Thomas Friedman’s militarist propaganda

This video from the USA is called Greenwash Guerrillas Pie Thomas Friedman on Earth Day.

By Patrick Martin:

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman glorifies American militarism

13 October 2009

In the Sunday edition of the New York Times, the newspaper’s chief commentator on foreign affairs, Thomas L. Friedman, devotes his entire column to a grotesque celebration of the role of the American military, presenting its operations, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq, as humanitarian and liberating.

He takes the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Barack Obama to suggest the US president go to Oslo in December, decline the award for himself, and then declare, “I will accept it on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century—the men and women of the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.”

Friedman mentions a series of actions by the American military, including the Normandy landing of June 1944, the Berlin Airlift of 1948, the stationing of US troops in Europe throughout the Cold War, the troop presence in South Korea, and the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The very length of this list might give a reader pause—there is no other country whose military actions over the last 70 years would require a full column merely to name.

But significantly, Friedman’s account of the “last century” is highly selective. He leaves out more American wars than he includes. Left off his list are World War I, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War. He makes no mention of the dozens of US military interventions in Central America and the Caribbean, including invasions and occupations of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama and Mexico.

Nor does he make reference to the use of American military, paramilitary and intelligence forces to overthrow governments, suppress popular revolts and establish dictatorships around the world. A partial list would include Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Paraguay, Bolivia [see also here], Uruguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Greece, Turkey, and numerous African countries.

Even in the wars Friedman does mention, his account is one-sided and false. He refers to Normandy and the liberation of Buchenwald, but not Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or the firebombing of Tokyo, Dresden and Hamburg. He describes the role of US forces today in Iraq and Afghanistan as “peacekeeping,” without noting the sea of blood that accompanied the invasion and conquest of those countries.

In one particularly cynical passage, he urges Obama to sing the praises of “the American soldiers who stand guard today at outposts in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan to give that country, and particularly its women and girls, a chance to live a decent life free from the Taliban’s religious totalitarianism.” Thousands of Afghan women and girls have been incinerated, dismembered or maimed by American missiles and bombs: presumably a small price to pay for their “liberation” from religious oppression.

Moreover, as Friedman well knows, the Taliban’s obscurantist regime is itself the direct product of a previous US intervention, in which Islamic fundamentalists from all over the world, including Osama bin Laden, were mobilized under CIA auspices to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan. And the oppression of women in American allies like Saudi Arabia evokes no response from Washington.

But it is the omission of Vietnam which is the most telling exposure of Friedman’s attempt to dress up American imperialism in “democratic” and “humanitarian” garb.

Revealed: Corporation-Courting Imperialist Thomas Friedman. Aaron Leonard, Truthout: “This short book shreds any sense of integrity that Friedman might have for the uninitiated, and provides plenty of substance for those needing the polemical ammunition to challenge this powerful spokesman. I recently interviewed the book’s author Belen Fernandez via email”: here.

Friedman Fantasizes about Green Capitalism: here.

The 100,000-strong US and NATO occupation force in Afghanistan is continuing to suffer casualties at an unprecedented rate: here.

Protest against wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan: here.

The Pentagon pays an average of $400 to put a gallon of fuel into a combat vehicle or aircraft in Afghanistan: here.

Thomas Friedman Can’t Stop Comparing Afghanistan to a “Special Needs Baby”.

There are few public figures more justifiably reviled by thinking people than Thomas Friedman. As a columnist for the New York Times, Friedman has served as a propagandist for every war the United States has started over the past two decades, from the bombing of Serbia, to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the “regime change” operations in Libya and Syria: here.

On January 18, 1985, the Reagan administration announced it would not abide by any World Court ruling in a case brought by Nicaragua against the terrorist methods employed by the US in its drive to bring down the nationalist Sandinista government: here.

Responding to mass popular hostility toward the Reagan administration’s rapid nuclear build-up, the governments of Australia and New Zealand this week in 1985 delivered separate rebukes to US military planning, rattling the South Pacific military alliance, the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty, or ANZUS: here.

25 thoughts on “Thomas Friedman’s militarist propaganda

  1. Code Pink Delivers Afghan Petition To President

    Posted: 8:06 am PDT October 16, 2009 Updated: 11:30 am PDT October 16, 2009

    SAN FRANCISCO — Using a meet-and-greet at a Democratic fundraiser Thursday night, Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans hand delivered a petition to President Barack Obama allegedly signed by Afghani women who want an end to the war in their country.

    Evans was among those attending a sold-out Democratic Party fundraiser at San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis Hotel, with a Code Pink supporter paying $30,400 for a pair of tickets to the dinner. The tickets included a photo opportunity with the President.

    She said she had collected signatures of Afghani women during a trip there last week on a petition that asked for a role in the peace process and demanding that the U.S. abandon plans to send in additional troops.

    “The women there are really upset that they are not at the negotiating table,” said Evans, who was wearing a pink shirt with “End The Afghan Quagmire” stenciled on it. “He said: ‘What do you mean, I have (Secretary of State) Hilliary (Clinton)?’… I said no the Afghan women want to be at the negotiating table. He looked at me and said: ‘Oh.’”

    Evans also said she showed Obama the message her t-shirt.

    “I showed the President my shirt,” she said. “I had a pink ribbon around my finger and I am here to remind you to keep your promises for peace…He said: ‘You know we are not going to end the problem in Afghanistan any time soon.’ I said actually you’re not going to solve the problem, they are.”

    There was no word from the White House on Obama’s reaction to the impromptu meeting.

    President Obama left San Francisco Friday morning and is going to Texas to attend a volunteer service forum with former President George H.W. Bush, according to the White House.

    Air Force One left San Francisco International Airport just after 9:30 a.m., according to SFO duty manager John Ginty.

    It was Obama’s first visit to the Bay Area as president.

    Obama was en route this morning to the airport in Houston, following which he will head to Texas A&M University in College Station to host a forum with Bush marking the 20th anniversary of the Points of Light Institute.

    Copyright 2009 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


  2. Well my what an amazing, educated way to make an impression. This sure showed him the moral charactor of the people oppossing his views. This kind of inmature tantrum really makes you look good. What would have been wrong with a real conversation? One where you act like an adult!


  3. Re #2: how strange that you are more upset about a pie which does not harm Friedman at all, thrown by someone opposed to his greenwashing of polluting corporations; than about the Iraq war with over a million dead supported by Friedman. In his words: “No problem with a war for oil” (Friedman originally was the oil corespondent of the New York Times).

    Have you ever wondered why the corporate media give warmongers like Friedman a big megaphone while critics of imperialism do not get that?


  4. I am no more mad about this then I am about terrorist who kill millions of innocent people to uphold totalitarian govt. And I actively oppose terrorist. And I am speaking out against people who instead of boycotting an event, or protesting peacefully, or entering into a meaningful conversation of ideas, or even attacking him in print, stoop so low as to try to disgrace and demean him in public. These kind of things where supposed to have gone out with mop rule. These kinds of acts, especially when followed by cowardly acts like running away, only serve to weaken any moral superiority his opponents may claim, and only drive people further apart. Show some civility, be the bigger man. Let him look ridiculous because he says stupid things, throwing pies only makes him look self-controlled and like the reasonable one.

    As for the corporate media its funny cause I have to hunt to find reporters who are not obviously opposed to imperialism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I often have this same discussion with others, everyone feels underrepresented, so we have to agree to disagree.

    But let me ask, just what is so wrong with a war for oil? Surely allowing it to fall into the hands of despots and murders isn’t what you want. And there can be no argument that is presents the potential for great growth and prosperity for the region. And if it get rid of people like Saddam and the Taliban. And since its been an incredibly bloodless compared to any other major war. Then what is it that is so horrible about the wars, even if they are for oil?


  5. Re #4 and 5: if you are so completely upset about a harmless pie, then why are you not upset at all about this example of the Iraqi women Mary Awanis and Geneva Jalal, butchered by Bush regime-hired mercenaries? The mercenaries did not even ask these women for their political views, they just killed. By the way, that example is just one in over a million in Iraqi civilians.

    There is a word for that sanctimonious indignation in the Friedman case and your indifference to the horrors which occupation brought and brings to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia (where the army of the dictator of Ethiopia invaded at the request of Bush). It is called hypocrisy.

    Re the corporate media: apparently you have never heard about Rupert Murdoch and “embedded” journalism. When the Iraq war started, CNN suddenly put American flags as a backdrop for their shows to whip up Bush style so called “patriotism”. That even some journalists in the corporate media now have some criticism of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is because they, even in their embedded state, can see that the reality of the wars differs from the Pentagon propaganda.

    Of cause war for oil, for the profits of corporations like Halliburton and Exxon, is wrong. Indeed, oil has “the potential for great growth and prosperity” for Iraq. But only if it is in the hands of the Iraqi people; not of foreign multinational corporations.

    A war in Iraq with over a million dead (remember Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” on 1 May 2003?) and still counting is definitely NOT “incredibly bloodless”. As for Saddam Hussein, he was bad enough (and a friend of Donald Rumsfeld in the 1980s when he committed most of his crimes), but certainly not as much of a “despot and murder [sic]” as the royal dynasty of Saudi Arabia, elevated to power in the early twentieth century and ever since propped up, first by British, later by US imperialism. Under Saddam Hussein, eg, if you were gay (and not a known opponent of the regime as well), you did not have to fear torture or death just for being gay. While now, under the regime brought in as a consequence of Bush’s invasion, you have to be terribly afraid of torture and death.

    The Iraq war which killed over a million people, mainly civilians. The Iraq war, of which a Republican employed by the US Bush administration itself, has reported officially that there has been basically no reconstruction after 2003. The Iraq war which made over four million Iraqis refugees according to United Nations figures. The Iraq war which set back Iraqi women’s rights terribly. The Iraq war which set back Iraqi gay rights terribly (the National Review in the USA will not mind as they hate gay rights and women’s rights). The Iraq war which brought more torture of more prisoners to Iraq than even under Saddam Hussein. The Iraq war based on lies about so called WMD in Iraq. The Iraq war based on lies of Iraq having anything to do with 9/11. The Iraq war which killed over 4,200 United States soldiers, mutilated many more, and still counting.


  6. Hersh: Military waging war with White House

    7 days ago

    By Neil Offen

    DURHAM — The U.S. military is not just fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America’s most renowned investigative journalist says.

    The army is also “in a war against the White House — and they feel they have [President] Obama boxed in,” Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh told several hundred people in Duke University’s Page Auditorium on Tuesday night. “They think he’s weak and the wrong color. Yes, there’s racism in the Pentagon. We may not like to think that, but it’s true and we all know it.”

    In a speech on Obama’s foreign policy, Hersh, who uncovered the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and torture at Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraqi war, said many military leaders want Obama to fail.

    “A lot of people in the Pentagon would like to see him get into trouble,” he said. By leaking information that the commanding officer in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, says the war would be lost without an additional 40,000 American troops, top brass have put Obama in a no-win situation, Hersh contended.

    “If he gives them the extra troops they’re asking for, he loses politically,” Hersh said. “And if he doesn’t give them the troops, he also loses politically.”

    The journalist criticized the president for “letting the military do that,” and suggested the only way out was for Obama to stand up to them.

    “He’s either going to let the Pentagon run him or he has to run the Pentagon,” Hersh said. If he doesn’t, “this stuff is going to be the ruin of his presidency.”

    Hersh called the “Af-Pak” situation — the spreading conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan — Obama’s main challenge.

    The war in Afghanistan has destabilized Pakistan, which has 80 to 100 nuclear weapons, said Hersh, who recently returned from a visit to South Asia. “And the nuclear situation [in Pakistan] is more dire than you could know. It sucks.”

    The only way for the U.S. to extricate itself from the conflict, Hersh said, is to negotiate with the Taliban.

    “It’s the only way out,” he said. “I know that there’s a lot of discussion in the White House about this now. But Obama is going to have to take charge, and there’s no evidence he’s going to do that.”

    While critical of the president on Afghanistan, Hersh, who travels to the Middle East three or four times a year, did praise his foreign policy initiatives toward Iran.

    “When it comes to Iran, he’s changed the paradigm,” he said. “[President] Bush always said we’ll negotiate with those duty Iranians about their nuclear enrichment plans when they stop enriching nuclear material. Obama understands there is some room there to maneuver. That’s a huge change.”

    He also praised Obama for also changing the paradigm with his decision to shelve plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Doing that, he said, would help U.S. relations with Russia.

    “It’s about time we realize we have a lot in common with the Russians, like worrying about China and global terrorism,” Hersh said.

    The missiles, he added, were just a continuation of the Cold War, and “it’s about time for us to capture some of the benefit we were supposed to get from ending the Cold War.”


  7. #6, Who said I am not mad about all your named atrocities and Bush’s stupidity? I think they are outrages and wish much stronger actions where being taken against them. But that does not give anyone the right to physically assault another person because of their views. Think of the rightful out cry that would follow this kind of act towards a gay man, of women’s right activist, or a black man because he is black… it doesn’t make sense to be OK with this kind of behavior.
    War is hell, no argument. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t better then doing nothing. Over a million people killed in 6 years, sad as this number is, it stands in stark contrast to the number of people killed in any other major war. So I stand by my, “bloodless” statement, not because this war has been without loss, but because it has taken so much less from anyone. I mean look Iraq is still a working country despite being the middle of a war zone, that’s amazing and something to be applauded.

    ” war for oil, for the profits of corporations like Halliburton and Exxon, is wrong. Indeed, oil has “the potential for great growth and prosperity” for Iraq. But only if it is in the hands of the Iraqi people; not of foreign multinational corporations.” Why do you think Saudi Arabia and its neighbors are so rich, because of Exxon and other companies. Surely you don’t think only Americans will work over there. No when outside firms are able to invest it brings billions of dollars into the local economies. And it can happen in years instead of decades, which local companies would need to reach the same point. Post #1 pointed out that the Iraqis are the ones who have to solve their own problems. That’s true, but why wouldn’t we want to help them if we can? And why shouldn’t we try to both profit from it?

    You and I both agree that Bush was an idiot and you highlighted that above, but where does that make the war so horrible that it gives anyone the right to treat another person as sub-human? And how can we esteem or even seek to defend the perpetrators of such?

    On a side note I also agree that the Saudis are a horrible ruling family and responsible for much of the world wide growth of radical Islam. But I have never seen anything to make them as bad as Saddam, whole cities gassed, mass graves from executed political opponents who just disappeared, genocides ect. I would be interested in knowing just to what you where referring.


  8. Re #8: the pie was not thrown at Thomas Friedman for being gay (he is not), or for advocating women’s rights (he is not) or for being from New York (he is) or for having been born in 1953 (he is).

    Gay people in Iraq would be relieved if anti gay bigots would limit themselves to throwing pies, instead of murdering gays with authorities’ support as happens now ever since Bush’s 2003 invasion. Christian Reconstructionists in the USA (like the “Reverend” Steven Anderson) hate gays, and do not throw pies at them. They advocate the death penalty for them, providing a theoretical support for anti gay violence.

    Rush Limbaugh does not throw pies at feminists, but calls them “feminazis” which is much worse.

    The pie throwers opposed that the keynote speech for Earth Day was held by Friedman. Whom they considered anti-envorinment, for supporting a) Big Oil (major polluters, and financing global warming denialists. Scientist Hansen of NASA thinks corporations like Exxon should be prosecuted as criminals for their climate change denial lobbying). b) the United States armed forces, also very major polluters.

    For the record, here is the text of the “Greenwash Guerillas” with the YouTube video:

    Thomas Friedman, the author and NY Times columnist, was invited to Brown University to give a keynote speech on Earth Day, before a packed auditorium. His talk, titled “Green is the new Red White and Blue” was about how corporate environmentalism (based on putting a price on the atmosphere, and investing in biofuels and techno-fixes) can restore America to its “natural place in the global order.” Luckily, this outrageous neoliberal capitalist propaganda was interrupted with a suprise visit from the Greenwash Guerrillas. Leaflets were thrown to the crowd, stating:


    Thomas Friedman deserves a pie in the face…

    * because of his sickeningly cheery applaud for free market capitalism’s conquest of the planet

    * for telling the world that the free market and techno fixes can save us from climate change. From carbon trading to biofuels, these distractions are dangerous in and of themselves, while encouraging inaction with respect to the true problems at hand.

    * for helping turn environmentalism into a fake plastic consumer product for the privileged

    * For his long-standing support for the US Occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Such committed support to the US War Machine and its proxy states overseas cannot be masked behind any twisted mask of “green” – the US Military is the largest single emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.

    * for his pure arrogance.
    On behalf of the earth and all true environmentalists — we, the Greenwash Guerrillas, declare Thomas Friedman’s “Green” as fake and toxic to human and planetary health as the cool-whip covering his face.


  9. Re #8: as far as I know, please correct me if I am wrong, you have never commented at this blog, or another blog, about the killing of Mary Awanis or some other Iraqi, Afghan, Somali … civilian.

    “Over a million people killed in 6 years, sad as this number is, it stands in stark contrast to the number of people killed in any other major war.”

    It depends what one calls “major war”. The Second World War certainly was a major war: against three countries (Germany, Italy, Japan) with millions of soldiers each, with allies like Hungary and Finland, also with hundreds of thousands of soldiers each. The Iraq war was/is against just one militarily weak country. Saddam Hussein’s armed forces by 2003 had not modernized or properly maintained their weapons for many years. Many soldiers did not want to fight for Saddam Hussein. So, *as far as regular armed forces were concerned*, this was/is a very minor war indeed. A lot more “minor” than the 1991 Gulf war, when the United States had far more allies, the Iraqi armed forces were in better condition … and there were far less casualties.

    In Fallujah city, there had been an uprising against Saddam Hussein when he still was in power. Soon after US armed forces entered Fallujah, they killed demonstrating school children. This, other cases like this and their consequences led to now over a million dead civilians.

    Saudi Arabia is richer than Iraq because a) it has more oil b) fewer people to divide that oil wealth among (the division is extremely unequal by the way) c) there has been no foreign military invasion like in Iraq.

    Not because of Exxon or other Big Oil (by the way, there HAVE been nationalization measures in Saudi Arabia. It is not like the early twentieth century anymore, when almost all oil profits left the country minus relatively minor tips for the Saudi monarchy).

    About “mass graves”: they were not just under Saddam Hussein (mostly when he was an ally of the US Reagan administration). Also under his pro Bush successors. And in Afghanistan, under warlord allies of the Bush administration (see also here).

    As for human rights violations in Saudi Arabia:

    here (over 13,000 deaths and injured in one day).


    here (history).




  10. RE #9, so what I understand is, the Greenwash Guerrillas assaulted Mr. Friedman because they did not agree with what he was saying, as well as him other political views. I said that we would never support the pie throwers if Mr. Friedman was gay, black, democrat, or civil rights leader. I know that Steven Anderson and Rush Limbaugh and others have been very vocal and that their views are ones that, I hope, no serious person considers, even if they may stop and watch, everyone slows down to see a car wrench too. But theirs is talk, and people can talk all they want, that’s one of the amazing things about our county, it was founded on that idea that who can say what ever you want. If we start voiding others peoples rights or rationalizing it when others do, we have given up that most sacred trust our fore fathers gave us. We revert back to something primitive and animal. Next we’ll start OK’ing pushing and shoving, you don’t want him speaking, kick him out, then beating, then what… We be right back where we have always be so proud to have risen above.


  11. RE #10 It amazes me that the US has not tried to overthrow the Saudis, for the thing above, but then the Saudis have never had “death to America” in their official speaches, as far as I know. I thank you for those links.
    I would compare these wars to others in time and resources. And I think it certainly falls into the major war catagory. But today we have gotten much better at not killing the wrong people, not perfect unfortunatly but we are working for that. Iraq had just as modern and advanced a military as any, the fact that they looked so out gunned is a testament to the sickening amount of money and time the US has spent putting our army light years ahead of any other. But that very thing is why so few people have died. And to be sure the last bits of Suddams army were defeated, “we won”, back in 2003 when Bush said we had. But there are lots of other people who we havent defeated. And they are hidding within and then trying to kill innocent people, we arent. That is why the death toll is so high.


  12. Re #12: US governments also did not try to overthrow dictator Franco in Spain, dictator Salazar in Portugal, the Greek colonels’ dictatorship, the shah in Iran, the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Armas dictatorship in Guatemala (in fact, they helped them grab power, like quite some of Armas colleagues), Pinochet in Chile, dictator Suharto in Indonesia (over a million killed), dictator Mobutu in Zaire/Congo (millions killed), etc.

    “today we have gotten much better at not killing the wrong people”. The facts are that in 1859, there was the battle of Solferino in Italy. A horrible battle, with thousands of soldiers killed on both sides. However, just *one* civilian was killed in that battle. During the first World War, many more civilians died, but still most of the dead were soldiers. Only later in the twentieth and twenty-first century, usually most of the dead in wars became civilians. In Iraq over 90%.

    “Iraq had just as modern and advanced a military as any”. That was not even true in the 1991 Gulf war, after heavy losses in the previous war against Iran. Both the USSR and the USA sold Iraq weapons (though not the really most advanced ones in their arsenals). The USA stopped doing so after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and the USSR stopped to exist. By 2003, much of the Iraqi military equipment as it had been after the 1991 Gulf War defeat had already gone to the scrapheap or had ceased working (properly).


  13. And if the US had tried to over throw any of those dictators would you have supported it? I must admit I would have for the same reasons that I support our current wars, and I think it is a blot on our history that having had the power we didn’t do anything for those people. So will you throw pie in my face too? Is that what we are now? Will you support attempts to suppress my views because the might differ from yours? I hope not, I don’t believe you or anyone would, that’s why I’m so outraged the Mr. Friedman received such treatment.
    Warfare has change much, unfortunately the enemy has chosen to move into the civilian population, innocents cant just go away till the battles in over. But we are now able to fight a war in a city and keep the infrastructure up and running. So the enemy has caused many more civilian casualties but we have gotten much better at avoiding them. And even though Saddam’s army never could have stood up to the US, it was still a modern army on par with the rest of the world. Most of the world just sucks when compared to the US army. Which really was a good thing cause if the US wasn’t so advanced this war would have been much longer and bloodier, again it has been relatively bloodless.


  14. Re #14: a step short of overthrowing these dictators might have been not helping them get power, and/or not supporting them once they had power. That did not happen however. Today, we have the coup d’etat of dictator Micheletti in Honduras. George W. Bush would immediately have recognized it, helped it, and praised it. The Obama administration officially recognizes the elected president Zelaya. However, as shown elsewhere on this blog, it is not doing enough to isolate the coup regime: still US soldiers at a base in Honduras … still Honduran soldiers in classes in the USA …

    There is one example of a US government overthrowing a dictatorial US ally. During the Kennedy administration, dictator Diem of South Vietnam was murdered with CIA help (rather drastic I say). However, Diem was succeeded by General Ky, who said “I have just one hero, and that is Adolf Hitler”. Then came the corrupt dictator Thieu.


  15. Uri Avnery

    “…And A Little Child Shall Lead Them”

    THOMAS FRIEDMAN, the New York Times columnist, has an idea. That happens to him quite often. One might almost say – too often.

    It goes like this: The US will turn its back on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The entire world will follow. Everybody is fed up with this conflict. Let the Israelis and the Palestinians sort out their problems by themselves.

    Sounds sensible. Why must the world be bothered with these two unruly children? Let them kick each other as much as they like. The adults should not interfere.

    But in reality this is an outrageous suggestion. Because these two children are not of equal strength. When an adult sees a 14-year old mercilessly mistreating a 6-year old, can he just look on?

    Israel is materially a hundredfold, indeed a thousandfold, stronger than the Palestinians. The fourth strongest army in the world (by its own estimate) dominates the life of a helpless people. The Israeli economy, with some of the most advanced technologies in the world, dominates a people whose resources are next to nil. A 42-year old occupation dominates every single corner of occupied Palestine.

    This did not come about by a miracle. The huge gap between the strength of the two peoples has also been created by the support of the US for Israel. Israel would not be where it is today without this political, economic and military underpinning. Billions of dollars in annual aid, access to the most advanced weaponry in the world, the political immunity assured by the US veto in the Security Council and all the other forms of assistance have helped successive Israeli governments to maintain and intensify the occupation.

    Friedman does not propose ending this support, which itself is a massive intervention in this conflict, and is given to the stronger side. When he suggests that the US withdraw from the conflict, he is actually saying: let the Israeli government do what it is doing – continue the occupation, set up new settlements, withdraw the land from under the feet of the Palestinian people, go on with the murderous blockade that denies the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – men, women and children –almost all the necessities of life.

    This is a monstrous suggestion.

    True, the prophet Isaiah (11:6) describes a situation where the wolf shall dwell with the lamb. (Israeli humor comments: No problem, provided a new lamb is brought in every day.) Now the prophet Thomas proposes to let the wolf and the lamb sort out their relationship between themselves.

    BINYAMIN NETANYAHU could not wish for more in his wildest dreams. In the meantime he is satisfied with something less: President Obama’s acceptance of his latest trick.

    And thus Netanyahu confronted the nation with a tortured face and told us about his inhumanly difficult decision: to suspend the building activities in the settlements.

    The entire world applauded. How wonderful of Netanyahu to sacrifice his most sacred principles on the altar of peace. He has taken a stupendous step. Now it’s up to the Palestinians in their turn to respond with a grand gesture.

    But something is wrong in this picture and needs explaining.

    To return to the great Sherlock Holmes, who spoke about the curious incident of the dog in the night-time: “But the dog did nothing in the night-time!” he was told. “That was the curious incident,” the detective answered.

    It could have been assumed that after such a dramatic announcement by the Likud leader, the settlers would let out a deafening roar. Riots in the streets of all the towns. Blocking of all roads in the occupied territories. A rebellion of the settlers in the cabinet and the Knesset.

    But the dog did not bark. Not even a growl, just a token yelp. Culture Minister Limor Livnat opened her big mouth and declared that the Obama administration was “terrible”. That’s more or less all. The settler-minister Avigdor Lieberman even voted for the decision in the cabinet, and so did the ultra-extreme Likud minister Benny Begin, son of the late Prime Minister.

    Begin even explained his curious behavior on TV: he had no reason to vote against. After all, it was only a gesture to appease Obama. It has no real content. Building “public structures” will go on (about 300 new ones were approved just this week). Building will be continued in housing projects whose foundations have already been laid (at least 3000 apartments in the West Bank). And, most importantly: there will be absolutely no limitation to Jewish building activity in East Jerusalem, where building continues frantically in half a dozen locations in the heart of the Arab part of the city. And, besides, the suspension will last only for 10 months. Then, Begin promised, construction will be resumed in full swing.

    That would not have appeased the settlers, if they did not know what every Israeli knows: that it is all phony. Building will continue everywhere, with the officials cooperating on the quiet and the army closing its eyes. It will be claimed that building permits had already been issued, that the foundations had already been laid. (In many places extra foundations have indeed been laid, just in case.) That’s the way it was in the past, under the governments of Labor and Kadima, and that’s the way it will continue now. This week it became known that in the whole of the West Bank, just 14 (fourteen!) government inspectors are supervising all building activity.

    In the same TV program, Yossi Beilin was sitting next to Begin. It might have been expected that he at least would expose the fraud, but no. Beilin lauded Netanyahu for his brave act and saw in it a promising new beginning. This way he rendered important assistance in winning over world public opinion and setting the mind of Israeli innocents at rest. It would be difficult to imagine a sadder example of the collapse of the “Zionist Left”. The Geneva Initiative has turned into the Jerusalem Deception.

    The largest opposition party, too, joined the chorus. Tzipi Livni, who bears the impressive official title of “Leader of the Opposition”, mumbled something unintelligible and went back to sleep.

    AND OBAMA? He capitulated again. After giving up his original demand for a total freeze of building in the settlements, he had no choice but to give in again. He reacted to Netanyahu’s shabby performance as if it were high drama.

    Obama is in need of an achievement. It is being said that he has not achieved a single objective in the international arena. So here is an achievement. Netanyahu is freezing – sorry, restraining – sorry, suspending – settlement activity.

    My father taught me in my youth that one must never give in to a blackmailer. After giving in once, one is condemned to giving in again and again, while the demands of the blackmailer grow and grow. After giving in to the pro-Israel lobby once, Obama will have to give in again and again.

    One could almost pity him and his assistants. Such an impressive, such a tough, such an experienced group – and they are returning from Jerusalem like Napoleon’s army from Moscow.

    We saw poor George Mitchell. The man who brokered peace between the murderous factions in Ireland came to Jerusalem. Came again and again and again. Came as the representative of the world’s one remaining superpower to tell Israelis and Palestinians what they have to do. He was tough. He dictated terms.

    Israeli officials laughed at him behind his back. They are used to the likes of him. They have eaten them for breakfast. Remember William Rogers, Nixon’s Secretary of State and his peace plan? And the great Henry Kissinger? And even James Baker, who tried to impose economic sanctions on us? And Bill Clinton’s “Guidelines”? And the “vision” of George Bush? The political graveyard is full of American politicians who tried to impose limits on Israel, without being able or willing to use the necessary force. Welcome, George. Nice to see you, Hillary.

    What is so pathetic is that Netanyahu is not even deceiving Obama. The American president knows full well that this is all play acting. He is very intelligent. He is not very courageous. For the mess of pottage of a pretended achievement he has sold his political birthright. Even George Bush managed to extract from Ariel Sharon an undertaking to dismantle all settlements set up after March 2001 (needless to say, not a single one was dismantled).

    This is a great victory for Netanyahu, his second over Obama. Not yet the decisive victory, but a victory that bodes ill for the chances of peace in the near future.

    NETANYAHU DID NOT even try to deceive the Palestinians either. He knew that this is impossible.

    Every Palestinian understands Netanyahu’s announcement only too well. He has only to look out of his window to see what is happening. After all, Israel would not invest billions in new building if it had any intention of dismantling the settlements for peace within a year or two.

    There is hardly a place in the West Bank where one cannot see a settlement on a hilltop, near or far. In some places, one can see two or three. If one approaches closer, one can see the building activity in full swing, the overt and the covert, the “legal” and the “illegal”.

    And, most importantly: there is no Palestinian leader who could possibly agree to the continued building in East Jerusalem. The construction of Jewish housing projects goes on while Palestinian homes are being destroyed, “archeological” digs continue as well as all the other activities designed to “judaize” Jerusalem. To put it more bluntly: making Jerusalem “Arab-free”.

    When Obama capitulates to Netanyahu, there is nothing Mahmoud Abbas can do. When the Americans demand that the Palestinians answer Netanyahu’s “important” step with an important step of their own, it is nothing but a sad joke. The Americans help Netanyahu to put the ball into the Palestinian court, and with a pious rolling of their eyes ask why, after such a momentous Israeli gesture, the Palestinian do not agree to resuming the “peace process”.

    But Abbas cannot start negotiations without a total freeze of the settlements, especially in Jerusalem. The only dialog between Israelis and Palestinians that is taking place now is with Hamas. The prisoner exchange deal is nearing the point of decision. The main remaining bone of contention is the freeing of the Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, who was sentenced to five life terms.

    If the deal is clinched and Barghouti freed, it will be another humiliation for Abbas: it will be said that Hamas, not he, has achieved the liberation of the Fatah leader. The freed Barghouti will act to mend the split between Fatah and Hamas and will be a credible candidate for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority. Then, a new chapter of the conflict will begin.

    IT IS worth reading the full text of Isaiah’s prophecy: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”

    The role of the little child, so it seems, falls to Obama. If he accepts, God forbid, Friedman’s advice and leaves the picture, the vision will turn into a nightmare. The Israeli government will increase the oppression, the Palestinians will turn to unbridled terrorism, the entire world will be dragged into bloody chaos.

    Some advice.



  16. Pingback: Iraq occupation on stage | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  17. Pingback: US journalist regrets his Iraq war support | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  18. Pingback: Bush’s Iraq invasion caused present bloodshed, Chelsea Manning writes | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  19. Pingback: Bush regime relic Bolton wants war on Iran | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  20. Pingback: New York Times Saudi dictatorship propaganda | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  21. Pingback: Saudi dictatorship-Massachusetts Institute of Technology connection | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  22. Pingback: Profits first, coronavirus patients, die, Trump says | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  23. Pingback: COVID-19 crisis in the USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.