Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Israelis are playing with fire...



Nick Cook, 36, of Grand Ledge did two tours in Iraq and, as an Army troop commander, lost five soldiers. “For me, it’s very upsetting,” he said, “I watch what’s happening there. My first six months, it was very intense fighting in Baghdad, but then there was prosperity and good news. And to see that now on the verge of collapse, and knowing I lost five soldiers, it’s very hard. These kids may have died in vain.” (...) It also was a costly war financially for the U.S. The war will eventually cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion, including long-term care for wounded veterans, according to a 2013 study by the Costs of War project, based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. Detroit Free Press
"If people don't do politics, others will do it for you. And when others do it for you, they can steal your rights, your democracy and your wallet." Pablo Iglesias - Podemos

The Middle East now has been torn apart by American invasions and attacks, and careless ideas about how to remake other peoples’ lives according to our own ideas about how they should live and behave and believe. It’s been like the Huns passing through: millions are dead, cities in ruins, the Muslims at war with one another. Iraq and Syria, and probably Jordan, as they exist today, and possibly Lebanon, may never recover from this. The Arabs will survive, and one day Palestine and ancient Syria and Mesopotamia will undoubtedly be reconstituted. Israel? It has existed as a modern state for little more than six decades, although it too existed in antiquity. Will modern Israel still exist at the end of this century? After all that has, and will, happen? I wonder what is the answer. William Pfaff

Through their actions, young American Jews can shape the way a Jewish state wields power. And how Jews behave with power represents a post facto referendum on the Jewish ethical tradition itself. We should tell them that if they believe Jews possess a special passion for justice, they must prove it. And they must prove it in Israel, because although justice is endangered in the United States and all over the world, only in Israel is the Jewish people’s honor at stake. Peter Beinart - Haaretz
Things change if people make them change.

Things have changed since the American people were encouraged to put Vietnam behind them and "move on". The "gate keeper" function of  "mainstream media" which worked mightily to that end is, if not dead, very, very sick and not expected to recover... especially when confronting something as stubborn as Middle Eastern reality.

Unlike "manufactured consent" social media opinion  today is largely grassroots, village-like. It is a  sullen, brooding, self-confirming, bench tested, consensus, slow to build, hard to budge and in this sense "authentic".

Many commentators discount the sullen power of public opinion, this is most unwise. Publicists and think tanks can spend billions trying to convince the public that the sky is green and the grass is blue, but to no effect, finally their efforts boil down to Redd Fox’s cheating wife, who, when caught in the act, tells her furious husband, "go on, believe your goddamn, lying eyes!".

This is now the case of American public opinion and the Middle East. Liberal-Interventionists can whine and Neocons can howl, but Americans have had enough of the Middle East, they will not be easily dragged back there again to spend blood and treasure poring sand down a rat hole and will resent mightily anyone who tries to drag them back.

Netanyahu and the settlers should not press their luck much farther, if Israel negotiates a two state solution with the Palestinians and pulls back to something like the 1967 borders, I believe that Americans would still be willing and still be able to defend that status with decisive armed force and considerable soft power, but that is certainly not the direction things are moving. What I don't think is that Americans will agree to sending their sons and daughters to die defending apartheid and ethnic cleansing or agree to pay for that out of their taxes. Time is running out. DS

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Iran deal

David Seaton's News Links
Things may unravel but at least there is hope. Perhaps this is what is most threatening to Netanyahu. He has never been willing to test the Palestinians in a serious way — test their good faith, test ending the humiliations of the occupation, test from strength the power of justice and peace. He has preferred domination, preferred the Palestinians down and under pressure. Obama and Kerry have invited Netanyahu to think again — and not just about Iran. Nothing, to judge by the hyperventilating Israeli rhetoric, could be more disconcerting. Roger Cohen - New York Times

If a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear issue is blocked and war follows, Israel will be accused of dragging America into a conflict. But if Mr Netanyahu confronts the Obama administration through the US Congress – and loses – the fabled power of the Israel lobby may never be quite the same again. Gideon Rachman - Financial Times
High political drama is in the offing, it appears that the President of the United States has (with appropriate deviousness) lured Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into a decisive political battle on a battlefield of the president's choosing; with world political opinion on Obama's side and the American people recently having firmly signaled the US Congress their strongest reluctance to any more military involvement in the Middle East.

Obama just might win this one.

At this point what I find most truly interesting about the Iran deal as how secretly it was worked up... and that the Israelis apparently were kept in the dark... This is leading to a direct conflict between the United States and Israel... If Obama loses this test of strength, nothing much will have changed, every US president who has ever confronted them directly, has been defeated by the AIPAC or had their careers ruined, (with the exception of Eisenhower, when he pinned their ears back during the Suez crisis), but if Obama wins, that victory will mark a sea change in American politics. DS


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Israel: the fiddler fiddles while the roof burns

David Seaton's News Links
Samson pulls down the temple (in Gaza, no less)

Henry Kissinger famously wished that the Bible had been written in Uganda...
Israel has never been richer, safer, more culturally productive or more dynamic. Terrorism is on the wane. Yet the occupation grinds on next door with little attention to its consequences. Moreover, as the power balance has shifted from the European elite, Israel has never felt more Middle Eastern in its popular culture, music and public displays of religion. Yet it is increasingly cut off from its region, which despises it perhaps more than ever.(...) Some have likened Israel to the deck of the Titanic. That may not be right, but you can’t help wondering about that next iceberg. EthanBronner - New York Times
In this post I simply want to note my sense of foreboding, which this snippet from the New York Times encapsulates.
Readers of my blog will remember that I spent a very formative year of my youth working, living and loving in Israel... Henry Kissinger's wish that Israel had been established anywhere but the Middle East fits my sentiments exactly. What a wonderful country it could have been if it had truly been "a land without people, for a people without land" instead of the result of an ethnic cleansing and ongoing repression and humiliation whose ensuing rage has awakened the world of Islam from its slumbers and united millions of disparate peoples in their thirst for revenge.
The energy, the vivaciousness, the creativity of a people central to the narrative of civilization, are day by day creating a massive tragedy for themselves and the rest of humanity.
Here is how the American Heritage Dictionary defines "tragedy"
A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances.
The NYT article gives a perfect description of the curious, Club Med world of its own, where the Israelis contemplate their navels in the shadows of a sun kissed "Götterdämmerung", a word which Merriam Webster defines as:
A collapse (as of a society or regime) marked by catastrophic violence and disorder
I believe that it will be impossible for the world to assimilate or process what is about to unfold. It is difficult for me to express the heaviness of my heart. DS

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Obama's triumphal entry into Jerusalem... yada yada yada

David Seaton's News Links
The US is hoping that Obama's positive first trip will reinvigorate peace efforts, though most settlers are not worried. They see the composition of the new Israeli cabinet as a reassurance that Israeli policy will move away from peace negotiations. Christian Science Monitor
Obama's visit to Israel was strictly for domestic American consumption, because unless the president and Netanyahu took a decision on when to attack or not attack Iran or intervene in Syria's civil war, which they could have done by telephone, his trip was strictly a public relations exercise, certainly it wont affect the "Peace Process" or lead to Palestinian statehood.
The much talked about "Two State Solution" is not stalled or even dead, it never existed: it and the "Peace Process" said to be leading to the founding of a "viable, contiguous, Palestinian state",  or even a Bantustan, was never more than a way of stalling, killing time, running out the clock. Israel has been waiting for a moment that now appears to be fast approaching: the disintegration of the Middle East as the west has known it since the end of World War One. In a short time all of the borders that were designed during the First World War by Britain and France  to suit western interests, will now probably become undefined, fluid if not gaseous... just as Israel's own borders are.
You may not have noticed, but Israel's frontiers have been undefined since 1967. The objective of the Israelis in avoiding the "Two State Solution" is  to not define them "prematurely", before all the pieces on board start to move.  In times like these, the last thing the Israelis want is to be the only ones with firmly drawn frontiers when all other borders in the Middle East are going to be negotiable. The settlers are not an "obstacle to peace", they are merely an excuse for Israel not to define those frontiers.
This Middle Eastern disintegration has been a long time coming and perfectly foreseeable by anyone as cool headed and long headed as the Israelis. The neocon led invasion of Iraq with its "real men go to Tehran" leitmotif, was itself a desperate, Hail Mary pass, attempt to control the events that are now taking place with that certain spontaneity of what looks like a historically driven process.
"What we're seeing here is, in a sense, the growing—the birth pangs of a new Middle East, and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old Middle East". Condoleezza Rice - 2006
Just in case you don't know what the "old Middle East" looked like, check this map... As you can see, it's mostly about Turkey and Iran... Not many borders visible except theirs and Britain's protectorates and today the British, who used to control Egypt, are no longer players... and as you may have noticed lately, America's once smothering grip on the area is fading fast.
Map-ME-1914
At this moment Syria is literally disintegrating, spewing nearly half a million refugees into tiny, neighboring  Jordan, where the Palestinian majority is permanently restless and the influence of the Muslim brotherhood is growing. The Muslim Brotherhood controls Egypt and Hamas in Gaza is an offshoot of the Brotherhood; and then there is always Al Qaeda which is growing exponentially in the Syrian conflict. So much for the Sunnis
As to the Shiites: Iran besides working diligently on developing atomic capabilities is fighting a proxy war alongside Assad in Syria, is the major power influence in Iraq and is heavily arming  Shiite Hezbollah on Israel's Lebanese border...
What could the Israelis expect to achieve as all this comes unraveled and the shooting starts?
Simple: they could ethnically cleanse Judea, Samaria, Gaza (and maybe Israel itself too while they are at it) all in the midst of the confusion of a military free for all.  Chaos with thousands of refugees simultaneously in movement everywhere... and when the dust settles, let the Palestinians establish their "viable and contiguous state" on the ruins of the Jordanian monarchy as a Sunni buffer between Israel and Shiite Iraq... if they so desire.
Who thought all this up? Ariel Sharon, I should imagine, who else? DS

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Israeli elections

David Seaton's News Links
“This is a government that will not be able to make decisions on anything — on the peace process, on equal sharing of the burden or on budgetary matters,” Emmanuel Rosen, a prominent television analyst, said early Wednesday on Channel 10. “The next elections are already on the horizon.” New York Times
All the cliches about Israel come to mind here: two Israelis mean three opinions, or the land of a hundred ghettos. In fact what you have is one of the west's most unequal societies, a collective of people who range from what is left of the founding Zionist families, on through opportunistic Russian money launderers, to Yemenite and Moroccan sub-proletarians, none of them particularly religious, all seasoned with mostly American Haredim that "sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them"... nor serveth they in the Israeli armed forces, neither payeth they taxes either, by the way.
All of this mishmash directly connected to the masculine attributes of the US Congress.
I lived in Tel Aviv for a year and I loved the place, a sexy Mediterranean climate and beach filled with some of the world's most attractive women, all with the energy of New York. I had to go to Jerusalem almost every other day (I was a budding paparazzo)... horrible place, filled with priests and rabbis and soldiers with guns. And I came to the following conclusion: If the Arabs ever declared peace on the Israelis and left them strictly alone, with no external enemies, the country would tear itself apart in civil strife and probably disappear in a very short time. All that is holding them together are their enemies...
They would be crazy to want peace. DS

Friday, November 30, 2012

Palestine at the UN

David Seaton's News Links 
Some commentators have said the UN vote, which, by a massive majority, gave Palestine observer status is meaningless... Meaningless?
Now, for starters, we finally are not talking about a stateless "PLO" or the "Palestinian people", we are talking about "Palestine", a country that now actually and officially exists as a sovereign state, although its territory is totally occupied and subjugated and slowly being colonized, by another state, Israel.
The Israelis, of course act as if nothing had happened, in fact to show their contempt for the UN vote they have authorized the construction of 3,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, only a day after the UN upgraded the Palestinians' status.As always any body or anybody that backs Israel into a political or humanitarian corner immediately ceases to be "a credible mediator", or "partner for peace", that is the general hasbara line and always has been. Nothing new here, except it wont work anymore.
The significance of the UN vote is that as of now, the vast majority of the world's sovereign states, with their vote, or with their abstention, have simply told Israel that it ceases to have that special status of political and moral immunity that it has hidden behind until now.
Even Germany abstained!
That is how much moral legitimacy Israel has lost; Germany dared to abstain!
Not important? To begin with the UN vote is a universal slap down of American hypocrisy and the US role in the pantomime "peace process"... It also drains a lot of energy from the march to war with Iran.
But, in my opinion the most important thing the UN vote does is to firmly underline the validity and continuing relevance of the post - six day war, UN Resolution-242, which most Israelis consider a joke.
Now the West Bank territories that are illegally occupied by Israeli troops and "settlers" are clearly the legitimate property of a people whose existence and rights as the citizens of a universally recognized, but illegally occupied, state have now been overwhelmingly validated by the "international community"...
This leads us to the point that most worries the Israelis: the possibility that the state of Palestine will take the state of Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. And well the Israelis may worry: for decades they have been in flagrant violation of international law as an occupying power with hundreds of well documented incidents, each of which could lead to international arrest warrants.
The UN vote has made it clear that if Israel doesn't change its ways, it is about to gain apartheid-South African-pos-Milosevic-Serbian status. This will certainly complicate things for them in dealing with their only friendly neighbors and major trading partner, the EU, both culturally and commercially.
Because Israel is about to replace apartheid South Africa as a universal pariah.
Not important? I cannot think of any comparable disaster in the entire history of modern Israel. DS

Friday, August 03, 2012

Bibi Netanyahu and Israel's primal fallacy

David Seaton's News Links
Bibi-1
(David Grossman) said he feared that Netanyahu and Barak would bomb Iran partly out of a perceived strategic need to back up their threats with action, but also because of what he sees as Netanyahu’s sense of historic responsibility to save the “people of eternity.” “He has this idea that we are the people of eternity, am ha’netzach from the Bible, and our negotiations, as he sees it, are with eternity, with the primal currents of history and mankind, while the United States, with all due respect, is just another superpower like Rome or Athens or Babylon, and we’ve survived them all,” said Grossman. “I’m afraid that this way of thinking might encourage Netanyahu to take the step” of attacking Iran. The Nation
David Grossman, along with Amos Oz, is Israel's most prestigious writer and considered by many Israelis as the "conscience of the country". He has given an interview in The Nation on Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rush to war with Iran which is terrifying. I find Grossman's insight into Bibi's mind endlessly frightening and disturbing, Up til now I had thought that Netanyahu was a common and garden variety thug... now I think he might be seriously insane
If Grossman is right, that Netanyahu's believes that Israelis are "the people of eternity", and that Israel's negotiations can only be with "eternity", (whatever that is) this means that Israel is governed right now by someone who is crazier than any Ayatollah in Iran... Frankly that idea of negotiating with the "primal currents of history and mankind" has a certain weird, Nietzschean-Wagnerean ring to it: the distilled, national-mystical, vapors of fascism.
So Israel, so small and vulnerable, is now apparently ruled by a madman.
This takes me to what I call "Israel's primal fallacy".
That fallacy is the proposition that the Jewish people will only be safe when they are gathered together in a land where they are the sole inhabitants and depend entirely on their own power to defend themselves and  that land must be in the tiny, biblical Israel.
I think if you proposed to the Jewish people's greatest enemy in history, the idea that half the Jewish people in the world should gather together in a very small area, a territory where they could be utterly annihilated in the space of a couple of hours, that monster would think it a brilliant idea: such a time saver.
Any infantryman will tell you that soldiers under fire should never bunch up, but rather spread out... that is a soldier's rule one. Not having crazy officers might be rule two.
Israel is breaking both rules.
My opinion is that the two greatest defenses ever possessed by the Jewish people, going all the way back to the days when Moses led them out of bondage in Egypt, are:
One: The United States Constitution, whose rules seem to be holding up better than the Bible's in the years since it was written.
and
Two: America's immense spaces.
In short I believe that the "promised land" of the Jews is the United States of America, where Jews can be as Jewish as they want (see Brooklyn's Hasidim) or as assimilated (see Noam Chomsky) as they wish and participate, à la carte, in  the mainstream of an amazingly varied human tapestry (see Walt Whitman) ... all in perfect safety.
Even the West Bank settlers (most of whom seem to already be US citizens) could make a pilgrimage to what I would call "eretz yiArizona", where they could keep their guns and try their luck at hassling Mexicans... America has something for everytbody... if you don't see what you want just ask.
Not only that, perhaps most importantly of all, the United States of America is probably the only country in the world that truly loves Jewish people, where they have actually created much of what the world knows and loves of America. What I am afraid of is that disasters flowing from the "people of eternity" mysticism could in any way sour that "promised land". DS

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Iran... is a trap being set?

If the United States and/or Israel finally do attack Iran, as it now appears inevitable, they may end up falling into a trap laid by Russia and China.

"Garden Airplane Trap"
Max Ernst - Art Institute of Chicago

The Americans know Iran did not bring the RQ-170 down because their intelligence agencies discovered the culprits were a Chinese cyber warfare team which seized control of the drone; Iran was given the passive role of being told where and when to hold out their arms to catch it. The Obama administration is keeping this information to itself so as not to compromise US economic relations with China, especially in a presidential election year. Debka

Iran tested its passive radar system and electronic warfare equipment in the latest aerial drills aimed at maintaining readiness of a nationwide radar network, local satellite Press TV reported on Sunday. Colonel Abolfazl Sepehri, spokesman for the four-day military exercises, said that Iran's armed forces deployed the country's most up-to-date passive radar system and hardware for electronic warfare on Saturday, according to the report, which did not elaborate on the system. Xinhua - 2011-11-20
For the modern armed forces of any large, militarily advanced country, which might find itself hypothetically facing the United States armed forces in battle -- probably only Russia and China  fit this description -- the problem of defending themselves (or more probably a client state) against an American offensive is above all about winning an anti-aircraft battle. Finding ways of raising the cost of an air attack, beyond what Americans would be prepared to pay, is surely one the most important, if not the most important, field of study for their staff officers.
In any hypothetical conflict, (which is what general staffs spend their lives preparing for) American ground forces could only enter China or Russia -- or their clients -- vital space if they could first destroy their air defenses and then follow it up with a "turkey shoot" in the same way they did to Saddam Hussein in both Gulf wars or to Serbia in the Kosovo conflict.This is the major problem to be solved and you may be sure that much treasure and grey matter are being spent on solving it.
Iran might prove to be an ideal place to "bench test" Russia and China's antiaircraft systems and perhaps deal a heavy blow to Washington and Israel's idea of cost-free gunboat diplomacy.
It is obvious that a large modern army with an adequate antiaircraft defense, which would also mean effective electronic and cyber countermeasures, would have little to fear from American ground forces, which have been turned into a "lean and mean" counter-insurgency force, but one which has not been able to emerge victorious from any counter-insurgency scenarios, either in Iraq or Afghanistan... or even clearly define what such a victory would be. This reduced ground capability would be totally inadequate for any "boots on the ground" activity in a terrain as large and rugged as Iran's, unless complete mastery of the airspace were insured.
Everything in American military thinking revolves around overwhelming air superiority in the face of a helpless and prostrate enemy. To be able to defang that air superiority from the ground, would entirely change the world's military balance of power. Therefore it is surely a primary objective of all states that feel themselves threatened by American power and any military-industrial complex that could develop such capabilities would be assured of brisk sales.
The US Navy's aircraft carrier battle groups, would also be extremely vulnerable to the same electronic and cyber counter measures and missile systems the that the USAF would be. The central challenge in resisting American power then is to stymy and neutralize its air and sea power from the ground.  The same in even a greater degree would apply to Israel. The Americans and the Israelis depend entirely on their technological superiority to attack others at little or no human cost to themselves. Much of America's foreign policy is predicated on this relative invulnerability of its forces, Israel's almost entirely so.
The escalating situation in Iran is providing both Russians and the Chinese with an ideal laboratory for bench testing and developing effective countermeasures against American air, cyber and electronic superiority. Something similar occurred in miniature in 1999, during the Kosovo conflict, but enormous Iran is an infinitely more interesting antiaircraft "laboratory" than tiny Serbia ever could have been.
The attack on Iran is now being treated as something inevitable, something which is sure to occur this spring... it could end up being a disaster on the scale of Spain's "Invincible Armada". DS

PS. This video is a very interesting addition to the conversation:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Iran's bomb... the bottom line

Here’s the bottom line: an Israeli attack unites Iran in fury, locks in the Islamic Republic for a generation, cements the Syrian regime, radicalizes the Arab world at a moment of delicate transition, ignites Hezbollah on the Lebanese border, boosts Hamas, endangers U.S. troops in the region, sparks terrorism, propels oil skyward, triggers a possible regional war, offers a lifeline to Iran just as Europe is about to stop buying its oil, adds a Persian to the Arab vendetta against Israel, and may at best set back Iran’s nuclear ambitions a couple of years. Roger Cohen - NYT
David Seaton's News Links
The selling point of starving or beating Iran into submission is that if they had an atomic bomb they would use it to attack Israel, who has at least 200 such weapons. The idea being that Iran is planning to turn Israel, its Jewish inhabitants and a considerable number of Palestinian Muslims into a radioactive Auschwitz.
The Persians, though notably strict in their religious practice, are eminently rational. They are just as rational as Khrushchev's USSR. They would not start an atomic exchange that would mean the annihilation of their country. The biggest problem brought on by the Iranians having a bomb would be that all the other countries in the region would want one too.
An atomic-weaponized Middle East would not mean a nuclear free for all, but it would mean that Israel's and America's freedom of action to behave like a colonial power "punishing the natives", would be forever curtailed.

It would be impossible for the USA to encourage Israel to continue a war like the one against Hezbollah in 2006 until it "finished the the job" or to have invaded Iraq for that matter either.
With atomic weapons in the mix, any action by Israel that could remotely set off to a general war in the Middle East, one with even the remotest possibility of an atomic exchange, would have to be snuffed out at the first whiff of smoke.
Lobby or no lobby, the USA would have to keep Israel on a very tight leash and Israel and their lobby know that. This would certainly cramp Israel's style, and many Israelis would find that restraint intolerable and a significant number of the "best and the brightest" of Israel's technological elite, who could find work anywhere in the world on 24 hours notice, might possibly take their families and head out for safer climes.
The fear of not being able to sufficiently intimidate the Muslim population of the Middle East, not any fear of Israel's perishing in a nuclear holocaust, is at the bottom of America and Israel's drive to eliminate Iran's nuclear program. DS

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Themes for 2012: America's relations with Israel

David Seaton's News Links
The United States of America's relationship with Israel is probably the touchiest subject in American politics... a classic "third rail", touch it and you die, sort of subject, and yet it has become one of the major focus points of US political life.  How can it be impossible to question something this important in a democracy without being expelled into the outer darkness, where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth?
It is a subject that has fascinated me since I was a young man. Way back in the 1970s, when I was a budding, (never really flowered), news photographer, I lived for nearly a year in Tel-Aviv. Israel was a very different place then, a very austere, egalitarian, socialist country and very popular with progressives on both sides of the Atlantic. Many things have happened since then to change all that, suffice to say that everything in the previous sentence has been turned completely upside down.
I was very happy there, I met many interesting people, heard innumerable, fascinating, anecdotes and participated in political conversations where I got a crash course in geopolitics... and probably most important of all, I had a wonderful Israeli girlfriend and participated in her family's life.  You could say that Israel made a strong impression on me and that I "bonded" with that country.  At the same time that I loved the place and the people,  even back then I had the feeling that,  by holding onto the territories they had conquered in the Six-Day War, taking their resources and oppressing  the inhabitants, Israel was entering into a soul destroying bargain, selling its moral birthright for a mess of pottage
Sometimes nothing is more unrealistic than realism. Israel's moral position is/was of much more strategic value to Israel's survival than a few kilometers of military "strategic depth" or the vapors of any biblical "entitlement". This is becoming clearer with every passing news cycle. The political awakening and mass enfranchisement of the Arab peoples expressed in the words, "Arab Spring", is only accelerating this process, the amount of political energy being released is massive
With Binyamin Netanyahu as Israel's prime minister the two state solution, which already showed clear signs of rigor mortis, has begun to stink.
As Thomas Friedman has pointed out, from that point on we are looking at a clear alternative of official apartheid or opportunistic ethnic cleansing as alternatives to the liquidation of the present "Jewish state", not necessarily the end of a state where Jews live comfortably, but the end of a so defined democratic "Jewish state".
I think that Netanyahu would be comfortable with either apartheid or ethnic cleansing although I think he would prefer the latter to the former. As the reality of this sinks in, America's relationship with Israel will inevitably become increasingly conflicted.
This conflict could be symbolized by the American people choosing Barack Obama as their president. Despite his every pledge of loyalty and support of Israel he is not trusted by the Israeli government or their US lobby.
This conflict is not about what  Americans actually voted for when they elected Barack Obama, but what they thought they had voted for and although they may not realize it, what they think they voted for sends a powerful message to Israel. A message which conflicts with Israel's very foundations. 
Americans voted for a person who by birth  belongs to no particular "tribe" or ethnic group, an amalgam of races and cultures: a person who is a symbol of some sort of "new man", freed from any historical or ethnic preconditioning. This "Adam" quality, perhaps more than any other, excited and continues to excite Americans and many others around the globe.
However this quality is in direct conflict with Israel's whole raison d'être.
To avoid being tiresome, only one example that could sum it all up: Israel is a country where a racial-religious qualification is needed to buy or lease state owned land.  This simply cannot be squared with what the Americans voted for when they voted for Barack Obama. The question is: how are those who voted for what Barack Obama symbolizes supposed to have a "special relationship" with a country predicated on religious or racial identity? I am not talking about diplomatic, commercial, military or friendly relations with such a state, America has always had, has and will always have such relations with many much less attractive states than Israel, but a "till death us do part", special, most important ally, relationship?
How could two countries be more different? If any people in the world have a long memory, it is the Israelis, and no people in the world have or have ever had such a short memory as the Americans. Israel is all about purity of pedigree and lineage, of maintaining the group intact. There are literally endless discussions in Israel on the subject, "who is a Jew ".   America is defined by an ancient argument between the country's culture and the country's values. Race prejudice is as old and rooted in American culture as the European colonization of America. In his inaugural speech President Obama observed that 60 years ago his father would not have been served in a Washington restaurant: that's the way it had been for hundreds of years.
Americans, in electing Obama, have symbolized the repudiation of their own tribal history and traditions and have chosen to reinvent themselves in accordance with the foundational principals of the Republic. Israelis by choosing to reoccupy land they haven't lived on for thousands of years, have chosen to reinvent themselves by embracing their own tribal history and traditions. What each country stands for is diametrically opposed to what the other stands for and their national trajectories are traveling in opposite directions. That will be an increasingly important theme in 2012 and the years to follow, of that I am sure. DS

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Egypt

David Seaton's News Leaks
The first round of voting in Egypt shows a strong showing for the Islamic parties, both the Muslim Brotherhood and the more extreme Salifist party Al-Nour. At this point the Islamists appear to have taken two thirds of the vote
This first round took place in urban districts where more western oriented parties were expected to make a good showing. The next round of voting will take place in rural areas, which are more traditional and conservative, so the final result will probably have the Islamists with clear, governing majorities. In the west there is now much wailing and gnashing of teeth at this turn of events. In my opinion, whether this is bad news or good news for the west depends much more on us than on the Egyptians.
The first task of a democratically elected government is to deliver the goods to the voters. As Egypt's tourist industry is probably its biggest source of foreign exchange, I would imagine that a stable, democratically elected government of any ideological color would try to create an environment where tourists feel safe. In my opinion a democratically elected Islamic government might be the most efficient bulwark imaginable against terrorist groups aiming to disrupt tourism, thereby emptying that government's coffers. Starting a war with Israel would also be a distraction from eliminating corruption and bringing better social services to the population, which have always been the hallmark issues of the Muslim Brotherhood.
It is likely that in the medium to long term the most important result of the Egyptian revolution will be Egypt's return to being the intellectual and cultural center of the Arab world...  Without Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are only poor substitutes. A democratic Egypt (Islamic or not) will dynamize the entire region... neutralizing that soft power was Washington's aim in supporting Mubarak.
Probably the greatest danger to Israel from the new Egypt would come from Egypt's soft power, not its military forces. More than tanks and rockets, Egypt means movies and books and the Al-Azhar university (founded in 970AD). This renewed cultural projection and prestige will change the entire texture of Arab culture and Sunni Islam in the coming years.
The biggest error hand wringers are making is to confuse Egypt with Iran. Shiite Islam is a minority in the Muslim world and Iranians are not Arabs. The religion of Egypt is Sunni Islam and Egypt is the largest and most important Arabic speaking, Sunni Muslim country, so whatever the effect of an Islamist Egypt will be, it will be bigger than the effect of an Islamist Iran, because it will occur within the dominant religious current and in the principal language of the Middle East and in its most important nation.  It will be most interesting to see if Egypt joins Saudi Arabia in opposing Iran or whether they will extend their hand to the Ayatollahs.
As far as the USA is concerned the problem of the Middle East is a problem of domestic American politics. Israel is the measure of all things and Israel is a society in crisis and just as a person with a toothache, when tiny Israel twinges, the US political establishment can think of little else. And just as a person with a toothache has problems thinking straight. American policy in the Middle East is wallowing in incoherency and has been for years.
Israel is not in a happy situation, all the tides in the region are running against them and with all their eggs  in the American basket they watch uneasily  as the USA  pulls back from its military involvement in the Middle East.  Certainly any democratic regime in Egypt or any other Arab country is not going to be friendly to Israel, certainly while the Palestinians are being treated as they are...  As it stands today, I cannot image any revitalization and empowerment of the Arab masses could ever benefit Israel, I think it is way too late for that. The Israelis had a real chance for peace after Bush the First won the opening round of the Iraq war, they passed it up, too bad for them, ... Like Bessie Smith once put it, if they make their own bed hard, that's the way it lies. DS

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Palestine at the UN... masks fall, all stand naked

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The entire rest of the world is in agreement: Palestine should be admitted to the UN. This whole controversy boils down to a problem of America's domestic politics, which is taking the USA down the path of throwing away any influence it might have gained in the Muslim world with the election of Barack Obama. Here is Gideon Levy writing in Haaretz:
The riddle remains unsolved because it is difficult to comprehend how a black president, who believes in justice and equality, can bow down with such unbearable lightness to a right-wing government in Israel, to narrow election considerations in America, and to Jewish and Christian lobbies. It is difficult to comprehend how his America does not understand that it is shooting itself with a lethal bullet in the heart by supporting the Israeli refusal to make peace. After all, deep in his heart this American president knows that the Palestinians' demand is justified because they too are worthy, finally, of becoming independent - and that Israel supports occupation. Why does one have to wait for the book of memoirs that he will surely write one day in order to hear this? He knows that the Arab Spring, that erupted to a certain extent in the wake of his promising Cairo speech, will now turn its anger and hatred toward America, once more toward America, simply because of its insistent opposition to Palestinian freedom.
The pressures that Levy speaks about are both brutal and naked.
For example, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee who wants Congress to pass a bill cutting off all American funding for the United Nations if they vote freely to admit Palestine as member state.
This naked and brutal pressure, which could eventually cause severe damage to America's world influence and its economy, could end up producing a disastrous domestic blow back.
To give a clear example of what I mean, the ADL takes periodic polls to determine the ebb and flow of antisemitism in the USA. The question asked to determine if the respondent is an antisemite or not is the following: "Do you believe that Jews have too much influence in the United States?" To answer in the affirmative is to be classed as an antisemite.
Read the following by Thomas Friedman in today's NYT:
I’ve never been more worried about Israel’s future. The crumbling of key pillars of Israel’s security — the peace with Egypt, the stability of Syria and the friendship of Turkey and Jordan — coupled with the most diplomatically inept and strategically incompetent government in Israel’s history have put Israel in a very dangerous situation.

This has also left the U.S. government fed up with Israel’s leadership but a hostage to its ineptitude, because the powerful pro-Israel lobby in an election season can force the administration to defend Israel at the U.N., even when it knows Israel is pursuing policies not in its own interest or America’s. (emphasis mine)
I doubt if Thomas Friedman, of all people, is going to be accused of being a self-hating Jew, but, under a strict reading of the ADL's criteria, Thomas Friedman is an antisemite.
Now if someone as unlikely as Thomas Friedman could ever be accused of antisemitism, then imagine what serious people. but who "don't have skin in the game" as he does, may be thinking right now or will certainly be thinking if Netanyahu's policies end up damaging the US economy at precisely this moment. DS

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What the hell is Rupert Murdoch up to?

"Der Antisemitismus ist der Sozialismus der dummen Kerle"
"Antisemitism is the socialism of fools"

August Bebel























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I am coming to the conclusion that something very strange is going on. 

I come to that conclusion merely starting from the simple premise that a central reason for the world's most powerful media lord being so rich and powerful is that employees of Rupert Murdoch's vast empire are not allowed to do anything that is not productive for Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch, who besides owning Fox, owns The Wall Street Journal,The Weekly Standard,and many other assorted media in America and abroad, is consciously permitting his employee, Glenn Beck to tread rather heavily upon the toes of Jewish feelings; allowing him to cross red lines of perceived antisemitism, to commit transgressions that today would be career breakers for anyone without Murdoch's powerful backing. Following my original premise, Glenn Beck is no more responsible for the harm he does than a pit-bull is for mauling a child... it is the pit-bull's owner's fault, for unmuzzling him.  Beck's master is Rupert Murdoch.  

An example of how powerful the taboos that Beck is breaking are could be the nearly instantaneous defenestration of the fashion designer, John Galliano

Galliano is considered one of the world's most talented designers, credited with singlehandedly saving the house of Dior from oblivion, but a private, drunken, antisemitic diatribe in a Paris nightclub was enough to send him packing. Here is how a commentator on a NYT article about Galliano compared the two cases:
Too bad that doesn't get Glenn Beck fired here, where he doesn't just say anti-semitic remarks in a bar, but broadcasts them via television and radio to millions of people. We tolerate hate speech when the network has a highly rated host who is a puppet for the views of his bosses. No matter that he is a hate-monger teetering on the edges of sanity. Dior is more responsible than Fox or the FCC. -  "Ground Control" (commenting in the NYT about John Galliano's firing)
The people lining up against Beck are not chopped liver, here is a sample:
Prominent US conservatives have begun to distance themselves from Glenn Beck, the radio and television host, after outbursts warning of a looming caliphate in the Middle East and likening Reform Judaism to “radicalised Islam”.(...)  Mr Beck, a broadcasting and publishing phenomenon with an annual income estimated at $32m, was dubbed “the most disturbing personality on cable television” last week by Peter Wehner, who served in the last three Republican administrations.(...) Jennifer Rubin, who writes a Washington Post column called Right Turn, urged conservative groups and candidates to disassociate themselves from Mr Beck. “If they host, appear with or defend him they should be prepared to have his extremist views affixed to them,” she wrote. The comments follow an article by Bill Kristol, the conservative editor of the Weekly Standard, warning that Mr Beck’s “hysteria” in seeking to link “caliphate-promoters” with figures on the left of US politics was unhealthy.(...) “He’s marginalising himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s,” Mr Kristol wrote. Mr Beck dismissed Mr Kristol’s remarks as evidence that a Republican “fiefdom” had lost touch with conservatives and was set on preserving its own power. - Financial Times
But Glenn Beck keeps pushing the envelope. Murdoch has got Beck's back and Beck is as cool as a cucumber. Why?

Off the top of my head I can think of two reasons for Murdoch's evident blessing of Beck's flirting with antisemitism and I would love to hear other opinions, but these are the first two that occur to me for the moment. 

One is "reductionist" and the other one is big and fat, but they are not mutually exclusive.

The first one is simply that the extensive market research, focus groups and private polling that Murdoch's organization must certainly do in order to stay in touch with their readers and viewers may have turned up a tolerance or even a "market" for antisemitism in the conspiracy sodden American public, addicted as they are to wild theories of every stripe. In short, this behavior is profitable. I don't think that Murdoch would ever back up Glenn Beck this way for very long if something like that wasn't already on his radar.

This brings me to something fatter and juicier: the immanent collapse of America's traditional foreign policy in the world's oil-patch, the Middle East.

Here is how Thomas Friedman describes the situation in the New York Times:
Add it all up and what does it say? It says you have a very powerful convergence of forces driving a broad movement for change. It says we’re just at the start of something huge. And it says that if we don’t have a more serious energy policy, the difference between a good day and bad day for America from here on will hinge on how the 86-year-old king of Saudi Arabia manages all this change. Thomas Friedman - NYT
Imagine if you will, that a long, hard fought, Libya-like, civil war, broke out in Saudi Arabia, and its oil fields were paralyzed like Libya's as the country imploded and then morphed from a friendly, medieval monarchy into the "Islamic Republic of Mecca and Medina". A US invasion to prevent that, with pork eating marines patrolling the Kaaba, would probably set the entire Muslim world in flames and the "cure" could be much worse than the disease.  Riots and countless acts of terrorism, all over the planet for starters, would probably just be the "good news".

Any version this scenario would send the price of crude oil into the stratosphere, cause a world economic depression, possibly set off World War Three and for sure cost Rupert Murdoch, and all those who sail in him, a lot, but a lot, of money. My feeling is that Murdoch is moving to prevent that outcome.

How might all this fit in with Glenn Beck's strange, paranoid, fantasy world and the millions of viewers who devoutly follow his every program? How might his craziness fit into the surely ice cold calculations of Rupert Murdoch?

This is what occurs to me:

It may be too late, but perhaps the only thing that could shore up the regional prestige of the Saudi monarchy save their throne (and skins) and maybe cool off and distract the Middle East right now would be if the United States could encourage the Israelis to accept the Saudi Peace Initiative. The plan is considered by most observers as the only serious blueprint for true peace in the Middle East. This the resolution that was unanimously approved by the Arab League on March 27th 2002 and re-endorsed in 2007consists of the following:
(a) Complete withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the 4 June 1967 line and the territories still occupied in southern Lebanon; (b) Attain a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194. (c) Accept the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return the Arab states will do the following: (a) Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict over, sign a peace agreement with Israel, and achieve peace for all states in the region; (b) Establish normal relations with Israel within the framework of this comprehensive peace. Wikipedia
Now it is easy to imagine how much enthusiasm the Israeli right, those who govern Israel, feel about a plan that would mean dismantling all the settlements, giving back East Jerusalem and permitting a fully sovereign Palestinian state to exist in Judea and Samaria... and making some sort of settlement with the refugees of 1948. Of course in theory the United States has the power to make the Israelis accept the Arab Peace Initiative, but you can easily imagine the sort of pressure that AIPAC would bring to bear on the president, the congress and opinion makers to keep the US government from ever applying anything like the pressure necessary. But, if Saudi Arabia is hanging in the balance and with it the entire world economy, this is getting really serious. America depends on cheap energy, is addicted to it. Anything like a dramatic and prolonged rise in oil prices could take us directly to Kunstler and Orlov scenarios. I don't think that some people, in whose number I include Rupert Murdoch, would stop at anything to keep that from happening.

How could Murdoch make AIPAC an offer it couldn't refuse?

At this point we should let the air out of the vicious antisemitic canard which accuses the Jews of controlling the news media. Australian born, of Scottish ancestry, Rupert Murdoch, the world's most powerful media lord, is about as Jewish as a shrimp cocktail. Any support he might have ever given the Jewish people and Israel or ever will give them in the future has been and will be entirely contingent on his interests.

In my opinion Murdoch is using his creature, Glenn Beck, to fire a shot across the Israel lobby's bow. I can think of no other reason for him to allow an employee of his to offend the Jewish people in such a gross manner with such impunity.

The deal is, again in my opinion, either they don't rock the boat in the US establishment's efforts to maintain America's position in the Middle East by keeping Saudi Arabia afloat or Murdoch will send out Glenn Beck to stand in front of millions of American rednecks and Tea Partiers and with his funny little "professorial" glasses on, chalk in hand, go to his huge blackboard and diagram "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" for the folks.  You don't think he is capable of that? Antisemitism is the easiest, cheapest, shot of all, like falling off a log. As the August Bebel quote that tops this page says, "antisemitism is the socialism of fools": Beck's audience would eat it up. Then, if it is convenient for him, Murdoch will bow his head and hang Beck out to dry... but the damage will be done. DS

Monday, February 07, 2011

America's future role in the Middle East


"There are forces at work in any society, and particularly one that is facing these kinds of challenges, that will try to derail or overtake the process to pursue their own specific agenda.... [That is] why I think it is important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by now Vice-President Omar Suleiman." - Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State

When will Washington learn that you cannot simultaneously proclaim your commitment to democracy and freedom and then insist on dictating who is allowed to win? - Stephen Walt

It's worth remembering what has led to the rise of Islamic extremism and anti-American rage in the Middle East. Arabs see Washington as having supported brutal dictatorships that suppress their people. They believe that it ignored this suppression as long as the regimes toed the line on American foreign policy. If Washington is now perceived as brokering a deal that keeps a military dictatorship in power in Egypt, de jure or de facto, the result will be deep disappointment and frustration on the streets of Cairo. Over time, it will make opposition to the regime and to the United States more hard-line, more religious and more violent. - Fareed Zakaria

"In this world, it is often dangerous to be an enemy of the United States, but to be a friend is fatal." - Henry Kissinger
David Seaton's News Links
It would appear that not only is Israel the Middle East's sole vibrant democracy, the United States is sparing no effort, leaving no stone unturned, to keep it that way.

Seeing how the US administration is handling the grassroots rebellion in Egypt (it is much too early to call it a "revolution"),  it would appear that except for supporting  the region's necklace of military dictatorships and their mukhabarat state security forces, the USA has no role in the Middle East other than  to assist Israel in killing people and blowing things up.

American pronouncements about democracy, its institutions and the rule of law sound more and more like the following video:
At this point the conflict of interests between America's realpolitik-geopolitical-superpower necessity to dominate and control the world's access to the oil reserves of the Middle East and the purely domestic, but no less  plumbean, imperative to defend à outrance Israel's right to maintain an atomic-apartheid, Club Mediterranee in the midst of such spectacular and oil-soaked misery, seemingly has the United States paralyzed in its hypocrisy. DS

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wikileaks: comparing conspiracy theories

Image by Christian Ségal      
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It isn't as if conspiracies don't exist, but generally stupidity or incompetence explain most disasters and even real conspiracies don't tend to be as elaborate as their legion of fans would like to believe. But if we define a "conspiracy" as when two or more people combine to do something that would normally carry punishment in such a way so as not to be punished, then there are quite a few of them around. Certainly the Wikileaks data-dump would qualify as one under that definition.

Until Wikileaks itself leaks, we are forced to speculate. Without entering the baroque, we have to proceed from the simple to the more complex.

The first question would be: is the simplest explanation the true one?

There are two basic simple explanations as far as I can see:

One: Pfc Manning is a brave and principled young man, who, shocked by his country's criminal behavior, decided to blow the whistle and sought out Julian Assange, another brave and principled young man, who decided to help him.

Or

Two: Pfc Manning, who had broken up with his boyfriend was depressed and, feeling a bit spiteful, decided to commit the biggest electronic security coup de main since British intelligence broke the German code, "Ultra" during WWII. Julian Assange, a megalomaniac and a lousy lay, saw his chance for super stardom and a lifetime supply of condom-free groupies and decided to aid and abet him.

There is probably some truth in both versions, but if you think anything this big is that simple, you probably would have no trouble believing that the Swedish prosecutor is chasing Assange around Europe solely because of a broken condom... As well he may be... like I say, for the moment we are flying blind.

I, for one, happen to think that a very competent foreign intelligence service has been involved in this and is using Assange thirst for the limelight to cover their tracks.

Right off the bat, before we go any farther, I'll tell you I don't think Israel is behind Wikileaks' data-dump.

I don't see them gaining very much from it, certainly not enough to justify the risk.

I would say that there are two major countries that have enough motives to take the risks involved: Russia and China.

Russia has the human assets in the west, the experience and the know how to pull it off easily.

China has much more motivation than the Russians, although both countries benefit from the data-dump, witness Putin "nominating" Assange for the Nobel Prize.

For me the prime suspect is still China.

Why would the Chinese do this?

In my scenario, the United States is accusing China of currency manipulation. America's government is very interested in China revaluing their currency in order to make US exports more competitive. The Chinese are not cooperating. To put on pressure, the US has been organizing a human rights, "transparency" and democracy blitz to embarrass the Chinese. This mixture of Internet, bloggers and  human rights NGOs are the formula used in all the "color" revolutions such as the "Orange Revolution" in the Ukraine or the Twitter led "Green Revolution. The Chinese naturally resent having these techniques employed on them.

My idea is that the Chinese have had two objectives. To embarrass the United States and to change the subject of conversation from Liu Xiaobo's Noble Peace Prize, for example, or Tibet, or "The Great Firewall" that blocks access to the Internet in China.

"The Americans demand transparency?" say the Chinese in my scenario, "We'll see how much they really like it."  "You like Glasnost, here two helpings, rice on the side".

So far, if they weren't behind the data-dump, they are certainly benefiting from it more than anyone else I can think of. People are talking of little else. Liu Xiaobo's Noble Peace Prize ceremony was overshadowed by the daily delivery of American diplomacy's dirty laundry. Brilliant! Turn the enemy's strength against him. Sun Tzu is grinning from ear to ear somewhere in the Taoist heaven.

Assange's biggest mistake was to take the bait and turn himself, or let himself be turned into, the poster boy for the data-dump. People who have in turn taken the bait and accepted him as a hero are going to be bitterly disillusioned. This is all political and Assange has just made himself the butt of a million jokes. He is the one who insisted that he be the poster boy of Wikileaks... so now this is about him and all his busted condoms.

"Outing" the State Department, using Army personnel, is the ultimate in hardball. If Assange had done it to the Russians he would have died of plutonium poisoning and if he had done it to the Israelis his body would probably never be found. And if he had done it to the Chinese... yum, yum. Assange is counting on the Americans not being as rough as the above mentioned... big mistake, we're just more hypocritical. DS

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wikileaks: America's senior moment


So this is what the eclipsing of American power looks like, with the disgorging of so much of its sensitive diplomatic correspondence in one fell swoop. Arguably not since Berlin fell to the Red Army in 1945 has there been a compromise of state secrets as breathtaking as that brought about by WikiLeaks. Yet while the drift of much of the ensuing commentary has been that there is not much new in the 250,000 leaked cables, the truth is that the damage to American credibility and diplomacy is incalculable. Robert Baer - Financial Times

The US government must surely be ruing, and urgently reviewing, its weird decision to place a whole library of recent diplomatic correspondence on to a computer system so brilliantly secure that a 22-year-old could download it on to a Lady Gaga CD. Gaga, or what? Timothy Garton Ash - Guardian
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"Gaga" is a French world that means senile.

In the opinion of many observers, the Wikileaks data-dump is America's "senior moment".

America's present day foreign policy shenanigans are beginning to look like one of those caper comedies, full of hilarious gags and prat falls, the kind where everything goes wrong.

Historians are not going to find much to surprise them in the documents themselves, nothing or very little that they won't already know; what they are going to be interested in is who is behind the massive leaks and what they hoped to achieve by destroying the credibility of the US State Department. 

This goes beyond mere "whistle blowing".

I'm not against whistle blowing in itself. It can perform many useful services: for example, in exposing corporate wrongdoing or dangerous pharmaceutical products. In politics it can also serve the public interest by revealing a specific error or crime. For instance I was in favor of showing the video of the helicopter murder of the Reuters reporters in Iraq.

But this "data-dump" of masses of mostly banal material, dotted with tasty information truffles of the kind Zbigniew Brzezinski calls "pointed",  in the video above, is wantonly destructive of diplomatic "back channels"  as former CIA operative  Robert Baer writes in the Financial Times. 

And as Dr. Brzezinski says, the leaks are probably being manipulated by a foreign intelligence service or services yet unknown. That has been my feeling since day one and I am glad to find myself in such illustrious company.

Certainly the wikileaked materials are already being used in furthering  some countries specific national interests. 

An article by a top Israeli journalist Aluf Benn in Haaretz entitled: "WikiLeaks cables tell the story of an empire in decline" we can read the following:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the first world leader to leverage the WikiLeaks revelations for his own purposes. At a press conference on Monday, Netanyahu used the leaked cables to trash Obama's position and advance the agenda of "Iran first." The cables prove, he said, that there's no truth in the narrative that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the greatest threat to the region and its future. Aluf Benn - Haaretz
Why is Netanyahu in such a hurry to use Assange's material?

Here is how Noam Chomsky compares the relevance of the Wikileaks on the true situation in the Middle East:
NOAM CHOMSKY: (...) Hillary Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu surely know of the careful polls of Arab public opinion. The Brookings Institute just a few months ago released extensive polls of what Arabs think about Iran. The results are rather striking. They show the Arab opinion holds that the major threat in the region is Israel—that’s 80%. The second major threat is the United States—that’s 77%. Iran is listed as a threat by 10%. With regard to nuclear weapons, rather remarkably, a majority—in fact, 57%—say that the region would have a positive effect in the region if Iran had nuclear weapons. Now, these are not small numbers. 80%, 77%, say the U.S. and Israel are the major threat. 10% say Iran is the major threat.  (HT: readytoblowagasket)
You might imagine that as they hold opinions directly opposed to their subjects, the rulers of America's clients, the Arab security states, might think twice before ever speaking frankly to an American diplomat again. That might have serious consequences going forward. Especially if preparation for war gathers speed.

Many are shocked by what they read in these cables.  They seem to be suffering from a political version of "primal scene", you know, the trauma little children experience when they first discover what mommy and daddy do after they tuck the toddlers into bed.

I'm beginning to think that Bismark was right, politics are like sausages, they are easier to eat when people don't know how they are made.

Diplomacy is not, repeat not a a business and the relations between sovereign "armed and dangerous" states are not the same as the relations between a bank or a pharmaceutical company and their customers. Lehman Brothers crashing or a bank screwing its customers is not the same as bombing Iran.

So many of history's wars have begun through misunderstanding or miscalculations. Often the only thing standing between the guns of the opposing armed forces of dozens of countries are the world's diplomats. For hundreds of years they have only had their endless conversations to gauge the intentions of allies and potential or real enemies.

Taken as a whole their information and access to the minds of the governments and peoples where they are stationed is of immense value.

They all live in a boring, itinerant, community who spend most of their working careers outside their home countries, people who see each other over and over again in an endless, purgatorial round of cocktail parties and dinners and when they finally move on to a new post, they find themselves thrown again into the same company of diplomats from their own and other countries where they were posted before and again and again they renew old friendships... this goes on for years and years until they retire and is quite endogenous. They learn to read the meanings of each other's carefully chosen words and even more careful silences.

Taken as a whole the diplomatic community is very sensitive and valuable animal. Their understanding and their relationships can come in handy when there is an international crisis on and to freeze and clog it up could be really, really, dangerous at a time like now, when there is a imminent danger of a war breaking out.

So this mega data-dump is not the same as exposing some corporation that is selling infected chicken liver. This could end up in with thousands of people killed and the world economy off into the abyss. DS