I took the opportunity of watching both of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s U.S. speeches this week – in front of over 16,000 attendees at AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) and at a joint session of the Congress – and I followed the process and developing controversy from the time Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, first announced that he had extended and the Prime Minister had accepted his invitation to present.
During both speaking venues, with all his praise at the beginning of his speeches for President Obama and his support for the state of Israel and the safety and prosperity of the Israeli people, the clear subtext was to plant distrust of the President’s negotiating abilities with Iran specifically, and to call into serious question his foreign policy initiatives more generally.
Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was brilliantly deceitful because it played to the fantasies that Israeli propaganda and right wing militarists in the United States have been popularizing for the past thirty years.
"If you take out Saddam, Saddam's regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region," said Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2002, urging the US to invade Iraq. Credit: Creative Commons.
The biggest fantasy: that we can coerce others through power over them to do what we consider in the best interests of the U.S. or Israel. This is what I call “The Strategy of Domination.” A more effective path is “The Strategy of Generosity” – showing others that we care about them and recognize their needs as being equally legitimate as our own. This second approach is the view that made trade between tribes, and eventually between nations possible in the past, and it remains the view that makes it possible for most countries of the world to live in peace with their neighbors. They hate to do business with those who think that they can get their way through power trips, manipulation, and threats.
This struggle between two world views is the core of the debate today in the U.S., and the reason that the militarists have the upper hand is because the Obama administration, fearing that it might be ridiculed as believing in “kumbaya politics,” used its first six years to pursue policies that better fit the Strategy of Domination than the Strategy of Generosity. Predictably, now the administration finds itself without a popular base for turning toward a more rational path in regard to Iran, having to frame policies in terms toughness rather than in terms of their humanity and reflection of higher ethical values.
I know so many people who shake their heads in despair at the growth of the right-wing consciousness in the U.S. in every sphere except identity politics, but really what other discourse are they ever exposed to? Obama should embrace the Biblical call for “love the stranger/the other” and challenge Americans to take that call seriously. Instead, he tries to measure up against the criteria set by the militarists. Guess what? In that coercion-oriented arena, liberals and progressives will always fail because you have to be unscrupulous to win there.
Netanyahu is a master of manipulating the fantasies that the right-wing discourse advances. For example: the view of the world that sees “our side” (whether that ‘our’ be the U.S. or Israel) as always innocent and good, and “the other” as intrinsically evil.
by: Peter Van Buren on February 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
The basic formula for American war movies hasn't changed much over the past half-century. The core propaganda messages the U.S. government promoted during World War II are nearly identical to those today about the Islamic State. Credit: CreativeCommons / DVIDSHUB.
In the age of the all-volunteer military and an endless stream of war zone losses and ties, it can be hard to keep Homeland enthusiasm up for perpetual war. After all, you don’t get a 9/11 every year to refresh those images of the barbarians at the airport departure gates. In the meantime, Americans are clearly finding it difficult to remain emotionally roiled up about our confusing wars in Syria and Iraq, the sputtering one in Afghanistan, and various raids, drone attacks, and minor conflicts elsewhere.
Fortunately, we have just the ticket, one that has been punched again and again for close to a century: Hollywood war movies (to which the Pentagon is always eager to lend a helping hand). American Sniper, which started out with the celebratory tagline “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history” and now has the tagline “the most successful war movie of all time,” is just the latest in a long line of films that have kept Americans on their war game. Think of them as war porn, meant to leave us perpetually hyped up. Now, grab some popcorn and settle back to enjoy the show.
by: Ben Kline on February 26th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
About a year ago, I watched the 2008 Palestinian film Salt of this Sea, about a Palestinian-American woman named Soraya and her quest to reclaim her family’s home in Jaffa. The film has quite a few agonizing moments: in one scene, Soraya and her Ramallah-born boyfriend Emad are squatting in what remains of his ancestral village, well west of the Green Line. The illusion that they might build a new life atop these ruins is interrupted by a stern Israeli tour guide, who becomes much friendlier when a panicked Soraya lies and tells him she is Jewish.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming to the US March 3rd to speak to a joint session of the US Congress to popularize the idea that the U.S. should essentially make impossible Obama’s efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, hence putting the U.S. and Israel on path toward war with Iran.
We are taking a full-page ad in the NY Times, if we get enough people to donate to make it happen. We need YOU to sign the ad at tikkun.org/PeaceProject and to donate generously. Here are some guidelines to consider: People of means might consider donating between $1,000 to $5,000. People with incomes above $60,000/yr might $400 to $300 (and anyone giving $300 or more will have their name appear on the ad itself, though the ad will also have a link to all the people who sign the ad). Any amount you give will help us reach the amount we need to make this statement possible. We hate giving this money to the Times, but they won’t print our op-eds and the national media is already filled with ads from the militarists supporting the Netanyahu position. Another voice needs to be heard–and we at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives are making this happen.
This is not an ad for Jews only–it is already being signed by leading figures in the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and HIndu worlds as well as by secular humanists and atheists of every possible ethnic, religious and national background (people from around the world are invited to sign and donate). If you want your organization listed as a co-sponsor, the minimum it can donate for that is $2,000, and any that donate $20,000 or more will get a significant chunk of space in the ad for higher visibility at the bottom of the ad.
You may often feel powerless when reading about the craziness of what the current Congress is doing, what Netanyahu is doing, and the way that Obama too often ends up compromising with the Right-wingers. HERE IS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO: Donate now and donate generously, stretch beyond your normal capacity, to make this ad happen. You can sign the ad and then donate at tikkun.org/PeaceProject.
by: William J. Astore on February 18th, 2015 | 3 Comments »
Crossposted from TomsDispatch.com:
It was launched immediately after the 9/11 attacks, when I was still in the military, and almost immediately became known as the Global War on Terror, or GWOT. Pentagon insiders called it “the long war,” an open-ended, perhaps unending, conflict against nations and terror networks mainly of a radical Islamist bent. It saw the revival of counterinsurgency doctrine, buried in the aftermath of defeat in Vietnam, and a reinterpretation of that disaster as well. Over the years, its chief characteristic became ever clearer: a “Groundhog Day” kind of repetition. Just when you thought it was over (Iraq, Afghanistan), just after victory (of a sort) was declared, it began again.
Inflated threats, privatization, and an embrace of the national security state have all contributed to a perpetual state of war for America. Credit: Creative Commons / The U.S. Army
Now, as we find ourselves enmeshed in Iraq War 3.0, what better way to memorialize the post-9/11 American way of war than through repetition. Back in July 2010, I wrote an article for Tom’s Dispatch on the seven reasons why America can’t stop making war. More than four years later, with the war on terror still ongoing, with the mission eternally unaccomplished, here’s a fresh take on the top seven reasons why never-ending war is the new normal in America. In this sequel, I make only one promise: no declarations of victory (and mark it on your calendars, I’m planning to be back with seven new reasons in 2019).
by: Donald W. Shriver on February 11th, 2015 | No Comments »
Richard von Weizsaecke speaks to an audience in Berlin at Transparency International's 20th birthday celebration. Sebastian Schobbert / Creative Commons.
Last month came death to one of the twentieth century’s great political leaders: Richard Freiherr von Weizsaecker, Bundespraesident of the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1980s. He will long be remembered as the author of a speech on May 8, 1985 to the hushed parliament of his newly democratic country. Anthony Lewis of the New York Times called it “one of the great speeches of our time.”
Delivered on the 40th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe, it achieved instant worldwide attention: for the first time a high-ranking German leader took occasion publicly to recall, in painful detail, the evils of the Nazi past. Only a few days before President Ronald Reagan had visited the Bitburg Cemetery—with its graves of SS troops—against the counsel of Elie Weisel and many other survivors of the Holocaust.
American Special Forces are operating at some of the highest levels ever seen. The main difference between a 'black operation' and one that is merely clandestine is that black operations involve a degree of deception. Credit: Author.
America’s clandestine Black Operations (Black Ops) is now fully operational in 105 countries. After more than 10 years of American secret wars, night raids, detentions and assassinations, as well as massive surveillance and billions of wasted dollars, the blowback has been 36 new terror groups as well as one that was born during the illegal American invasion of Iraq, nurtured in an Iraqi prison camp and is now known as the Islamic state of Iraq (ISIS) which just murdered in cold blood a Japanese reporter and Jordanian pilot and controls a huge swath of the Middle East and all under the nose of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
It’s the golden age of Black Ops and it shows no signs of slowing down. American Special Operations Forces are a vivid picture of a dark world of special operations that is being built right before our eyes but, like a stealth bomber, is seldom seen or actually understood by most Americans.
by: Kathy Kelly on January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
From January 4-12, 2015, Witness Against Torture (WAT) activists assembled in Washington D.C. for an annual time of fasting and public witness to end the United States’ use of torture and indefinite detention and to demand the closure, with immediate freedom for those long cleared for release, of the illegal U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
There are 122 prisoners currently held at the Detention Center at Guantanamo Bay. Above, Witness Against Torture activists demonstrate in Washington, D.C. to close the prison. Credit: Elvert Barnes/ Creative Commons.
Participants in our eight day fast started each day with a time of reflection. This year, asked to briefly describe who or what we had left behind and yet might still carry in our thoughts that morning, I said that I’d left behind an imagined WWI soldier, Leonce Boudreau.
I was thinking of Nicole de’Entremont’s story of World War I, A Generation of Leaves, which I had just finished reading. Initial chapters focus on a Canadian family of Acadian descent. Their beloved oldest son, Leonce, enlists with Canada’s military because he wants to experience life beyond the confines of a small town and he feels stirred by a call to defend innocent European people from advancing “Hun” warriors. He soon finds himself mired in the horrid slaughter of trench warfare near Ypres, Belgium.
I often thought of Leonce during the week of fasting with WAT campaign members. We focused, each day, on the experiences and writing of a Yemeni prisoner in Guantanamo, Fahed Ghazi who, like Leonce, left his family and village to train as a fighter for what he believed to be a noble cause. He wanted to defend his family, faith and culture from hostile forces. Pakistani forces captured Fahed and turned him over to U.S. forces after he had spent two weeks in a military training camp in Afghanistan. At the time he was 17, a juvenile. He was cleared for release from Guantanamo in 2007.
A still from the movie 'American Sniper.' Credit: remolacha.net/ Creative Commons
Editor’s note: While we at Tikkun do not feel it’s fair to blame Christianity or imply that all Christians somehow implicitly support the kind of Christianity that leads some American Christians to feel that their murdering of Arabs or Muslims is doing Jesus’ work, and want to remind our readers of the many progressive Christians who join the Network of Spiritual Progressives and other organization that oppose the US “Strategy of Domination” and instead identify with Tikkun’s Strategy of Generosity (as manifested in our proposed Domestic and Global Marshall Plan (please re-read it by downloading the full version at www.tikkun.org/gmp), we do think that Hedges’ powerful critique of the movie “American Sniper” should be read by those who are too willing to forgive the American media for its implicit and sometimes explicit glorification of the U.S. military. And shame on President Obama and liberal Democrats for not having stopped the (what was at first just Bush’s) war in Iraq when they had control of both houses of Congress and the presidency 2009 and 2010, instead backing a “surge” and providing the background and equipment that eventually led to ISIS and all its cruel perversions and murderous ruthlessness.
Below we have excerpts from Chris Hedges’ piece, “Killing Ragheads for Jesus”, which can be found here, at Truthdig.com.