Slouching Toward Global Disaster: Chaos and Intervention in the Middle East  

22 Dec

 

The Geopolitical Foreground

 

There are many disturbing signs that the West is creating conditions in the Middle East and Asia that could produce a wider war, most likely a new Cold War, containing, as well, menacing risks of World War III. The reckless confrontation with Russia along its borders, reinforced by provocative weapons deployments in several NATO countries and the promotion of governing regimes hostile to Russia in such countries as Ukraine and Georgia seems to exhibit Cold War nostalgia, and is certainly not the way to preserve peace.

 

Add to this the increasingly belligerent approach recently taken by the United States naval officers and defense officials to China with respect to island disputes and navigational rights in the South China Seas. Such posturing has all the ingredients needed for intensifying international conflict, giving a militarist signature to Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia.’

 

These developments are happening during the supposedly conflict averse Obama presidency. Looking ahead to new leadership, even the most optimistic scenario that brings Hilary Clinton to the White House is sure to make these pre-war drum beats even louder. From a more detached perspective it is fair to observe that Obama seems rather peace-oriented only because American political leaders and the Beltway/media mainstream have become so accustomed to relying on military solutions whether successful or not, whether dangerous and wasteful or not, that is, only by comparison with more hawkish alternatives.

 

The current paranoid political atmosphere in the United States is a further relevant concern, calling for police state governmental authority at home, increased weapons budgets, and the continuing militarization of policing and law enforcement. Such moves encourage an even more militaristic approach to foreign challenges that seem aimed at American and Israeli interests by ISIS, Iran, and China. Where this kind of war-mongering will lead is unknowable, but what is frighteningly clear is that this dangerous geopolitical bravado is likely to become even more strident as the 2016 campaign unfolds to choose the next American president. Already Donald Trump, the clear Republican frontrunner, has seemed to commit the United States to a struggle against all of Islam by his foolish effort to insist that every Muslim is terrorist suspect Islam as a potential terrorist who should be so treated. Even Samuel Huntington were he still alive might not welcome such an advocate of ‘the clash of civilizations’!

 

 

 Historical Deep Roots

 It has taken almost a century for the breakup of the Ottoman Empire to reap the colonialist harvest that was sown in the peace diplomacy that followed World War I. In the notorious Sykes-Picot Agreement diplomats of England and France in 1916 secretly negotiated arrangements that would divide up the Middle East into a series of artificially delimited territorial states to be administered as colonies by the respective European governments. Among other wrongs, this devious undertaking representing a betrayal of promises made to Arab leaders that Britain, in particular, would support true independence in exchange for joining the anti-Ottoman and anti-German alliance formed to fight World War I. Such a division of the Ottoman spoils not only betrayed wartime promises of political independence to Arab leaders, but also undermined the efforts of Woodrow Wilson to apply the principle of ethnic self-determination to the Ottoman aftermath.

 

As a result of diplomatic maneuvers the compromise reached at Versailles in 1919 was to accept the Sykes-Picot borders that were drawn to satisfy colonial ambitions for trade routes and spheres of influence, but to disguise slightly its colonialist character, by creating an international system of mandates for the Middle East in which London and Paris would administer the territories, accepting a vague commitment to lead the various societies to eventual political independence at some unspecified future time. These Sykes-Picot ‘states’ were artificial political communities that never overcame the indigenous primacy of ethnic, tribal, and religious affinities, and could be maintained as coherent political realities only by creating oppressive state structures. If World War II had not sapped European colonial will and capabilities, it is easy to imagine that the societies of the Middle East would remain subjugated under mandate banners.

 

After World War II

 

Is it any wonder, then, that the region has been extremely beset by various forms of authoritarian rule ever since the countries of the Middle East gained their independence after the end of the Second World War? Whether in the form of dynastic monarchies or secular governments, the stability that was achieved in the region depended on the denial of human rights, including rights of democratic participation, as well as the buildup of small privileged and exploitative elites that linked national markets and resources to the global economic order. And as oil became the prime strategic resource, the dominance of the region became for the West led by the United States as absolutely vital. From these perspectives the stable authoritarianism of the region was quite congenial with the Cold War standoff between the United States and Soviet Union that was interested in securing strategic and economic partnerships reflecting the ideological rivalries, while being indifferent to whether or not the people were being victimized by abusive and brutal governments.

 

The American commitment to this status quo in the Middle East was most vividly expressed in 1980 after the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution of the prior year by the enunciation of the Carter Doctrine. President Carter in his State of the Union Address was warning the Soviet Union by a strong diplomatic signal that the United States was ready to defend its interests in the Persian Gulf by force, which because of supposed Soviet superiority in ground warfare was understood at the time as making an implied threat to use nuclear weapons if necessary.

 

After the Cold War

 When the Cold War ended, the United States unthinkingly promoted the spread of capitalist style constitutional democracy wherever it could, including the Middle East. The Clinton presidency (1992-2000) talked about the ‘enlargement’ of the community of democratic states, implying that any other political option lacked legitimacy (unless of course it was a friendly oil producer or strategic ally). The neocon presidency of George W. Bush (2000-2008) with its interventionist bent invoked ‘democracy promotion’ as its goal, and became clear in its official formulation of security doctrine in 2002 that only capitalist democracies were legitimate Westphalian states whose sovereign rights were entitled to respect.

 

This kind of strident militarism reached a new climax after 9/11. The White House apparently hoped to embark on a series regime-changing interventions in the Middle East and Asia with the expectation of producing at minimal cost shining examples of liberation and democratization, as well as secure the Gulf oil reserves and establish military bases to undergird its regional ambitions. The attacks on Afghanistan, and especially Iraq, were the most notorious applications of this misguided approach. Instead of ‘democracy’ (Washington’s code word for integration into its version of neoliberal globalization), what emerged was strife and chaos, and the collapse of stable internal governance. The strong state that preceded the intervention gave way to localized militias and resurgent tribal, clan, and religious rivalries leading domestic populations to wish for a return to the relative stability of the preceding authoritarian arrangements, despite their brutality and corruption. And even in Washington one encounters whispered admissions that Iraq was better off, after all, under Saddam Hussein than under the kind of sectarian and divisive leaders that governed the country since the American occupation began in 2003, and now threaten Iraq with an implosion that will produce at least two states replacing the shattered one.

 

 

 The Arab Spring

 Then came the Arab Spring in 2011 creating an awkward tension between the professed wish in Washington for democracy in the Arab world and the overriding commitment to upholding strategic interests throughout the Middle East. At first, the West reacted ambivalently to the Arab uprisings, not knowing whether to welcome, and then try to tame, these anti-authoritarian movements of the Arab masses or to lament the risks of new elites that were likely to turn away from neoliberal capitalism and strategic partnerships, and worst of all, might be more inclined to challenge Israel.

 

What happened in the years that followed removed the ambiguity, confirming that material and ideological interests took precedence over visionary endorsements of Arab democracy. The reality that emerged indicated that neither the domestic setting nor the international context was compatible with the existence of democratic forms of governance. What unsurprisingly followed was a series of further military interventions and strategic confrontations either via NATO as in Libya or by way of its regional partners, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates as in Iran, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen. With few tears shed in Washington, the authentic and promising democratic beginnings in Egypt that excited the world in the aftermath of the 2011 Tahrir Square were crushed two years later by a populist military coup that restored Mubarak Era authoritarianism, accentuating its worst features. What amounted to the revenge of the urban secular elites in Cairo included a genuine bonding between a new majority of the Egyptian people and its armed forces in a bloody struggle to challenge and destroy the Muslim Brotherhood that had taken control of the government by winning a series of elections. Despite its supposed liberalism the Obama leadership played along with these developments. It obliged the new Sisi-led leadership by avoiding the term ‘coup’ although the military takeover was followed by a bloody crackdown on the elected leadership and civil society leadership. This Orwellian trope of refusing to call a coup by its real name enabled the United States to continue military assistance to Egypt without requiring a new Congressional authorization.

 

The folk wisdom of the Arab world gives insight into the counterrevolutionary backlash that has crushed the populist hopes of 2011: “People prefer 100 years of tyranny to a single year of chaos.” And this kind of priority is shared by most of those who make and manage American foreign policy. Just as clearly as the Arab masses, the Pentagon planners prefer the stability of authoritarianism to the anarchistic uncertainties of ethnic and tribal strife, militia forms of governance that so often come in the wake of the collapse of both dictatorial rule and democratic governance. And the masters of business and finance, aside from the lure of post-conflict markets for the reconstruction of what has been destroyed militarily, prefer to work with dependable and familiar national elites that welcome foreign capital on lucrative terms that benefit insiders and outsiders alike, while keeping the masses in conditions of impoverished thralldom.

 

In many respects, Syria and Iraq illustrate the terrible human tragedies that have been visited on the peoples of these two countries. In Syria a popular uprising in 2011 was unforgivably crushed by the Basher el-Assad regime in Damascus, leading to a series of disastrous interventions on both sides of the internal war that erupted, with Saudi Arabia and Iran engaged in a proxy war on Syrian soil while Israel uses its diplomatic leverage to ensure that the unresolved war would last as long as possible as Tel Aviv wanted neither the regime nor its opponents to win a clear victory. During this strife, Russia, Turkey, and the United States were intervening with a bewildering blend of common and contradictory goals ranging from pro-government stabilization to a variety of regime changing scenarios. These external actors held conflicting views of the Kurdish fighters as either coveted allies or dangerous adversaries. In the process several hundred thousand Syrians have lost their lives, almost half the population have become refugees and internally displaced persons, much of the country and its ancient heritage sites devastated, and no real end of the violence and devastation is in sight.

 

The Iraq experience is only marginally better. After a dozen years of punitive sanctions following the 1991 ceasefire that exacted a heavy toll on the civilian population, the ‘shock and awe’ of US/UK attacks of 2003, an occupation began that rid the country of its cruel and oppressive leader, Saddam Hussein, and his entourage. What followed politically became over time deeply disillusioning, and actually worse than the overthrown regime, which had been hardly imaginable when the American-led occupation began. The Iraqi state was being reconstructed along sectarian lines, purging the Sunni minority elites from the Baghdad bureaucracy and armed forces, thereby generating a widespread internal violent opposition against foreign occupation and a resistance movement against the Iraqi leadership that had gained power with the help of the American presence. This combination of insurgency and resistance also gave rise to widespread feelings of humiliation and alienation, which proved to be conducive to the rise of jihadi extremism, first in the form of al-Qaeda in Iraq and later as ISIS.

 

Toxic Geopolitics 

It is impossible to understand and explain such a disastrous failure of military interventionism without considering the effects of two toxic ‘special relationships’ formed by the United States, with Israel and Saudi Arabia. The basic feature of such special relationships is an unconditional partnership in which the Israelis and Saudis can do whatever they wish, including pursuing policies antagonistic to U.S. interests without encountering any meaningful opposition from either Washington or Europe. This zone of discretion has allowed Israel to keep Palestinians from achieving self-determination while pursuing its own territorial ambitions via constantly expanding settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, fueling grassroots anti-Western sentiment throughout the Arab world because of this persisting reliance on a cruel settler colonialist approach to block for seven decades the Palestinian struggle for fundamental and minimal national rights.

 

The special relationship with Saudi Arabia is even more astonishing until one considers the primacy of economic strategic priorities, especially the importance of oil supplied at affordable prices. Having by far the worst human rights record in the region, replete with judicially decreed beheadings and executions by stoning, the Riyadh leadership continues to be warmly courted in Western capitals as allies and friends. At the same time, equally theocratic Iran is hypocritically bashed and internationally punished in retaliation for its far less oppressive governing abuses.

 

Of course, looking the other way, is what is to be expected in the cynical conduct of opportunistic geopolitics, but to indulge the Saudi role in the worldwide promotion of jihadism while spending trillion on counter-terrorism is much more difficult to fathom until one shifts attention from the cover story of counter-terrorism to the more illuminating narrative of petropolitics. Despite fracking and natural gas discoveries lessening Western dependence on Middle Eastern oil, old capitalist habits persist long after their economic justifications have lapsed and this seems true even when such policies have become damaging in lives and financial burdens.

 

Finding Hope is Difficult

 In such circumstances, it is difficult to find much hope in the current cosmodrama of world politics. It is possible, although unlikely, that geopolitical sanity will prevail to the extent of finding a diplomatic formula to end the violence in Syria and Yemen, as well as to normalize relations with Iran, restore order in Iraq and Libya, although such sensible outcomes face many obstacles, and may be years away. The alternatives for the Middle East in the near future, barring the political miracle of a much more revolutionary and emancipatory second Arab Spring, seems to be authoritarian stability or anarchic strife and chaos, which seems far preferable if the alternative is the deep trauma associated with enduring further American military interventions. If you happen to hear the Republican candidates give their prescriptions for fixing the Middle East it comes down to ‘toughness,’ including the scary recommendations of ‘carpet bombing’ and a greatly heightened American military presence. Even the more thoughtful Democrats limit their proposals to enhanced militarism, hoping to induce the Arab countries to put ‘the boots on the ground’ with nary a worry about either igniting a regional war or the imaginative collapse that can only contemplate war as the recipe for peace, again recalling the degree to which Orwellian satiric irony is relied upon to shape foreign policy prescriptions by ambitious politicians. Imaginative diplomacy, talking and listening to the enemy, and engaging in self-scrutiny remains outside the cast iron cage of the military mentality that has long dominated most of the political space in American foreign policy debates with the conspicuous help of the passive aggressive mainstream media. In this respect, American democracy is a broken reality, and conscientious citizens must look elsewhere as a prison break of the political imagination is long overdue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 Responses to “Slouching Toward Global Disaster: Chaos and Intervention in the Middle East  ”

  1. Gene Schulman December 22, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    When Richard Falk gives up on hope, you know the world is in trouble. And so it is. Wishing for diplomacy from the US is believing in Santa Clause.

    Happy New Year Richard. And all.

  2. ray032 December 22, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    Totally agree with your assessment once again, Richard.

    • ray032 December 22, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

      After posting the comment above, I went to my FaceBook news feed and Lo and Behold!
      Your Memories on Facebook
      Ray, we care about you and the memories you share here. We thought you’d like to look back on this post from 2 years ago.
      2 Years Ago
      Ray Joseph Cormier
      December 22, 2013

      Richard Falk is an International Law Expert, currently the UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian rights under Israeli occupation. He is also Jewish and the Jew Israelis love to hate for his steadfast exposure of Israeli violations of International Law.

      Canad’a Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, along with Harper and the Canadian government, just called for him to be fired from that honorary UN position. I first heard of him a few years ago when the UN Secretary General called for him to be fired. Reading about that, I reasoned he must be doing something right and did some research on him! I now follow his Blog.

      Concerning Israeli violations of International Law, CanaDa follows a policy of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil about Israel.

      RICHARD FALK interview
      Creeping annexation, ethnic cleansing and ‘the politics of fragmentation’ inflicted by criminals who strut the world stage and thumb their noses at international law

      http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/12/20/richard-falk-interview/

  3. wingsprd December 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    On reading this, one can’t help wishing America had maintained it’s stance of isolation exhibited before its entry to WWII. So many interferences, and antagonism generated not only in the Arab countries, but growing in west as well. We are eying askance its ‘friend’ Saudi, to say nothing of growing hatred for Israel. Intelligent people are rejecting Murdoch and other zionist propaganda. When we should be working all out to combat climate change, we are beset with tyrannical governments trashing human rights in the name of the great God capitalism.

    • ray032 December 23, 2015 at 4:08 am #

    • ray032 December 23, 2015 at 8:10 am #

      Richard, I’m very curious to know your thoughts on this article,
      ‘Why Palestinian terrorism is never a ‘justified popular uprising’
      by LOUIS RENÉ BERES, whom you probably know, in Today’s Jerusalem Post?

      Seems to me there is a lot of projection of Israeli terrorist actions on the Palestinians if a discussion develops. This is not a disconnected matter to the essence of this, your latest post.

      Here is one example of the Israeli terrorist ‘projection’ I see in the article:
      “Leaving aside the unsupportable argument that Palestinian organizations may inherently satisfy certain identifiable legal standards of a “popular uprising movement,” it is still clear that they routinely fail to meet the authoritative just means standards of discrimination (sometimes also called “distinction”), proportionality and military necessity.

      As if those standards the author lays out here are for others to follow, but not Israel as was conclusively demonstrated in Operation Cast Lead to the murderous bombardment of Gaza last year.

      I think this is an important article to discuss and if The author (PhD, Princeton, 1971) is emeritus professor of International Law at Purdue University, you are the only other qualified person I am in contact with that could guide the discussion.

      On December 18, 2015, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas defended the latest wave of bombings and stabbings of Jews by Palestinians as a “justified popular uprising.” Jurisprudentially, at least, he was mistaken. In law, in all law, such evident expressions of pure criminality can never be reconciled with any form of permissible “uprising.” There is no cause that can ever warrant the intentional mutilation or murder of civilians.

      This remains the case, moreover, even if the cause involved is allegedly just.

      Still, many observers are oblivious to both facts and law. Even now, supporters of Palestinian violence against Israeli noncombatants ritualistically claim that the Arab force is somehow being directed solely against an “occupation,” and thus warrants “any means necessary.” In discernible law, however, this claim is conspicuously baseless and incorrect. Even where the use of violence may be justified – and this is arguably not the case with Palestinian terrorism, where Israel left Gaza more than 10 years ago and has tried for much longer to negotiate a plausibly secure settlement for the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) – any deliberate attacks upon noncombatants are always illegal.

      “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” – although repeated again and again, this appealing mantra has no authentic grounding in law.

      On the contrary, there already exist very explicit, precise and settled legal criteria to distinguish terrorists from freedom fighters. Furthermore, according to international law, any politically- motivated insurgent who willfully attacks a civilian with a knife or scissors, or tries to run him or her down with an automobile, is a terrorist.

      Period.

      It is true, of course, that certain insurgencies can be judged lawful. Yet, even these insurgencies must first conform to the binding norms of humanitarian international law, or the law of armed conflict. In law, the ends can never justify the means. Wherever an insurgent individual or group chooses to resort to unjust means, his or its actions are prima facie impermissible.

      How shall we judge precisely when insurgent force is just or unjust? The determinable standards that must be applied here are known in law as just cause and just means. These two standards, and these two standards alone, allow us to differentiate a lawful insurgency from terrorism.

      Under law, “popular uprising movements” that fail to meet the test of just means are never protected as legitimate.

      Leaving aside the unsupportable argument that Palestinian organizations may inherently satisfy certain identifiable legal standards of a “popular uprising movement,” it is still clear that they routinely fail to meet the authoritative just means standards of discrimination (sometimes also called “distinction”), proportionality and military necessity.

      These critical formal criteria, long applicable under the Laws of War, have been expressly applied to all insurgent organizations by the common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and also by the two Protocols to these Conventions of 1977.

      They are now directly binding upon all combatants by virtue of both customary and conventional international law, and – according to Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice – by “the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations.”

      Under law, at least, it is all rather simple: The ends can never justify the means. As in the case of war between states, every use of force by insurgents must be judged twice, once with regard to the justness of the objective (the avowed Hamas/PA objective is a Palestinian state, to be built upon the antecedent ruins of Israel; in other words, a manifestly “one state solution”), and once with regard to the justness of the adopted means. It follows that any Palestinian person or organization that deliberately targets Israeli civilians with the express intent to maximize pain and suffering can never claim to be a “freedom fighter.”

      Significantly, as a non-legal aside, it also turns out that several recent Palestinian attacks have unwittingly wounded or killed other Arabs, Palestinians who had been mistakenly identified by the terrorists as Jews.

      Always, terrorist crimes, as part of a far broader category of harms called crimen contra omnes (crimes against all), mandate universal cooperation in apprehension and punishment. As punishers of “grave breaches” under international law, all states are expected to search out and prosecute, or extradite, individual terrorist perpetrators. In no circumstances are states permitted to benignly characterize terrorists as being part of some “justified popular uprising.”

      This prohibition is especially pertinent for the United States, which incorporates all treaty law as the “supreme law of the land” at Article 6 of the Constitution, and which was explicitly formed by the Founding Fathers according to the timeless and universal principles of Natural Law. Further incorporations of international law into US law can be found at such Supreme Court decisions as the Paquete Habana (1900), and Tel-Oren vs. Libyan Arab Republic (1984).

      Palestinian terrorists are not “freedom fighters.” They are not engaged in any “justified popular uprising.” They are, instead, “common enemies of mankind,” major criminals who exceed all moral and legal authority by their persistently cruel and random attacks.

      History adds a useful dimension. Until July 7, 2005, British newspapers had always referred to Palestinian murderers as “militants,” but when the al-Qaida allies of Islamic Jihad and Hamas launched suicide attacks in London in that year, the media in Great Britain abruptly changed its vocabulary. Once the victims were Londoners, it seemed, the perpetrators quickly became “terrorists.”

      Similar linguistic transformations may be detected in France, especially after the more recent Paris attacks.

      Although obvious enough to anyone familiar with relevant law, many international observers of Palestinian terrorism in Israel still find it convenient or reassuring to conflate terrorist attackers with freedom fighters. Nonetheless, however these observers may choose to craft their particular arguments, truth is ultimately exculpatory, at least under law. In essence, this means that there can remain no defensible legal position for the intentional murdering or wounding of Israeli civilians, or of any other civilians for that matter.

      Never can such violence be correctly excused as an example of “justified popular uprising.”

      Peace
      RayJC
      Branch

      • Richard Falk December 24, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

        Yes, Ray, Beres was a PhD student under my supervision at Princeton. He later became a zealous advocate
        of Israel’s claims, and we have no contact in several decades. I agree with you about the importance of clarifying
        the relationship between lawful and unlawful uses of force either by the state or on behalf of resistance forces. It
        is a complex issue as the constraints imposed by Israeli occupation impose unequal burdens that make the Palestinians
        appear to be the principal ‘terrorists’ while it is Israelis that inflict the great proportion of damage and devastation
        upon innocent civilians. With peaceful wishes as Christmas approaches. Greetings, Richard

  4. Aaron Remer December 22, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

    Mr. Falk,

    You said:

    “This zone of discretion has allowed Israel to keep Palestinians from achieving self-determination while pursuing its own territorial ambitions via constantly expanding settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, fueling grassroots anti-Western sentiment throughout the Arab world because of this persisting reliance on a cruel settler colonialist approach to block for seven decades the Palestinian struggle for fundamental and minimal national rights.”

    Why do you make this statement without the proper qualifications that would have added balance to your falsehoods?

    Example:

    1. “Israel to keep Palestinians from achieving self-determination”. Why don’t you admit that the Palestinians have constantly refused all Israeli offers of compromise? Including the “return” of 98% of Judea and Samaria?

    2. “constantly expanding settlements”. why don’t you admit that under the current Oslo accords Israel has every right to build the “settlements” until a deal is reached otherwise?

    3. “on occupied Palestinian territory”. Why don’t you admit that no such thing exists? There never was a Palestinian country to occupy, rather disputed lands shifting here and there as a result of numerous wars since 1948, fought my more then one “occupier”?

    4. “fueling grassroots anti-Western sentiment throughout the Arab world” Why don’t you admit the Jihadi component of Western hatred which has nothing to do with Israel? With or without Israel, there is a clash of ideology and Israel only happens to be the nearest whipping boy?

    5. ” persisting reliance on a cruel settler”. Why don’t you admit that this is strictly your opinion? For the many years I traveled to Israel to visit and study I visited Judean and Samarian villages dozens of times and the relationship between the Arabs and Jews was excellent. Everything went south after Arafat was allowed to return and launch his intafadah’s. There was no cruelty. Harsh policies were eventually deployed against ruthless Arab attacks on Jews which actually act to protect both sides in the conflict.

    6. “colonialist approach”. Why don’t you admit that you cannot colonize your own ancestral land? What you said is an oxymoron. Its like saying that the Mohawks of upstate New York are colonists in their reservation of Kanawage or Kanestake after having been removed from their ancestral homeland by invading British and French colonialists.

    and finally..

    7. “block for seven decades the Palestinian struggle for fundamental and minimal national rights.” Why don’t you admit that the Palestinian struggle has been blocked by the Palestinians themselves? Caught between Hamas on one extreme and lucritive corruption on the other, why would Abbas sacrifice his most rewarding enterprise for him and his son? Need I disclose the 100’s of millions of “lefty” money (EU, Obama, UNWRA, UN) given to his authority that has been squandered? BTW, this is from their own “comptroller”.

    No, I didn’t ignore the merits of some of your other arguments which in some cases I actually agree. I just feel you are so wrong when it comes to Israel. Maybe there is still some hope for you one day!!

    Shalom!! Salaam!!

  5. WES December 23, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    Pragmatically speaking, in the near term it comes down to whether Russia can enforce Charter Articles 46 and 47. Russia is now presiding over a de facto Military Staff Committee, subject to concerted NATO subversion. For now Russia’s dominance in ECM and IFF along with its tripwire force and proportional response is averting a free-for-all. Two further goals must be attained. First, coercive foreign interference must be successfully channeled into pacific dispute resolution under the ISSG. Second, diplomatic initiatives must formalize Russia’s approach as a standing committee. Also a tall order. But if catastrophic US aggression can lead to UNSC reform, there is still hope.

    • Richard Falk December 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

      Thanks for valuable and provocative comment. It would produce more discussion if your points were
      spelled out in great detail..

    • faithfulsceptic December 27, 2015 at 10:20 pm #

      Wes, I would be pleased to read an unpacked version of your abstracted argument.

      Thank you for your consideration.

  6. rehmat1 December 23, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    The so-called “Arab Spring” like Al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, ISIL, ISIS, etc. were all given birth as result of CIA and Mossad sexual partnership.

    In 2011, Dr. Gabriel M. Scheinmann, a visiting Fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), admitted that the Zionist entity is in fact the winner of the so-called “Arab Spring”.

    “The so-called “Arab Spring” has, paradoxically, made Israel stronger as Israel’s enemies have turned on each other. While Arab capitals burn, Jerusalem has calmly and carefully steeled itself against the possible immediate deleterious effects, building fences along its Egyptian and Jordanian borders and accelerating the deployment of its Iron Dome anti-missile system,” wrote Scheinmann. He then added: “Even as it rightly plans for the changes wrought by the “Arab Spring”, Israel should also recognize that as the Middle East convulses, it is more likely to be left alone. As Alawites battle Arab Sunnis and Kurds in Syria, as Kurds target Turks in Turkey, as the Imazighen fight Arabs in Libya, as the Army contends with Islamists in Egypt, and as Sunnis and Christians confront Shiites in Lebanon, people don’t have the time, energy, or resources to fight the Jews in Israel. The more the region tears itself apart, the more Israel floats to the top, unscathed economically, militarily, or diplomatically. While an Islamist ascent is undesirable, the intervening disorder only makes Israel stronger.”

    Last year, while on visit to Israel, Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters that the current instability across the Middle East as result of the so-called Arab Spring will benefit the Zionist entity in the long run. He stated that several American Sunni allies in the Middle East, who are worried of the rising power of Iran, (a Shi’tte-majority nation) are finding Israel as an ally. Tehran is known for its support of anti-Israel Shi’tte regime in Iraq, the Ba’athist regime in Damascus, Shi’tte Hizbullah and Sunni Hamas/Islamic Jihad.

    http://rehmat1.com/2014/04/01/gen-dempsey-israel-benefits-from-arab-spring/

    • ray032 December 23, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

      As US-driven wars plummet the Muslim world ever deeper into jihadi-ridden failed state chaos, events seem to be careening toward a tipping point. Eventually, the region will become so profuse a font of terrorists and refugees, that Western popular resistance to “boots on the ground” will be overwhelmed by terror and rage. Then, the US-led empire will finally have the public mandate it needs to thoroughly and permanently colonize the Greater Middle East.

      It is easy to see how the Military Industrial Complex and crony energy industry would profit from such an outcome. But what about America’s “best friend” in the region? How does Israel stand to benefit from being surrounded by such chaos?

      Tel Aviv has long pursued a strategy of “divide and conquer”: both directly, and indirectly through the tremendous influence of the Israel lobby and neocons over US foreign policy.

      A famous article from the early 1980s by Israeli diplomat and journalist Oded Yinon is most explicit in this regard. The “Yinon Plan” calls for the “dissolution” of “the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula.” Each country was to be made to “fall apart along sectarian and ethnic lines,” after which each resulting fragment would be “hostile” to its “neighbors.” Yinon incredibly claimed that:

      “This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run”

      According to Yinon, this Balkanization should be realized by fomenting discord and war among the Arabs:

      Divide, Conquer, Colonize
      War Is Realizing the Israelizing of the World
      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article43789.htm

      • Aaron Remer December 23, 2015 at 8:29 pm #

        Profuse ignorance and hogwash.. from someone who probably only read revisionist history books.

        Where do you get the right to create your own facts?

        Firstly, the US is the only major power that has never divided and never conquered!! Sure the Americans have intervened as a major super power. Where did they stay unless asked to like Korea and Japan? They always withdrew. Where are the American oil controlled plants in Iraq? In Libya?

        Your similar depiction of Israel is another fantasy trip. Israel’s territory has only been decreasing since ’67 now being barely 10% of what it was.

        The only people dividing and conquering since Sykes Picot are the Muslim hoards and Russians. China is a bit too with Tibet and the islands near the Philippines.

    • Aaron Remer December 23, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

      Sounds like the Israeli’s are just continuing to outfox a belligerent and backward neighbourhood as they continue on their path of miraculous survival in a world surrounded by savages and tyrants. My vote goes to Israel… AM Yisrael Hai!!!

      • Gene Schulman December 24, 2015 at 1:04 am #

        Aaron reminds me of those video games. As soon as you shoot down one bad guy (troll), another one pops up to take his place. None of them know what they’re talking about. They just repeat the Lobby propaganda.

        Maybe the new year will bring relief.

  7. Aaron Remer December 24, 2015 at 6:47 am #

    At least my arguments can sustain debate. Challenging what most of what you guys disseminate is subject to very controlled and moderated filtering. For instance, no one has been able to challenge my 7 points on its own merits!!

    • Richard Falk December 24, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

      You misinterpret my silence. I find your 7 points so far removed from my understanding of the facts
      and applicable law that it would take hours to respond convincingly.

      • ray032 December 24, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

      • Aaron Remer December 24, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

        Well that’s what I expected, especially given I lack the academic credentials to be “worthy” of your retort.

        Nevertheless, if ever you are up to it and want to prove me wrong, I welcome the opportunity.

        Until then I will accept this no-reply as a tacit approval of my comments.

        Shalom/Salaam

  8. Aaron Remer December 24, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

    to ray032:

    Before you so promote your admiration for this “prophet”, remember his main attributes and racists inclinations:

    that black people are the original people of the world
    that white people are “devils”
    that blacks are superior to whites, and
    that the demise of the white race is imminent.

    The only thing prophetic about him is the similarity with his principals and those of Daesh.

    • ray032 December 25, 2015 at 9:18 am #

      Maybe you prefer the prophecy of the Great Jewish “Prophet” Isaiah who prophesied concerning a “Future” Israel, since temporal Israel had already disappeared from among the kingdoms of this world hundreds of years earlier.

      The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
      Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD has spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
      The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel does not know, my people do not consider.
      Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
      Why should you be stricken any more? you will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
      From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been
      closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment……………….
      How is the faithful city become a harlot! it was full of Judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
      Your silver is become dross, your wine mixed with water:
      Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loves gifts, and follows after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither does the cause of the widow come unto them.

      Every Day there is a new report in the Israeli media about a new case of corruption by the Israeli princes, now known as politicians.

      • Aaron Remer December 25, 2015 at 9:50 am #

        Unfortunately, the Jewish people have continued in their folly and so many of us have succumbed to the truth foretold by the prophesy.

        However it is also predicted that we will return to our land (which we did) and hopefully one day we will be able to crown a future king in the glory of Mashiach and live the ultimate redemption.

        Let us just continue to perform mitsvot and acts of kindness which will hasten his arrival.

  9. Beau Oolayforos December 27, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,
    Continuing your Yeats-ian metaphor, it is becoming more & more incumbent on us to steel up our convictions, to match or at least to counter the passionate intensity of the evil players. Your most hopeful comment, to me, is about the obsolescence of oil – Hitler considered access to Grozny vital, but that was him, and then. Today, exurbanites who drive Hummers will always support policies to keep the gas flowing at “affordable prices” – what does that even mean? The price tag, right now, includes dungeons, beheadings, stonings, babies & other innocents drowned at sea; human misery beyond any imagining. Yes – support our troops – bring them home.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Slouching Toward Global Disaster: Chaos and Intervention in the Middle East   | Global Justice in the 21st Century | Peace Forum - January 6, 2016

    […] There are many disturbing signs that the West is creating conditions in the Middle East and Asia that could produce a wider war, most likely a new Cold War, containing, as well, menacing risks of World War III. The reckless confrontation with Russia along its borders, reinforced by provocative weapons deployments in several NATO countries and the promotion of governing regimes hostile to Russia in such countries as Ukraine and Georgia seems to exhibit Cold War nostalgia, and is certainly not the way to preserve peace. Add to this the increasingly belligerent approach recently taken by the United States naval officers and defense officials to China with respect to island disputes and navigational rights in the South China Seas. Such posturing has all the ingredients needed for intensifying international conflict, giving a militarist signature to Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia.’ These developments are happening during the supposedly conflict averse Obama presidency. Looking ahead to new leadership, even the most optimistic scenario that brings Hilary Clinton to the White House is sure to make these pre-war drum beats even louder. From a more detached perspective it is fair to observe that Obama seems rather peace-oriented only because American political leaders and the Beltway/media mainstream have become so accustomed to relying on military solutions whether successful or not, whether dangerous and wasteful or not, that is, only by comparison with more hawkish alternatives. Keep reading at          >>>  Source: Slouching Toward Global Disaster: Chaos and Intervention in the Middle East   | Global Justice in t… […]

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