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The latest uproar from the Trumpian led Republican Administration down South:

    ” -Washington (CNN)  President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday and announced plans to relocate the US Embassy there, a move expected to inflame tensions in the region and unsettle the prospects for peace.

     “Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do,” Trump said from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room.”
    It is surprising to find nuggets of truth in what comes out of the current American Republican presidency.  US policy has always been one of obstructionism toward any sort of reasonable peace between Palestine and Israel.  Having this truth out in the open must be somewhat uncomfortable for many Americans and other supporters of the official historical narrative.  Noam Chomsky has been reporting on the false “peace process” for decades:

    

      “Many of the world’s problems are so intractable that it’s hard to think of ways even to take steps towards mitigating them. The Israel-Palestine conflict is not one of these. On the contrary, the general outlines of a diplomatic solution have been clear for at least 40 years. Not the end of the road—nothing ever is—but a significant step forward. And the obstacles to a resolution are also quite clear.

     The basic outlines were presented here in a resolution brought to the U.N. Security Council in January 1976. It called for a two-state settlement on the internationally recognized border—and now I’m quoting—”with guarantees for the rights of both states to exist in peace and security within secure and recognized borders.” The resolution was brought by the three major Arab states: Egypt, Jordan, Syria—sometimes called the “confrontation states.” Israel refused to attend the session. The resolution was vetoed by the United States. A U.S. veto typically is a double veto: The veto, the resolution is not implemented, and the event is vetoed from history, so you have to look hard to find the record, but it is there. That has set the pattern that has continued since. The most recent U.S. veto was in February 2011—that’s President Obama—when his administration vetoed a resolution calling for implementation of official U.S. policy opposition to expansion of settlements. And it’s worth bearing in mind that expansion of settlements is not really the issue; it’s the settlements, unquestionably illegal, along with the infrastructure projects supporting them.

    For a long time, there has been an overwhelming international consensus in support of a settlement along these general lines. The pattern that was set in January 1976 continues to the present. Israel rejects a settlement of these terms and for many years has been devoting extensive resources to ensuring that it will not be implemented, with the unremitting and decisive support of the United States—military, economic, diplomatic and indeed ideological—by establishing how the conflict is viewed and interpreted in the United States and within its broad sphere of influence.”

-Noam Chomsky Speaking to Amy Goodman

So really, this latest ham-handed announcement should not be a surprise when viewed in context of the historical precedents on record.  So, what we are seeing is really the fruition of guided US policy in Israel regarding the one-state solution that moving the embassy to Jerusalem implies.

    “Except in stages, the one-state option is an illusion. It has no international support, and there is no reason why Israel and its US sponsor would accept it, since they have a far preferable option, the one they are now implementing; with impunity, thanks to US power.

     The US and Israel call for negotiations without preconditions. Commentary there and elsewhere in the West typically claims that the Palestinians are imposing such preconditions, hampering the “peace process.” In reality, the US-Israel insist upon crucial preconditions. The first is that negotiations must be mediated by the United States, which is not a neutral party but rather a participant in the conflict. It is as if one were to propose that Sunni-Shiite conflicts in Iraq be mediated by Iran. Authentic negotiations would be in the hands of some neutral state with a degree of international respect. The second precondition is that illegal settlement expansion must be allowed to continue, as it has done without a break during the 20 years of the Oslo Accord; predictably, given the terms of the Accord.

     In the early years of the occupation the US joined the world in regarding the settlements as illegal, as confirmed by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Since Reagan, their status has been downgraded to “a barrier to peace.” Obama weakened the designation further, to “not helpful to peace,” with gentle admonitions that are easily dismissed. Obama’s extreme rejectionism did arouse some attention in February 2011, when he vetoed a Security Council resolution supporting official US policy, ending of settlement expansion.

     As long as these preconditions remain in force, diplomacy is likely to remain at a standstill. With brief and rare exceptions, that has been true since January 1976, when the US vetoed a Security Council resolution, brought by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, calling for a two-state settlement on the internationally recognized border, the Green Line, with guarantees for the security of all states within secure and recognized borders. That is essentially the international consensus that is by now universal, with the two usual exceptions – not just on Middle East issues, incidentally. The consensus has been modified to include “minor and mutual adjustments” on the Green Line, to borrow official US wording before it had broken with the rest of the world.”

“The one state/two state debate is irrelevant as Israel and the US consolidate Greater Israel” – Noam Chomsky

The reason for this post is that I had to get some context out there as I’m hearing, even on my beloved CBC, about America’s “concern” over the what will become of the “peace process”.  It is such a crock of shit.  There has not been and nor will there be any sort of “peace process” with US acting as an “honest broker” in the proceedings.

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   Howard Zinn was an active and vocal opponent of the Vietnam War.  He brings insight, like Noam Chomsky, to the issues that our liberal societies won’t acknowledge.   The diffusion of Personal responsibility – and no, not the ‘personal responsibility’ (bootstraps!?!!!!) wielded by the corporatist right to bludgeon the poor, but actual personal responsibility is what is being discussed in the quote.  It happens all to often when it comes to how we react to the actions taken in our stead by our government.

“I didn’t vote for them,” or “I’m just doing my job…” or <insert excuse here> does not make you any less responsible for the actions committed in your name.

“The fact that there is only an indirect connection between Dow recruiting students and napalm dropped on Vietnamese villages, does not vitiate the moral issue. It is precisely the nature of modern mass murder that it is not visibly direct like individual murder, but takes on a corporate character, where every participant has limited liability. The total effect, however, is a thousand times more pernicious, than that of the individual entrepreneur of violence. If the world is destroyed, it will be a white-collar crime, done in a business-like way, by large numbers of individuals involved in a chain of actions, each one having a touch of innocence.”

-Howard Zinn.  On War (second edition). p. 64.

This quote is from Howard Zinn’s article called the Force of Nonviolence which appeared in The Nation in the 1960’s.  Identifying one of the precursors to violent action is information useful in arming oneself in a myriad of situations – the process of rationalizing the unjust treatment of ‘those people’ happens in all of us, almost unconsciously most of the time.  Hopefully we can arm ourselves against our violent tendencies toward others or at least be aware of the process and move to intercede before we act.

  “The human ability to abstract, to create symbols standing for reality, has enabled man to compound his material possessions, to split the atom and orbit the earth.  It also enables him to compound his hatreds, and expands his capacity for violence.  But while there is no incentive to distort in the scientific process which changes reality to symbol for purposes of manipulation, and back to reality for purposes of realization, there is incentive, in social relations, for distorting the symbols of communication.   With man’s use of symbols, the potentiality for hatred and therefore violence is enormously, logarithmically, magnified.  And with word-symbols the possibility for distortion is infinite.  In fact, distortion is inherent here, for while particles of light are sufficiently similar so we can express the speed of all of them in a useful mathematical equation, human beings are so complex and particular, and their relationships so varied, that no generalized world can do justice to reality.  

   War is symbolic violence, with all people who happen to reside within the geographical boundaries of a nation-state constituting “the enemy”.  Race persecution is symbolic violence directed against all individuals, regardless of their specific characteristics, who can be identified with an abstracted physical type.  In the execution chamber, the state puts to death anyone, regardless of individual circumstance, who fits the legal symbol: murderer.  The law forcibly deprives of freedom everyone who falls within the symbolic definition of a criminal; sentences are sometimes meted out to individuals, but mostly to dehumanized lawbreakers whose acts match an abstract list of punishments. “

-Howard Zinn.  Howard Zinn on War p.14-15.

Firstly, read  what Shulamith Firestone has to say.

Secondly, recognize that this work was published in 1970.

Thirdly, become grandly and righteously pissed off that women’s intellectual history is carefully hidden from them and thus, each generation is forced to start from scratch in the struggle to raise their consciousness and name their oppression.

Fourthly, organize and lobby schools/school boards to have Firestone’s Dialectic of Sex become a part of the curriculum so we can arm the women in our society with the theory and knowledge that has already been demarcated, so the struggle can move onto new ground instead of reclaiming what has already been unearthed.

Fifthly, share widely at least this small part of Firestone’s work, so women in the struggle right now can see that they are not alone and that people have been exactly where they are right now, just that no one them about their foresisters work.

If I were to have just one wish to come true, it would be that people would take the time to think about the world they live in.  I realize that reflection and critical something is not always possible, but if we’re in the wish zone I think it could happen.  Noam Chomsky, prescient as usual, details exactly what is going on in the democratic West as we slide further down the slope into abject oligarchical rule.

“Functioning democracy erodes as a natural effect of the concentration of economic power, which translates at once to political power by familiar means, but also for deeper and more principled reasons. The doctrinal pretense is that the transfer of decision-making from the public sector to the “market” contributes to individual freedom, but the reality is different. The transfer is from public institutions, in which voters have some say, insofar as democracy is functioning, to private tyrannies — the corporations that dominate the economy — in which voters have no say at all. In Europe, there is an even more direct method of undermining the threat of democracy: placing crucial decisions in the hands of the unelected troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission — which heeds the northern banks and the creditor community, not the voting population.

These policies are dedicated to making sure that society no longer exists, Margaret Thatcher’s famous description of the world she perceived — or, more accurately, hoped to create: one where there is no society, only individuals. This was Thatcher’s unwitting paraphrase of Marx’s bitter condemnation of repression in France, which left society as a “sack of potatoes,” an amorphous mass that cannot function. In the contemporary case, the tyrant is not an autocratic ruler — in the West, at least — but concentrations of private power.”

The fight needs to come back to the people, to push back on so many levels.  It is a large bill to fill, yet it is a goal worth struggling for, as our future and our children’s futures depend on taking back society from the moneyed interests and elites who care for nothing except their own self-enrichment.

Quiet Time, by Marc Levy.

 

“Imagine this: after a blistering hot day marching up and down mud slicked hills, or tramping wide open fields, or steamy jungle, imagine setting out booby traps on enemy trails, laying in wait, then ever so carefully, breaking them down.

At dusk, after planting trips and claymores round the NDP, after finding a spot for your pack and gear, after eating tinned c-rations of beans and franks, imagine curling up on the cold wet ground.

Now, fast asleep, being woken twice in the night by a man gently tapping your resting arm. “Your guard,” he whispers, for the first of two one hour shifts.

Leaving that foxhole the second time, grenades, machine gun, claymore detonators all in place, imagine two hours sleep, rising at dawn, shrugging off bugs and wet bamboo, rubbing rheumy eyes, brushing sticky teeth.

Before the grueling day begins, there is the welcoming taste of GI coffee. Here is how to make it:

Seated crossed legged, take a chunk of C4 the size of a thumbnail, shape it into a ball, set it carefully down.

Tear open the packet of instant coffee saved from last nights c-ration meal. Pour it into a canteen cup half filled with water.

Tap the brown powder over the cup, stir with a c-ration white plastic spoon.

Strike a GI match and light the C4. Do not breathe in the white smoke; the fumes, it is said, are harmful.

Hold the canteen cup over the burning explosive until the water boils, about thirty seconds.

Remove the cup from the bright yellow flames. Let the C4 burn itself out. Those who step on it risk losing a foot.

Tear open and pour in one or two packets of non dairy creamer. Repeat with sugar. Use the white plastic spoon to mix and stir. With eyes closed, inhale the savory vapours; cup to your lips, feel the hot inky brew flood your mouth, scourge your tongue, roll down your willing gullet. The taste is awful, but it will do.

Grunts savor this quiet time, before every inch of our bodies are salty with sweat. This quiet time before seething mosquitoes, snapping ants, creeping leeches bite or sting or drink our blood.

This quiet time before sudden shots fill us with dread that is always new. This quiet time before the shrieking air sings of the wounded, smells of the dead.

It is the all too fleeting quiet time, which ends with the softly echoed ‘zero two,’ followed by the dim rustling of one hundred packs, helmets, weapons reluctantly lifted, slung, shifted to place.

See how the flock of helmeted cranes slouch against their rifles, feel how the sweat drips down narrow cheeks, collects at the chin, free falls, forming small dark spots on half bent knees.

Listen, as moments after the hushed command, one hundred grudging soldiers, one by one, reluctantly trudge forward, into the grim unwinnable jaws of Vietnam.”

 

I value my quiet time, I think everyone does.  Because silence time can mean peace and stillness, a time to be away from the thoughts that drive us.

The crimes humans commit against each other have numerous justifications and rationalizations, to most of us in North America, we hear more about the atrocities of our enemies, that we do of the ones we commit in our name.  John Dower examines the Cold War period in history and concludes that our hands were just as bloody, if not more so, than our hated enemy.

     “When the torture manuals refer to “neutralizing” targets, this was commonly recognized as a euphemism for killing.  There is no evidence that cover US forces participated directly in the the grotesque torture, death squads, massacres, and “disappearances” characteristic of the dirty wars that ravaged Latin America, only that they promoted and supported them.  At the same time, there i”s little or no evidence that, in taking sides in these wars and training and materially aiding “anticommunist” participants in them, the United States gave serious attention to human rights or the rule of law.  In most countries south of the border, Washington supported right-wing regimes in their state terror.  In Nicaragua, it abetted the Contras in pursing a murderous campaign of “guerrilla” terror against the government.  Proxy war, surrogate terror, disdain for human rights and even for plain decency all came together. 

      As always, it is not possible to quantify the costs of this violence with any exactitude.  For South and Central American societies, the political, cultural, and psychological costs were – and to some degree still are – enormous.  Writing in Cambridge History of the Cold War, John Coatsworth observed that the Contra insurrection in Nicaragua devastated the economy, forced the government to abandon most of its social programs, and “cost th lives of 30,000 Nicaraguans, mostly civilian supporters of the Sandinista revolution.”  He put the death toll in El Salvador between 1979 and 1984 at nearly forty thousand, most who were unarmed combatants murdered by the armed forces. 

    Coatsworth also noted in passing that President Reagan visited Guatemala City in December 1982 and praised the ruling military junta for its commitment to defend the country against the threat of communism.  In 1982- 1983 alone, the government forced eight hundred thousand peasants into “civil patrols” ordered to uncover and kill insurgents or see their communities destroyed.  It followed up on its threat by destroying an estimated 686 villages and hamlets and killing between fifty thousand and seventy-five thousand people. 

    All told, Coatsworth estimates that the Cold War in Central America saw nearly three hundred thousand deaths in a population of thirty million, plus a million refugees who fled the area, mostly for the United States.  Based on examination of published CIA and State Department materials plus other reports unsympathetic to communist regimes, he reached this conclusion: “Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin’s gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those in the Soviet Union and its East European satellites.  In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet Union bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries.” 

   This does not diminish the multiple horrors of Soviet violence and oppression, but helps place them in perspective.”

-John W. Dower.  The Violent American Century. pp. 68 – 69.

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