Archive for middle-east

The World According to Bibi

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on October 2, 2012 by playthell

Bibi and the Bomb

 On Israel, America and the Arrogance of Power

The pressure to attack Iran was racheted up to fever pitch when Bibi Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, spoke before the United Nations General Assembly yesterday.  In one of the most hypocritical speeches ever presented at the UN, and there have been many, Bibi, who presides over the only nuclear armed nation in the Middle East, presented the case for a military assault on Iran to prevent them from acquiring an atomic bomb.

He argued that “The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?”  There was not the slightest hint of irony in Bibi’s plea for the liberty of Iranians, even while he stands on the neck of the Palestinian people…and stomp their dreams in the dust.

He painted aghastlyportrait of what would happen should Iran acquire such a weapon, declaring it would endanger the peace of the entire world!  It is a claim that I regard as dangerous hysterical hyperbole, designed to put President Obama on the spot and force him closer to the Israeli position on Iran.

Yet Bibi’s case against Iran was masterfully constructed and eloquently argued overall.  The first part of the speech skillfully painted a convincing portrait of the Islamic fanatics who rule Iran as madmen who are fully capable of launching an atomic attack against Israel.  In light of some of the things they have said on the record, Netanyahu had plenty of examples he could point to: beginning with Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s denial of the holocaust.

Netanyahu’s response to Ahmadinejad’s claim that the Holocaust is a lie was devastating, because most of the people in the world regard the charge as scurrilous and anyone who mouths it a demented moral cripple – this writer included.  The Israeli Prime Minister’s description of the basic character, history and aims of the fanaticism that fuels the Global Islamic Jihad was also fundamentally true:

“Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated.” He declared. “The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization. It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century…”

The Prime Minister’s claim for Israel as a valuable contributor to the advance of science and technology that benefits all humanity was equally true. But Netanyahu’s oration soon degenerated into self-serving propaganda and hyperbolic attacks on the Palestinians, and even the United Nations itself.

“The jury is still out on the United Nations,” he said, “and recent signs are not encouraging. Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims.”

This expression of doubt about UN intentions was intended as a smack in the face for the UN having commissioned the Goldstone Report, which accused Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes in the 2009 Gaza War, and for calling Zionism a racist ideology in an earlier General Assembly resolution.

The Goldstone Report on the Gaza Strip presented the official findings of a group of international experts who were dispatched by the UN Human Rights Commission to investigate violations of International Human Rights Laws, and International Humanitarian Laws after the Gaza War of 2009. A former South African judge with broad experience investigating war crimes Richard Goldstone, who served as a prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda – headed the commission of inquiry and their findings were widely recognized as valid.

But Israel refused to recognize the commission’s findings or abide by its recommendations.  And almost four years later Bibi had this to say about the report.

Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel. A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.  By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals. What a perversion of truth. What a perversion of justice.”

Well, I don’t know about Roosevelt or Churchill, but President Harry Truman, the only leader in world history who ordered an atomic attack on another country, would have been an excellent candidate for a war crimes tribunal. The evidence strongly suggests the atomic bombing of Japan was a planned attack against a civilian population; therein lies the crime.

The diligent researcher can find abundant evidence that the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan was an arbitrary choice; it was not essential to victory over Japan as we have been told by apologists whose objective is to cover up a horrendous war crime.

The fact is that while Japan had a massive army of 5 million men, spread throughout Asia, with 2 million committed to the defense of the Japanese homeland, and 5,000 Kamikaze suicide pilots ready to crash their planes into US ships, Japan was in the final stages of collapse.

There was already an invasion plan in which the Russians would play a major role, that dramatically reduced the cost to the US in blood and treasure.   It was a widely shared belief among the war planners that Japan could be defeated without the bomb.

Dr. Leo Szilard,  a Hungarian born nuclear physicist who had set in motion the effort to build the bomb by writing a letter to President Roosevelt – co-signed by Dr. Albert Einstein, the world’s most famous physicist – expressed this view. As did many scientists who contributed to the effort to build the world’s first atomic bomb.

The creation of the “Manhattan Project” – code name for the secret US government program that created the atomic bomb – was inspired by the arguments made by Szilard and Einstein that convinced President Roosevelt that Nazi scientist were well on the way to making an atomic weapon.

The horror of such a possibility certainly justifies the American decision to develop a crash program to beat Hitler to the bomb. The Manhattan Project employed 120,000 people and cost 2 billion dollars, and they succeeded in producing the first atom bomb.

This was a great achievement in scientific research, technical mastery and organizational/management.  The  should be enough on its own to refute the silly rightwing dogma introduced by that “charming dunce” Ronald Reagan – in the former Defense Secretary Clarke Clifford’s coinage – who told us that government could do nothing right, even as he sought to head our government.  However by the time the Atomic bomb became a reality, with the successful detonation at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945, the Nazi’s had surrendered several months earlier on May 7.  So the war in Europe was over.

With Germany and Italy defeated the last of the Axis powers still at war was the “Empire of the Rising Sun” in Japan.  And there is evidence that Truman wanted to teach these little brown devils a lesson they could never forget, as well as cutting the Russians out of any role in the Far East while also deterring Russian ambitions in postwar Europe.

Beyond the racist attitudes toward the Japanese – which is well documented by Afro-American historian Dr. Gerald Horne in his brilliant revisionist text on the war to control the Pacific region, Race War – these were objectives that looked beyond the defeat of Japan and began to envision the shape of the post war world order.

Recalling the decision to drop the atom bomb on Japan four years later, in 1949, Dr. Szilard says:

“The question of whether the bomb should be used in the war against Japan came up for discussion. Mr. Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war. He knew at that time, as the rest of the Government knew, that Japan was essentially defeated and that we could win the War in another six months.

At that time Mr. Byrnes was much concerned about the spreading of Russian influence in Europe. . . . Mr. Byrnes’ concern about Russia I fully shared, but his view that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable in Europe I was not able to share. Indeed I could hardly imagine any premise more false and disastrous upon which to base our policy, and I was dismayed when a few weeks later I learned that he was to be our Secretary of State.”

 There are many examples of a similar doubt and apprehension among the small band of scientists, politicians and military men who were involved with development and use of the atomic bomb.  Consider, for instance, this passage from the Memoirs of General H. H. Arnold, Commander of the American Army Air Force in the Second World War (1949)

The surrender of Japan was not entirely the result of the two atomic bombs. We had hit some 60 Japanese cities with our regular H. E. (High Explosive) and incendiary bomb$ and, as a result of our raids, about 241,000 people had been killed, 313,000 wounded, and about 2,333,000 homes destroyed. Our B-29’s had destroyed most of the Japanese industries and, with the laying of mines, which prevented the arrival of incoming cargoes of critical items, had made it impossible for Japan to carryon a large-scale war. . . . Accordingly, it always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.”

 The point of all this historical reflection is to remind us that the US is the last nation that has the moral authority to lecture other nations on the evils of nuclear weapons, since it is self-evident that it is a lesson we have yet to learn.  As I write, the US has tens of thousands of nuclear weapons in our arsenal.  They are deployed on tripartite launch systems on land, air and sea.  And these doomsday weapons can be delivered anywhere in the world with pin point accuracy within minutes.  It is impossible to defend against, and has the capacity to destroy all life on earth within a half hour from now!

Yet we have Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for commander-In-Chief of this doomsday arsenal, crying about the American military not being strong enough.  It is no wonder that Mitt and Bibi are old friends and business partners, both suffer from the same delusions that they can impose their will on other nations with persistent threats and prolific use of military force.  It is an arrogance characteristic of those drunk with power.

Hence it seems reasonable to the Israeli Prime Minister that while he accuses the Iranians, the ancient land of Persia, of deceiving inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency about their intention to build a nuclear weapon in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while they steadfastly refuse to sign the treaty at all!

In fact, like the US, the Israeli’s refuse to allow any nuclear weapons inspections on their soil.  And they refuse to even say whether they possess nuclear weapons…although scientists who worked in their nuclear weapons program have testified to their existence.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Iranian Prime Minister


A Looney Tune who occasionally hits the Mark

Hence, like a broken clock that is right twice every day, the Iranian Prime Minister was right when he made the following points in his speech to the United Nations:

Unilateralism, application of double standards, and imposition of wars, instability and occupations to ensure economic interests, and expand dominance over sensitive centers of the world have turned to be the order of the day.  Arms race and intimidation by nuclear weapons and weapons of mass-destruction by the hegemonic powers have become prevalent: Testing new generations of ultra-modern weaponry and the pledge to disclose these armaments on due time is now being used as a new language of threat against nations to coerce them into accepting a new era of hegemony.

Continued threat … to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality.A state of mistrust has cast its shadow on the international relations, whilst there is no trusted or just authority to help resolve world conflicts…No one feels secure or safe even those who have stockpiled thousands of atomic bombs and other arms in their arsenals.”
In view of these undeniable realities the highlight of Netanyahu’s presentation, a show and tell about nuclear weapons production, has been ridiculed as both a cartoonish performance and a shameless display of hypocrisy.  Bibi held up a chart with a symbolic drawing of a nuclear bomb, which has been derisively dubbed “Bibi’s bomb,” and sparked one American late night comic to suggest that if the Israeli Prime Minister really wants to know what a nuclear bomb looks like he should just go down in his basement and look at a real one!

Tracing the progress of Iran’s atomic program Bibi drew a red line, and dramatically declared if the Iranians are allowed to proceed beyond that point the international community would not be able to stop them from building an atomic bomb.  Hence they would be justified in attacking Iran to stop it!

This was a transparent attempt to build support in the United States for an American backed attack on Iran.  But Bibi’s dramatic demonstration quickly became the object of a wicked comic skit by the political satirist Steve Colbert, and the real thing would be hilarious if it were not so dangerous!

The sad and frightening truth is that nobody is even willing to talk about the real solution to this man made dilemma – where the means of our destruction from mankind’s folly is within our power to end, but nobody wants to willingly surrender what they imagine to be the security and hegemonic advantage possession of nuclear arsenals provide.

But as one who at 19 years old held a Top Secret Security Clearance and was stationed on a Strategic Air Command base with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the planet, I made up my mind about what to do with nuclear weapons over half a century ago.  Schmoozing with people who were sworn to blow up the planet upon orders from the High command – at the pinnacle of which was General Curtis Lemay, whose nickname among his military colleagues was “The Mad Bomber”- I was privy to our nuclear war plans.

After viewing the official strategic Air command’s secret films of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan, the only people ever subjected to attack by an atomic weapon, I have been convinced that the very possession of nuclear weapons is a crime against humanity!  I have felt this way for over half a century!

Yet even as I write, instead of leading the fight to rid the world of these doomsday weapons, which our nation introduced into the world and remain the only nation to use them against another people – the US is engaging in open diplomatic hostilities toward Iran, and waging a covert war in conjunction with Israel with the objective of maintain Israel’s nuclear monopoly over the Mid-East region by preventing Iran from acquiring a single nuclear weapon.  This is short sighted folly and I believe, ultimately self-defeating.

The covert action against Iran includes assassinating five Iranian nuclear scientists, and disrupting their computers with virus attacks. Contrary to popular belief in this country, this aggression against Iran on behalf of Israel – a country where we already have a tragic history of meddling in their internal affairs – only strengthens the regime they are intended to overthrow.

And given the size and technological development of Iran, the Israeli’s know they can’t overthrow the regime alone.  That’s why they are trying to lure America into joining Israel in an all-out attack on Iran.  I am certain that this would be an even bigger blunder than the attack on Iraq, and far more costly.  It would stifle our economic recovery and reduce many people to desperation as the Republicans simultaneously shred the safety net as they spend money to destroy life rather than enhance life.

This is where the red line must be drawn, and President Obama must resist Bibi’s attempt to push the US into yet another war in the Islamic world….even at the expense of inciting the wrath of the all-powerful Israel Lobby, and even while his opponent Mitt Romney – a soulless, amoral, lying, unpatriotic opportunist – is accusing him of “throwing Israel under the Bus; blatantly interfering with the Presidents attempts to conduct foreign policy in the best interest of the nation, for no more exalted purpose than gaining a political advantage!  If this is not treason…it ought to be.

Honoring an Iranian Nuclear Scientist


The Iranians Honor a Martyr


Barack Apologizes to the Afghans

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , on March 13, 2012 by playthell
Outraged Afghans Grieving their Murdered Kinsmen

On American Exceptionalism and War Crimes

The slaughter of sixteen innocent Afghan men, women and children in their homes by an American soldier is but the latest atrocity committed against innocents in Afghanistan and Iraq.  As I pointed out at the beginning of these conflicts, back when the Bushmen were preparing to invade Iraq, the nature of foreign occupying forces tasked with suppressing indigenous insurrections is certain to result in war crimes.  It is in the nature of the conflict; the elements come together in such a way as to insure that war crimes will result.

Just imagine the following scenario.   An armed Arab force occupies your town; most do not speak English; they know nothing of our culture, history, or religious beliefs – except that it is the enemy of their beliefs.  Imagine these people blocking off streets and arresting your family and friends without the safeguards provided by our Constitution. They sexually violate women and men, bomb sections of the city trying to kill insurgents while slaughtering scores of innocents: people at weddings, baby showers, just going about their business.

This is the situation our young people in the military have been thrust into.  Since they are widely hated by the Afghan people, who neither understand nor agree with US objectives in their country, many support the resistance forces against the American invaders who might not have supported them otherwise.  Indeed US actions are the best recruitment materials the Taliban and other Jihadists could wish for.  Yet most Americans remain clueless on these questions.

.If it had not been so tragic it would have been amusing to watch MSNBC the hard hitting newsman and talk show host Chris Matthews scratching his head, and asking with a ring of indignation, why there was so much outrage about the recent burning of Korans.  It shows how little even highly educated American journalists/pundits understand about Islamic culture….especially in the remote country of Afghanistan.

Hence for the soldier on the ground who is hopelessly confused about his mission, and cannot distinguish between ordinary civilians and armed insurgents, everybody begins to look like the enemy.  And since the insurgents used the tactics of surprise attack and remote controlled explosive devices, our soldier’s nerves are as tense as hair triggers.  In such a scenario the miracle is that we have not seen even more atrocities.

The soldier who committed this atrocity is a 38 year old Sargent who is married with three children.  He had already done three tours of duty in Iraq and was then employed to Afghanistan!  The reason he has served this outrageous number of combat at tours is because the Republicans who started these wars were too cowardly to reinstitute the draft.

They knew that drafting college students and children of the elite would have revived an Anti-war movement on the scale of the movement that stopped the Vietnam war.  From all appearances the soldier cracked under the stress of multiple combat deployments, and the real criminals are those who constantly ordered him on those hellish missions.

It ought to be clear that the war in Afghanistan is magnifying the danger to our national security.  The recent incidents such as pissing on the bodies of dead Afghan soldiers; burning the Korans, and now this wanton slaughter of innocents in their homes, including children, plus the Republican policy of no apologies for war crimes or assaults upon the culture, religion and family honor of Afghans has placed any possibility of victory beyond the pale.

Offering apologies is the least that President Obama should do as an act of contrition to the Afghan people and reduce the danger to our troops!  American Exceptionalism cannot include immunity from war crimes There is no sane choice but to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible and refrain from starting yet another war in the Muslim world…which the Republicans are itching to do!

 Mission Impossible?

                       Fuck Afghanistan: Bring them Home!!!!!!!
Playthell Benjamin
Harlem, New York
March 13, 2012

Barack Genuflects Before APAC

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2012 by playthell

Barack Pledged to support Bibi in An Attack on Iran

 Is it De Ja Vu Again?  Notes on the Road to War

I have never witnessed a more blatant example of the arrogance of power than the Israeli/American ultimatum to Iran.  Driven by the imperatives of domestic politics in both countries, the terms of this ultimatum were stated in no uncertain terms by President Obama in his speech before the powerful Jewish organization, APAC….and it was a de-facto declaration of war.  “When the chips are down I have Israel’s back!” declared the president.

Barack went on to say he was not interested in containing a nuclear armed Iran; his policy is to prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon.   He said all options are on the table; including the full range of our nation’s diplomatic, economic and military resources.  He also said “I will not hesitate to use force to defend American interests.”  Thus the die is cast, and the saber rattling is approaching the decibel level before Bush’s march of folly in Iraq.

On the face of it the demand that Iran cease its nuclear research and development is both hypocritical and an insult to their national dignity.  It ignores Iranian national security interests on the one hand, and tells them in no uncertain terms that they are a second rate nation who will not be allowed to exercise the privileges that the US and Israel consider their natural right as sovereign nations.  No matter what kind of self-righteous preachment or diplomatic mumbo jumbo the US and Israeli governments employ to make their case in the court of public opinion, this is what it boils down to.

It is the height of duplicity for the US and Israel to have a hissy fit about the possibility that the Iranians are building a nuclear weapon when Israel has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the Arabs and Iranians in a fortnight.  And what’s more, the Israelis are already waging a covert war against Iran with American assistance. Although they are rarely reported because they are secret, these are real acts of war nonetheless!

They have assassinated several Iranian nuclear scientists in daring James Bond type hits that everyone who pays attention to these matters knows could only have been pulled off by the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.   And the fact that it Furthermore, CBS Sixty Minutes recently did an in-depth report detailing how a brilliantly designed computer virus blew up an Iranian nuclear reactor.  The report featured an international group of distinguished computer scientists who specialize in cyber security, and they concluded the diabolical virus was almost certainly designed by US and Israeli intelligence agencies.

The urgent question for all Americans is whether a war with Iran will serve American interests.  This is an extremely complex question.  The consequences of such a war will have to be considered from the perspectives of foreign relations and domestic policy in order to grasp the full picture.  In terms of foreign relations the immediate consequences include several possibilities.

The most immediate consequence would be the disruption of the flow of oil and a dramatic rise in the price of gas and other petroleum based products.  This would arrest the progress of our economic recovery, which is already fragile and constructed on a shaky foundation.  Tranquility, not chaos, is what is needed in the Middle East.

The Iranians will surely resist, and they will be assisted by their well-armed Shite brethren in Iraq, whom the US put in power as a result of George II’s misbegotten military adventure there.  And they are armed with the latest American weaponry – thanks to US military assistance.  Furthermore Iran is reaching out to Islamic theocrats in an ecumenical manner, putting aside internal theological disputes in order to form a unified front against the “Great Satin” i.e. the USA, which has emerged as the foremost enemy of Islam.

Despite the efforts of those actually tasked with conducting US foreign policy to characterize American waged wars in Muslim countries political…the Jihadists insist that the US is at war with Islam!   And the leading Republican candidates for their party’s presidential nomination are doing their best to convince the moderates in the Muslim world that most Americans also believe they are in a war against Islam.

The Iranian Regime recently hosted a conference of militant Islamist, and Muslims of many stripes from all over the world were present.  There could be no greater catalyst for the rapid development of a new militant Pan-Islamic movement than a joint American/Israeli invasion of Iran.  The invasion would also imperil the stability of the remaining pro-American leaders in the region; who would be trapped between the Devil and the deep blue sea.

If they support the US they will be facing overthrow by the populace, and if they don’t support the US they will face the wrath of the US people and their representatives in Congress, who appropriate foreign aid.   And at the moment the Congress is in the hands of right-wing Republicans; impassioned Christian soldiers who act as if they are ready to wage war with the entire Islamic world at once.   Needless to say, it does not require a gift for prophecy to predict that this will be a real mess!

The Islamic world is in upheaval, old regimes are being overthrown and forces set in motion by an American/Israeli invasion will result in the fall of even more regimes.  No one can predict what new leadership structures or institutions of government will emerge from this turmoil.

Yet it is enough to know that there is a strong, organized, Islamic element among the rebels in each of these populist uprisings to recognize the danger they pose.  In every country the secular democratic forces fighting to modernize their nation, so they can compete in the 21st century, are already at a disadvantage.

The secular Democrats are promoting values that are highly prized only by the educated elite – many of whom have spent time living in western democracies – thus their core concepts are alien and poorly understood by the masses of their people.  I warned that the Islamist could seize control of the revolt in Egypt – while the cheerleaders in the west assured us the Muslim Brotherhood was passé and impotent and other Islamists without much influence – and it has come to pass.  I remembered something the other pundits seemed to forget.  The overthrow of the Iranian Shah was also engineered by secular intellectuals; but the theocrats quickly took control, executed many of the secularists, and established Sharia Law.

Alas, a cry for war is rising from much of the commentariat in commercial media.  It is manufacturing a pro-war hysteria among the public. People like Joe Scarborough who host MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” – a charming sophist whose claim to fame is that he looks like the old cowboy movie star John Wayne – are cheering the President’s militant stance, although he has been damming Barack for not pulling all American troops from Afghanistan.  Joe practically called for the dismissal of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because he said “Iran is a rational actor in international affairs.”

The General’s intention was to quell the crazy narrative spun by hysterical warmongers who are painting the Iranian leadership as madmen willing to commit national suicide by launching a nuclear attack against Israel.  There is absolutely no evidence to support such a conclusion; I believe the US is far more likely to commit national suicide over Israel than Iran committing suicide over the Palestinians!  The attempt to paint the Iranian regime as irrational and therefore a danger to US interests is a transparent move to politicize intelligence regarding the threat from Iran in order to justify a “preemptive attack.”

This is the same path that led to war in Vietnam and Iraq, two nations that had also committed no offense against the US.   Yet we squandered massive amounts of American blood and treasure there, while maiming or killing millions of innocent bystanders.   Alas forces that lead to war have already been set in motion.

The momentum of events may well overwhelm President Obama’s resistance and we shall soon find ourselves in yet another major war with a Muslim country.   Indeed, if the Israeli’s decide to attack Iran, President Obama could find himself in the same predicament as Abe Lincoln when he reflected on the consequences of the Civil War and exclaimed: “Clearly I have not controlled events…but events have controlled me.”  It’s De Ja Vu all over again!


Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

March 9, 2012