Thursday, January 24, 2008

Presidential Tour (Middle-East) '08

After blessing Israel Bush headed to the awaiting arms, lavish receptions, and extraordinarily expensive gifts from his aides, the Gulf oil rulers who oversee and safeguard America’s oil and military bases. From Kuwait, to Bahrain, the Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, Bush was dined, praised, danced for, and toured the crass wealth of a region awash in petrodollars. (Bush skipped Qatar probably to avoid an interview with Al-Jazeera)

The oil rulers welcomed Bush with pandering honor, more reflective of their inferiority complex as servants than as rulers. They embraced the very man whose hands are soaked with the blood of millions of Muslims, who described his war on terror as a war against “Islamofascism”, who called the genocidal Sharon a “man of peace”, who usurped all U.N. Resolutions and previous U.S policy by adopting Israel’s demands that its borders are not the pre-1967 borders, that the illegal settlements are fait accompli, and that Palestinians have no right of return, the man who supported with money, arms, and fuel, Israel’s all out devastation of Lebanon in 2006, yet, King Abdullah, the Protector of the Two Holy Mosques, presented Bush with the highest order of the Kingdom, the Order of the King Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia.

Bush reminded his oil managers that extremists "hate freedom and they hate democracy" ignoring the reality that extremists and the majority of Muslims object to his global warring policies, not to the freedom they desperately seek. Using Bush’s logic that extremists hate freedom and democracy it must logically follow that such extremists actually love, not oppose, the undemocratic Arab regimes who deprive their people of basic freedoms. With Chutzpah, Bush told the Arab leaders that Israel, the killer of Gaza, should serve as a role model for their democracy.

Bush left the Gulf after witnessing the expenditure of Petrodollars at work including massive construction projects in the desert that includes building new islands, extravagant hotels, palaces, theme parks, lavish malls, golf courses, even entire cities named after themselves; all the while Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kashmir and elsewhere are being killed, ethnically cleansed, hungry, cold, thirsty, without shelter or medicines, or living as refugees by the millions due to American and Israeli weapons of mass destruction. To Arab leaders these Muslims are not as worthy as American treasury bonds.

In heartless fashion Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the new Arab peace partner, commenting on Gaza’s deprivation oil, fuel, and electricity said: "As far as I'm concerned, all the residents of Gaza can walk and have no fuel for their cars”. (Ha’aretz, Jan. 21, 2008)

Is it any wonder that because Arabs have no sense of self respect, honor, or dignity, that the entire world disrespects their faith, lives, and culture. To the world they are barbaric and primitive, hence the trillions of Petrodollars spent on “modernizing” buildings as a substitute for building the intellect. Like everything else they purchase at will these Gulf rulers are attempting to buy their way into western acceptance, not realizing how the west mocks their very existence and wealth. The west was built by intellectual rigor, science, hard work, education, training, and skills. None of these factors exist in the Arab world. If only these sheikhs could spend their wealth on developing their people along similar lines rather than facing the daunting decision of where to spend a billion dollars a day.

According to the Institute of International Finance, a global association of banks based in Washington D.C., the Persian Gulf countries earned $1.5 trillion ($100 for every Muslim man, woman and child) in oil revenue from 2002 to 2006. This overwhelming wealth due to rising oil prices is so vast for these countries to absorb that they’re investing hundreds of billions of dollars in creative construction projects at home (such as the $500 Billion Saudi project to build new cities), or investing abroad to save American banks, like Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, as well as investing in American real estate, movie and computer companies, hotel corporations like the MGM Mirage and the Four Seasons, or in the purchase of personal toys such as Prince Walid bin Talal’s new super jumbo jet, the Airbus 380, which will be the first and largest private jet in the world fully equipped with all the luxurious amenities. The cost--a staggering $300 million for the unfurnished plane.

If only they could invest such wealth in American media companies, the most powerful institution that influences public opinion and foreign policy. Such investments would contribute more to the freedom of Palestinians, Iraqis, and other Muslims than any potential army. Media is king, not Casinos and hotels.

Arab leaders have long ignored, neglected, and oppressed their own people thereby allowing the perfect storm of Islamic ignorance, poverty, frustration, and anger against them and their foreign handlers. In such a vacuum sectarianism between the rulers and the ruled, the haves and have nots, extremism, and terrorism arose. Ignorant clerics manipulated these wayward youth to believe that only violence can restore Islamic glory and the Caliphate. That is an impossibility in a Muslim world devoid of true Islam, where tribalism has replaced allegiance to God, where unity is non-existent, and where education and intellectual development barely exist. Islam began with the intellectual command “READ”, today the word is ‘GREED”.

Ironically through their abandonment of true Islamic principles and the general welfare of Muslims, Arab and Muslim leaders are committing their own violence against Islam.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Strategy for the New Middle East

Touring the Middle East: Looking for a New Cold War?

In 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his “Iron Curtain” speech in Missouri that helped set the rhetorical stance for the rivalry between the two camps or poles respectively formed by the Soviet Union and the United States after the Second World War.

Starting in 2006, the Middle East has been depicted in a similar way by the White House and 10 Downing Street. In the end, history will decide and give its verdict on the miniature version of the Cold War now unfolding in the Middle East.

It is no secret that the 2008 presidential tour of George W. Bush Jr. to the Middle East is more about rallying hostility and antagonism against Iran and those forces resisting Washington’s political and socio-economic curriculum for the Middle East. The U.S. President’s tour is part of an exhorted effort to replace Israel with a vilified Iran as a looming threat to the Arab World. This undertaking which is part of America’s Project for a “New Middle East” was initiated after Israel’s war against Lebanon in July of 2006.

Balkanization and the Muslim Divide: Shiite Muslims versus Sunni Muslims

In relationship to the preparations for creating the “New Middle East” there have been attempts, with partial success, to deliberately create divisions within the populations of the Middle East and Central Asia through ethno-cultural, religious, sectarian, national, and political differentiations.

Aside from fuelling ethnic tensions, such as those between Kurds and Arabs in Iraq, a sectarian divide is being deliberately cultivated within the ranks of the people of the Middle East which consider themselves Muslims. This divide is being fostered between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

These divisions have been fuelled by the U.S., British, and Israeli intelligence apparatus. The intelligence agencies of Arab regimes within the Anglo-American orbit have also been involved in the construction of these divisions. This divide is also being cultivated with the help of various groups and leaders in these respective communities.

Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the rulers of the Arab League countries were aware that the U.S. and Britain intended to redraw the borders of the Middle East. It was openly mentioned at the summit of Arab rulers being held in Egypt prior to the Anglo-American invasion.

The interests of many of the corrupt Arab elites, the self-proclaimed cream of the crop within the Arab World, and autocratic Arab authorities have historically convened and adhered to Anglo-American and Franco-German political and socio-economic interests.

The House of Saud, the Hariri clan of Lebanon, and the absolute rulers established throughout the Arab World all share common financial and economic links with the Project for the “New Middle East.” They have a vested interest in the promotion of the economic and political model that the U.S. wishes to entrench in the Middle East.

The “Shia Crescent” and the Phantom Iranian Conquest of the Middle East

To create hostility within the Muslim populations of the Middle East, Iran is being portrayed as the vanguard of Shia or Shiite expansionism in the region, vis-à-vis the so-called “Shia Crescent,” and Saudi Arabia portrayed as the champion of the Sunni Muslims.

The truth of the matter is that Iran does not represent all the Shiite Muslims nor does Saudi Arabia represent all the Sunni Muslims; these efforts are part of the politicizing of religious faith, which serves U.S. foreign policy goals. It also contributes to misleading public opinion throughout the Middle East.

This animosity between peoples of Muslim faith and the populations of the Middle East has been created to justify animosity against Iran and those perceived to be in the same camp as Iran, such as Syria and Hezbollah.

Arab leaders also have an easier time controlling their populations when they are fighting against each other and are consequently weakened as a result of sectarian and ethnic divisions. The latter also create confusion within the various populations, distract them from their problems at home, and projects their animosity towards their leaders on others. Fear or anger towards the “Other” or the “Outsider” has always been a form of manipulating large groups and whole segments of societies.

With the peoples of the region divided against each other, their resources can be controlled and they themselves governed and further manipulated with greater ease. This has been part of the objective of British and American foreign policy all along. In this effort, local rulers and foreign forces have been partners.

“The Coalition of the Moderate” in the Mid-East and the manipulation of the Arabs

“We [Israel] must clandestinely cooperate with Saudi Arabia so that it also persuades the U.S. to strike Iran.”

-Brigadier-General Oded Tira, Israeli Military

“Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them.” The historical context of this statement is very significant. This admission was made during the First World War in the Middle East when the British were fighting against the Ottoman Turks with the help of the Ottoman’s rebellious Arab subjects. The Arab’s help was insured through false promises and London’s deception. What was being revealed by this interlocutor of British policy was British forces should not do most the active fighting in the Middle East and let the Arabs fight Britain’s war against the Turks.

Revealing the author, these were the words of a man who has been inscribed into the pages of history as a legendary figure and as a hero to the Arabs. In reality he was an agent of British imperialism that misled the Arabs with the help of corrupt local leaders. His name was Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence or, as most people know him, “Lawrence of Arabia.”

The 27 Articles of T.E. Lawrence (August 20, 1917) is where these words can be found for all to scrutinize. Thus started the road down to the modern entanglement of the Arab masses to colonial masters and handpicked Western vassals.

Some may argue that the British were helping the Arabs gain autonomy, but history shows this to be an absolute lie. London was furthering its own interests and it had been a geo-strategic objective of theirs to divide the Ottoman Empire up regardless of the fact that that there was a war with the Ottomans and the Central Powers.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement reveals this as does the creation of British and French mandates in the place of what were supposed to be independent Arab nations. It should also be noted that all the major problems in the Middle East are rooted in this period from the Armenian Genocide, the Kurdish Question, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, to the issue of Cyprus and the territorial disputes of the Persian Gulf and the Levant.

The Arab elites are being marshaled into formation yet again to do the dirty work of foreign powers. Once again, Arab leaders are also accessories to the agenda of foreigners in the Middle East against their own people.

Links between the U.A.E. Speeches of Messrs Bush and Blair: Dividing the Mid-East into Camps

The “us and them” mentality is being lodged into the mindset of Middle Easterners in regards to themselves. The ancient region is being divided into two camps by the White House and its partners.

After the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon in July 2006, Condoleezza Rice the U.S. Secretary of State and others such as Tony Blair started this venture by categorized the Middle East into two groupings. Those in the Middle East that fell into the Anglo-American camp and colluded with Israel were described as “moderates” and “reformers” and as part of what became called the “Coalition of the Moderate.” It is also around this time that the Pentagon announced its plans to arm Israel, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Arab regimes allied to the U.S. and Britain.

Those in the Middle East who either opposed foreign intervention and hegemony in the region, either because of their own agenda or because of the right for self-determination, were labeled “extremists” and “rejectionists.” These anti-hegemonic forces in the Middle East were categorized as members of the “other camp” even though in some cases they had no links aside from fighting foreign tutelage. This latter camp includes the Iraqi Resistance, Hamas, and Iran, amongst others.

There is an obvious theme in the underlying rhetoric of the December 2006 and January 2008 Middle East policy speeches of Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Both were presented in the U.A.E. and held almost exactly a year apart. Both speeches depict a bloc of radicals in the Middle East led by Iran and both speeches attempt to divide the Middle East into two opposing blocs.

It was soon after the disastrous 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon that Tony Blair, in line with Condoleezza Rice, subtly called for “an alliance of moderation in the region and outside of it to defeat the extremists.” While in Dubai the former British prime minister called Iran a “strategic challenge,” which according to Paul Reynolds, an international affairs correspondent, was a replacement for the words “strategic threat” from his original speech read in California. He also replaced the words “trying to acquire a nuclear weapon” with “trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability.” This obvious change in word selection was because the people of the countries living next to Iran know better and would not have taken Tony Blair’s speech seriously.

This was simply the beginning of the public revelation of the alliance system that already informally subsisted in the Middle East. Tony Blair’s U.A.E. speech was another stage in the media phase of the war effort that includes the preparation of the general public for confrontation in the Middle East. It was also part of the attempt to turn the conflict into one of ideas and an ideological one like the Cold War.

The U.A.E. and Israel as models for the “New Middle East”

By the start of 2008, the White House and its allies have ceased their insincere chatter about democratization in the Middle East, except in the case of Iran where it is mentioned ad nauseam. This sidesteps the reality that Iran holds democratic elections and that Iran is a far less inhibited state than any of America’s Arab sponsored regimes. Democracy has never been a goal for the U.S. in the Middle East, especially in regards to its own set of autocratic and dictatorial allies.

The White House is promoting two models on two different levels in the Middle East as a part of its regional project. One is the latent model of Israel as a homogenous nation. The second model, which is openly promoted, is the Khaliji (Gulf) model or that of the Arab Sheikhdoms that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Persian Gulf littoral. The Khaliji model applies in particular to the U.A.E. and one of its seven emirates, Dubai, as its embodiment. Israel is the socio-political model for the Middle East, whereas Dubai is the socio-economic model for the Middle East. Both models also bare staggering social ramifications.

The Israeli model, which is being moved forward is not based on any democratic values, quite the opposite. It is predicated on ethnocentrism and discrimination. The Middle East is being reconfigured in Israel’s image as a region with homogenous states and this is evident in Iraq and a reason for the tensions being fanned by foreign influence in the multi-confessional Lebanese Republic. Just as Israel is considered the “Jewish State” the Project for the “New Middle East” wants to establish a whole series of single-identity states in the ancient region.

The socio-economic model of Dubai and the GCC is based on a vertical mosaic, in the tradition of John A. Porter’s The Vertical Mosaic: An Analysis of Social Class and Power in Canada, where ethnicity, heredity, and origins play a role in individual status and its system in itself is a reconstruction of the caste system of India.

Dubai is a place that is rabid with the exploitation of foreign workers and nationals and is infamous for the institutionalization of gross inequities and immorality. Local laws are made to only benefit the privileged and powerful, while the poor are suppressed. Money laundering and prostitution are also far spread in Dubai and the U.A.E. is a modern Sodom and Gomorrah.

Israel, NATO, and the Arab Regimes: A Nexus against Resistance

The House of Saud and Saudi Arabia have emerged as the main force in configuring a public embracement between Israel and the Arab World under the auspices of the 2002 Arab Initiative. This Saudi-proposed initiative is deeply tied to the Project for a “New Middle East” and allows Israel to integrate its economy with that of the Arab World and allows for the creation of an alliance between Israel and the Arab regimes against any forces in the Middle East resisting America, its allies, and more importantly their political and socio-economic model.

Despite King Abdullah’s speech in Riyadh during the March 2007 Arab League Summit, Saudi Arabia has officially opposed any end to the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq and the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq under the pretext that the Iraqi Shiites and the Iranians will kill the Iraqi Sunnis.

A representative of the Saudi Monarchy, quoting Prince Turki Al-Faisal, informed the U.S. press that, “Since America came into [meaning invaded] Iraq uninvited, it should not leave [end the Anglo-American occupation] uninvited,” and rhetorically added that “If it [the U.S.] does [withdraw its troops from Iraq], one of the first consequences will be a massive Saudi intervention to stop Iranian-backed Shia militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis.”

Israel has always considered the leaders of Jordan as important assets and allies to pacify the Arabs. On April 18, 2007 King Abdullah II of Jordan reconfirmed this publicly known Israeli secret. King Abdullah II told a visiting Israeli delegation that Jordan and Israel were allies, emphasizing that he not only spoke for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan but for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Arab Sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf.

The Jordanian King narrated to Dalia Itzik, Acting Israeli President, Tzachi Hanegbi, the Chairman of the Israeli Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, and other Israeli officials that “we [Arab rulers and Israel] are in the same boat; we have the same problem [the forces of resistance in the region]. We have the same enemies [Syria, Iran, the Palestinians, and Lebanon].”

It is worth noting that the Saudi government and the Arab leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and the Arab Sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf were fully involved, covertly and/or overtly, in the 1991 Gulf War and in the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. These rulers also played major roles in the Iraq-Iran War and the economic warfare against Iraq which prodded Iraq into invading Kuwait for economic relief after its bitter war with Iran.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are all firmly in the Anglo-American camp. They are part of the extended international military network controlled by the United States. They are already members of the coalition that has been formed against Iran, Syria, and those forces that have allied themselves with Tehran and Damascus. To varying degrees these Arab states are also allied with Israel and NATO. All of these Arab governments that are labeled as “pro-Western” or “pro-American” also have bilateral military and security ties and agreements with the United States or Britain and NATO. However, it is not certain that these states will stay by the side of Washington, D.C. and London.

Turning the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf into NATO Lakes

NATO is expanding, but not only in Europe and the former Soviet Union. There have been longstanding plans to turn the Mediterranean into a permanent “NATO lake” and an arena closely linked to the European Union. The Russian naval build-up in the Eastern Mediterranean and off the Syrian coast is a move to challenge this process.

Several Arab regimes have had agreements and military arrangements with NATO through NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue (established in 1995) for over a decade. Amongst them are Egypt and Jordan. These are the Arab nations that border the Mediterranean or are in close proximity to it. While on the other hand, the Arab Sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf have lately entered into arrangements with NATO. For example, Kuwait recently signed security agreements with NATO and effectively opened the door for NATO entrance into the Persian Gulf.

The GCC agreements underway with NATO are effectively an extension of the Mediterranean Dialogue and NATO expansion eastwards. The shift to create a Gulf common market similar to the E.U. and a Mediterranean Union are also linked to NATO expansion and the project to permanently compel the Washington Consensus on the Middle East and the Arab World

The expansion of a mandate for NATO in the Persian Gulf has been in motion for years and has followed behind NATO’s objectives in the Mediterranean Sea. NATO influence in the Persian Gulf effectively allows the area to fall under the joint management of Franco-German and Anglo-American interests. It is no coincidence that Nicholas Sarkozy started his presidential tour of the Middle East in the same window of time as the U.S. President nor is it a twist of fate that France and the U.A.E. signed an agreement on January 15, 2008 allowing France to establish a permanent military base in U.A.E. territory on the shores of the Persian Gulf.

The Real Divisions in the Middle East: Indigenous Forces versus Foreign Clients

In Palestine, during past demonstrations in 2006, the press reported that small groups of Fatah supporters chanted “Shia, Shia, Shia” in mockery of Hamas because of its political links to Tehran, because Iran is a predominately Shiite Muslim country. This was a dismal sign of the growing animosity that has been inseminated in the Middle East. Yet, it also reflects that the divisions in the Middle East, such as the Shiite-Sunni divide, are manufactured and artificially engineered.

Hamas, like Syria, is Sunni Muslim in identity and it is allied with Iran, which is predominately Shiite Muslim. This alliance clearly demonstrates that the real divisions in the Middle East are not based on religious or ethnic affinity or differences. Similarly, in Lebanon the forces of resistance are Muslim, Christian, and Druze and not just Hezbollah or Lebanon’s Shiite Muslims as is often described in the Western media.

In reality, the regional differences in the Middle East are between the independent and indigenous forces, regardless of religion, politics, and/or ethnicity, in the region and the client forces and governments in the region that serve Anglo-American and Franco-German foreign policy and economic interests.

The Resistance Bloc

“As Lord Chatham said, when he was speaking on the British presence in North America, he said ‘if I was an American, as I am an Englishman, as long as one Englishman remained on American native soil, I would never, never, never lay down my arms.’”

-General Sir Michael Rose, British Army

To generalize, the independent and indigenous forces of the Middle East are:

.1. Most of the various Palestinian fractions. This included the Palestinian Authority under Hamas before the Mecca Accord and the truce that was reached with Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah;

.2. The Lebanese Resistance and National Opposition in Lebanon, which is a combination of Muslims, Druze, and Christians;

.3. The Iraqi Resistance, which is a genuine series of diverse peoples’ movements that reflects the will of the Iraqi people(s);

.4. Syria;

.5. Iran, which is both a rival and the centre of the organized political and state-levels of resistance.

People-based Resistance and State-based Resistance

The forces of resistance in the Middle East and neighbouring Afghanistan can be classified as being either a peoples’ resistance or being a state-level force of resistance. However, there is a third and hybrid category.

Iraq and Afghanistan both purely represent peoples’ resistance movements. Iran and Syria, for whatever rationale (good and bad), represent cases of state-level centres of resistance to the U.S., NATO, and Israel. Sudan also falls into this category.

The forces of resistance in Palestine and Lebanon fall in between these two categories as a mixture of state-level and people-based resistance. In close proximity to the Middle East in the Horn of Africa, Somalia is a debatable case, but is also an authentic centre of resistance against foreign control that is linked to the struggle to reconfigure the Middle East.

The forces of resistance in Lebanon and Palestine are also distinctive in that they are also locked in internal or domestic struggles between client and co-opted forces serving the Anglo-American, Franco-German, and Israeli agenda in the Middle East.

The involvement of a whole nation’s assets is obviously one of the major differences between the state-level centres of resistance, such as Iran, and the peoples’ movements of resistance that is disenfranchised from governing, such as in Iraq. However, wherever there is a greater amount of foreign military subjugation the forces of resistance are stronger and spring from the support of the local populaces. The heavy casualties that the U.S., Britain, and NATO are facing in Iraq and Afghanistan are because of the will of the peoples’ and their resistance.

Struggles across the Mid-East: The “Coalition of the Moderate” versus the Resistance Bloc

The existing divisions between the independent and indigenous forces of the Middle East and those aligned within the Anglo-American orbit are represented by the following:

.1. The struggle between Hamas and its allies with Israel, Fatah, and their allies in the Palestinian Territories;

.2. The ongoing struggle between the Iraqi Resistance, which is essentially the Iraqi people, with the U.S. and Coalition forces over the occupation of Iraq;

.3. The political face-off between the Lebanese National Opposition (the majority in Lebanon) and the Lebanese governing parties (the minority in Lebanon);

.4. The clash over Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq taking place between Syria and both NATO powers and their Arab clients;

.5. And finally the many bitter regional and international rows between Iran and the United States, which includes the Iranian nuclear energy program and Iraq.

The Bush Tour: War Drums, Resistance, and the “New Middle East”

“One cause of instability is the extremists supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran is today the world's leading state sponsor of terror. It sends hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world -- while its own people face repression and economic hardship at home. It undermines Lebanese hopes for peace by arming and aiding the terrorist group Hezbollah. It subverts the hopes for peace in other parts of the region by funding terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad. It sends arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Shia militants in Iraq. It seeks to intimidate its neighbors with ballistic missiles and bellicose rhetoric. And finally, it defies the United Nations and destabilizes the region by refusing to be open and transparent about its nuclear programs and ambitions. Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. So the United States is strengthening our longstanding security commitments with our friends in the Gulf -- and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it is too late.”

-George W. Bush Jr., 43rd President of the United States (Speech in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, January 13, 2008)

It is no secret that the main purpose of the U.S. presidential tour of the Middle East was to raise opposition against Iran and anyone resisting the “New Middle East.” Almost immediately, Syria claimed that the presidential Middle Eastern tour of George W. Bush Jr. was mostly made to try and further isolate Syria and orchestrate a future war scenario against Iran.

The U.S. President’s tour of the Middle East came at a time when the U.S. Navy made false claims about threats being made by Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats in the Persian Gulf.

After the U.S. Navy withdrew its allegations the U.S. President stated that if any thing negative should happen to U.S. warships in the region it would be Tehran that would be held responsible.

At the same time there was a bombing in Beirut that was directed against the American embassy. The bombing in Beirut could have been staged, just as the U.S. Navy’s claims were fictitious, to justify the U.S. President’s position against Iran and the Resistance Bloc. In addition, reports were released from Israel about an Iranian-made rocket being fired from the Gaza Strip by the Palestinians during the U.S. President’s tour of the Middle East.

In 2007, the Syrian President while in Deir ez-Zor, on the eve of an important conference on Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh in which Condoleeza Rice publicly initiated contact with the foreign ministers of Syria and Iran, warned his countrymen that “Syria, the Arab region and the Middle East are going through a dangerous period. Destructive colonial projects are seeking to divide and reshape our region creating a new Sykes-Picot [Agreement].”

Abdel Al-Bari Atouani, a noted Palestinian figure and the editor-in-chief of the Al-Qods Al-Arabi in London, warned in a televised interview with ANB TV in early-February, 2007 that the U.S. is exploiting the Arab countries through their governments as the firewood to wage a war against Iran and its allies in the Middle East.

The Jerusalem Post, in sequence with the U.S. President’s arrival in Saudi Arabia from the U.A.E., released statements from an unnamed senior Palestinian official from the West Bank claiming that “Syria and Iran have stepped up their efforts to overthrow Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah party.” The claims were compiled by Khaled Abu Toameh and also brought to light the political gathering of a large array of Palestinian political parties (referred to by Abu Toameh as “radical groups”) that will be hosted by the Syrians in Damascus.

Not surprisingly, Khaled Abu Toameh’s article failed to point out that the Palestinian government running the West Bank is illegitimate and follows the orders of Mahmoud Abbas instead of a popularly elected Palestinian prime minister. The Palestinians gathering in Damascus will study ways to make the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) more inclusive and representative of mainstream Palestinian desires instead of the edicts of Mahmoud Abbas and a few other individuals that run portions of the West Bank as personal fiefdoms with Israel and the White House as their overlords.

In Lebanon, a newspaper affiliated with the Hariri family and its political allies also started to toe the American-led campaign line to demonize Iran. An-Nahar, the newspaper once edited by the slain Lebanese parliamentarian Gebran Tueni, stated in an opinion piece by Ali Hamade that the Arab League must pressure Tehran for a settlement in Lebanon and it is in Iran that the path lies to a Lebanese settlement or towards confrontation “if developments [in the Middle East] headed towards a confrontation with the Iranian imperial agenda for the Arab East.”

The Oval Office, the Establishment, and Anglo-American Foreign Policy in the Middle East

U.S. and British foreign policies are more about the objectives of the Anglo-American establishment than the distinctiveness of the individuals that hold the office of American president and British prime minister. This reality has been confirmed in the course of the election campaign by the potential successors of George W. Bush Jr., Democrats and Republicans alike.

Aside from a few individuals who represent the true aspirations of the American people, the majority of presidential contenders in the U.S. are talking about a virtual continuation of the military policies of the Bush Jr. Administration.

John McCain has talked about attacking Lebanon and Syria.

Hilary Clinton wants a permanent occupation of Iraq or a “post-occupation phase” as U.S. officials decadently call it and she has threatened Iran.

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, has made it clear he intends to mirror the Bush Jr. Administration and that he does not intent to recognize a Palestinian state and that he would use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear Iran.

The era of wars will not be over with the departure of George W. Bush Jr. and Vice-President Cheney from the White House.

The problem is deeper and more complicated than the persona of one man and his cabinet. George W. Bush Jr. is only a figurehead in the mechanisms of a larger machine; he represents the establishment but he alone or his cabinet do not steer the helm of U.S. foreign policy.

Important Questions: The Nature of Cooperation and Rivalry between America, Iran, and Syria

Our reality is a far more complicated one. Once upon a time, before coming to power, Hamas used to collaborate with Israel against Yasser Arafat’s Fatah.

The Christian Science Monitor made a good point in an article by Marc Lynch: “‘Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos,’ Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned Gulf dignitaries in Bahrain last month [December, 2007]. But in reality, everywhere you turn, from Qatar to Saudi Arabia to Egypt, you now see Iranian leaders shattering longstanding taboos by meeting cordially with their Arab counterparts.”

In fact the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was invited to the important GCC Summit in the Qatari capital, Doha, which discussed the economic integration of the Persian Gulf and GCC-Iranian cooperation. Iran, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia also were making public shows of drawing closer even before the gathering in Doha, which included military and economic agreements between Oman and Iran.

Cairo and Tehran have also publicly opened the door for the full normalization of diplomatic relations. What develops in Egyptian-Iranian relations is yet to be seen. Iran is also making further economic and commercial inroads into both Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran and Syria are also linking their energy infrastructure with Iraq and also taking steps that undeniable assist the U.S. in Anglo-American occupied Iraq.

The nomination of General Michel Sulaiman as the next Lebanese president has also been called a concession to Syria for its cooperation with the U.S. in Iraq and even for its attendance at the Annapolis Summit.

However, if this is so then there are unanswered questions not only about Syrian-American cooperation, but about the meeting between David Welch, the U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and General Sulaiman before the fighting between Fatal Al-Islam and the Lebanese Army erupted in 2007.

It is clear that there is an agenda to redraw the borders of the Middle East in order to institute lasting economic policies that benefit Anglo-American and Franco-German interests, along with their Israeli bulldog in the Middle East.

The Syrians and the Iranians are well aware of the plans to divide their home region and to play the peoples of the Middle East against one another. Tehran and Damascus too have been guilty of playing the same game for their own interests, but what America and its allies envision is a far broader partition and reconfiguration of the Middle East, which also places Syria and Iran in the sights of this historic struggle.

The question here is: are these efforts to divide the Middle East (into “moderates” and “radicals”) part of a policy of containment, a war strategy, or something far more sinister?

The intentions of people-based resistance movements like those of the Iraqi Resistance are simple and mostly clear, but state-based resistance — if it can really be called that — is often ambivalent in its intent.

Are Iran and Syria genuinely resisting the “New Middle East” which in the end serves the Washington Consensus? The ongoing economic reforms including the privatization programs in both Iran and Syria suggest that these countries are not totally opposed to the dominant neo-liberal agenda, which characterises Washington’s expansionary policies.

It is no sin to question motives, especially when circumstances call for it, but it is a sin and a crime to mislead the masses. As developments in the Middle East unfold, the political stance of Iran and Syria will become clearer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

McCarthyism Comes to Europe and the Levant

You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?
-- Joseph Welch to Senator Joseph McCarthy, April 1954

In a US Senate hearing just over fifty years ago, Boston lawyer Joseph Welch famously rebuked Senator Joseph McCarthy with these now immortal words. They have been immortalized because they have helped furnish what we understand McCarthyism to mean: extreme, mean and unreasonable persecution of people by means of witch-hunts and other tactics including guilt by association or through simple prejudice. This is done in order to achieve a political objective of silencing dissent and preventing the public from learning inconvenient truths.

In the human drama of Middle East theaters and in the wider context of the current Bush administration-spearheaded
endless war, the New McCarthyism involves the mobilization of the global 'war on terror', in which we see once again the manipulation of fear and the corruption of public discourse in pursuit of narrowly partisan gain – chief among them, the Likudnik Israel-first hawks of the neoconservatives in the US and Israel.

The foot-soldiers of the Likud lobby around the world are applying pressure to stop people from attending academic and activist conferences. As with the McCarthyism of half a century ago, today's Middle East Studies McCarthyism perpetrated by the Likud Lobby is also a threat to our liberty, to academic freedom, and to basic, fundamental democratic rights and responsibilities.

A network of right-wing Zionist activists has intensified its online campaign based on a melange of distorted or provably false charges against critics of Israel. Zionist media 'megaphone' the charges, stoking the furor. When mainstream media ultimately notices, it generally focuses its coverage only on the furor rather than investigating and reporting the truth about the false charges.


McCarthyism 2.0: The War On Terror

After the collapse of the USSR, there were expectations in many quarters that there would be a 'peace dividend'. The military industrial complex had burgeoned during the Cold war, and vested interests therein were not going to give up their power, privilege and profit from war so readily, if at all.

Yet after the WTC attacks on Sept 11, 2001, a generalized 'war on terror' was sold to a stupefied electorate. Right out of the Red Scare playbook of the Cold War morphed the War on Terror playbook, with 'terrorist' substituted for communist as the new post cold war evil. With the scope widened, the demonization of the Arab/Muslim as the new monolithically conceptualized enemy commenced, and extended to the criminalizing of dissent and charity-giving: even social activists have been called terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.

Cynical campaigns to confound and confuse and whip up hysteria and ratchet up racism have abounded. Israeli-financed websites like Act of America, by their propagandist, the former Saad Haddad and Antoine LaHood operative, the Maid of Darkness, Bridgette Gabriel, spew obscene racist hatred against Americans and others of Arab or Muslim origin that would likely give even McCarthy pause.

During the current administration, Bush has amplified an explicitly anti-Muslim message by repeatedly using the term "Islamic fascism" to describe America's purported enemies (including both the Hezbollah-led resistance in Lebanon and that of Hamas in Palestine).

The demonizing campaigns and venal ideological assaults of the Likudniks have involved bullying, intimidation and mistreatment of those who dare to contest the Israeli hawk worldview and version of the Middle East. In many cases they involve active government and lobby harassment to ensure a climate that is forcefully conducive to the Israeli version of events.

One method of silencing involves the all-purpose slander of the anti-Semitism accusation that has been elasticized to non-sensicality. A new 'working definition' promoted by some Israel lobbyists seeks to confuse anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, such that today it would also apply to Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, and Albert Einstein. According to Arthur Neslen in 'When an anti-Semite is not an anti-Semite', the definition would even apply to Israel's own PM:

What do Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Ehud Olmert and myself all have in common? We could each be censured for racism according to the European Union Monitoring Centre's "working definition of anti-Semitism" which was recently adopted by the National Union of Students as official policy.


Only recently, a Spanish forum launched in July last year from the Madrid Social Forum has been subject to a hijacking of its agenda by underhanded means as a result of Zionist pressuring of the Spanish government. Initially, the Spanish Foreign Ministry pledged organizational and financial support for Forum for a Just Peace, which was to be held in Madrid from the 14-16th December, enabling the participation of Spanish, Palestinian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Iraqi and Israeli civil society representatives who had endorsed the conference.

A refusal by the International Committee to accept the Foreign Ministry stacking of the Conference with ideological zionists was met with the Spanish government response to shut down the conference venue and to send the police to evict the participants. This has effectively shut down the Forum for a Just Peace.

Challenging censorship of Middle East reality

Academia is an important and potentially powerful sphere within which to challenge power, and to posit alternatives. Successful, effective and popular academics are particularly targeted by the Israeli-hawk Likud Lobby in the USA and Europe because they succeed with bringing more people to ask why only one side of the Middle East conflict is being presented as the only side.

As Robert Fisk notes, the scare-mongering conveniently justifies occupation and feeds into war-mongering in service of resource theft and land expropriation in the Middle East:

Because it's really all about shutting the reality of the Middle East off from us. It's to prevent the British and American people from questioning the immoral and cruel and internationally illegal occupation of Muslim lands. And in the Land of the Free, this systematic censorship of Middle East reality continues even in the country's schools.


Campaigns against academics are often coordinated or facilitated through such groups as Campus Watch, FrontPage, CAMERA and various think tanks (tank-thinks) that validate the Likudnik-Zionist doctrinal framing of the Middle East. They have been mounted with mixed results against Professors Nadia Abu El-Haj (she was granted tenure at Barnard College this year), Joseph Massad, Debbie Almontaser, Tariq Ramadan, Juan Cole, Rashid Khalidi, Norman Finkelstein, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, Hamid Dabashi, Sami al-Arian and Israeli academics Ilan Pappe and Tanya Reinhart, who both chose exile from Israel in protest to their former country's policies.

"There certainly is a sense among faculty and grad students that they're being watched, monitored," says Zachary Lockman, president of the Middle East Studies Association. "People are always looking over their shoulder, feeling that whatever they say--in accurate or, more likely, distorted form--can end up on a website. It definitely has a chilling effect."

Campaigns have typically involved intimidatory tactics and defamatory allegations, demonstrably proved baseless. The scurrilous attacks on Norman Finkelstein, for example, have laid bare the desperate lengths the Likud Lobby and such representatives as Alan Dershowitz are driven to smear and slander challengers. Finkelstein was ultimately denied tenure. Ultra-zionist Israel Lobby groups are attempting to intimidate publishers of Joel Kovel's book Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine and to cripple its distribution. Tariq Ramadan, who Time magazine listed as one of the 100 most likely innovators of the 21st century, was repeatedly denied a visa for entry to teach in the US on spurious grounds.

Freedom of expression in media and even academe does not apparently include the freedom to duly and freely criticize Israeli policies. Zionist hijacking of these spaces, like the McCarthy trials, has all too often been dishonest and abusive. In the past year, lobby groups such as Campus Watch have been behind the so-called Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (IFAW) from October 22-26. Other campaigns have included vitriolic smear campaigns against the Khalil Gibran International Academy. The slander and intimation ultimately worked: Debbie Almontaser resigned, all on the flimsy accusation of a t-shirt that had the Arabic word intifada on it---worn by someone else.

The Targeting of Dr. Ibrahim Mousawi

Recently the Zionists have been targeting Lebanon's Ibrahim Mousawi, trying to prevent him from speaking or traveling to other countries.

Who is Dr. Ibrahim Mousawi?

Born in Lebanon's picturesque and fertile Bekaa Valley village of Nabysheet, Mousawi is a student of Politics, English Literature and Religion. A former school Headmaster, Ibrahim received his MA in English literature from The Lebanese University, his BA in Journalism from The Lebanese University, and earned his MA in Political Science from The American University of Beirut in 2003. He earned his PhD in Political Islam from Birmingham University-Britain 2007. The title of his dissertation was Compatibility between Islam and democracy; Shiism and democracy under Wilayat Al-Faqih, Iran as a case study.

During the July 2006 War with Israel, Mousawi held the position of editor in chief of Al-Intiqad (Criticism), a weekly Hezbollah newspaper, and was much sought after by international reporters for information and his insights. He appeared widely in the international media and was critical of the destruction of Lebanon and the Bush administration providing Israel with a green light to continue the slaughter while the international community was calling for a ceasefire.

Following the cessation of hostilities, the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) invited Mousawi to address peace activists in Belfast, Dublin and Galway about the summer conflict. This October he was invited back but was refused a visa without explanation.

When Irish Justice Minister Brian Lenihan denied Mousawi entry to Ireland, it followed Lenihan's meeting with a delegation from Ireland's zionist lobby. In addition, the Bush administration had pressured Ireland into rejecting his visa application, according to reports in the Irish media.

The IAWM issued a statement last month denouncing the decision as "an outrageous act of political censorship" and a "disgraceful attack on the anti-war movement" in Ireland.

"The ban makes nonsense of the frequent claims by this [Irish] government that they favor dialogue and international diplomacy to resolve the problems of the Middle East," Richard Boyd Barret, the head of the IAWM, said at the time.

"Anyone even remotely concerned with free speech and the right to engage in open political debate in this country should be very alarmed that the US government is now deciding what viewpoints can and cannot be heard in Ireland," he added.

"I'm only involved in academia and media," Mousawi avers, adding that the only "crime" he has ever committed is to openly express his political views, which he insists remain within the boundaries of legitimate intellectual discourse.

"We should allow for open debate," Mousawi told the Daily Star. "After all, I come and I only say words. If my words are worth hearing, people should give me the opportunity to speak. If my words are rubbish, it's worth the opportunity to refute what I say, and to undermine my logic if what I say is not logical."

"I'm a staunch defender of political freedoms and freedom of speech," he adds.

In February 2005, just one week after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, he invited five Rabbis to a conference in Beirut and hosted them as guests on his political talk show.

He also points out that Hezbollah was among the first to condemn the 9/11 attacks as 'terrorism' as well as to condemn the murder of Lebanon's PM Rafik Hariri.

"I believe governments and politicians have failed to address the problems of the people," he explains. "I believe there is another role that we have to play at the grassroots level, as NGOs and as members of civil society. There is a lot of diplomacy that could go on at this level. We don't have to wait for officials to take the lead; we have seen what they have brought: nothing but disasters. So I want to highlight the need to interact at this level."

Mousawi rejects the notion that there is a 'clash of civilization'. "I believe that all over the world, people want the same things. We all want to be with our families; we all want to come back to our kids at the end of the day and bring bread to their tables and give them a good education, to live in harmony and peace." Addressing the World Against War International Peace Conference in London last December, Mousawi told the 1200 delegates from 26 countries that he had a two month old son named Issa (Jesus), and one named Muhammad. "If I have another one I will name him Moses", he added.

Mousawi occasionally writes for Beirut's English language Daily Star and has been a commentator for CNN, ABC, and CBS. For many years, Mousawi has also worked extensively with Americans and Europeans arranging and interpreting interviews and is considered one of the best-informed people on political events in Lebanon and Palestine.

"I would say that we are in the midst of a war of terminology," Dr. Mousawi asserts. "It is a war of definitions that we should pay attention to."

Next Stop England

The Lobby next moved to bar Mousawi from England, with Henry Grunwald, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews as point man to lead the attack. Following the Zionist Lobby's advisory to its affiliates, apparently without bothering with fact checking, Grunwald repeated the error that went out internationally to pro-Zionist media outlets that Mousawi is 'Director of Al Manar, the Hezbollah News Service', or as the Jerusalem Post claimed, "a senior official of the Al Manar Channel". He in fact was never in that position and ceased working in the English language office nearly two years ago.

The Lobby also lined up Baroness Neville-Jones, the Shadow Security Minister and former Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. The Baroness, who has yet to criticize any of the atrocities committed by Israel in Palestine or Lebanon, apparently knows a threat to England when she is told by the Lobby about one--never mind the quality of her supplied facts.

After meeting with leaders of the British Chamber of Deputies, she felt "Mousawi's presence is not conducive to the public good," and that he might "preach hate" if he were allowed in. Yet the Baroness claimed not to know much about Mousawi except that he was (once again!) the fantasy non-Director of Al Manar Television—hardly a promising basis for an informed decision to bar someone from a country!

Unwilling to correct her misinformation, the Baroness' press release cascaded into headlines for other Zionist outlets internationally who were quite prepared to repeat it.

The Jerusalem Post ran a headline which blared 'Hezbollah television station editor's entry into Britain angers Jewish leaders' and the Jewish Chronicle and Forward followed suit with the Jewish Chronicle of 11/16/07 headlining 'Ban Hezbollah man from UK!'

The Baroness is known in Britain for her persistence. She enlisted her fellow Zionist Conservative Party Chairman David Cameron, who was already under Zionist pressure, to ask England's new Prime Minister Gordon Brown to deny Mousawi entry to Britain, apparently because he did "not trust the 'Arabists' in the Home Office to do a proper job".

"Are you aware that the Irish government recently refused entry to Ibrahim Mousawi, head of Hezbollah's viciously anti-Semitic TV station, Al-Manar?", Cameron tsk tsked to the British premier during Question Time in the House of Commons.

"And just what approach will Her Majesty's government take when Mr. Mousawi attempts to enter the UK to speak at a conference?" Cameron demanded. Brown demurred, apparently sensing that Cameron, not for the first time, had his facts wrong.

In 2002 AIPAC member and advisor Jeffrey Goldberg appeared in Beirut and interviewed Mousawi among others. Cloaking his extreme Zionism, Goldberg posed as a journalist and wrote a substantially false article for the New Yorker issue of October 14, 2002, implying that Mousawi was anti-Semitic. Caught in his lies, the record was clarified and Mousawi vindicated but the New Yorker never did apologize nor retract Goldberg's allegations.

Answering the Lobby charges of anti-Semitism, Mousawi categorically denies the accusation that he has even thought of promoting "anti-Semitic" views. "I would challenge anyone to provide evidence of any word that I have said that is hateful or anti-Semitic," he says, adding that he himself has been a victim of discrimination and has therefore made a special effort to eschew any form of prejudice.

"I have nothing against Jews. I have nothing against any human being, whether because of religion, gender or political affiliation," he explains. "I'm a human being who believes in dignity, independence and freedom. I'm a bridge-builder and I've always been an advocate of dialogue and discussion."

Mousawi's Views

Mousawi affirms the view that in the Middle East the struggle is not with Judaism but with Zionism. Zionism is understood in much of the Middle East as an ideology that is the enemy of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and an ideology that informed the theft of Palestine from its rightful inhabitants who are overwhelmingly Christians and Muslims.

And what of the views Cameron and his Zionist marionettes so strongly felt would not be conducive to the public good?

Mousawi at the London Conference, as reported by the Daily Star:

Yes, we believe in religion, but this does not bring us to a place where we do not respect others or we do not recognize others If religion is not going to make me a better human being who cares for any human being, I don't need it. ... [Religion] is not to make me fanatic, irresponsible, or feel that I'm deemed to salvation while others are going to hell. No, this is not what we want. If you are really a true believer, you should care for any human being, whoever he is, wherever he lives.


During his speech, Mousawi also had a response for those who would question the idea of inviting a Hezbollah media man to an anti-war event.

Who can talk about [the need to] stop the wars and [achieve] peace more than those who are suffering from the occupation and the atrocities and the massacres and the aggressions? We want genuine peace. We don't want compromises and we don't want to go again and again to the same vicious cycle every 10 years or five years, where you make a temporary settlement and you end up with another war coming. The roots of the problem, the roots of the cause of the problem, should be addressed.

Affirming Hezbollah's right to resist occupation and denying that the group engages in terrorism, Mousawi argues:

Hezbollah is a legitimate resistance group that is fighting to regain occupied land like the Shebaa Farms and to secure the return of prisoners held by Israel.

Many people try to demonize the resistance, but resistance is the right of people under occupation.

If there wasn't an occupation, there wouldn't be resistance. I would support any nation or people if they were occupied and exercising their right to resist an occupying force.

I don't believe anyone wants to have wars. But in this part of the world, we have for decades been the victims of occupation and war."

A durable peace, Mousawi argues, "cannot happen unless the core issues are addressed in a just way." This is the same message Mousawi has presented to journalists and conferences all over the world.

More than a decade ago at an international conference in Stuttgart, Germany in 1997, Mousawi demonstrated a grasp of the essence of the major religions and drew applause from the international audience when he spoke about what being a Muslim meant to him:

When I say that I am a Muslim, I am saying that I am a Christian and I am saying that I am a Jew, for we all believe in the same God, we are all the sons and daughters of Abraham and we are all of the Book and revere the wisdom of all the Prophets.


Mousawi tells his audiences that war is the biggest terrorism and that the central teachings of the three Abrahamic religions admonish all to build bridges not walls. His ideas are in the tradition of a long line of Shia scholars and human rights advocates including the Shia clerics Mohammad Mahdi Shamseddine, Imam Musa Sadr, and Sayeed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah — all known for their life's work for social welfare and their calls for dialogue and ecumenism work with Christians and all sects.

Overcoming Zionism

Challenging the bias (at best) and disinformation of the presented univocality of the Zionist narrative serves justice. In 1954 the tipping point came with Welch's rebuke. In our own era, Zionism is increasingly being criticized and spurned even by former adherents, with more Israelis questioning its ideological underpinnings. As has often been noted, debate is often freer in Israel than it is in the United States. Most notably, some of the children of the high-profile Zionist founders of the state of Israel have turned their backs on this legacy, including the grandson of the right-wing PM Menachem Begin, 32 year-old Avinadav Begin, seen regularly protesting at the West Bank side of the Apartheid Wall over the past few years. In addition to Menachem Begin's grandson, we also have no less than the Irgun-steeped Ehud Olmert's daughter Dana attending a rally during the war on Lebanon.

Avrum Burg, a former Knesset speaker, Shimon Peres' protégé, and Israel Agency director has also recently had his bombshell book released, Defeating Hitler, and left the country to take up French citizenship. Burg is in favor of abrogating the Law of Return, compares Israel to Germany and sees the end of the Zionist enterprise.

Many prominent international figures outside of Israel have been moved to speak up for Palestine and argue for sanctions. South Africans Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ronnie Kasrils and British doctor Colin Green, for example, cogently make the case for boycotting apartheid and supporting justice for all who live in the land of Canaan.

Yet this free debate among advocates of peace and justice in the Middle East such as Mousawi is being muzzled. While European law keep some Israeli generals and Ministers from visiting or grounded on runways lest they be arrested for war crimes upon alighting, visiting Lebanese, Palestinian and other scholars from the Arab and Muslim world are being denied entry, their voices stifled.

Howard Zinn has recently lent his support to set up The Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism http://www.codz.org/ , formed in response to the active stifling and suppression of alternative views on Israel/Palestine and Zionism in the United States and beyond. CODZ sees the IFAW as:

... a well-organized campaign to silence dissent on campus and to get people to look at all Muslims as "Islamo-Fascists," creating a dangerous atmosphere for Muslim students who have sustained so much hate and abuse since 9/11. IFAW seeks to solidify the "you're either with us or you're against us" call of the Bush administration, to equate any questioning of Zionism with support for terrorism, and to further beat the drums for war on Iran.

The Zionist attack on Mousawi in part of the general Zionist campaign against Hezbollah and its supporters, institutions, staff, as well as anyone who seeks discussions with the movement. It is not only about Dr. Mousawi. Many scholars who work for Hezbollah affiliated institutions has been subjected to harassment and campaigns to deny them the right to speak at Conferences, to hold interviews, engage in dialogue and to travel to the US and sometimes England and parts of Europe.

In the pursuit of justice, the growing debate on Zionism, both in the Middle East and beyond, is a much needed, urgent and legitimate one." All people of good will should support Dr. Mousawi's right to free speech, not least so that, in the words of John Berger, "Never again will a single story be told as though it's the only one."

By Franklin Lamb in Beirut and Ann El Khoury in Sydney

Monday, January 21, 2008

Muslim Women… The Real Oppression

I find it really outrageous and inconceivable to watch this fierce campaign rallying in “defence” of “our rights”, the rights of Muslim women, such as the recent staging of the Islamo-fascist Awareness Week in USA sponsored by David Horowitz.

What disturbs and frustrates me about this impious movement is the fact that those who are holding the banner of our “liberation” are precisely the ones whose hands are dripping with our blood, the blood of Muslim women!

Wouldn’t it be a good idea if they stop killing us first (in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine with the imminent threat to Iran)?

I mean honestly, at least their hideous and bogus calls might gain some legitimacy and credibility then.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea if they could spare us their fake concern, and their crocodile tears weeping over our state of affairs and act honestly for once, by stopping their genocide against us, and by washing our blood off their hands?

This shrieking and fussing calling for our liberation from the “oppression” and “dominance” of Islam; is not innocent, it’s rather sinister and disturbing dare I say.
These systematic attempts in the Western media to dehumanise one quarter of the world population, namely the Muslims are influenced and manipulated by the Zionists propaganda.
This recent study shows 'demonisation' of Muslims in the British media:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/nov/14/pressandpublishing.religion

The Zionists are discovering that their long concealed hideous crimes in Palestine have been exposed now, they are realizing that slowly but surely they are losing the world support, so they are trying to regain their grip and manipulate the world’s opinion by using new tactics:

Zionist new propaganda techniques:

They claim that:
{The greatest danger and the most ruthless enemy of the world now is Islam, and they the "poor brave" Zionists are living amidst millions and millions of "Islamo-fascists", "terrorists" or "potential terrorists", and they courageously are trying to fight this “evil” to save the “civilized” world.

What they are doing in Palestine is not occupation, not oppression, not human right abuses, not racism, not apartheid, not theft of land, not destruction of a civilization, not criminal, not collective punishment, not murdering babies and children, none of that… it is simply fighting the "Islamic terror"! }

They are claiming that Islam is the “enemy of civilization”, the “oppressor of women”, the “hater of peace”, the “opponent of democracy”, and the “foe of humanity”, and that they the "poor and brave" Zionists are the spearhead of morality and evolution that’s actually fighting this monster on behalf of humanity, all alone.

Their favourite new propaganda technique now is not defending the Zionist dream, or the need for a homeland for the Jews, rather, it’s the claim that they are the "brave, humane, moral and civilized" society that is standing against the destruction of the world by Islam the "evil, backward, and uncivilized” religion, the religion that "preaches hatred, violence, terrorism and oppression of women and minorities, and promising its followers of 72 virgins for doing so"!!

For God’s sake would any one show me where does the Qur’an preaches such nonsense!!

The Zionists have lied their heads off for decades regarding what they did and still do to Palestinians, they have used every trick in the book to conceal the truth about their crimes whether by threat, intimidation, or even murder; and now their smear campaign continues with wider victims this time; Islam and Muslim.

That is done overtly as well as subliminally, and it’s enough to read some newspapers and watch some Hollywood movies that mention Muslims to see what I mean.

When a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or an atheist comments a crime, he/she is “so and so” committed a crime…. Their religious affiliation is never mentioned.
When a Muslim commits a crime however, he is a “Muslim” terrorist, and a “Muslim” murderer.

From what one reads in the news one is led to believe that all Muslims are none but a cult of psychopaths.
They accuse Islam of oppressing women and the backup their claims by selective reporting that highlights cases of criminality within the Muslim societies and present it as if it is a consequence of the teaching of Islam.

They rattle on about honour killing, genital mutilation and forced marriages for example as if they are characteristics of Islam and Muslim societies, when in fact:

§ Hhonour killing is a CRIME in whatever society, and no matter what ethical standard is used, more so from an Islamic stance.

§ Genital mutilation is a cultural practice in some parts of the world that is practised by all in those cultures. It has absolutely no connection with Islam.

§ And forced marriages are NOT legal under Islamic law, they are considered invalid.

Of course we have bad men who might be cruel and who might abuse women, and of course we have some bad cultural practices that blatantly contradicts the teaching of Islam. but it's not up to any outsider to come and change those bad practices, people in those cultures are no less humans, no less intelligent, and no less moral than Westerners, they are well capable of evolving and modifying these bad practices in their own time, and in their own way NOT anyone else’s.

Islam exists in almost every country in the world, there isn’t something that you can call the unique Islamic culture, different races and different geographical areas have their own customs and traditions.

Believing that Muslim women are oppressed, makes some racists bigoted people feel good, it makes them feel morally superior, I am sorry to burst their bubble and tell them that the propaganda that they are fed day and night about us –Muslim women- is nothing but what it is just mere PROPAGANDA.

The Zionists and their supporters influence and manipulate people through playing with our emotions of hate and fear; when someone reads a story of a young Pakistani girl killed or forced to marry, we instinctively become emotionally entangled with sympathy with her and loathing to her “Muslim” (criminal, yet conveniently omitted) father, and we lose sight to see that this is a criminal case and not a genuine Islamic practice.

When the media raises the alert of terrorism from green to yellow to orange or red, they play with our fear, we cease to be rational, we lose our level-headedness and we fall an easy prey to whatever they want us to swallow.

Any fair-minded researcher cannot fail to see that all these accusations and allegations have nothing to do with the authentic teaching of Islam, bad cultural practices exists in all human societies.

In fact if those propagandists are truly genuine in their defence of the rights of Muslim women, they would’ve discovered that the best way to counteract and defeat these bad practices is by teaching those illiterate and poor Muslims the correct Islamic views regarding these matters.

Those Muslims who are engaged in criminal activities due to ignorance can only be helped through teaching them what Islam really say about their misdeeds, and it’s through their pure love and reverence to Islam that we might hope for any success in challenging all those wicked practices.

All good people of the world need to wake up URGENTLY and not swallow the lies of Zion so easily.

All of you can read, for God’s sake, then; READ.

READ about Islam from its authentic and original sources, and make some effort to talk to Muslims, listen to what we have to say!
and if you truly care about our oppression as Muslim women, please come and talk to us, listen to what we have to say, not what Horowitz, Dershowitz, or Cohen have to say.

Do not just swallow the Zionist bait!
The future of our world depends on your informed choices

Since its inception, Islam had been perceived by its followers as the driving force for women liberation as seen by those who understood the message. The prophet of Islam zealously condemned the mistreatment of women in the ancient Arabian culture.

He campaigned tirelessly for the rights, equality and protection of women in a society where women were not seen any thing more than a commodity for the service and pleasure of men.

Our history is teeming with prominent names of Muslim women scholars in all fields of knowledge, material as well as spiritual; starting from arts ending with philosophy, including all what’s in between such as poetry, science medicine, theology and much more.

Muslim women have always had the financial independence for example, as a fundamental and unquestionable right; whatever a woman earns is hers and hers alone. She is under no obligation to spend it on anything but what she wishes. Her husband on the other hand is obliged from a legal and spiritual perspective to provide for her and her children, no matter how well she is doing financially.

Muslim women do not change their name when they get married, they are independent entities and not defined by their association with their husbands.

In other words, we do NOT carry the baggage of oppression that European women had endured, nor do we harbour their -understandable- animosity to men.

Furthermore, we are not interested in a life of quarrel and antagonism with men, we love our men, as husbands, brothers, fathers, sons, uncles, and friends, and we view our relationships with them as one of complement and harmony rather than of conflict, competition and hostility.

To get to the real truth about Islam and women, one must be equipped with enough historical, theological, and cultural knowledge about that which he/ she are criticising.

If anyone wants to criticise Islam, by all means feel free to do so, but DO NOT do it ignorantly or arrogantly, without equipping yourself with sufficient and reliable FACTS from authentic and original sources.

It is unscientific, irrational, meaningless, and dishonest to be critical of something that you know nothing or very little about, (and that which you know, comes mainly from shallow media sources or phoney stories from Hollywood rather the authentic books of that religion).

Academic integrity requires the application of proper criteria of research; it necessitates that one must study the valid sources, otherwise all research would be a sham and a scam, and all conclusions would be lacking in credibility, faulty and flawed.

Simply put: do your homework

Did it ever occur to you to ask why is it that 4 out of 5 converts to Islam are women; knowing that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world? http://www.islamicweb.com/begin/results.htm

Total Number of Muslims on the Earth (1998) …. 1,678,442,000

Expected Number of Muslims on the Earth (2000) 1,902,095,000

34,000 Americans have converted to Islam following the events of September 11, and this is the highest rate reached in the U.S. since Islam arrived there.

http://sultan.org/articles/convert.html

Interesting also to notice that in the so called “Democratic Free World” the number of women in Parliaments is less than those in the “Undemocratic, Un-Free” Islamic countries

The free world: US 16.3% , UK 19.7%, Israel 14.2%, and France 12.2%

The “other” world: Rwanda 48.8%, Afghanistan 27.3%, Iraq 25.5%, United Arab Emirates 22.5%,Pakistan 21.3%, Monaco 20.8%, Sudan 17.8%

http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm

At this point, suffice to know:

What the Quran say about women:

“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions”. (16-97)

“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey God and His Messenger. On them will God pour His mercy: for God is exalted in power, Wise”. (9:71)

“If any do deeds of righteousness, be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them”. (3-124)

“Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it”. (99:7-8)

“It is He who created you from a single soul, and made its mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love)”. (7:189)

“And among His Signs is this: He created for you mates from among yourselves that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He plants love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect. 30-21

“For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise; for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward”. (33:35)

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (one who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)” (Qur’an 49:13)

“O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, Who created you from a single soul, created, of like nature, its mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women-reverence God, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for God ever watches over you” (Qur’an 4:1)

“Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he/she male or female: you are members one of another...” If any do deeds of righteousness, be they male or female, and have faith, they will enter paradise and not the least injustice will be done to them” (Qur’an 4:124)

“Glory be to Him Who created all the pairs: of what the earth produces, as well as their own (human) kind and (other) things of which they have no knowledge of”. (36; 36)

The very FIRST revealed verse in the Quran -which was addressing both men and women- was the word: READ;

“Read!! in the name of your Lord Who created.
Created man from “alaq” (something which clings)
Read: And thy Lord is the Most bountiful,
Who taught (the use of) the pen,
Taught man that which he knew not.
Nay, but verily man is rebellious
That he thinks himself independent and self-sufficient.
Surely to your Lord is the return” (96:1-7)

Some of Muhammad’s sayings:

“Women are but shaqa’iq (twin halves or sisters) of men”

“I commend you to be good to women”

“Heaven lies at the feet of mothers”

“The best of you are the kindest to their wives”

“Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim male and female”

Any honest observer and researcher will not fail to notice the Islam is a practical religion, a religion of “fitra”, inner nature, and indeed Islam deals with human-nature rather than suppresses it, it does not deny it nor go against it.

It combines the materialistic side of our human-nature with the spiritual, without compromising either.

One of the nicest descriptions of Islam I’ve ever heard was from a new Muslim friend, who said: “Islam is organic, it just feels so natural”

And another convert friend said: “Islam is a treasure covered with a blanket of Muslims”

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-768956312207897325&q=when
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4312980342283025421&q=empire
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7502243539190558658&q=empire
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=94144204270367302&q=empire

Every person of integrity, every peace loving and harmony seeking human; should set their prejudice (that was picked up from Hollywood and tabloid newspapers) aside and to try to answer the simple question: why do one quarter of the world chose Islam as a faith?
Is it not worth real investigations and honest research?

To summarize, from a Muslim woman’s standpoint; our real oppression comes not from Islam, but rather from those who wage war against our people in the name of "democracy", "liberation", and spreading “civilised” values, while not only ignoring our feelings and opinions but also murdering our beloved ones, and destroying all that is dear in our lives.

To believe in God or not believe, to have a faith or not is not the issue, it will forever be matter of disagreement, it is the individual’s choice of how he/ she perceive the world; but what is of crucial importance for the survival of our world is: are we able to learn to live together -as compassionate human beings- with those differences by putting into practice our high principles of tolerance and respect of those who chose a different view of the world.

Finally, I call upon all truth and justice seekers, freedom hunters and peace lovers to exercise their right of FREEDOM of THOUGHT and investigate, examine, and explore this mystifying religion, and please do not think that I am proselytising, in fact this word sickens me…

All I am asking is: for the sake of a better future of our world, people need to educate themselves about the Islam, and not be afraid of KNOWLEDGE and AWARNESS.

The atheistic call for killing God, terminating religion or uprooting faith from humans’ hearts and minds is a mirage, it’s an impossible dream, because humans will always thirst for spiritual fulfilment, and will forever ask the inevitable and challenging questions about our reality and the purpose of our existence.

The longing for answers for existential questions will never cease to exist as long as humans exist.

Atheists are free to reject religion, they can deny God all they like, but their denial simply would offer nothing for a seeker’s inquisitive and curious mind.

Their denial is powerless; as it fails to provide any contentment, tranquillity or peace to one single longing soul.

Islam, with its utter simplicity, pure logic, and total comprehensiveness, will always exist, as a philosophy that satisfies the inquisitiveness of many hearts, souls, and minds; hence, it’s wise and worthwhile that secular people on the left come to terms with this reality, and acknowledge that there is room in the intellectual-world, as well as the material world, for all of us.

Therefore, a dialogue with Muslims is inevitable, and our hope for a peaceful world requires a minimum degree of understanding of the other that should enables TRUST -rather than fear- to flourish and COOPERATION -rather than aggression- to be the norm.

Our dream of a peaceful future for our children necessitates taking the dignified step of setting our prejudices aside and opening our hearts and minds to finding out the truth about the other, beyond this murky thick fog of propaganda.

We can only see with open eyes
We can only hear with open ears
We can only think with open minds

By Nahida Izzat

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why is Iran Still in the Cross-Hairs?

In the latest escalation of tensions with Iran, on January 5, 2008 five Iranian patrol boats surrounded three U.S. ships in the Strait of Hormuz, coming within a "threatening" 200 meters. A voice with a thick accent then said in English, "I am coming at you – you will explode in a couple of minutes." The U.S. ships prepared to strike, when the patrol boats backed off. That is how the Pentagon told it, but Iranians have questioned where the threatening voice came from, and Pentagon officials have admitted that they could not confirm that it came directly from the Iranian crews involved. They have also admitted that the voice and the video film were recorded separately, adding to the mysterious circumstances. 1

Skeptical observers might think that the two countries were being goaded into World War III – either that, or that someone wanted to convince American viewers that Iran indeed remained a threat, despite a recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) finding that the country is not engaged in a nuclear weapons program as formerly alleged. Before President George W. Bush left for his Middle East visit on January 8, he told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, "Part of the reason I'm going to the Middle East is to make it abundantly clear to nations in that part of the world that we view Iran as a threat, and that the NIE in no way lessens that threat." 2 Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said in a recent MSNBC news broadcast that there is still a "great possibility" of nuclear action against Iran. The target has just shifted from nuclear power plants to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which has been declared a terrorist organization. Paul said, "[T]here are still quite a few neoconservatives who want to go after Iran under these unbelievable conditions." 3

The question is, why? One popular theory holds that the push for war is all about oil; but many countries have oil, and we don't normally invade them to get their assets. Why go to war for Iran's oil when we can just buy it?

Another theory says that the saber-rattling is about defending the dollar. Iran is threatening to open its own oil bourse, and it is already selling most of its oil in non-dollar currencies. Iran has broken the petrodollar stranglehold imposed in the 1970s, when OPEC entered into an agreement with the United States to sell oil only in U.S. dollars.4 But as William Engdahl pointed out in a March 2006 editorial, Iran is not alone in wanting to drop the dollar as its oil currency; and war with Iran has been in the cards as part of the U.S. Greater Middle East strategy since the 1990s, long before it threatened to open its own oil bourse. 5

The Greater Middle East strategy

. . . Could the published plans for that program hold some clues? Iran was targeted in the infamous policy paper titled "Rebuilding America's Defenses," published by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in 2000. The document was patterned from an earlier blueprint called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," drafted for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in 1996. 6 In a May 2005 summary of the PNAC directive, Professor Michel Chossudovsky described PNAC as a neo-conservative think tank linked to the Defense-Intelligence establishment, the Republican Party and the powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which plays an important role in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy. In "Rebuilding America's Defenses," PNAC called for "the direct imposition of U.S. 'forward bases' throughout Central Asia and the Middle East, with a view to ensuring economic domination of the world, while strangling any potential 'rival' or any viable alternative to America's vision of a 'free market' economy." 7

Strangling any potential rival or viable alternative to America's vision of a free market economy

. . . Could that be it? It is a matter of historical interest that the notion of a "free market" economy hasn't always been "America's vision." In the nineteenth century, "free trade" was something many Americans resisted. They saw it as a British scheme to exploit America of its resources, at a time when British bankers had a corner on the gold that was the exclusive coin of international trade. When the gold standard was abandoned in 1971, the U.S. dollar became the world's reserve currency in its stead. Many disillusioned people in developing countries today suspect that America's global "free market" is another form of exploitation -- prying countries open to be plundered of their physical and human resources in return for loans of the dollars necessary to buy oil at inflated prices. Oil is the bait for ensnaring the world in the debt trap, and the terrorism that must be suppressed is the rebellion of any locals who will not be ensnared quietly. The weapon in this economic war is debt, and the bullets are compound interest.

The story has been widely circulated that when Albert Einstein was asked what the most powerful force in the universe was, he replied, "compound interest." The story is probably apocryphal, but it underscores the force of the concept. Compound interest has allowed a private global banking cartel to control most of the resources of the world. The debt trap was set in 1974, when OPEC was induced to trade its oil only in U.S. dollars. The price of oil then suddenly quadrupled, and countries with insufficient dollars for their oil needs had to borrow them. In 1980, international interest rates shot up to 20 percent. At 20 percent interest compounded annually, $100 doubles in under 4 years; and in 20 years, it becomes a breathtaking $3,834. 8 The impact on Third World debtors was devastating. President Obasanjo of Nigeria complained in 2000:

All that we had borrowed up to 1985 was around $5 billion, and we have paid about $16 billion; yet we are still being told that we owe about $28 billion. That $28 billion came about because of the injustice in the foreign creditors' interest rates. If you ask me what is the worst thing in the world, I will say it is compound interest. 9

Could the "viable economic alternative" that threatens the Western economic model be one that declares the collecting of interest to be illegal? That is the model Iran is now holding out to the world. In 1979, Iran was established as an "Islamic Republic," designed to enforce the principles of the Koran not just morally or religiously but as a matter of state government policy. Afghanistan, which is also in the cross-hairs of the U.S. war machine, and Pakistan, which the U.S. is trying hard to control, are also Islamic Republics. The economic principles of the Koran include Sharia banking, which forbids "usury." In the Koran, usury is defined as charging not just excess interest but any interest.

That is also how the term was defined under Old English law until Protestant scholars redefined it in the seventeenth century, opening the Christian world to a form of economic advantage formerly available only to Jewish money lenders. In Jewish scriptures, charging interest was forbidden between "brothers" but was allowed in dealings with "foreigners." (See, for example, Deuteronomy 23:19, "You must not make your brother pay interest," and 23:20, "You may make

a foreigner pay interest, but your brother you must not make pay interest.") This point is raised here not to indict the Jewish people (who are not the "global bankers") but for its historical relevance in tracking the divergence of two religious systems. Charging interest on loans has been accepted banking practice throughout the Judao-Christian world for so long that we don't think there is anything wrong with it today, but that hasn't always been true. The history of interest is detailed in an article in The World Guide Encyclopedia, which is published in Uruguay and has a Third World/Islamic slant. It states:

The practice of usury – lending money and accumulating interest on the loan – can be traced back 4,000 years. But it has always been despised, condemned, restricted or banned by moral, ethical, legal or religious entities. . . .

During the prophet Muhammad's lifetime, criticism of usury became established. This stance was reinforced by his teachings in the Qur'an, around 600 AD. . . .

Judaism's criticisms of usury are rooted in several passages of the Old Testament in which charging interest is scorned, discouraged and prohibited. . . . [I]n Deuteronomy, [the ban] extends to all loans, excluding trade with foreigners. The word "foreigner" is interpreted in general as "enemy" and, armed with this text, Jews employed usury as a weapon, as other people's needs could be transformed into submission. . . .

The prohibition of usury was adopted as a major campaign by the earliest Christian Church, following on from Jesus' expulsion of the money-lenders from the temple. . . . [T]he Catholic Church of the 4th century AD banned the clergy from charging interest, a rule that was later extended in the 5th century to the laity. . . .

[A]round 1620, according to the theologian Ruston, "usury passed from being an offense against public morality, which a Christian government was expected to suppress, to being a matter of private conscience, and a new generation of Christian moralists redefined usury as excessive interest". . . . [I]t is interesting to contrast the clear moral mandate expressed through Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum (634-644 AD) about "ravenous usury" as "a demon condemned by the Church but practiced in a deceitful way by avaricious men," with Pope John Paul II's encyclical Solicitude Rei Socialis (1987) which omits any explicit mention of usury, except for a vague reference to recognizing the Third World debt crisis.

This "demon" governs current global relations, condemning most of the world population to living under the sign of debt: i.e., each person born in Latin America owes already $1,600 in foreign debt; each individual being conceived in Sub-Saharan Africa carries the burden of a $336 debt, for something that its ancestors have long ago paid-off. In 1980 the Southern countries' debt amounted to $567 billion; since then, they have paid $3,450 billion in interest and write-offs, six times the original amount. In spite of this, that debt had quadrupled by the year 2000, reaching $2,070 billion. 10

Islamic scholars have been seeking to devise a global banking system that would serve as an alternative to the interest-based scheme that is in control of the world economy, and Iran has led the way in devising that model. Iran was able to escape the debt trap that captured other developing countries because it had its own oil. Few Islamic banks existed before Iran became an Islamic Republic in 1979, but the concept is now spreading globally. With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the viable economic model that threatens the global dominance of the Western banking clique may no longer be Communism. It may be the specter of an Islamic banking system that would strip a private banking cartel of the compound interest scheme that is its most powerful economic weapon.

President Bush assured allies before his Mideast trip, "It's important for the people in the region to know that while all options remain on the table, that I believe we can solve this problem diplomatically, and the way to do that is to continue to isolate Iran in the international community." 11 Isolate Iran from whom? Isolation is something that is done to prevent contagion. The contagion to be contained may be the creation of an Islamic State pursuing the principles of Sharia law, something that is now the rallying cry for many Muslims around the world.

By Dr. Ellen Hodgson Brown

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Ellen Brown, J.D., developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and "the money trust." She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her eleven books include the bestselling Nature's Pharmacy, co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker, which has sold 285,000 copies. Her websites are www.webofdebt.com and www.ellenbrown.com.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why Socialism?

This essay was originally published in the first issue of Monthly Review (May 1949).

http://www.monthlyreview.org/598einst.htm

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Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called "the predatory phase" of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: "Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?"

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept "society" means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is "society" which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished—just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time—which, looking back, seems so idyllic—is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists' requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers' goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.

By Albert Einstein