The Warped Morality of a Warmonger

The Warped Morality of a Warmonger:
Why Alan Dershowitz is Wrong on Israel’s ‘Rights’
Commentary by Nima Shirazi

Renowned torture enthusiast andperennial Israel apologist Alan Dershowitz is in Tel Aviv this week attending an annual business conference sponsored by Globes and, as usual, has been busy equivocating for Israeli espionage, defending war criminals, and warmongering about Iran.

*
During a speech he delivered on Sunday December 11, Dershowitz opined, “Israel has the right morally and legally to strike Iran just as it did on [the Osirak nuclear facility] in Iraq in 1981.“

This is not a new line for the famous attorney who has worked tirelessly to acquit both aspiring and successful murderers and warcriminals and defend billionaires who commit – and millionaireswho cover-up – child rape. In April 2010, Dershowitz wrote, “I am asserting, in unqualified terms, that Israel has an absolute right — legally, morally, politically — to take such an action if it deems it necessary to protect its citizens from a threatened nuclear attack.” Even as far back as 2005, he told The Jerusalem Post, “Legally and morally both Israel and the United States would have the right to launch preemptive strikes against Iran’s nuclear program. Recall that leading Iranian mullahs have indicated that Iran would use its nuclear capacity to kill three million Jews. I also believe that targeted assassinations of criminals who are illegally building weapons of mass destruction, can, under certain circumstances, be justified morally. I think the legal case would be much harder to make.”

Like everything else The Dersh says, his statements are clearly out of step with the basic tenets of international law and, unsurprisingly, ignore both historical facts and current reality in order to draw his despicable and dubious conclusions. To understand Dershowitz’s warped concepts of morality, one can simply read his justifications for the murder of civilians, as long as they’re Arabs and/or Muslims.

First of all, the premise of Dershowitz’s appalling argument regarding an Israeli attack is the assumption that Iran is, in fact, hellbent on building nuclear weapons and threatening Israel with genocidal annihilation. Of course, neither claim is true. Both theIAEA and the United States government (after years of covert operations and aerial surveillance) continue to agree that Iran does not have an active nuclear weapons program. In early 2011, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told both houses of Congress, “We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” Dershowitz’s insistence that thesummary execution of Iranian scientists can be “justified morally” demonstrates the depths of his depravity.

Furthermore, so-called “preemptive” military attacks are illegal and explicitly forbidden by Chapter I, Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter. The UN Charter also makes clear that it recognizes the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.” (Chapter VII, Article 51) Note that the Charter specifies that an aggressive, military response is allowed only ”if an armed attack occurs…,” which undoubtedly rules out “preemptive,” “precautionary,” or “preventative” military action of one State against another. Dershowitz conveniently ignores this clear fact.

Beyond that, using the example of Israel’s June 7, 1981 airstrike on Osirak to argue for the legality of a similar attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is not only disingenuous at best, it is deliberately deceiving and completely wrong. The Iraqi nuclear program before 1981 waspeaceful and subject to intensive safeguards and monitoring. The Osirak reactor was, as Harvard physics professor Richard Wilson has explained, “explicitly designed by the French engineer Yves Girard to be unsuitable for making bombs. That was obvious to me on my 1982 visit.”

What Dershowitz omits from his ridiculous suggestion is that the Israeli attack, code named Operation Opera, took the lives of ten Iraqi soldiers and one French civilian researcher and was widely lambasted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the international community, including the United States.

Writing in The Guardian in 2002, Jonathan Steele remindedreaders that “[t]he world was outraged by Israel’s raid” and recalled some reactions:

“Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified. It represents a grave breach of international law,” Margaret Thatcher thundered. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the US ambassador to the UN and as stern a lecturer as Britain’s then prime minister, described it as “shocking” and compared it to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. American newspapers were as fulsome. “Israel’s sneak attack… was an act of inexcusable and short-sighted aggression,” said the New York Times. The Los Angeles Times called it “state-sponsored terrorism”.

Within two days of the attack on Osirak, the Reagan administration suspended the shipment of F-16 fighter jets to Israel because of itscontention that Israel had “violated its commitment to use the planes only in self-defense.”

Ambassador Kirkpatrick, addressing a June 19, 1981 meeting of the United Nations Security Council, stated the Reagan administration’s official views on the attack by condemning it as an “act of violence” that “gravely jeopardizes the peace and security” in the Middle East, “undermines the stability and well-being of the area,” and “threatens global peace.” Despite noting the “strength of United States ties and commitment to Israel” and insisting that the U.S. government “would approve no decision that harmed Israel’s basic interests, was unfairly punitive or created new obstacles to a just and lasting peace,” Kirkpatrick also told the Council,

Nonetheless, we believe the means Israel chose to quiet its fears about the purposes of Iraq’s nuclear program have hurt, and not helped, the peace and security of the area. In my Government’s view, diplomatic means available to Israel had not been exhausted and the Israeli action has damaged the regional confidence that is essential for the peace process to go forward. All of us with an interest in peace, freedom and national independence have a high stake in that process. Israel’s stake is highest of all.

That very day, the Security Council unanimously adopted aresolution expressing that the body was “[d]eeply concerned about the danger to international peace and security created by the premeditated Israeli air attack on Iraqi nuclear installations.”

The resolution (S/RES/487) also “[s]trongly condemns the military attack by Israel in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct,” “[c]alls upon Israel to refrain in the future from any such acts or threats thereof,” warns that the attack undermined both the IAEA and NPT, calls on Israel to “urgently to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards,” and demands Israel provide Iraq with “appropriate redress for the destruction it has suffered, responsibility for which has been acknowledged by Israel.” (emphasis added, italics in original)

Later that year, after the Reagan White House had caved to Israeli pressure and resumed warplane deliveries, the UN General Assembly passed a similarly critical resolution (36/27) on November 13, 1981 that “strongly condemn[ed] Israel for itspremeditated and unprecedented act of aggression in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct, which constitutes a new and dangerous escalation of the threat to international peace and security.” (emphasis added)

The resolution also reaffirmed Iraq’s “inalienable sovereign right” to “develop technological and nuclear programmes for peaceful purposes” and stated that, not only was Iraq a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but had also “satisfactorily applied” the IAEA safeguards required of it. Conversely, it noted “with concern” that “Israel has refused to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and, in spite of repeated calls, including that of the Security Council, to place its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.”

In addition to condemning “the misuse by Israel, in committing its acts of aggression against Arab countries, of aircraft and weapons supplied by the United States of America,” the resolution reiterated “its call to all States to cease forthwith any provision to Israel of arms and related material of all types which enable it to commit acts of aggression against other States” and requested “the Security Council to investigate Israel’s nuclear activities and the collaboration of other States and parties in those activities” and “institute effective enforcement action to prevent Israel from further endangering international peace and security through its acts of aggression and continued policies of expansion, occupation and annexation.”

Furthermore, the General Assembly demanded that “Israel, in view of its international responsibility for its act of aggression, pay prompt and adequate compensation for the material damage and loss of life suffered” due to the illegal and lethal attack.

Only the United States and Israel voted against the resolution.

In August 2002, Mary Ellen O’Connell, law professor at the Moritz College of Law and Associate of the Mershon Center for International Security and Public Policy at Ohio State University, wrote an extensive analysis entitled “The Myth of Preemptive Self-Defense” for the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Task Force on Terrorism wherein she explicitly addresses the very misconception Dershowitz is attempting to put forward.

“Preemptive self-defense,” O’Connell writes, “is clearly unlawful under international law.” She explains, “The right of self-defense is limited to the right to use force to repel an attack in progress, to prevent future enemy attacks following an initial attack, or to reverse the consequences of an enemy attack, such as ending an occupation” and also points out that “the United States as a government has consistently supported the prohibition on such preemptive use of force.” O’Connell continues, “the reality is that the United States has no right to use force to prevent possible, as distinct from actual, armed attacks. The further reality is that the United States does not advance its security or its moral standing in the world by doing so.” Throughout her paper, O’Connell stresses that all nations are bound by these same rules.

Though O’Connell was writing in anticipation of an unprovoked US attack on Iraq, the parallels to the current American and Israeli bellicosity toward Iran are obvious and identically relevant. “There is no self-appointed right to attack another state because of fear that the state is making plans or developing weapons usable in a hypothetical campaign,” she states, elaborating that “a state may not take military action against another state when an attack is only a hypothetical possibility, and not yet in progress—even in the case of weapons of mass destruction” since even “possession of such weapons without more does not amount to an armed attack.”

In her eerily prescient analysis, published eight months before the US bombing, invasion, and occupation of Iraq, O’Connell suggests that “if an official argument is given at all for an invasion of Iraq, it is likely to be ‘preemptive self-defense’”, and continues:

The preemptive use of military force would establish a precedent that the United States has worked against since 1945. Preemptive self-defense would provide legal justification for Pakistan to attack India, for Iran to attack Iraq, for Russia to attack Georgia, for Azerbaijan to attack Armenia, for North Korea to attack South Korea, and so on. Any state that believes another regime poses a possible future threat— regardless of the evidence — could cite the United States invasion of Iraq.

O’Connell even uses the specific example of the Israeli destruction of Iraq’s Osirak facility to prove her point. “Many representatives were impressed by the testimony of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency who testified that the IAEA had found no evidence of unlawful weapons development by the Iraqi government,” she writes. “Not only did the IAEA find no diversion of nuclear material, but Israel put forward no evidence that an attack was imminent, let alone underway.” With regard to the legality of such an unprovoked assault, she determines, “Permitting preemptive self-defense at the sole discretion of a state is fundamentally at odds with the [United Nations] Charter’s design.”

In defending Israel’s “right” to commit what the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg described as “the supreme international crime” – namely, the willful initiation of a “war of aggression” – against Iran, Dershowitz also ignores the salient fact that the consequence of the Israeli bombing of Osirak was actuallyexactly the opposite of the stated goal of the operation. It was onlyafter the Israeli attack that Iraq embarked on a nuclear weapons program.

The claims of Alan Dershowitz, in addition to being factually incorrect, legally unjustifiable and morally indefensible, are wholly unoriginal. Nuclear proliferation experts Leonard S. Spector and Avner Cohen, writing in the July/August 2008 edition of Arms Control Today, reveal that two days after the strike, “in a dramatic press conference in Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin took full responsibility for the operation, praised its execution as extraordinary, and justified it both on moral and legal grounds. Begin referred to the strike as an act of “anticipatory self-defense at its best.”

Mary Ellen O’Connell defines ”anticipatory self-defense” as “armed responses to attacks that are on the brink of launch, or where an enemy attack has already occurred and the victim learns more attacks are planned.” Clearly, as Israel was in no imminent danger of being attacked in 1981 by Iraqi nuclear weapons which didn’t exist, Begin’s triumphant boast was nothing more than a propagandistic lie. The neoconservative, AIPAC-driven rhetoric, echoed consistently by Dershowitz, warning of the existential threatnow posed to Israel by Iran is an updated example of this very samefalsehood.

Spector and Cohen continue:

The message that Begin conveyed was that the raid on Osiraq was not a one-time operation but rather a long-term national commitment. He ended his press conference with these dramatic words:

We chose this moment: now, not later, because later may be too late, perhaps forever. And if we stood by idly, two, three years, at the most four years, and Saddam Hussein would have produced his three, four, five bombs.… Then, this country and this people would have been lost, after the Holocaust. Another Holocaust would have happened in the history of the Jewish people. Never again, never again! Tell so your friends, tell anyone you meet, we shall defend our people with all the means at our disposal. We shall not allow any enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction turned against us.

A few days later, in a CBS News television interview, Begin reiterated this doctrinal point: “This attack will be a precedent for every future government in Israel.… [E]very future Israeli prime minister will act, in similar circumstances, in the same way.” (emphasis added)

The countdown to an imaginary Iraqi and Iranian nuclear bomb is a three-decade-old staple of Israeli and American fear-mongering. Naturally, the exploitation of Holocaust analogies and endless Hitler comparisons is all part of the routine, along with ad nauseum repetitions of long-debunked mistranslations of cartographic proportions.

In April 2010, Dershowitz, after following the lead of George W. Bush by accusing Obama of “appeasement”, fulminated that, even if “the United States is prepared to accept a nuclear Iran…it has no right to require Israel to accept the risks posed by a nuclear armed country that has overtly threatened its destruction.” He continued, “Every country in the world has the inherent right to protect its citizens from a nuclear attack. Israel, a nation that Obama has himself acknowledged was built on the ashes of one Holocaust, certainly has the right to take military action to prevent a second Holocaust, especially at the hands of a country that has explicitly threatened to wipe it off the map.”

Still, Dershowitz wasn’t finished:

The world ignored the explicit threats of one tyrant who threatened to destroy the Jewish people in the 1930s, and he nearly succeeded in the 1940s. Israel cannot be expected to ignore Hitler’s successor, who while denying the first Holocaust, threatens a second one.

Dershowitz’s own usage of Menachem Begin’s “Never Again” nonsense should come as no surprise considering The Dersh’sobvious affinity for plagiarizing propaganda.

It is no wonder that Dershowitz treats the Osirak attack as a successful and necessary mission to be emulated, if not overtly duplicated, with regard to Iran. The reason is that Israel never pays a price for its constant contravention of international law, denial of human rights, and indifference to, if not outright contempt for, anyhuman life that doesn’t fully support ethnic cleansing, apartheid, colonization, occupation, and institutionalized racism and discrimination against a displaced, dispossessed, devastated and demonized indigenous population.

Clearly, Israel has never followed through with its obligations as determined by the UN Security Council in 1981 and has continued to act aggressively and criminally ever since, with complete impunity and diplomatic protection from its superpower patron. The supposed “moral right” Dershowitz ascribes to an unprovoked and illegal Israeli attack on Iran – a sovereign nation of nearly 74 million people whose government consistently declares it has no intention of building a nuclear weapon or starting a war against the region’s strongest military – isn’t even worth discussing.

With his noxious comments in Tel Aviv, as with most everything else he says, writes, and does, Alan Dershowitz has once again revealed himself to be incapable of telling the truth or demonstrating even the most basic elements of reason or humanity in his obsessive determination to defend, and in this case encourage new, Israeli war crimes.

Written for the website http://www.desertpeace.wordpress.com Thank You.

Lest we forget-Egypt’s Revelution-Creative Destruction For A “Greater Middle East”?

Lest We Forget—Egypt’s Revolution-Creative Destruction For A ‘Greater Middle East”

F. William Engdahl

Fast on the heels of the regime change in Tunisia came a popular-based protest movement launched on January 25 against the entrenched order of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Contrary to the carefully-cultivated impression that the Obama Administration is trying to retain the present regime of Mubarak, Washington in fact is orchestrating the Egyptian as well as other regional regime changes from Syria to Yemen to Jordan and well beyond in a process some refer to as “creative destruction.”

The template for such covert regime change has been developed by the Pentagon, US intelligence agencies and various think-tanks such as RAND Corporation over decades, beginning with the May 1968 destabilization of the de Gaulle presidency in France. This is the first time since the US-backed regime changes in Eastern Europe some two decades back that Washington has initiated simultaneous operations in many countries in a region. It is a strategy born of a certain desperation and one not without significant risk for the Pentagon and for the long-term Wall Street agenda. What the outcome will be for the peoples of the region and for the world is as yet unclear.

Yet while the ultimate outcome of defiant street protests in Cairo and across Egypt and the Islamic world remains unclear, the broad outlines of a US covert strategy are already clear.

No one can dispute the genuine grievances motivating millions to take to the streets at risk of life. No one can defend atrocities of the Mubarak regime and its torture and repression of dissent. No one can dispute the explosive rise in food prices as Chicago and Wall Street commodity speculators, and the conversion of American farmland to the insane cultivation of corn for ethanol fuel drive grain prices through the roof. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, much of it from the USA. Chicago wheat futures rose by a staggering 74% between June and November 2010 leading to an Egyptian food price inflation of some 30% despite government subsidies.

What is widely ignored in the CNN and BBC and other Western media coverage of the Egypt events is the fact that whatever his excesses at home, Egypt’s Mubarak represented a major obstacle within the region to the larger US agenda.

To say relations between Obama and Mubarak were ice cold from the outset would be no exaggeration. Mubarak was staunchly opposed to Obama policies on Iran and how to deal with its nuclear program, on Obama policies towards the Persian Gulf states, to Syria and to Lebanon as well as to the Palestinians. He was a formidable thorn in the larger Washington agenda for the entire region, Washington’s Greater Middle East Project, more recently redubbed the milder-sounding “New Middle East.”

As real as the factors are that are driving millions into the streets across North Africa and the Middle East, what cannot be ignored is the fact that Washington is deciding the timing and as they see it, trying to shape the ultimate outcome of comprehensive regime change destabilizations across the Islamic world. The day of the remarkably well-coordinated popular demonstrations demanding Mubarak step down, key members of the Egyptian military command including Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan were all in Washington as guests of the Pentagon. That conveniently neutralized the decisive force of the Army to stop the anti-Mubarak protests from growing in the critical early days.

The strategy had been in various State Department and Pentagon files since at least a decade or longer. After George W. Bush declared a War on Terror in 2001 it was called the Greater Middle East Project. Today it is known as the less threatening-sounding “New Middle East” project. It is a strategy to break open the states of the region from Morocco to Afghanistan, the region defined by David Rockefeller’s friend Samuel Huntington in his infamous Clash of Civilizations essay in Foreign Affairs.
Egypt rising?

The current Pentagon scenario for Egypt reads like a Cecil B. DeMille Hollywood spectacular, only this one with a cast of millions of Twitter-savvy well-trained youth, networks of Muslim Brotherhood operatives, working with a US-trained military. In the starring role of the new production at the moment is none other than a Nobel Peace Prize winner who conveniently appears to pull all the threads of opposition to the ancien regime into what appears as a seamless transition into a New Egypt under a self-proclaimed liberal democratic revolution.

Some background on the actors on the ground is useful before looking at what Washington’s long-term strategic plan might be for the Islamic world from North Africa to the Persian Gulf and ultimately into the Islamic populations of Central Asia, to the borders of China and Russia.
Washington ‘soft’ revolutions

The protests that led to the abrupt firing of the entire Egyptian government by President Mubarak on the heels of the panicked flight of Tunisia’s Ben Ali into a Saudi exile are not at all as “spontaneous” as the Obama White House, Clinton State Department or CNN, BBC and other major media in the West make them to be.

They are being organized in a Ukrainian-style high-tech electronic fashion with large internet-linked networks of youth tied to Mohammed ElBaradei and the banned and murky secret Muslim Brotherhood, whose links to British and American intelligence and freemasonry are widely reported.

At this point the anti-Mubarak movement looks like anything but a threat to US influence in the region, quite the opposite. It has all the footprints of another US-backed regime change along the model of the 2003-2004 Color Revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine and the failed Green Revolution against Iran’s Ahmedinejad in 2009.

The call for an Egyptian general strike and a January 25 Day of Anger that sparked the mass protests demanding Mubarak resign was issued by a Facebook-based organization calling itself the April 6 Movement. The protests were so substantial and well-organized that it forced Mubarak to ask his cabinet to resign and appoint a new vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman, former Minister of Intelligence.

April 6 is headed by one Ahmed Maher Ibrahim, a 29-year-old civil engineer, who set up the Facebook site to support a workers’ call for a strike on April 6, 2008.

According to a New York Times account from 2009, some 800,000 Egyptians, most youth, were already then Facebook or Twitter members. In an interview with the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment, April 6 Movement head Maher stated, “Being the first youth movement in Egypt to use internet-based modes of communication like Facebook and Twitter, we aim to promote democracy by encouraging public involvement in the political process.”

Maher also announced that his April 6 Movement backs former UN International Atomic Energy Aagency (IAEA) head and declared Egyptian Presidential candidate, ElBaradei along with ElBaradei’s National Association for Change (NAC) coalition. The NAC includes among others George Ishak, a leader in Kefaya Movement, and Mohamed Saad El-Katatni, president of the parliamentary bloc of the controversial Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood.

Today Kefaya is at the center of the unfolding Egyptian events. Not far in the background is the more discreet Muslim Brotherhood.

ElBaradei at this point is being projected as the central figure in a future Egyptian parliamentary democratic change. Curiously, though he has not lived in Egypt for the past thirty years, he has won the backing of every imaginable part of the Eyptian political spectrum from communists to Muslim Brotherhood to Kefaya and April 6 young activists. Judging from the calm demeanour ElBaradei presents these days to CNN interviewers, he also likely has the backing of leading Egyptian generals opposed to the Mubarak rule for whatever reasons as well as some very influential persons in Washington.
Kefaya-Pentagon ‘non-violent warfare’

Kefaya is at the heart of mobilizing the Egyptian protest demonstrations that back ElBaradei’s candidacy. The word Kefaya translates to “enough!”

Curiously, the planners at the Washington National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and related color revolution NGOs apparently were bereft of creative new catchy names for their Egyptian Color Revolution. In their November 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia, the US-financed NGOs chose the catch word, Kmara! In order to identify the youth-based regime change movement. Kmara in Georgian also means “enough!”

Like Kefaya, Kmara in Georgia was also built by the Washington-financed trainers from the NED and other groups such as Gene Sharp’s misleadingly-named Albert Einstein Institution which uses what Sharp once identified as “non-violence as a method of warfare.”

The various youth networks in Georgia as in Kefaya were carefully trained as a loose, decentralized network of cells, deliberately avoiding a central organization that could be broken and could have brought the movement to a halt. Training of activists in techniques of non-violent resistance was done at sports facilities, making it appear innocuous. Activists were also given training in political marketing, media relations, mobilization and recruiting skills.

The formal name of Kefaya is Egyptian Movement for Change. It was founded in 2004 by select Egyptian intellectuals at the home of Abu ‘l-Ala Madi, leader of the al-Wasat party, a party reportedly created by the Muslim Brotherhood. Kefaya was created as a coalition movement united only by the call for an end Mubarak’s rule.

Kefaya as part of the amorphous April 6 Movement capitalized early on new social media and digital technology as its main means of mobilization. In particular, political blogging, posting uncensored youtube shorts and photographic images were skillfully and extremely professionally used. At a rally already back in December 2009 Kefaya had announced support for the candidacy of Mohammed ElBaradei for the 2011 Egyptian elections.
RAND and Kefaya

No less a US defense establishment think-tank than the RAND Corporation has conducted a detailed study of Kefaya. The Kefaya study as RAND themselves note, was “sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.”

A nicer bunch of democratically-oriented gentlemen and women could hardly be found.

In their 2008 report to the Pentagon, the RAND researchers noted the following in relation to Egypt’s Kefaya:

“The United States has professed an interest in greater democratization in the Arab world, particularly since the September 2001 attacks by terrorists from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon. This interest has been part of an effort to reduce destabilizing political violence and terrorism. As President George W. Bush noted in a 2003 address to the National Endowment for Democracy, “As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export” (The White House, 2003). The United States has used varying means to pursue democratization, including a military intervention that, though launched for other reasons, had the installation of a democratic government as one of its end goals.

However, indigenous reform movements are best positioned to advance democratization in their own country.”

RAND researchers have spent years perfecting techniques of unconventional regime change under the name “swarming,” the method of deploying mass mobs of digitally-linked youth in hit-and-run protest formations moving like swarms of bees.

Washington and the stable of “human rights” and “democracy” and “non-violence” NGOs it oversees, over the past decade or more has increasingly relied on sophisticated “spontaneous” nurturing of local indigenous protest movements to create pro-Washington regime change and to advance the Pentagon agenda of global Full Spectrum Dominance. As the RAND study of Kefaya states in its concluding recommendations to the Pentagon:

“The US government already supports reform efforts through organizations such as the US Agency for International Development and the United Nations Development Programme. Given the current negative popular standing of the United States in the region, US support for reform initiatives is best carried out through nongovernmental and nonprofit institutions.”

The RAND 2008 study was even more concrete about future US Government support for Egyptian and other “reform” movements:

“The US government should encourage nongovernmental organizations to offer training to reformers, including guidance on coalition building and how to deal with internal differences in pursuit of democratic reform. Academic institutions (or even nongovernmental organizations associated with US political parties, such as the International Republican Institute or the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) could carry out such training, which would equip reform leaders to reconcile their differences peacefully and democratically.

“Fourth, the United States should help reformers obtain and use information technology, perhaps by offering incentives for US companies to invest in the region’s communications infrastructure and information technology. US information technology companies could also help ensure that the Web sites of reformers can remain in operation and could invest in technologies such as anonymizers that could offer some shelter from government scrutiny. This could also be accomplished by employing technological safegaurds to prevent regimes from sabotaging the Web sites of reformers. ”

As their Kefaya monograph states, it was prepared in 2008 by the “RAND National Security Research Division’s Alternative Strategy Initiative, sponsored by the Rapid Reaction Technology Office in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

The Alternative Strategy Initiative, just to underscore the point, includes “research on creative use of the media, radicalization of youth, civic involvement to stem sectarian violence, the provision of social services to mobilize aggrieved sectors of indigenous populations, and the topic of this volume, alternative movements.”

In May 2009 just before Obama’s Cairo trip to meet Mubarak, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a number of the young Egyptian activists in Washington under the auspices of Freedom House, another “human rights” Washington-based NGO with a long history of involvement in US-sponsored regime change from Serbia to Georgia to Ukraine and other Color Revolutions. Clinton and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman met the sixteen activists at the end of a two-month “fellowship” organized by Freedom House’s New Generation program.

Freedom House and Washington’s government-funded regime change NGO, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are at the heart of the uprisings now sweeping across the Islamic world. They fit the geographic context of what George W. Bush proclaimed after 2001 as his Greater Middle East Project to bring “democracy” and “liberal free market” economic reform to the Islamic countries from Afghanistan to Morocco. When Washington talks about introducing “liberal free market reform” people should watch out. It is little more than code for bringing those economies under the yoke of the dollar system and all that implies.
Washington’s NED in a larger agenda

If we make a list of the countries in the region which are undergoing mass-based protest movements since the Tunisian and Egyptian events and overlay them onto a map, we find an almost perfect convergence between the protest countries today and the original map of the Washington Greater Middle East Project that was first unveiled during the George W. Bush Presidency after 2001.

Washington’s NED has been quietly engaged in preparing a wave of regime destabilizations across North Africa and the Middle East since the 2001-2003 US military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The list of where the NED is active is revealing. Its website lists Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Sudan as well, interestingly, as Israel. Coincidentally these countries are almost all today subject to “spontaneous” popular regime-change uprisings.

The International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs mentioned by the RAND document study of Kefaya are subsidiary organizations of the Washington-based and US Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy.

The NED is the coordinating Washington agency for regime destabilization and change. It is active from Tibet to Ukraine, from Venezuela to Tunisia, from Kuwait to Morocco in reshaping the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union into what George H.W. Bush in a 1991 speech to Congress proclaimed triumphantly as the dawn of a New World Order.

As the architect and first head of the NED, Allen Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991 that, “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”

The NED Board of Directors includes or has included former Defense Secretary and CIA Deputy head, Frank Carlucci of the Carlyle Group; retired General Wesley Clark of NATO; neo-conservative warhawk Zalmay Khalilzad who was architect of George W. Bush’s Afghan invasion and later ambassador to Afghanistan as well as to occupied Iraq. Another NED board member, Vin Weber, co-chaired a major independent task force on US Policy toward Reform in the Arab World with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and was a founding member of the ultra-hawkish Project for a New American Century think-tank with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, which advocated forced regime change in Iraq as early as 1998.

The NED is supposedly a private, non-government, non-profit foundation, but it receives a yearly appropriation for its international work from the US Congress. The National Endowment for Democracy is dependent on the US taxpayer for funding, but because NED is not a government agency, it is not subject to normal Congressional oversight.

NED money is channelled into target countries through four “core foundations”-the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, linked to the Democratic Party; the International Republican Institute tied to the Republican Party; the American Center for International Labor Solidarity linked to the AFL-CIO US labor federation as well as the US State Department; and the Center for International Private Enterprise linked to the free-market US Chamber of Commerce.

The late political analyst Barbara Conry noted that, “NED has taken advantage of its alleged private status to influence foreign elections, an activity that is beyond the scope of AID or USIA and would otherwise be possible only through a CIA covert operation. Such activities, it may also be worth noting, would be illegal for foreign groups operating in the United States.”

Significantly the NED details its various projects today in Islamic countries, including in addition to Egypt, in Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. In short, most every country which is presently feeling the earthquake effects of the reform protests sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa is a target of NED.

In 2005 US President George W. Bush made a speech to the NED. In a long, rambling discourse which equated “Islamic radicalism” with the evils of communism as the new enemy, and using a deliberately softer term “broader Middle East” for the term Greater Middle East that had aroused much distruct in the Islamic world, Bush stated,

“The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. This is a difficult and long-term project, yet there’s no alternative to it. Our future and the future of that region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery, while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, and for our generation and the next. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and by their participation as free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow, and eventually end…We’re encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We’re standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow…”
The US Project for a ‘Greater Middle East’

The spreading regime change operations Washington from Tunisia to Sudan, from Yemen to Egypt to Syria are best viewed in the context of a long-standing Pentagon and State Department strategy for the entire Islamic world from Kabul in Afghanistan to Rabat in Morocco.

The rough outlines of the Washington strategy, based in part on their successful regime change operations in the former Warsaw Pact communist bloc of Eastern Europe, were drawn up by former Pentagon consultant and neo-conservative, Richard Perle and later Bush official Douglas Feith in a white paper they drew up for the then-new Israeli Likud regime of Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996.

That policy recommendation was titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. It was the first Washington think-tank paper to openly call for removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, for an aggressive military stance toward the Palestinians, striking Syria and Syrian targets in Lebanon. Reportedly, the Netanyahu government at that time buried the Perle-Feith report, as being far too risky.

By the time of the events of September 11, 2001 and the return to Washington of the arch-warhawk neoconservatives around Perle and others, the Bush Administration put highest priority on an expanded version of the Perle-Feith paper, calling it their Greater Middle East Project. Feith was named Bush’s Under Secretary of Defense.

Behind the facade of proclaiming democratic reforms of autocratic regimes in the entire region, the Greater Middle East was and is a blueprint to extend US military control and to break open the statist economies in the entire span of states from Morocco to the borders of China and Russia.

In May 2009, before the rubble from the US bombing of Baghdad had cleared, George W. Bush, a President not remembered as a great friend of democracy, proclaimed a policy of “spreading democracy” to the entire region and explicitly noted that that meant “the establishment of a US-Middle East free trade area within a decade.”

Prior to the June 2004 G8 Summit on Sea Island, Georgia, Washington issued a working paper, “G8-Greater Middle East Partnership.” Under the section titled Economic Opportunities was Washington’s dramatic call for “an economic transformation similar in magnitude to that undertaken by the formerly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe.”

The US paper said that the key to this would be the strengthening of the private sector as the way to prosperity and democracy. It misleadingly claimed it would be done via the miracle of microfinance where as the paper put it, “a mere $100 million a year for five years will lift 1.2 million entrepreneurs (750,000 of them women) out of poverty, through $400 loans to each.”

The US plan envisioned takeover of regional banking and financial afairs by new institutions ostensibly international but, like World Bank and IMF, de facto controlled by Washington, including WTO. The goal of Washington’s long-term project is to completely control the oil, to completely control the oil revenue flows, to completely control the entire economies of the region, from Morocco to the borders of China and all in between. It is a project as bold as it is desperate.

Once the G8 US paper was leaked in 2004 in the Arabic Al-Hayat, opposition to it spread widely across the region, with a major protest to the US definition of the Greater Middle East. As an article in the French Le Monde Diplomatique in April 2004 noted, “besides the Arab countries, it covers Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Israel, whose only common denominator is that they lie in the zone where hostility to the US is strongest, in which Islamic fundamentalism in its anti-Western form is most rife.” It should be noted that the NED is also active inside Israel with a number of programs.

Notably, in 2004 it was vehement opposition from two Middle East leaders-Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and the King of Saudi Arabia-that forced the ideological zealots of the Bush Administration to temporarily put the Project for the Greater Middle East on a back burner.
Will it work?

At this writing it is unclear what the ultimate upshot of the latest US-led destabilizations across the Islamic world will bring. It is not clear what will result for Washington and the advocates of a US-dominated New World Order. Their agenda is clearly one of creating a Greater Middle East under firm US grip as a major control of the capital flows and energy flows of a future China, Russia and a European Union that might one day entertain thoughts of drifting away from that American order.

It has huge potential implications for the future of Israel as well. As one US commentator put it, “The Israeli calculation today is that if ‘Mubarak goes’ (which is usually stated as ‘If America lets Mubarak go’), Egypt goes. If Tunisia goes (same elaboration), Morocco and Algeria go. Turkey has already gone (for which the Israelis have only themselves to blame). Syria is gone (in part because Israel wanted to cut it off from Sea of Galilee water access). Gaza has gone to Hamas, and the Palestine Authority might soon be gone too (to Hamas?). That leaves Israel amid the ruins of a policy of military domination of the region.”

The Washington strategy of “creative destruction” is clearly causing sleepless nights not only in the Islamic world but also reportedly in Tel Aviv, and ultimately by now also in Beijing and Moscow and across Central Asia.

Jesus was a Palestinian and why it matters

By Jehanzeb Dar

Because of modern alarmist reactions to the word “Palestine,” many non-Arabs and non-Muslims take offense when it is argued that Jesus was a Palestinian (peace be upon him).

Jesus’ ethnicity, skin color, and culture often accompany this conversation, but few people are willing to acknowledge the fact he was non-European. A simple stroll down the Christmas aisle will show you the dominant depiction of Jesus: a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white man.

Islamophobia and anti-Arab propaganda have conditioned us to view Palestinians as nothing but heartless suicide bombers, “terrorists,” and “enemies of freedom and democracy.” Perpetual media vilification and demonization of Palestinians, in contrast to the glorification of Israel, obstructs us from seeing serious issues such as the Palestinian refugee crisis, the victims of Israel’s atrocious three-week assault on Gaza during the winter of 2008-2009, the tens of thousands of homeless Palestinians, and many other struggles that are constantly addressed by human rights activists around the world.

To speak from the perspective of the Palestinians, especially in casual non-Arab and non-Muslim settings, generates controversy because of the alignment between Palestinians and violent stereotypes. So, how could Jesus belong to a group of people that we’re taught to dehumanize?

When I’ve spoken to people about this, I’ve noticed the following responses: “No, Jesus was a Jew,” or “Jesus is not Muslim.” The mistake isn’t a surprise to me, but it certainly is revealing. Being a Palestinian does not mean one is Muslim or vice versa. Prior to the brutal and unjust dispossession of indigenous Palestinians during the creation of the state of Israel, the word “Palestine” was a geographic term applied to Palestinian Muslims, Palestinian Christians, and Palestinian Jews. Although most Palestinians are Muslim today, there is a significant Palestinian Christian minority who are often overlooked, especially by the mainstream Western media.

That dominant narrative not only distorts and misrepresents the Palestinian struggle as a religious conflict between “Muslims and Jews,” but consequentially pushes the lives of Palestinian Christians into “non-existence.” That is, due to the media’s reluctance to report the experiences and stories of Palestinian Christians, it isn’t a surprise when white Americans are astonished by the fact that Palestinian and Arab Christians do, in fact, exist. One could argue that the very existence of Palestinian Christians is threatening, as it disrupts the sweeping and overly-simplistic “Muslim vs. Jew” Zionist narrative. To learn about many Palestinian Christians opposing Israeli military occupation, as well as Jews who oppose the occupation, is to reveal more voices, perspectives, and complexities to a conflict that has been immensely portrayed as one-sided, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Muslim.

Yeshua (Jesus’ real Aramaic name) was born in Bethlehem, a Palestinian city in the West Bank and home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. The Church of the Nativity, one of the oldest churches in the world, marks the birthplace of Jesus and is sacred to both Christians and Muslims. While tourists from the around the world visit the site, they are subject to Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks. The Israeli construction of the West Bank barrier also severely restricts travel for local Palestinians. In April of 2010, Israeli authoritiesbarred Palestinian Christians from entering Jerusalem and visiting the Church of Holy Sepulchre during Easter. Yosef Zabaneh, a Palestinian Christian merchant in Ramallah, said: “The Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank doesn’t distinguish between us, but treats all Palestinians with contempt.”

Zabaneh’s comments allude to the persistent dehumanization of Palestinians, as well as the erasure of Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims. By constantly casting Palestinians as the villains, even the term “Palestine” becomes “evil.” There is refusal to recognize, for example, that the word “Palestine” was used as early as the 5th century BCE by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. John Bimson, author of “The Compact Handbook of Old Testament Life,” acknowledges the objection to the use of “Palestine”:

The term ‘Palestine’ is derived from the Philistines. In the fifth century BC the Greek historian Herodotus seems to have used the term Palaistine Syria (= Philistine Syria) to refer to the whole region between Phoenicia and the Lebanon mountains in the north and Egypt in the south… Today the name “Palestine” has political overtones which many find objectionable, and for that reason some writers deliberately avoid using it. However, the alternatives are either too clumsy to be used repeatedly or else they are inaccurate when applied to certain periods, so “Palestine” remains a useful term…

Deliberately avoiding the use of the name “Palestine” not only misrepresents history, but also reinforces anti-Palestinian racism as acceptable. When one examines the argument against Jesus being a Palestinian, one detects a remarkable amount of hostility aimed at both Palestinians and Muslims. One cannot help but wonder, is there something threatening about identifying Jesus as a Palestinian? Professor Jack D. Forbes writes about Jesus’ multi-cultural and multi-ethnic environment:

When the Romans came to dominate the area, they used the name Palestine. Thus, when Yehoshu’a [Jesus] was born, he was born a Palestinian as were all of the inhabitants of the region, Jews and non-Jews. He was also a Nazarene (being born in Nazareth) and a Galilean (born in the region of Galilee)… At the time of Yehoshu’a’s birth, Palestine was inhabited by Jews-descendants of Hebrews, Canaanites, and many other Semitic peoples-and also by Phoenicians, Syrians, Greeks, and even Arabs.

Despite these facts, there are those who use the color-blind argument: “It does not matter what Jesus’ ethnicity or skin color was. It does not matter what language he spoke. Jesus is for all people, whether you’re black, white, brown, yellow, etc.” While this is a well-intentioned expression of inclusiveness and universalism, it misses the point.

When we see so many depictions of Jesus as a Euro-American white man, the ethnocentrism and race-bending needs to be called out. In respect to language, for instance, Neil Douglas-Klotz, author of “The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus,” emphasizes the importance of understanding that Jesus spoke Aramaic, not English, and that his words, as well as his worldview, must be understood in light of Middle Eastern language and spirituality. Douglas-Klotz provides an interesting example which reminds me of the rich depth and meaning of Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi words, especially the word for “spirit”:

Whenever a saying of Jesus refers to spirit, we must remember that he would have used an Aramaic or Hebrew word. In both of these languages, the same word stands for spirit, breath, air, and wind. So ‘Holy Spirit’ must also be ‘Holy Breath.’ The duality between spirit and body, which we often take for granted in our Western languages falls away. If Jesus made the famous statement about speaking or sinning against the Holy Spirit (for instance, in Luke 12:10), then somehow the Middle Eastern concept of breath is also involved.

Certainly, no person is superior to another based on culture, language, or skin color, but to ignore the way Jesus’ whiteness has been used to subjugate and discriminate against racial minorities in the West and many other countries is to overlook another important aspect of Jesus’ teachings: Love thy neighbor as thyself. Malcolm X wrote about white supremacists and slave-owners using Christianity to justify their “moral” and “racial superiority” over blacks. In Malcolm’s own words, “The Holy Bible in the White man’s hands and its interpretations of it have been the greatest single ideological weapon for enslaving millions of non-white human beings.” Throughout history, whether it was in Jerusalem, Spain, India, Africa, or in the Americas, white so-called “Christians” cultivated a distorted interpretation of religion that was compatible with their racist, colonialist agenda.

And here we are in the 21st century where Islamophobia (also stemming from racism because the religion of Islam gets racialized) is on the rise; where people calling themselves “Christian” fear to have a black president; where members of the KKK and anti-immigration movements behave as if Jesus were an intolerant white American racist who only spoke English despite being born in the Middle East. It is astonishing how so-called “Christians” like Ann Coulter call Muslims “rag-heads” when in actuality, Jesus himself would fit the profile of a “rag-head,” too. As would Moses, Joseph, Abraham, and the rest of the Prophets (peace be upon them all). As William Rivers Pitt writes:

The ugly truth which never even occurs to most Americans is that Jesus looked a lot more like an Iraqi, like an Afghani, like a Palestinian, like an Arab, than any of the paintings which grace the walls of American churches from sea to shining sea. This was an uncomfortable fact before September 11. After the attack, it became almost a moral imperative to put as much distance between Americans and people from the Middle East as possible. Now, to suggest that Jesus shared a genealogical heritage and physical similarity to the people sitting in dog cages down in Guantanamo is to dance along the edge of treason.

Without acknowledging Jesus as a native Middle Eastern person — a Palestinian — who spoke Aramaic — a Semitic language that is ancestral to Arabic and Hebrew — the West will continue to view Islam as a “foreign religion.” Hate crimes and discriminatory acts against Muslims, Arabs, and others who are perceived to be Muslim will persist. They will still be treated as “cultural outsiders.” Interesting enough, Christianity and Judaism are never considered “foreign religions,” despite having Middle Eastern origins, like Islam. As Douglas-Klotz insists, affirming Jesus as a native Middle Eastern person “enables Christians to understand that the mind and message” of Jesus arises from “the same earth as have the traditions of their Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers.”

Jesus would not prefer one race or group of people over another. I believe he would condemn today’s demonization and dehumanization of the Palestinian people, as well as the misrepresentations of him that only fuel ignorance and ethnocentrism. As a Muslim, I believe Jesus was a prophet of God, and if I were to have any say about the Christmas spirit, it would be based on Jesus’ character: humility, compassion, and Love. A love in which all people, regardless of ethnicity, race, culture, religion, gender, and sexual orientation are respected and appreciated.

And in that spirit, I wish you a merry Christmas. Alaha Natarak (Aramaic: God be with you).

The author blogs at Muslim Reverie. He recently wrote a chapter in “Teaching Against Islamophobia” on the demonization of Muslims and Arabs in mainstream American comics.