combatants to decide on the specifics; "the time has come to put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict," for example, was how vaguely George H. W. Bush expressed his plans in 1991.
Don't try to impose a settlement. Not since the failed Vance-Gromyko discussions in 1977 has the U.S. government proposed an internationalized format for resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute. More typical was James Baker's famously irritated statement in 1990; he gave out the White House phone number and told the Israelis, "When you're serious about peace, call us."
Don't tie yourself to a timetable. Negotiators have shied away from calendar-specific goals, noting how often dates slip by with goals unfulfilled.
Don't choose leaders. Until now, American presidents have accepted Arab dictators as a given; the Bush administration (having already deposed the tyrants in Afghanistan and Iraq) undertook to sideline Yasser Arafat and replace him with his deputy Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).
Don't involve the president until the endgame. Lower-ranking officials typically test the waters and clear the path before the president himself joins the fray. For the president personally to involve himself from the get-go, as is now the case, amounts to high-wire diplomacy without a net.
In all, President Bush has made "a radical break" from past U.S. policies, says the Washington Institute's Robert Satloff, an authority on American diplomacy.

Just as the Arab-Israeli theater has provided some of the peak and trough moments of recent presidencies, it could well leave its marks on this one.

Jimmy Carter's single finest moment was the Camp David agreement between Egypt and Israel in 1978. Ronald Reagan's worst moment was withdrawing American troops from Lebanon in 1984. Bill Clinton enjoyed the triumph of the Oslo accord signing in 1993 and suffered signal failure with the collapse of the Camp David talks in 2000.

The fate of "Israel and Palestine, living side by side, in peace and security," in short, can be expected profoundly to influence the course of George W. Bush's presidency.

Bush the Radical - By Daniel Pipes
"Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe."

This sentence, spoken last week by George W. Bush, is about the most jaw-dropping repudiation of an established bipartisan policy ever made by a US president.

Not only does it break with a policy the US government has pursued since first becoming a major player in the Middle East, but the speech is audacious in ambition, grounded in history, and programmatically specific. It's the sort of challenge to existing ways one expects to hear from a columnist, essayist, or scholar – not from the leader of a great power.

Bush spoke in a candid manner, as heads of state almost never do: "In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export."

This is not the first time Bush has dispatched decades' worth of policy toward a Middle East problem and declared a radically new approach.

He also did so concerning Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict:

Iraq: He brushed aside the long-standing policy of deterrence, replacing it in June 2002 with an approach of hitting before getting hit. US security, he said, "will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives." This new approach provided justification for the war against Saddam Hussein, removing the Iraqi dictator from power before he could attack.

Arab-Israeli conflict: I called Bush's overhaul of the US approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict in June 2003 perhaps "the most surprising and daring step of his presidency." He changed presumptions by presenting a Palestinian state as the solution, imposing this vision on the parties, tying results to a specific timetable, and replacing leaders of whom he disapproved.

And this time:

Democracy: The president renounced a long-accepted policy of "Middle East exceptionalism" – getting along with dictators – and stated US policy would henceforth fit with its global emphasis of making democracy the goal.

He brought this issue home by tying it to American security: "With the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo." Then, on the premise that "the advance of freedom leads to peace," Bush announced "a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East."

Drawing explicit comparisons with the US success in sponsoring democracy in Europe and Asia, he called on Americans once again for "persistence and energy and idealism" to do the same in the Middle East.

Understanding the rationale behind the old dictator-coddling policy makes clear the radicalism of this new approach. The old way noticed that the populations are usually more anti-American than are the emirs, kings, and presidents. Washington was rightly apprehensive that democracy would bring in more radicalized governments; this is what did happen in Iran in 1979 and nearly happened in Algeria in 1992. It also worried that once the radicals reached power, they would close down the democratic process (what was dubbed "one man, one vote, one time").

Bush's confidence in democracy – that despite the street's history of extremism and conspiracy-mindedness, it can mature and become a force of moderation and stability – is about to be tested. This process did in fact occur in Iran; will it recur elsewhere? The answer will take decades to find out.

However matters develop, this gamble is typical of a president exceptionally willing to take risks to shake up the status quo. And while one speech does not constitute a new foreign policy – which will require programmatic details, financial support, and consistent execution – the shift has to start somewhere. Presidential oratory is the appropriate place to start.

And if the past record of this president in the Middle East is anything by which to judge – toppling regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, promoting a new solution to Arab-Israeli conflict – he will be true to his word here too. Get ready for an interesting ride.


Lenghty Euphimism - Pipes

When Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., in June 1957, his 500-word talk effused good will ("Civilization owes to the Islamic world some of its most important tools and achievements") even as the American president embarrassingly bumbled (Muslims in the United States, he declared, have the right to their "own church"). Conspicuously, he included nary a word about policy.

Exactly fifty years later, standing shoeless, George W. Bush rededicated the center last week. His 1,600-word speech also praised medieval Islamic culture ("We come to express our appreciation for a faith that has enriched civilization for centuries"), but he knew a mosque from a church – and he had more on the agenda than flattery.

Most arresting, surely, was his statement that "I have invested the heart of my presidency in helping Muslims fight terrorism, and claim their liberty, and find their own unique paths to prosperity and peace." This cri du coeur signaled how Mr. Bush understands to what extent actions by Muslims will define his legacy.

Should they heed his dream "and find their own unique paths to prosperity and peace," then his presidency, however ravaged it may look at the moment, will be vindicated. As with Harry S Truman, historians will acknowledge that he saw further than his contemporaries. Should Muslims, however, be "left behind in the global movement toward prosperity and freedom," historians will likely judge his two terms as harshly as his fellow Americans do today.

Of course, how Muslims fare depends in large part on the future course of radical Islam, which in turn depends in some part on its understanding by the American president. Over the years, Mr. Bush has generally shown an increased understanding of this topic. He started with platitudinous, apologetic references to Islam as the "religion of peace," using this phrase as late as 2006. He early on even lectured Muslims on the true nature of their religion, a presumptuous ambition that prompted me in 2001 to dub him "Imam Bush."

As his understanding grew, Mr. Bush spoke of the caliphate, "Islamic extremism" and "Islamofacism." What euphemistically he called the "war on terror" in 2001, by 2006 he referred to with the hard-hitting "war with Islamic fascists." Things were looking up. Perhaps official Washington did understand the threat, after all.

But such analyses roused Muslim opposition and, as he approaches his political twilight, Mr. Bush has retreated to safer ground, reverting last week to decayed tropes that tiptoe around any mention of Islam. Instead, he spoke inelegantly of "the great struggle against extremism that is now playing out across the broader Middle East" and vaguely of "a group of extremists who seek to use religion as a path to power and a means of domination."

Worse, the speech drum-rolled the appointment of a U.S. special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, directing this envoy to "listen to and learn from" his Muslim counterparts. But the OIC is a Saudi-sponsored organization promoting the Wahhabi agenda under the trappings of a Muslim-only United Nations. As counterterrorism specialist Steven Emerson has noted, Bush's dismal initiative stands in "complete ignorance of the rampant radicalism, pro-terrorist, and anti-American sentiments routinely found in statements by the OIC and its leaders."

Sitting in the audience at the Islamic Center on June 27, 2007, three senior Bush administration staffers wore makeshift hijabs: Fran Townsend (far left), Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, NSC Senior Director for European Affairs Judy Ansley (left), and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes (right).

Adding to the event's accommodationist tone, some of the president's top female aides, including Frances Townsend and Karen Hughes, wore makeshift hijabs as they listened to him in the audience.

In brief, it feels like "déjà vu all over again." As columnist Diana West puts it, "Nearly six years after September 11 — nearly six years after first visiting the Islamic Center and proclaiming ‘Islam is peace' — Mr. Bush has learned nothing." But we now harbor fewer hopes than in 2001 that he still can learn, absorb, and reflect an understanding of the enemy's Islamist nature.

Concluding that he basically has failed to engage this central issue, we instead must look to Mr. Bush's potential successors and look for them to return to his occasional robustness, again taking up those difficult concepts of Islamic extremism, Shariah, and the caliphate. Several Republicans – Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and (above all) Fred Thompson – are doing just that. Democratic candidates, unfortunately, prefer to remain almost completely silent on this topic.

Almost thirty years after Islamists first attacked Americans, and on the eve of three major attempted terrorist attacks in Great Britain, the president's speech reveals how confused Washington remains.


Oct. 31, 2007 update: Well, Karen Hughes can discard her makeshift hijab, for she today resigned as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, a job she has been struggling at since September 2005. The self-styled "Mom" from Texas never understood the threat of lawful Islamism and steered the State Department in exactly the wrong direction.

Nov. 19, 2007 update: Fran Townsend can also toss her hijab, having resigned today as the president's top staff adviser on terrorism and homeland security. Like Hughes, she has a too-narrow view of who the enemy is, limiting it to the violent fringe. - those who use "violence to achieve ideological ends."